(This page last modified 9 October 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 1

Locations: Mountain View, CA; Manhattan Beach, CA; Irvine, CA
Dates: 8/20/96 - 8/24/96

departure photoAround 4:15 pm on Tuesday 8/20/96, I finished packing up my car, said goodbye to Arthur, and hit the road.

I had decided to take Highway 1 south from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles. I had also decided to leave by 10 am that morning so as to have daylight for most of the trip; it seemed pointless to nearly double driving time if I wasn't going to get to see spectacular scenery. But I didn't manage to be ready 'til 4, and I really didn't want to delay departure another day. I decided to head out, try to get past Santa Cruz before rush-hour traffic hit, and try to get past Big Sur before it got dark. I hadn't decided whether to spend the night on the road or drive on through to Manhattan Beach.

sunset photoI did manage to avoid most of the heavy traffic, though things got slow leaving Santa Cruz on the way to Monterey. The scenery was indeed spectacular, but I was mostly too busy staying on the road to look at it. I stopped here and there to look at the ocean and take pictures; wanted to stop at a beach and spend some time there, but never found a convenient one.

Called Joaquin a couple of times from the road after it got dark, trying to decide whether to push on through or not. Was reluctant to stay at a motel my first night on the road; I want to keep some semblance of a budget while I'm traveling.

Finally decided to nap for a couple of hours at a rest stop between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. I think whoever invented freeway rest stops (as implemented on interstates, anyway) should get a medal.

Arrived at Joaquin's place in Manhattan Beach around 4:30 am on Wednesday. Woke up Joaquin, as he'd asked me to do on arrival -- I think he was getting up in an hour or so anyway. He showed me to a room and I went to sleep.

When I got to inspect it the next day, Joaquin's place turned out to be quite nice -- unexpectedly spacious, lots of hidden corners and surprising side spaces. One of Joaquin's housemates was out of town; I got to stay in a gigantic room, with a panoramic view of the ocean two blocks away. I spent a couple of hours that afternoon on the beach, mostly reading and people-watching.

For the next couple of days, I quite happily did essentially nothing. Caught up on email, worked a little on a screenplay, did some reading. I met some of Joaquin's friends; my first valet parking experience, and my first time meeting people "for drinks." Was a little intimidated by the idea, as I don't much like alcohol, but it became clear that ordering lemonade was perfectly acceptable. We met at a semi-posh Santa Monica place called Shutters. These particular friends were from the Reardon Program, which I gather is supposed to train young professionals to be on the boards of non-profit organizations, under the aegis of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Cool people, though I had my usual problems interacting with people I don't know. One of my goals for this trip is to get better at such interactions, less uncomfortable with them. As I was leaving home, Arthur told me: "Talk to people. They won't bite you." I'm trying to take his advice.

On Friday afternoon, I drove down to Irvine to visit Jessica and Matt Turner. Was amazed (for the first time this trip but far from the last) at how long it takes to get from one place to another in what I consider the LA area; took about an hour and a half to drive from Manhattan Beach to Irvine. In my usual disorganized fashion, I failed to contact other friends in Irvine that trip. Had a good Persian dinner and the usual scintillating conversation that the Turners always provide, on topics ranging from neurobiology to psychology, to scientific methodology, to the possibilities for neural interfaces to computers, to UFOs and conspiracy theories. We spent Saturday afternoon walking on the beach in Newport Beach, next to Irvine.

At some point I filled up my gas tank; was delighted to find that I was getting nearly 50 mpg. The Geo Metro is the perfect car for me. I need a name for it, though.

Saturday evening I drove back to Manhattan Beach to attend a party for a Reardon person. Met more cool folx, made smalltalk, and left early.

Sunday came next.


Movies, Books, etc.

Of Tangible Ghosts, L. E. Modesitt
Intriguing alternate-history setup (what if ghosts were real?), boring execution.
Repo Man (screenplay)
Fun to finally read the screenplay after seeing the movie about ten times. Not much that I hadn't already gleaned from the movie, though.
Nick of Time
Cute gimmick, mediocre execution.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>