Vancouver to San Diego Part Fourteen: The End

Sept 28

6:50 am awake

I got up and had my traditional coffee in the cockpit. I’m gonna miss that. I spent some time watching the to and fro of the marina. A fire truck just backed out of the complex and it had a stand-up paddle board strapped to the top. I guess we really are in LA.

The crew took off for a run and I headed off at a more sedate pace to walk down to Venice Beach. They will give me a call when they are finished their tribulations and we will meet for breakfast.

I walk down Ocean to Washington and head for the seaside. Almost to the beach, I encounter a young crazy dude railing against two tattooed muscle boys outside a crowded coffee place. The tattooed dudes are all like “ya ya, move it along” and the crazy one is all like “it’s a violation of nature and the constitution and shit.” I just keep on trucking.

A mile or so after leaving Marina Del Rey I reach the Venice Pier and see my first real “California” beach. Did you know the sand is groomed overnight? Not a footprint on most of it. There are a few casual commuters this early but mostly it’s just me and the surfers at 8:30 am. I’m not sure if it’s a pre-work surf or just the start of a very long day of hanging 10.

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I walk out pier a bit to observe their technique and then head back to start walking down the beach. The shadows are still long and the sand is incredibly pristine. I guess the beaches are as “manicured” as the people here in Tinsel Town.

I get tired of plodding through the sand and walk down the path, which as I am later corrected, is actually the boardwalk. The walk is still pretty sleepy with none of the shops open yet.

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I wander through a movie set or tv show being filmed or something. I was just looking at all the tents and food and stuff when I noticed them off loading gear and all the movie trailers, I suppose filled with starlets and famous types. I thought about asking what it was and then I thought I would just wander off before I was escorted off.

The big black and white LAPD helicopter buzzed the beach a couple of times…this is just like being in TV! There are cops and life guards and ooh, it’s just so exciting.

Mark called and told me to pick a place for breakfast so I headed back toward the pier. As I approached the coffee shop where the confrontation happened there were 3 or 4 cop cars and motorcycles and 2 LA fire engines. The crazy dude was surrounded by casual-seeming, uniformed personnel and the muscle dudes were nowhere to be seen. I have to imagine the situation escalated after I left. But it didn’t look like they were gonna do much to crazy dude; although I wonder why the overwhelming response of equipment and people.

We met for breakfast at the Terrace. While I sat in Venice Beach just on the outskirts of Santa Monica (which was my next destination after breakfast), what should come on the radio but All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow. It made me laugh.

I parted ways with everyone as they headed back to the boat and then on to Costco. I retraced my steps back down the beach heading to the Santa Monica Pier which was apparently about 6K away. Things were starting to open now. Everything from head shops to t-shirts places to surf shops. Along the way I encountered Muscle Beach, with its weight equipment and even a mini-stadium. It’s a real thing but unfortunately had no muscle dudes to populate it. Maybe its a summer thing?

Bike rentals seem to be the big thing here with literally dozens of places that rent all sorts of bikes. There is also a Green Doctors medical marijuana analysis business with tons of franchisees all dressed in lime green scrubs.

Santa Monica pier is packed with restaurants, shops, an amusement park and even a trapeze school where you could watch wannabe trapeze artists try and fail to fly through the air. It was great fun but man it has to be frustrating to miss, climb back up, miss, climb back up etc. It is also, apparently, the official end of Route 66.

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I head into town on my way back and walk down Main Street; lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. As I leave the core I come across those incredibly lush community gardens right in the middle of the residential area. Things grow big here and it’s nice to see the set aside room for gardens. The residential lots are certainly too small to grow anything. The houses range from affluent to ramshackle and the breadth of gardens and boulevard trees is amazing. Everything from palms to azaleas in the boulevards with succulent gardens. And even the occasional well-tended patch of grass. I also passed a couple of dog parks. They are all dirt here; I suppose with the lack of rain that dirt is easier to maintain than grass.

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I am so, so hot as I headed back. I bought an ice-cold Gatorade halfway home but the sweat has been pouring off me. The boat is empty when I got back so I drink a couple of gallons of water, soak my face with cold water and relax with a couple more gallons.

Eventually everyone shows up in a cab with their haul from Costco. I help haul the boxes below and finish up my second last blog post while Donna unpacks.

Tim heads out to do some “projects”. The dinghy had been missing from the davits when I got back and I found it over on the dock. He was cleaning it and spraying on UV protectant. I lent a hand applying a stencil he had gotten made up and then we spray-painted the name of the boat on the side.

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Somewhere around then I realized I was starting to get sunburnt ankles so I ducked back in to slather on the sunscreen. It would suck to come back painfully burnt on my last day.

All done with chores, Tim and I had a beer and I read for a bit as it started to cool down — it was after 5:30 by then. Sunset comes early here.

There is some talk of heading up to the club for the hockey game but it comes to nothing. A good thing really, since there actually was no game; we were apparently a day early. So we relaxed some more before we sat down in Sea Esta for a lovely Costco roast-chicken dinner and some wine.

It’d been a long hot sweaty day so I hit the shower. Of cours,e while I bring a clean shirt, I forget my towel drying on the life lines. Are you still clean if you use your dirty, sweaty t-shirt to dry off with?

And then it’s time to enjoy my last night in SoCal up on deck. We are waiting for Jim and Mark to return from their galavanting at the club so we can enjoy Tim’s 90-year-old mothers’ pound cake with fresh whipped cream and a good soaking in booze. And then we wait. And wait. And wait. Seems the party is going on up on the club’s deck and it’s not looking like they are going to be disengaging anytime soon. Eventually Donna makes the executive decision that if the mountain isn’t coming to the pound cake, then the pound cake is going to the mountain.

They slice me a delicious piece and then head off to the club to distribute the goodness. It sounds a bit too rowdy up there for someone as sober as I am. I enjoy my piece existing the temptation to just lick off all the whipped cream. But they aren’t gone long (apparently it was a bit too drunk out for them as well) and they bring the remnants back after only a short while.

And then it’s time for bed. I pack most of my stuff and then grab my book to “read” for a bit…mostly with my eyes closed.

Sept 29

6:30 am awake

Last Day. I pack up my remaining stuff and have my last cup of coffee. There was a heavy dew last night so I stay below as everything we didn’t put away is soaked.

Mark has booked a cab for 9:30 so we are good to go. Then I just hang out and chill. I am going to leave my new inflatable pfd behind as my share of the voyage costs. Northwest Passage needs another one with an integrated harness and I had agreed to chip in for beer and fuel and stuff so it’s an equitable exchange, although Tim and Donna kindly insist it’s not necessary. Still, it seems reasonable to me and my bag is already too full.

Then I have my my last, last cup of coffee.

By 8:30 I am already sweating. It’s going to be another hot one. But I left a fleece in my carry-on for home where it’s only going to be 14°.

Tim and I stick our noses in the bilge for a while and scratch our heads over the intermittent bilge pump cycling. At 2:00 am last night the pump started to cycle endlessly. Like on Never for Ever the pump can’t suck out all the water and always drops whatever’s in the hose back into the bilge. But on Northwest Passage the float switch seems to be miss-positioned and it always dumps just enough water to set off the float switch again and restart the cycle. This will just keep happening until someone uses the manual pump to take a tiny bit more water out. Which I did when it woke me up. It seems like it should be an easy fix but you never know. That’s why boats are so much fun.

Eventually Mark called over and we all trouped up to the parking lot to await the cab. A few pictures, smiles, handshakes, hugs and thanks all around and Mark and I were off. Partings can be so abrupt sometimes.

Traffic was light until we hit LAX then it just slowed to a crawl. But eventually we stopped in front of Terminal 2 and Mark and I shook and parted ways. Westjet was a bit further down but oddly to me, all the airlines are actually separated by walls so you have to walk outside. I guess that makes sense in rainless California.

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After checking in, walking on to the security is also done outside. It went pretty quick and soon enough I was in line for a slice of pizza to enjoy while I waited. I did see an older couple take a header in the escalator. There were three of them and I think it was a chain reaction with only the fellow on the end remaining in his feet. The other gentleman and a lady were sprawled almost upside down legs and arms akimbo. The attendant did stop the escalator almost immediately but no one made any moves to help right away. Seemed an odd reaction to me. But I think everyone was ok.

10:00 am LAX
33° 56.8032? N,118° 24.2354? W

And then I waited. And typed on my phone and watched the hustle and bustle.

We boarded about 20 minutes before take off. This 737-800 has no entertainment system at all…unusual. My Plus seat comes with complimentary water and massive leg room. The middle seat is a fold down table with a
cup holder and space to store my reader…posh! I get free lunch and free booze (which I don’t avail my self of) and a hot towel for who knows what reason.

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California from the air is as strange to me as California from the sea. Low dry mountain ranges interspersed with flat populated areas give way to intermittent drier mountain ranges and densely crowded, flat agricultural zones. Much like the Okanogan, water is seemingly both abundant and completely absent. It is not at all as I have imagined it. I don’t know why I have always associated California with lush even though I know its generally one big desert. Live and learn…

4:00 pm MDT
53° 17.7835? N,113° 34.4861? W

Touchdown. My bag is the first one off the carousel. That never happens.

And voila, c’est tout.