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Simon’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 19 Apr 2008

Location: Coldtown, California, USA

MapWell today, as they say here, turned out to be a bit of a bust...!

I’d planned to drive up the Santa Ynez valley to check out Lake Cachuma Recreation Area and although the weather reports weren’t great (cloud was predicted! Wha...?), a quick walk around the block proved that Californian TV’s definition of ‘cool and breezy’ isn’t necessarily the same as mine.

So, with clear skies and temperatures in the 60s off I went. I hooked up with Hwy 154 and started up a very steep gradient with expansive views out over SB and the Pacific but, as soon as the road approached the crest of the hills, I realised that this was where all the promised cloud was. It had been unable to heave itself over the mountains and so, as I approached the turnoff for the lake, the conditions were more like the Derbyshire Dales in October (which I love, but not when I'm in me shorts!). When I made it to the lake I found that admission was a few dollars over what I was prepared to shell out to sit shivering beside what is, in reality, a reservoir and I decided to save the experience for another – and warmer – time!

With over half the day gone (I’d slept in, bad me) and after stopping back at the hotel to grab some lunch of sorts, I went back to Goleta Beach Country Park as the skies, at least near to the coast, were clear.

By the time I’d parked up, there was a hefty wind blowing and a trot to the end of the pier and back was made slightly more challenging by the plethora of fisherman slinging hooks and lines seemingly at random, not to mention some guy who was selling ‘God Bless America’ hoodies for $20. “Sure I can’t tempt you, sir?”

Feeling a tad low, having finally been driven from the beach by both the wind and swarms of black flies munching on wads of seaweed thrown up onto the sand, I went back to the hotel, via Vons the supermarket for dirty beer, and holed up in front of Jurassic Park III.

Oh, and I also had to scrape gobbets of crude from my twitching tootsies and soles of my feet, using a combination of washing-up liquid and a plectrum. I left oily footprints all over the bath and a nice white towel too. Next time I’ll observe be-oiled seabirds on TV with even more sympathy...!

Still, my spirits were quickly raised as I came across a soccer (soucher? soxxer?) match on ESPN from America’s Major League and the commentary is as silly as I’d hoped:

“He’s made it to the end line and connected with Beckham out in right field. And there’s Cortez with a scoring head shot!”