3 February 2018

Conclusion

Concluding the account of our family holiday in 2005:-
Big Sur
We headed south to Salinas. There I gave myself an hour to explore the excellent John Steinbeck Museum with its various tableaux that represented different literary works. There was even the original camper van that the great author had driven across America in 1960 with his dog Charley - hence, "Travels With Charley".
John Steinbeck's house in Salinas
Picture of John Steinbeck and Charley in The Steinbeck Museum, Salinas
We crossed the rich black earth of The Salinas Valley on our way towards Monterey but sadly there was no time to tarry there. We had to press on. At Carmel we met Highway 1, the famous Big Sur road that clings to the Pacific coast as it weaves its way southwards. It was a lovely scenic drive, all the way down to San Simeon where we stopped to take in the elephant seal rookery. There they were grunting and basking on the shore like politicians in parliament or lugging themselves awkwardly into the ocean waves. 
Young seals at San Simeon
Then on to Morro Bay, turning inland to San Luis Obispo. By now it was perhaps 5pm and we needed somewhere to stay the night. I had been hoping we would find a motel in the town of Guadalupe but the woman in the petrol station said there were no hotel rooms there. Besides, it seemed a down-at-heel agricultural town with teams of exhausted Mexican farm workers in beaten up pick up trucks. They seemed such a long way from "The American Dream".

We headed a few miles inland to Santa Maria where something very newsworthy was happening - the ongoing trial of pop singer Michael Jackson for alleged child molestation. In spite of this, we were able to get a family room at what is now called The Colonial Motel though back then I think it was called The Rose Inn or something like that.

After an evening meal at Denny's we walked up to the court house where Jackson spent almost fourteen weeks on trial. It was dark and no one else was around when out of the shadows a torchlight beam appeared. It was being shone by a night security guard specially hired for the duration of the trial. He was very happy to have some regular work and didn't care a hoot about Michael Jackson or the adoring fans who gathered there in the daytime. Mischievously, I asked him if he was a Michael Jackson fan and he retorted, "No, I'm a Me fan!" It made me laugh.

The next morning we got up and packed the faithful black jeep one last time. It was our final day in California and I felt an enormous sense of frustration. There was so much more I would have loved to have seen and done. Nonetheless, when I look back I know I gave my family a super taste of west coast America. Every day was filled with interest and the plans I had made came to fruition without any significant hiccups. As we headed south on the highway bound for LAX, we played Frances's road trip CD:-
Driving down the 101
California here we come
Right back where we started from

But there was one final jewel in the crown of our holiday memories. When we disembarked our Virgin Transatlantic flight at Heathrow we heard the bleeping of a golf buggy behind us. as we walked along the link corridor. It was two lazy first class passengers. They left the annoying vehicle at some security bollards just as we also reached them and they had to walk down to the luggage carousel area shoulder to shoulder with us. It was Barbara Bach and her tiny husband - Ringo Starr. You might have heard of him.
The last morning - in Santa Maria

20 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking us through your journey which I truelly enjoyed, it refreshed my memory tii. You have a lovely family.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Tii...? It was meant to be "too"
      x

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    2. Is "tii" an Italian word? Perhaps it's Italian for "tea". Thanks for calling by again Maria.

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  2. You really did have a wonderful family trip, Mr. Pudding. Your planning was wonderful. You hit all the high spots and saw a bit of the less than perfect places and people of California. I also planned a wonderful family vacation when I thought that it might be our last time to be all together for a week, just the four of us. My daughter was 19 and my son was 25 and we all had a lovely time in Hawaii. Nowadays, we are hardly ever in the same state, let alone the same car. Wonderful memories for you and Shirley as well as your children.

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    1. It was good that The Prince and The Princess deigned to holiday with you at those ages. Ian was twenty when we went to California.

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  3. You really gave yourself and your family a super holiday, and I thank you for sharing it with us. I wish I had more memories from my one and only US holiday than just what is in my mind.

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    1. Some things I remember in great detail but there are days, weeks, even years of which I have no memory whatsoever. Thanks for following my holiday story.

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  4. So maybe you'll have to make another California trip. It's much bigger and faster now and more lazy people.

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    1. I may never return to California but Alberta is on my list. A guy I know who lives on Spencer Street, Red Deer City has offered to move out of his home for a week or two so that we can stay there.

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  5. The only other place I've seen the word "tarry" is in a hymnal! Off topic, sorry :)

    Planning a holiday can be a difficult job, so well done on making the most of it. As Red said, could you go back? Come up with a side hustle, as youngsters call second jobs these days - can you sell some photographs or some artwork? Cut back on the swilling at the pub? Sell a kidney or some blood? Become a drug dealer? Oh dear, this has gone to a dark place . . .

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    1. My lawyer will be in touch with you quite shortly. Defamation of character is invariably most distressing.

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  6. I've always loved the writings of John Steinbeck; and as soon as I saw "Salinas" when I began to read your post, my mind immediately went to Steinbeck.

    A wonderful writer he was...inspirational. I think most of us when we were first introduced to his written words on the pages of his books wished to become a writer.

    I was never a fan of Michael Jackson...and still am not. I've never had any of his music in my vast collection of LPs, cassettes and discs. I've never understood the appeal.

    It's a long time since I've heard Phantom Planet!

    What a terrific family holiday you had...one filled with many cherished memories. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. You are welcome Lee. I think I have read just about everything John Steinbeck ever wrote and as a teacher I had the pleasure of introducing hundreds of students to "Of Mice and Men" and "The Red Pony". I have also never understood the appeal of Michael Jackson's stuff. I would rather feed the birds in our garden than listen to anything by Michael Jackson.

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    2. Me, too...re Jackson. And I prefer the sounds of the birds I feed in my garden who, daily, serenade me in thanks, than the feminine squeaks of Jackson!

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  7. Unlike you I'm not particularly an Americanophile but I have to say that everyone (almost) that we met in our Californian travels was unfailingly helpful, courteous and welcoming. Mind you I did find it strange in diners when waitresses brought other waitresses up just to hear my accent. Like you I was bowled over by California although we travelled largely in different areas. We did have at least one place in common: Carmel where I bought my very first of many Tilley hats. I still wear it sometimes when I play croquet because I reckon it brought me so much luck.

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    1. You are right. I am an Americophile which in my view is better than being a crooquetophile or even a crocodile! How come you have needed so many Tilley hats? Either you keep losing them or you have a Tilley hat fetish!

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    2. I have a Tilley hat fetish. Actually it's not quite that simple. My original one was a bit light for the cold, wet Hebrides and it went on from there.

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    3. Have you got a pink one? (I mean a pink Tilley hat of course!)

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    4. It's funny you should ask that....

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  8. Love the elephant seal/politician comparison, though I think it's a bit insulting to elephant seals. Wild that you were there during the Jackson trial! I've been to Big Sur and it is indeed a spectacular area.

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