5 Jun 2016

Californian Road Trip - Part 2

If you stay a few days in LA a visit to Venice Beach has to be on the schedule. It is tacky and predictable -full of fast food outlets and fridge magnet and T-shirt sellers -but it is also full of zany people and just a really great place for people watching. So it was off to VB for the last afternoon down south.
The previous day we had driven out to Malibu in the late afternoon. What a disappointment. Totally over-hyped. The glamourous  beach villas of the rich and famous were underwhelming and the whole beachside strip seemed rather scruffy. OK we did not drive up into the canyons but we had seen enough to convince us that Malibu had been oversold.
After Venice Beach the next day it was on the road heading north for the drive up coastal Highway 1. First overnight stop was in Arroyo Grande billed as the prettiest village in California. Well it was a nice enough place,the motel was excellent and the tavern on Main Street was great.

Highway 1 did not disappoint. I drove it back in 1984 in an Oldsmobile Cutlass  see 1984 Highway 1 .It was a fantastic drive then and it is still one of the world's great drives. The road is superb as is the scenery. What more can you ask? The last part of the road was pretty crowded as it was saturday and some of the drivers obviously found the road very challenging going by their slow pace and very frequent use of brakes. To be fair the road is very winding and narrow and there are long stretches with big drops into the sea and no guard rail.
The "must see" tourist photo spots were crowded and selfie sticks were working overtime as hordes of Asian tourists took the opportunity to take yet another photo of themselves standing in front of a piece of iconic scenery. Sadly I had left my selfie stick back in Australia.

I will remember this trip for the photos I saw but did not take. In LA I saw a number of really interesting Porsches on the streets and driving on the freeways. But it's impossible to drive and take photos-well I find it impossible - others may beg to differ. On Highway 1 I saw little motels with interesting signs and landscape shots but it's a real pain to pull over - do a u-turn and head back down to the photo op,shoot it,u-turn and head on the road again. I know from experience that after a couple of these photo ops in-car relations can become fraught and time can slip away.

We stayed a few days in Carmel on Sea in a very pleasant hotel outside the town. I visited Carmel in 12 years ago with friend Patrick in his early 911 on a sunday drive from San Francisco. I remember it as being a bit overdeveloped then but it still was rather charming. Sadly the charm has gone. Now it is just pure kitch. It is in fact a parody of itself. On a saturday and sunday parking is a nightmare and crowds throng its streets. On a weekday it is quieter but sadly its village feel has gone. There are good places to eat and the beach is very pretty but Carmel is the victim of its own fame. We visitors have destroyed what we have come to see. You can get a feel for what the village was once like by moving a short distance from the village commercial area and walking down the quiet residential roads with their little weatherboard cottages and attractive gardens.

Monterey is the big neighbour of Carmel but it is a pity that Cannery Row-its once thriving fish cannery heart-has not been better preserved and is in fact now a great big strip of seafood and fast food restaurants and shops selling tourist tat.  OK,there are interpretation/information boards explaining the history on the streets but the fact that we seemed to be the only people reading them suggests that we are the ones out of step and all most people really want is another load of fridge magnets,Cannery Row T-shirts and a serving of chowder in a sourdough loaf bowl.
We headed inland from Monterey into the vast rich agricultural area around Salinas-John Steinbeck country. I took some photos there but nothing worth keeping. You need to really spend time in these locations to seek out the photo ops and also to catch the light.  Again I saw photos which I could not take as I drove along. The hundreds of Hispanic workers picking vegetables in the sun reinforced the utter nonsense of Trump's threat to send the Mexicans home when he becomes president. The salads are going to be a bit thin Donald.
So onto the photos I did take.As with Part 1 all taken with the Leica X1.

Muscle Beach - Venice Beach.

Greek food-Venice Beach

Donald has many detractors. Let's all hope that there are enough of them.

This little Japanese girl,probably 7 or 8 years old,was hot stuff on her skateboard coached in Japanese by her father on Venice Beach.

Venice Beach decoration.

On Highway 1 -in Big Sur
Near Pebble Beach. Nearby is a lone pine on the cliffs-reputed to be the most photographed tree in the world.I did not shoot it.
The only shot of Carmel village I am putting up.

By Carmel Beach-early morning.
Early morning towel down after a  swim in the sea on a cool morning at Carmel.The couple are locals and like nearly everyone I came across on the trip were friendly and chatty. I love the dog- they did tell me his name but it's forgotten.
Close to Cannery Row-Monterey. This is one of my favourite photos from the trip. I like the mural-very cleverly done. I wanted the yacht to be a bit further into the photo but feared that something else would go wrong if I did not take it at that instant and I was right-a couple walked in from the right a second later. This one may make a competition entry.

By the beach front-Monterey. I like this one as well -the clouds make it.

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