Los Angeles is another world…The traffic is outrageous!…Fun dinner out with Julie…

We encountered hundreds of wind turbines as we entered California.

It was a perfect road trip. We decided we’d be OK with burning some data on Google Fi at $10 a gig and would listen to podcasts while on this long road trip, ending in Minnesota around May 10. While here, we won’t listen to any Garage Logic and other podcasts as we do daily and save the episodes for the remainder of the drive across part of the US.

For our friends and readers who live outside the US, here is a map of the country showing how far we’ll be driving from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, with a stop in Salt Lake City.

United States political map

Road trips across the entire US can be made by car in about five days without having to drive 12-hour days. We prefer to drive about six hours daily since I have to be mindful of not getting swollen feet and legs on longer drives due to my heart condition.

Yesterday, we drove for about 6½ hours, and that was plenty. We stopped every few hours to get out of the vehicle and walk around. Plus, we stopped for breakfast at the beginning of our trip and then for fuel partway through.

But the magic of yesterday’s trip was using our new Bluetooth speaker, paired with Tom’s phone, to listen to the podcasts. Tom’s lousy hearing, especially when driving due to road noise, makes it easy for him to hear the podcasts. This made a world of difference to him, and I also enjoyed listening.

The hours flew by, and before we knew it, we checked into our hotel, the Comfort Inn in Santa Monica. We have never booked a Comfort Inn in the past and were concerned it wouldn’t be a good hotel. We didn’t expect much at $216 a night in this expensive area. But it’s OK with comfortable bedding, good parking, and clean rooms and facilities.

The traffic started picking up about one hour before we reached Los Angeles.

After all, this isn’t a “vacation.” This is a part of our daily travels concerning where we’ll rest our heads at night, and although in most cases, it’s lovely locations, hotels such as this are OK from time to time. We slept well and welcomed the larger bathroom and sleeping area over the tiny spaces in Apache Junction, living in a park model.

Fortunately, we could use some credits we’d accumulated with Expedia as VIP members, bringing the cost down by over $250 for the three nights. Dining out for the three of us will run an average of $175 per night. Breakfast is included with our hotel reservation. It’s the usually processed eggs, ham, and a few odds and ends, most of which I don’t eat. I had a small container of cream cheese, a dollop of processed eggs, and a few thin slices of Canadian bacon. That was fine. It will hold us until dinner tonight.

Snow on the mountains in California.

Speaking of dinner, we went to a fantastic restaurant in Brentwood, the Wood Ranch. The only odd thing both Julie and I observed was that the red wine was served too cold for our liking. We asked for room-temperature red wine, but the waiter informed us all the red wine was kept cold. These were good wines. I didn’t understand why they kept them so cold.

The waiter was happy to oblige and swapped our glasses for white wines, which are best chilled, and we were content. The smoky open-fire grilled food was delicious. Tom had the beef brisket with mashed potatoes, beans, and all three buns served at the table, which neither Julie nor I would eat. See the photo below.

These rolls looked and smelled delicious. My guy ate all three of them. He sure likes his bread, doesn’t he?

I failed to take other food photos, but the conversation was lively and animated, and I completely forgot to take food photos. Nonetheless, the meal was divine and well worth the $140 bill for us.

We will try another of Julie’s favorite restaurants closer to the beach tonight. Julie and I will look up menus today and see what works for all three of us. Tomorrow, the “cousins” lunch is in Los Alamitos, about 45 minutes from here in traffic. There will be nine of us.

I’m looking forward to seeing my cousins, whom I have seen in about 60 years. Oh, good grief, I must be old.

Tom will drive Julie and me to her doctor’s appointment at UCLA Medical this morning and pick us up when we’re done. Then, he’ll drop us off at her house, where she and I will stay and chat until he returns to pick us up around 4:00 pm to head to the beach and then dinner. He’ll gladly spend some quiet time alone in the hotel in the afternoon. It will be another good day.

This trip to California will certainly be worth the detour of our route to Minnesota, and of course, seeing my sister after four years is lovely.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 2, 2014:

It was odd to see these blue jeans in the souk. For more photos, please click here.

We are on the move… California or bust…

Soon, I will replace my phone since the camera isn’t working well.

This morning, shortly after 8, the RAV 4 rental vehicle was loaded with our belongings, and we headed out the door. We were thrilled we got the roomy SUV for our road trip over the next several days with a 3-night stop in California to see my sister Julie. The rental contract for which we paid $1800 continues in Minnesota until May 30, when we will book another car.

We looked at old posts to recall how long it had been since we saw her. It was in November 2019 when she visited Minnesota while we were there.

So much has transpired since then. No doubt we will have plenty of catching up to do. We’ve occasionally chatted on the phone but nothing compares to talking in person.

After a short drive, we stopped for breakfast this morning at a Denny’s. The food was fresh and tasty and quickly we were back on the road.

As of now, on I10, we have 300 more miles to go until we reach our hotel in Santa Monica, a short distance from Julie’s house. We will get settled in our hotel, freshen up, and pick her up for our 6:30 dinner reservation.

We’ve yet to cross the Arizona/California border. We haven’t been on this road since 2013, on our way to San Diego to board our first cruise on Celebrity Century through the Panama Canal. It ended in Florida when we boarded another cruise after staying a few nights with my friend Carol.

That cruise took us to Belize, where we stayed for two and a half months. It was truly in the beginning of our exciting worldwide travels. We had no idea of the adventures that lie ahead of us.

Last evening, we had a lovely dinner at JJ Madison with Colleen and Margie. Afterward, we returned to our place, packed a few more items, streamed a few shows, and headed to bed by 11.

As we travel on this long highway to California we don’t see any exciting photo ops. We are in the Sonoran and soon-to-be Mohave deserts, a barren and mostly uninhabited area of the Southwest.

I continue to scan our surroundings for photo ops and will post anything worthy of posting. We will be back with more tomorrow.

We just entered California with 234 more miles to go.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 1, 2014:

These dried fruits and nuts create an eye-appealing display. Most of the nuts are unsalted. On the right is a tray of essential oils, quality undetermined. For more photos, please click here.