Moments, in words and images, of our ~7000 mile, 11 day journey across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.
Missed the beginning? It starts with my 8/6/13 “…Prelude” post
Short on Time? Just visit the Photos
Thanks! And, comments are always appreciated
Approximate route covering the first 6 days
Exploring L.A. to Malibu on a 75 mile loop
Late night exit from L.A.: 180 miles to San Luis Obispo
Friday, Aug. 18, 1967 255 miles, about 19 hours
After a superb breakfast at nearby Uncle #2’s house, we thanked all for their extreme hospitality and left Van Nuys around 10 AM, PDT, well rested, eager to explore Los Angeles on our own, and swim in the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful warm day. Familiar California songs ran across our minds, if not on the radio: “California Sun,” the Rivieras; “77 Sunset Strip,” theme from the popular TV series. Our agenda was open and the day in Southern California was before us.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stop the car, run around with the tourists, and GO!
We would drive west along Hollywood Blvd., then two blocks south to Sunset Blvd. and it’s famous “Strip.” Historical Note: (See my post of 8/6/13: “…Prelude,”) A year ago to this date, the relatively unknown rock group “The Doors” were fired as the house band at the prestigious Sunset-Strip club Whiskee a’-go go as Jim Morrison became increasingly profane, thereby gaining popularity and eventually ascending from the fringes in the early rock culture.
Bill Cosby headlining the Whiskee a’ go go
We explored some of affluent Beverly Hills, crossing over the Santa Monica Mountains to the Ventura Freeway, now headed to the coast
Palm-tree lined streets in Beverly Hills
Land is at a premium in the canyons
Our road maps would take us back down through the mountains and canyons (Think: The Mammas and The Papas: Twelve-Thirty!) along Las Virgines Road to Malibu Canyon Road from which we would see the Pacific Ocean, each for our first time. It was 12:50 PM, with 3733 miles on the odometer. Shortly, we were on California 1, the Coastal Highway, and would park at Malibu Pier.
Eager to get in the Pacific Ocean
Tom and I walked a few hundred yards to the other side of the pier, changed, and were in the water in seconds. Then soaking up the sun up on a blanket, watching the surfers, and distracted by a California girl sitting near, alone “by the ocean floor,” as The Beach Boys “Surfer Girl” harmonized mentally within. We were close to the prime surfing spot, here in Southern California, on the beach, and it couldn’t get much better. Yes it could! Rent a surfboard for $4 an hour!
California Girls – Malibu
Neither Tom nor I had ever been on a surfboard. Our skills (or lack of) were obvious to the hard-core guys and girls out there a little to the right, where the waves were moderate but occasionally breaking nicely. After a while of paddling around, I got up the nerve to move closer to the action. Soon, THE wave approached. I started paddling feverishly, almost fell off before even trying to stand, regained control, and, being really psyched now, made my move to stand, and thinking: ….to the awe and reverence of those on the beach… Then: “DON”T DO IT! DON’T DO IT MAN!” came the commanding call from…where??? Behind. I dropped down before I even got up, wondering… WHAT? And two perfect guys with their perfect little dude surfer boards caught MY wave and perfectly (annoyingly!) surfed perfectly past me towards the beach.
I would try a few more times and actually manage to stand for… about 4 seconds. Dejected, I went back to the blanket, dragging the board behind, as next, Tom’s performance was (I thought,) only marginally better! Well, ok, better!
Kowabunga! Marty Surfin Malibu!
We actually savored our fortune to be enjoying this special place of lore, and would spend some three hours there relaxing and enjoying the scene. After each calling home, me dropping a fortune in quarters into a beach-side pay phone, (which sounded more like a slot machine,) we were back in the car headed down the coast, casually discussing where we might go next. It was about 4:00 PM
Historical Note: After passing Santa Monica Pier, actually the western terminus of Rt. 66, we would soon see Pacific Ocean Park, on its ocean-jutting pier, which was once envisioned to compete with Disneyland. (Re.: The Beach Boys again: “Lets Do Amusement Parks USA!”) But changing demographics and then urban revitalization projects were followed by significantly decreasing attendance which would result in the the park closing forever – which happened quietly about a month after we drove by.
Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica
With several options, we decided to return to Sunset Blvd. on this Friday night, although heavy traffic would make it a long ordeal. Once there, we cruised Sunset Strip for a few more hours with thousands of others, slowely driving one end to the other and back a number of times enjoying the energy, and eating at one of the many sidewalk cafe’s, intrigued and amused by the “hippie” sub-culture. Trying to tell male from female was a pastime, as we ate our cheeseburgers, clearly out of place in our casual but suburban NJ attire. (Historical Note: This was to become known as “The Summer of Love,” a legitimate and powerful cultural transformation gaining momentum and flourishing right here, and in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.)
Aside from the older tourists, it was different from New York’s Times Square, with which we were familiar. There was a genuine air of camaraderie here, a unification, easy purpose with a pervasive carefree attitude – undeniably fueled by seemingly restrained, almost passive authority… and drugs. For myself, I may have felt a little inwardly elitist, morally (perhaps) resisting the temptation of a different and intriguing lifestyle. But we were observers, not partakers, and despite the amusement and curiosity would soon jump back into the MGB (often and shamelessly by not using the doors…) and begin our exit out of Los Angeles.
There was one more stop, however, right there on The Strip across from the comparatively mundane (think: expensive, older, out of our priority) Los Angeles Playboy Club. There, …was the furskin-covered car, displaying the various fur skins and rugs of a self made hunter-enterpreneur (or so he implied!) Tom and I would dole out somewhat disproportionate funds to validate the feelings for our often thought of girlfriends back home.
Well patronized fur guy in gas station lot across from the Los Angeles Playboy Club
It was 11:15 PM, on Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, California, and $2.00 put 6.5 gallons (US) into the MGB’s tank (that’s $.31 per gallon.) We were tired, but cruised a bit more before leaving the city at a little after midnight. Tom was driving now, out Venture Freeway, California State 101 as I fell asleep. At about 2:30 AM with 4004 miles, we pulled off the side of the road for the night, just south of San Luis Obispo.
Day 7, Up the coast to San Francisco http://wp.me/p37YEI-Q5
12 thoughts on “The Great American Road-Trip – Day 6”
Kowabunga indeed! Wow, loved this. It’s really great reading about this part of your trip, seeing these very familiar places to me but from the 60s. Places I’ve visited so many times. Gas prices are just a bit different now, although still much cheaper than here in the UK! Wonder where you pulled over to sleep? We lived in San Luis Obispo county for 17 years, in Los Osos and then for 10 years in Paso Robles so I know that part of the world very well 🙂 We used to drive the Ventura Freeway all the time to see the grandparents in LA, and then later when we moved to Paso, we took Highway 5, The Grapevine. Looking forward to the next part of your adventure 🙂
I don’t think Rt 101 was dualized in ’67 just south of San Luis Obispo, but we just pulled over off the shoulder and slept, probably near San Luis Bay Drive. We were too tired to be particular. Traffic was likely at a minimum. But the next day we awoke well after sunrise, disappointed to find it cloudy – with the anticipation of the Coastal Rt 1 ahead. We would pass into San Luis Obispo, and take Rt 1 left, to Morro Bay, then continue north, after passing near your second California hometown of Los Osos. What was Morro Bay like? Did you do any boating in the area? (Thanks for the comments as usual!) M
Morro Bay is a deligthful fishing ‘village’ only about 10 mins from Los Osos. Famous for Morro Rock, a massive prehistoric rockface jutting out of the sea. We used to take the kids there all the time, walk along the small Embarcadero, visit the seals and the aquarium. We had a canoe and used to paddle over to an island and take a picnic and the kids would love to try and catch the sea cucumbers.in the shallow water. Stange creatures those! Morro Bay is so familiar to me that is feels like home, I visited it again when I returned to CA in April, first time for 10 years. Will have to do a blog about it and post some pics, just for you to see! San Luis itself is a beautiful town too. My middle son was born there and my eldest son attended Cal Poly there. So you see, we have a big history there 🙂
I’ll be looking for that post when you get to it. We’re hoping to get out to that area and explore in the next year or two. Unfortunately, when we passed by in ’67, that morning was cloudy and foggy, obscuring much of interest until further north. As I’ve often said, we’ll be back again someday… M
Thanks M! Yes, when it was hot inland it would be quite cold and foggy with the marine layer by the water. San Francisco was the same, as you know. I do hope that you get to go out there as planned. I would recommend September or October, or June, as a good time, to avoid the fog. But I do miss hearing that fog horn in the distance every day…
I’m putting together the next leg shortly, and the fog is to be noted. Good advice as to the better time of year. M
This was the trip of a lifetime. I’m so glad you are sharing it with the rest of us!
It was certainly a great adventure especially at that early time Re-living it through this project has been pretty amazing in itself. Thanks for your comments usual. M
Thanks for sharing this beautiful retro trip. Your pictures area wonderful and the stories very detailed. Regarding Morro Bay I have to agree with Sherri – amazing plaze! One of my highlights on the route SF to LA.
YOUR coming posts are eagerly awaited, as they have been fascinating, in many cases sharing our experiences of the same regions and the “then and now” aspect. AND … Morro bay gets TWO thumbs up! M 😊
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I had read the series before . . . did not remember the surfing attempt.