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Simon’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 27 Apr 2008

Location: Still on the beach, California, USA

MapI awoke to rather disturbing shots on the news of fires in the Sierra Madre (lit: Ford of the Mother...), a range of mountainous woodland just north of LA at Pasadena and straddling a highway that, all being well, I’ll taking on a drive from Palm Springs to Fresno in about a month’s time. Fires last summer here closed off most of the coast north of San Diego, and if the same occurs again this year, I’ll have to drastically change my plans! That’s travel for you!

Also – and closer to home - a park ranger in Santa Ynez had come across a black bear cub, and there were concerns that the mother may be still around: won’t be going there then.

And some guy has been killed by a Great White shark on Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, causing that part of the coast to be closed; yep, I’m planning on visiting that area once t’wife flies home in May! How long was I asleep…!?

It was a nice lazy start to the day and, after a long phone call with t’wife, I really didn’t get going until lunchtime. Of course, the weather was even hotter [Edit: officially, it got up to 101!] and after a light lunch I headed back down to Goleta beach.

By that time everything had really heated up, and the too-hot-to-touch sand was causing those of us with bare feet to do the Monkey Dance. Try it: do an ‘ooh ooh ahh ahh’ impression of a monkey and imagine alternating those sounds with each footstep. That’s what we were doing and, believe me, not much else causes me to run on a beach but ambulate swiftly I did until I reached the soothing water!

It didn’t take long to spot the first Californian quirk of the day either: a young couple had brought their cat (yes…their cat!) to the beach. I thought it was some sort of dog at first glance (I’ve seen some of the most miniscule Chihuahuas ever on this trip, a mutt, it must be said, that ranks amongst the most pointless of all canines), but no, a moggie it was, complete with harness.

I wasn’t too impressed as it was obviously not having a huge amount of fun on the sand, but I had to laugh to myself as I imagined us trying to cajole any of our three cats into a similar situation: Harry would have tied himself in knots trying to get out of the harness, Kazu would bolt and never be seen again, while TC would try and eat a seagull, then give up and moan!

It seemed it was BBQ Sunday and, whilst sat under my humble tree, I was assaulted from all sides by the smells of all manner of meats happily sizzling away. The Hispanic community certainly knows how to do BBQ: in addition to cooking cuts of meat straight out of The Flintstones, one party had even hired a crooning classical guitarist who warbled away in Spanish, quite unconcerned at the giggles his strumming was engendering from his mostly teenage audience. All together now: 'Sweet señoritas come out every night...on the baaal-connn-eee!'

I went for a potter along the pier and found that a cooling wind was just what I needed to lower the heat of my shoulders, so stayed there for a while just looking out to sea. Of course, I was yet again fooled by a snorkeler whose flippers, when breaking the surface, made me believe a whale was in the vicinity. If I’d thought about it, I’d have realised that the three jet-skiers that had been careering around the bay all day would almost certainly have frightened off any cetean visitors, not to mention the three rather foolhardy lads who were diving off the pier, missing the mussel-encrusted pier stilts by mere inches each time...

Bloody kids...!