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1998-07-22 - 03:57:53

Huntington Beach

MONDAY, JULY 20, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIF. — Well, this is pretty much the halfway point. I’ve got a week here, but I think the trip is about half over — I don’t have as many stops on the way back as I did coming out. It’s been great — it’s like I have hardly started it, everyday almost is a new beginning. I leave one place only to go to another — the adventures don’t end simply because I leave a place — Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. I can hardly believe I’m in California and I saw the Pacific today — going home will be really weird.

So I did what I planned — woke up at 3:30, snoozed ‘til 3:37, showered, packed and left at 4:05. Stops in Quartzsite, Ariz., and by the Patton Museum — not yet open at 7 or 8 a.m. — in California before passing Palm Springs and reaching L.A. County around 9:30 or so. It took another 90 minutes — no, two hours — to get to Jeff’s. We went to lunch down by the beach and watched some of the surfers from the pier — the U.S. Surf Open is going on this week. I dropped off seven rolls of film and then napped while Jeff worked and then went to class. I chatted with Bryan, touched base with Karen, left a message for Courtenay (to get Barb’s number to try to meet up with her and Mike, who are somewhere in this state) and went for a quick burger. Then wrote out postcards and finally saw an episode of Ally McBeal — very good, very clever, very entertaining, and very well-written. When Jeff returned, he got online and I was then able to e-mail Jamie, Brad, Heather, Michelle and Mom.

Driving along the California freeways, I remembered where I was — earthquake country — and every time I went beneath an overpass, I looked up, feeling for tremors so I’d be ready to brake or speed up to prevent the roads from falling on me. Also noticed the smog as I got closer to L.A. — as I rounded a turn at one point what should’ve been a wonderful view of downtown was barely visible through the haze. At least it’s cooler here — a pleasant 70s and 80s, even with the sun — nice sea breezes. It’s been eight years since I’ve been to California and it’s exciting to be back. Hopefully I’ll get to that Saving Private Ryan premiere, even if it just is to gawk.

Pre-dawn desert driving and sweet-smelling landscape was pleasant exit from Arizona. The sun coming up behind me outside Phoenix, chasing me to LA and not quite rising overhead at noon before I reached Huntington Beach at 11:29. In the desert there’s a fragrant, sweet aroma on the road caused by the surrounding vegetation. It’s not a smell I’ve ever found anywhere else — perhaps it can’t be recreated. The desert is a different world — dry, flat land reaching out to the mountains, the hills, the towering rock formations, the mesas. It’s different from any other American region.

Desert morning scents
Shoot through open car windows
Along Highway 10

Los Angeles smog
Greets all the crazy drivers —
There's sunshine somewhere

TUESDAY, JULY 21, HUNTINGTON BEACH — Jeff and I continued our bachelor existence. Breakfast, talking, then we caught a matinee of Everest — good movie, and I’m glad I saw it. Now I’ve got the book on the disaster too. That climb is nothing I ever want to do. Those who try are amazing — just for trying. The training, dedication and concentration that goes into it all is so much more than I’ve ever done. Some scenes were staged and/or reshot in Colorado and New Hampshire — I saw the end credits.

These clocks — wall, Jeff’s watch and mine — all just announced 1 a.m., each about a minute after the other.

Lunch in Irvine and a walk around the mall-like outdoor kiosk marketplace there. Talk of the Hindenberg — a dirigible disaster because of the flammable coating of the outside, not because of the hydrogen. Back here we tinkered with my car, putting in oil, water, checking the air and setting up an appointment with Jeff’s guy. Then Barnes & Noble, where I got Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm, Travels With Charley and On The Road (audio) for the rest of this trip.

I tracked down Barb and Mike by calling Barb’s mom, then her grandmother in San Diego. Barb and Mike came up to LA tonight, checked into the Double Tree, then got a hold of me at Karen’s. We’re meeting for lunch tomorrow.

After a dip in the pool at Jeff’s complex, I headed up to Karen’s. Driving here is fun — I just feel cool to begin with, out on the LA freeways, seeing CHiPs guys everywhere. Then there’s the curved roads and high speeds , no more of this 85 mph straightaway passing trucks every five miles — it’s twisting, curving four and five-lane cruising with California drivers. So I got to Karen’s and we (Dave too) went for a walk in Redondo Beach, saw the Pacific, headed back and looked at pictures — mine from the trip. Then Barb called and I left shortly thereafter to come back for a relaxing night here and now bed ...

Triple chiming clocks —
All at different times though
A minute apart

Guys doing car stuff —
An ancient male ritual
Of the Ford family

WEDNESDAY, JULY 22, HUNTINGTON BEACH — Called Mom on her birthday to chat and stuff, and she talked to Jeff as well. We dropped my car off for a “90-point checkup” at Mike’s Auto Service and then grabbed breakfast at Woody’s — a real 50s place, not one of those retro recent joints, but a place that has survived since the 50s. After Jeff did some morning school work, we headed into Hollywood to meet Barb and Mike for lunch — and Jeff told me on the way up he’ll be on Jeopardy! Awesome — a close relative on perhaps the most popular game show on TV. He passed the test on his third try — 50 questions of “past, present and future” $1000 Double Jeopardy or Final Jeopardy questions; to be selected, 35 must be answered correctly. Then they do a mock game and get to try out the buzzers. Basically, the contestants are then on standby — they’ll get a phone call within 10 months or so telling them when they’ll be on. Five shows are filmed a day; two filming days per week. There’s an insider e-mail group for five-time winners and a book contestants use before appearing on the Tournament of Champions.

Met Mike and Barb at the Chinese Theater — Robert Young died and had a floral wreath on his star. We enjoyed lunch at a Hollywood Blvd. cafe talking about traveling, music, the future, the band — good catching up and chatting. As Mike said — we’re young, there’s no reason not to have fun and smile. Working to live, not living to work. Twenty-two with talent — go for it.

On the way back Jeff and I stopped in Santa Monica and took a few portraits and looked out over a scene that could’ve easily been from Baywatch — the yellow pickup next to the gray lifeguard hut out in the middle of vast sand expanse facing the ocean.

After the long congested ride back, Jeff went to class, I got my car, photos, and dinner, then returned to chill with the TV and write Ron and Holly in Washington. I’ve had a couple of nice days with some touring and some visiting — a good mix. But I feel I’m missing some things too, so maybe I’ll try to pick it up tomorrow.

Long beach stretches out —
Sun-splashed water reflection
Palm trees stretching high

Previous page: Phoenix
Next page: Redondo Beach

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