04 August, 2012

Day 29, 290km: Into Los Angeles

Santa Barbara was nice, a surprising coastal resort with a strong Spanish touch. After ruining my motel room, I left swiftly. I felt bad so I left my USD change (maybe 3 or 4 dollars) for the cleaning ladies. I have to admit I didn't spend any extra time in the parking lot.

Soon I was on my way to Los Angeles and Santa Monica, where I would stay with Fanny and Nabil, friends of Amelie (G). Hi to all of you!

Back on the Pacific Coastal Highway
 As I started driving south, the pacific coast started looking more and more like what I pictured California beaches to be. Long stretches of sand, some waves and a general "body cult" atmosphere. Oh and surfers too.

No idea what was this place
 So it was a nice drive, although the traffic was dense. Soon enough I arrived in the vicinity of Los Angeles. This "city" is so enormous it could be its own state. Lots of different neighborhoods and cities with the city. Actually in US there is county and then city level divisions (if I understood correctly) so there are technically many cities within the county.

These guys shipped cargo to the ISS
 First in my "todo list" of the day was SpaceX, a company whose objective is to provide nothing less than commercial spaceflight. Oh and not the "I'm riding a bullet shot upwards" kind, but rather the "I'm going to Mars" kind.
Alas, no visits possible. Still it was cool being there. The brief view I had of their office didn't look very exciting to be honest with rows of cubicles. But these guys are definitely doing great.

Caltech ... lousy picture!
Next on my list was Caltech, another university famous for all geeks and space geeks in particular, since they administer parts of NASA. I couldn't really find any "main building" as the campus is spread across several streets of Pasadena. "I've been to Caltech and all I got was this lousy picture."

Tomorrow people here will be anxious...
 The JPL (Pasadena, CA) is basically NASA's robots HQ. They design, build and operate the rovers that are on Mars for example. And Curiosity will join them tomorrow if the incredible landing sequence goes as per the plan.
Here, for once I planned and looked for visit times and such. It's by appointment only, I tried to book an appointment and was offered to visit in October. So I guess it's nice for people who live in the region, but for foreign tourists that's a bit difficult ...
Still, another cool place to step foot in, even for a few seconds.

View from Mulholland drive
 After that I went through downtown Los Angeles (I think I was in the CBD) and it was time to head to Santa Monica. I found that Mulholland drive was nearby, not that I'm a big Lynch fan but it being a road up in the hills I thought it would offer nice views and roads. And it did!
On the stop pictured above I met Anya, who was sitting by herself atop the hill. We started talking and the discussion was as non-linear as the movie titled after the place we were in. That was nice and came out of nowhere. So maybe the place has something special to it, after all.

It is actually a very nice drive up in the hills. Beware of the wannabee pilots who under-steer and swerve in your lane though...
Came down the hills via Sunset Boulevard, a long avenue that borders Bel Air. Had to stop to take the picture.

One of my lousiest pictures this far
The boulevard ended in Santa Monica and I was at Fanny and Nabil's apartment just before sunset, where we had a delicious dinner with Samantha. Thanks again to all of you, that was a fun evening! Felt so nice to eat properly and have my own bedroom again. :)

Next day would be more visits of Los Angeles area and then closing in on the Mexico border!

Cheers,
Guillaume

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