At the Big Rock in Malibu

Lazy. That’s what I am. I have been writing (or saying I am writing) a review of something but I haven’t gotten around to actually putting digital pen to paper. I could write that it’s because I am enjoying the scent so much, and that’s part of it, but the pure fact of it I have just been lazy.

It’s been hot here. I know, it’s been hotter where you are, (with the possible exception of Portia) and I get that: we don’t normally get humidity and for the past few weeks we have. Not so much that I feel like I am out on the Bayou, or even in a sticky NYC apartment, but enough to remind me why I moved 3300 miles to get away from that. That feeling of swimming through the air rather than walking and those little moisture droplets acting like a million little magnifying glasses. Ick. No thanks. I’ll stick to the AC in the office thanks.

Reading about other people’s travels have made me want to take a trip. Where of course is the question: I may have Claridge’s taste but I have a Cracker Barrel budget. Plus there’s the weather ick factor. Anywhere that isn’t here (except Australia) is doubtless having worse weather.

Piuma Road in Malubu

I love that March is taking the train to visit Patty. I am in love with the idea of trains and train travel. Perhaps having been spoiled by movies from “Murder on the Orient Express”, “North by Northwest”, or even “Silver Streak” trains seemed more glam- even with those pesky murders. Of course the reality in the States is that for various reasons our trains aren’t glam. They might have names like Pacific Surfliner but they aren’t a real substitute for flying or sometimes even driving. Trains also aren’t cheaper and take longer here: A non-stop from LA to SF is $80 and an overnight trip while the plane is a little more than half that and much less time. (of course when you factor in the PITA quotient into the plane it might be a wash, and as I wrote in the comments on March’s post I think I’d rather be put in a medically induced coma and Fed-Exed rather than dealing with the tender mercies of Frontier or their ilk)

From Lago Vista Drive in Beverly Hills

So that leaves driving.

I love to drive. I hate to commute, but I love to drive. Commuting is sitting there in traffic, cursing the day everyone else was born, merrily ignoring the fact that by sitting there in your Belchfire SUX, latte in hand, crawling through the rush hour mess, you are not part of the problem, you ARE the problem. Driving is piloting your car along the road, preferably top down, feeling the breeze and stopping at whatever looks interesting. Enjoying the feeling of controlling the machine you’re in. Seeing different and new places, whether it’s a fruit stand, a store, an old house or just a field.

At Bart’s Books in Ojai (no Bionic Woman in sight)

For years California PBS had shows featuring Huell Howser, a Tennessee native and former Marine who came to Los Angeles originally as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. Eventually he joined the local PBS station, KCET, and started producing ½ hour shows showcasing various off-beat places in California. (some the shows can be seen online here) Californians of a certain age will always remember his boyish demeanor and honest joy at finding someplace that had anything from planes to persimmons. All of which were a drive (or two) from LA. I’ve done my own day trips, but if I ever did win Looto money, I’d be on a road trip, doubtless starting on California’s Gold.

Are you going anywhere these days? Love driving? Hate it? Sound off in the comments

Photos are my own.

  • PatB says:

    We have been considering driving part of the Blue Ridge Parkway in October, but the thought of wallTo wall motor homes gives me pause. There’s little spontaneity left in travel if you want decent accommodations.

  • Calrayo says:

    I love Huell Howser! I have such a soft spot for his shows. My spouse and I both enjoy trains and are forever disappointed that the US doesn’t have nicer ones – our trips almost always involve extensive train and/or ferry travel (Norway, Scotland, Canada…). I take the train from the SF Bay Area into Sacramento from time to time. When it’s running well it beats driving on I-80, but if it has delays it’s a wash.

    • Tom says:

      Huell really put Palm Springs back on the map- until he started doing shows about it it was kind of forgotten, then it was the place to be.

      I wish we had good trains. Even if it were a wash time-wise for driving I’d rather take one if it was nice. Even a little nice. The ones in the East (at least in the late last century when I lived there were not. But at least some of them were cheap- I remember you could get from NYC to Old Saybrook on the commuter trains for a lot less than Amtrak.

  • Maggiecat says:

    We own a 5th wheel RV, so road trips are a fact of life in our house! I love the ability to drive, watch the scenery, stop when you want…Having been through flight cancellation hell in June (stuck in Detroit on our way home from Covid quarantine in Germany) I’m loath to fly again anytime soon.

    • Tom says:

      Having an RV must be so cool- the idea that you can just stop anywhere is wonderful.

      Covid has made travel, if possible. even worse.

  • Kathleen says:

    I don’t love driving; however, driving is my go-to vacation get away living in CO there are beautiful places nearby without having to spend more than about 6 hours per day in car which is my limit. Driving also allows my dog to join us on vacation which is important to me. Agreed, there is a sense of freedom while driving compared to being stuck in an airport/plane with usual delays and lines. I haven’t taken a train trip in years but would love that if feasible.

    • Tom says:

      I’ve driven through Colorado and it’s gorgeous. I’d love to go again.

      I didn’t consider it because I don’t have one, but yes, it’s great that you can bring your pet with you as well.

      At my age I am sure that 6 hours is all I could do..

      • Kathleen says:

        After living many places, I never take for granted the beauty of the mountains and CO terrain. If you ever drive through CO, stop by for a visit!

  • Musette says:

    I took the Southwest Chief west to Camp Patty, flirted with the hot,buff conductor…snoozed, ate almonds…did crosswords…

  • March says:

    Oh what a lovely post! I bet there are a million fabulous places to drive there. I’m actually enjoying the Midwest humidity right this second— out by the pool and cicadas singing!

    • Tom says:

      There are about a million places to drive here, and a lot of them are just day trips. I am hoping that I will get back to some of them now that gas prices have dropped some.

  • Dina C. says:

    I enjoy driving if there’s nice scenery. If I’m just looking at interstate highway road signs, then not so much. Thought of you last week because Netflix has a documentary series called “Street Food,” and the first episode covers a few places in Los Angeles. Then there’s an episode on Portland, then New York, and so on. If going out of town seems like too much hassle, maybe just check out a new eatery. Food offers lots of good smells.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah, if it’s just the interstate than it can be kind of a snooze. Unless it’s something like I-91 in New England in Autumn or the stretch of I-10 at the Cali/AZ border where it goes from golden California to red desert AZ at the river (as I remember it)

  • MMKinPA says:

    I used to love driving. Drove myself from Nebraska to the east coast and back several times in my 20’s. Now – perhaps better than flying but the knees and hips hurt! We took a rare driving trip to Hot Springs, VA earlier this summer – now we’re just going back and forth from Cleveland where our son is starting his first year playing football at Case Western (under 3 hours each way). Fortunately it hasn’t been blistering hot here (we get the gross humidity) for the last week or so.

    • Tom says:

      The thing about driving is you can stop and get out, and adjust your seat for comfort. I am way too poor to afford 1st class so I end with my knees under my chin in coach. I can stand it from LA to NY but I think I’d be crippled on a transcontinental flight..

  • cinnamon says:

    I don’t like driving as much as I used to. It’s fine going here and there around here, but I drove on our holiday back in June (not even that long — 1.5 hours each way plus local driving) and I just didn’t enjoy the longer stretches. I wouldn’t drive up to London now if there wasn’t a very good reason. Also, it’s awful driving here during tourist season, particularly on single track lanes (which normally are ok), where tourist (particularly the idiots in 4x4s) don’t understand the ‘rules’. Air travel … feh.

    • Tom says:

      I definitely try to time my driving. the freeways I try to avoid because people are nuts. Sometimes you will get behind someone from out of town who doesn’t know the streets and goes slower than a tortoise, but hey. they’re on vacation so why should I ruin it by leaning on the horn? Tour buses, however…

      • PatB says:

        I lived in LA 25 years, left in ‘94. I had many shortcuts, even if they involved alleys. Whenever I go there now, it seems as if rush hour is 24/7 and the drivers a lot worse. Am I right?

  • Carolyn says:

    My dad was a locomotive engineer for Canadian National for 40 years so you could say a love of trains is in my blood. When I was 6 years old, my mother and I took the train from Ontario all the way to Los Angeles to visit my aunt. It was epic! I especially enjoyed traveling through the Mohave Desert.

    • Tom says:

      I wish we had trains like that. Huallaga did a show about the one that used to run East from SF to Denver (or something) that had the double decker scenic cars. They must have been so cool.

    • AnnieA says:

      Sounds like a smashing trip!

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    I too love road trips but trains are my main love.
    We are embarking on a South Korea holiday to see Jin’s parents this week. Fly into Seoul, fast train to Busan, hire a car and then there will be loads of travelling to see relatives and have adventures.
    Can’t wait.
    Next time I’m in LA can we please take a few days to see San Francisco? I’ve never been.
    Portia xx

  • filomena813 says:

    I never loved driving until a deer destroyed my car, which I knew would have lasted me until I no longer lasted. However, in the interim, I managed to be privy to the availability of yet another old car that I eventually purchased and never realized how much freedom I missed until I no longer had a car. So now I have this old heap, and even though I cannot say I love the way it looks, etc., I love the freedom it gives me.

    • Tom says:

      Mines kind of an old heap, too (it photographs well). Completely impractical and kind of silly really, but it does give me that sense of freedom.