Day One – The Last Hurrah – Friday 7th April

When I reach old Los Angeles, California, you oughta hear me jump an’ shout Now the people in Los Angel’, they didn’t know what it’s all about. —Lane Hardin, “California Desert Blues,” 1935

And just like that, the time has come to commence our last road trip to the old U.S. and A (The Last Hurrah). We are up at 3:10 AM to get to the airport for the first leg of the journey, a short hop on to Sydney. Cara has kindly offered to drive us. We take a quick detour down to Willy to pick up our travelling mates, Bernie and Hoff. As could be imagined at that time of the morning there is not a lot of traffic. We are flying with Delta although the first flight to Sydney is with their affinity partner Qantas. Bernie’s neighbour is a Qantas pilot and although he is not piloting our plane, he arranged for 4 small bottles of bubbly to be delivered to our seats once we took off. The hostess said we must be V.I.P.

It was a smooth flight to Sydney and the check-in with Delta was painless. Our flight to L.A. leaves a little after 9 AM. I had a quick scan of the available movies and was very pleased to see the 2022 release of “Jazz Fest A New Orleans Story” was showing. A good start to a long flight. Airplane food gets a bad rap in general, but I must say the food served throughout the flight was pretty good and the service was friendly. Well done to you DELTA. We landed in L.A. a little ahead of time just after 6 AM. As is the case I didn’t get any sleep during the flight.

No problems getting through Border Control. My fingerprints could not be lodged on the little pad thingy they use which was a bit strange. We caught a shuttle bus to pick up our hire car, the company aptly being named ALAMO. Bernie and Hoff completed the paperwork and we were told to go out to the lot to pick whichever SUV we fancied. We finish up with a Chrysler Voyager with Idaho plates. As Bernie and Hoff are very seasoned travellers, they ensured we has a spare tire (American spelling) and took some photos of the exterior as well. Now comes the hard part. Bernie has not driven in the States for a number of years and an L.A. freeway will be a rude awakening. It is still Good Friday here and pretty much a normal working day. Easter is not a holiday event like in Oz. There is no onboard navigation system but the hiring company does supply a Tom Tom (are they still a thing in Oz). Hoff is our official navigator and they both do a magnificent job negotiating the freeway. I will never be scared of our Western Ring road again, there are cars flying everywhere and roads merging and twisting, and a sky full of vast concrete flyovers. I start singing a Guy Clarke song over and over in my head “If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway, without getting killed or caught, down that road in a cloud of smoke, to some land I ain’t bought, bought, bought”.

The traffic is relentless, but time passes quickly by just reading the different road signs to turn-offs to towns that are well known. To our left is a mountain range still snow-capped. Weird looking at the view of snow through L.A. palm trees. Oh. There goes a turn-off to Newport Beach. Now to our left are grass hills with the mountains further behind.

The first stop is College Town Riverside. We stretch our legs and head to a T. Moble outlet to get a SIM card. Daniel was in charge and he did a great job together with his assistants, one of the girls commented on my NOLA tattoo as it is her favourite city. Found a decent place for a recovery coffee and we then headed to “Trader Joe’s” grocery market for some food supplies, well booze. They are selling a range of N.Z. whites but no Oz wine. I did take a photo of a license plate GODCNDO there may be something in it as they had a good parking spot. Haven’t spotted any MAGA nutter-butters yet.

Off again for the second leg. Bernie has settled into driving on the “wrong side “ of the road like the U.S. citizen he once was.

We just went past the Sonny Bono Memorial Drive which makes sense as Palm Springs is nearby and from memory, he was once the Mayor of that well-heeled enclave. There is a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains to our left but we are still on a 5-lane freeway.

Another quick stop at a Walmart for a wander around. We need to kill some time as we can’t check into our accommodation for a while yet. I was tempted to use one of the enormous ride-on shopping carts. I should be o.k. as the maximum weight for the rider is 275 kilos!

Another stop-over at Beaumont. Hoff had done a Mr. Google and found a BBQ diner. “Cornerstone BBQ” The food was magnificent and on the off chance you ever stop in this small town, you need to go there.

The terrain is starting to change to more like our saltbush as we head through rolling hills covered with wildflowers, blue, yellow, and white the predominant colours. Just ahead are miles and miles of wind turbines. We are a mere 9 miles from Yucca Valley where Joshua trees will abound. Our final destination the small highway town of Joshua Tree is now only 19 miles ahead of us. We made it! Time was 3:23 PM as we headed past the infamous Joshua Tree Inn where the legendary musician Gram Parsons tragically died. Bernie told me you can book room 8 the very room Gram passed in at a premium to the other motel rooms. For those unfamiliar with Gram and his music legacy and this weird story check this out’s%20funeral%20in,the%20body%20in%20the%20desert.

I promise you will not be disappointed with the macabre story.

Checked into our Air BnB on Granada Drive which is most acceptable. Must say I am absolutely knackered. Hoff and Wendy decide to go for a walk which to Bernie and I seems a little crazy. Hoff came back telling a tale of being attacked by a cactus while taking photos and one of Wendy’s boots has fallen apart.

So ends the first day of a near on five-week trip. We are gunna have fun. Hope you stay along for the journey.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. All the ‘Blues Song” quotes you will read are from a great book “Barrel House Words – A Blues Dialect” by author Stephen Calt.

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