One advantage to the mistake of the hotel on the far side of Sacramento was that in the morning we avoided all the Sacramento rush hour traffic. So I guess that paid off in the end. I ended up with a big scar on my leg from last night. I fell into some kind of bush running across the street to get some bad wine from a Gas station Mini mart. I’m nothing if not full of great ideas and forward planning. The wine tasted like iodine, so I used it to clean the wound. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
If driving through Shasta showed us one end of the water crisis, then the farmland south gave us the other. In between the orchards and vineyards were big, barren stretches, and every one had a sign or billboard with a website or number to call to show anger at the government created water crisis.
There might not be a lot of solutions to the water problems here, but I’m pretty sure they will never run out of blame.
By default, California is a big desert. Nothing grows in big vast areas here except cactus. Want to grow lettuce? Pipe water in. Want to make a city? Pipe water in. Grapes? Lawns? Pipe water in. Probably not the best place to bottle water and ship it out either. The whole place has become a big, wet game of Prisoner’s Dilemma.
It was a long, dry drive to Los Angeles.
Naturally, we stopped at In N Out for lunch before the big climb into LA. (Neapolitan Shake. Fries Animal Style. 2 Double Doubles Protein Style + Animal Style. Cheeseburger with grilled onions) The food is worth a stop by itself, but this truck stop is perfect to a gas fill-up, and letting the car rest before big climb. We needed a bit of a rest as well. It was 100 degrees out, and sitting in some air conditioning for a bit was perfect.
The hill climb was easy, but we hit rush hour in LA as soon as we came over the hills and into beautiful downtown Burbank. The GPS tried to route us around the worst of it, but we ended up making some guesses on which freeway would clear up first. You don’t appreciate how big LA is when you blast through, but since we were stuck we tracked it on the GPS. It was 40 miles across town to Long Beach. The traffic was costing us an extra 1.5 hours. With some lucky freeway guesses, we cut 20 minutes off that, and rolled into the hotel just in time for cocktail hour.
We were at the Hyatt on the beach in Long Beach. It’s a seriously swank hotel. Yulia was here a few years a go for Gymnastics Nationals, and she knew that the place was worth it. She’s also on a whole bunch of hotel membership awards things for all her gymnastics travel, so we got a deal. Never hurts to get a deal.
We had a view of the harbor, and could see our Cruise ship, and the Queen Mary. Sasha’s first reaction was to ask if the Queen Mary was our cruise ship. It does have a bit of that Titanic Vibe, so I could sense her concern. But no, I pointed to the real ship, and noted that the Queen Mary is just a hotel now. And it’s haunted. And a bit run down. But it looks great from a distance. Most things do.
Once we showered up, we hit the boardwalk. Both Yulia and Sasha needed dresses for the formal dinner onboard, and I picked up some extra cargo shorts and beach pants. The marina at long beach is amazing. The boardwalk is on the old city pier, and it is dwarfed by the new marina on the ocean side. We walked up a bit, looked at the mandatory collection of tourist crap, and checked out he boats. One boat near the pier was a dead ringer for my dad’s old boat, but a bit worse for wear. It was a 42’ Grand Banks clone. White with teak decks. You really can’t beat old boats for beauty, but upkeep is a killer. This one had really dry, pale teak, quite a few cracks in the wood, and a damaged swim step. But even with that, it was a great looking boat. A bit of repair and a lot of teak oil and it would be amazing.
We found a reasonable line at a Mexican joint on the pier. They had a house special Guacamole that they made a the table. It was fantastic. Big chunks of fresh avocado never disappoint. Some Drinks, some Mole and Carne Asada and we were done.
Tomorrow we board the boat.