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Simon’s Travel Diary

Monday, 19 May 2008

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

MapIf you thought that this was a road day like any other, you’d be mistaken for today, the route from SB to Carlsbad takes me through Los Angeles. I’ve experienced the scariest drives Europe has to offer (Paris’ Peripherique on a Saturday and Central Berlin at rush hour driving a punk band to a squat gig in the old ‘behind the wall’ part of the city, not to mention roads on hillsides in the Greek Pelion in the dark...) but nothing can really compare as the ultimate diving test most of us will have the opportunity to try;the Hwy-1, Hwy-405 & I-5 journey I did.

It’s not overly dangerous, in all honesty, but the sheer concentration you have to keep up as cars swing in front of you from both sides is draining. Five lanes in each direction whipping along as you pass some of the most iconic names in modern culture (‘Exit Sunset Blvd for Hollywood’ and so on) and continue to try to find a remotely listenable radio station. The best treat, of course, is that you’ve been fixed so stoically on the back of a house-sized SUV just in front of you that you’ve come up to your exit and you’re over by the central barrier: in those situations there’s nothing for it but to hold you nose and do what that locals do...swing right across those five lanes. Of course, being a citizen of Her Majesty’s Sceptred Isle, I do it with a rather sheepish ‘sorry’ wave: the locals do similar manoeuvres with a phone in one hand and a Big Gulp in the other!

Still, made it Carlsbad, which lies just off I-5 about 35 miles north of San Diego, a typical beach town boasting shops full of knick-knacks and the usual plethora of fast food places. There was even a genuine British store, with the window full of tea pots (!) and deer stalkers...I didn’t dare go in. “Hey, are you from England” Have you met the Queen?” etc.

I had a walk along the beautiful beach but it got too hot for me after my exertions behind the wheel and I bought a Carls Jnr burger and crashed out.