August 17, 2005 GMT
Deadman's Curve; No Place to Play

I sent out postcards to a few people who helped and supported me along my "trip of a lifetime," but for Mary--my hostess for two weeks in San Diego--a thank you card just wouldn't do. As a counselor, she helped me process the lessons from this trip and helped make sense of why and did this and what comes next. Her encouragement and thoughtfulness and generosity and patience made only one souvenir meaningful; the coveted cowboy hat. And it fits her perfectly. Thank you Mary.

Before leaving San Diego, Mary and I went up to Irvine to visit my oldest friend, Mark, whom I've known since way back in Jr. High, High School and College. He's got two great kids, and we took some great photos, but papa says they aren't ready for the white hot spotlight and international fame that this web journal brings. (Yeah right!)

From San Diego I took the Coast Highway up to Oceanside, then "I'ed the Five" up to Dana Point, where I rejoined it. The Pacific Coast Highway is supposed to be one of the most beautiful rides in the USA, but I think it refers to the part between San Luis Obisbo and San Francisco, because Long Beach ain't much to look at.

I had to get a picture of the giant pink doughnut sign, because apparently my instincts are correct; there was a time in this country where the pink doughnut was a huge draw. To prominently display a 15 foot diameter pink doughnut thirty feet high is to send out a beacon of hope to doughnut lovers for miles around. Who traveled the furthest to get to this sign after seeing it on the horizon, I wonder. There were no pink doughnuts inside this establishment. Iím preparing a false advertising class action on behalf of the citizens of Long Beach when I get home. We will settle for nothing less than free pink doughnuts for all.

I stayed with my friend Darryl in Playa Del Rey, and he took me along to a bar to meet with his agent, who kindly offered to read anything I wrote. I'm learning a lot about the entertainment business lately.

This morning I hit the road for Mulholland Drive, the curvy crest of the Santa Monica Mountain range, but not before another Peet's Coffee, this one in Westwood, near my alma mater. Up through the canyons of Bel Air I got lost several times, always winding up at the gates of some mansion. I finally found my way along Mulholland Drive East to the Hollywood sign.

You can no longer hike up to it. (Terrorism, you know.) When I went to school here, I don't think I ever left campus.

Backtracking West, I got to where Mulholland turned into a dirt road and then ended abruptly. I was enjoying the first dirt road I had seen since Capitol Reef, UT, then had to backtrack to Sunset Blvd. and down to PCH. When I picked up Mulholland again, I took it to the famous Rock Store cafe, where Jay Leno, Brad Pitt and all the famous actors who own motorcycles like to hang. Yeah, it was closed. Weekends only.

I continued through some of the twistiest roads of the entire trip, scraping the pegs all the way down the ocean, and back up through Decker Canyon. Not a single car in front of me or behind me the whole way. I had to have passed the infamous Deadman's Curve where James Dean bought it, but I'll tell you; it could have been any one of a couple dozen switchbacks along the way. I didn't expect to have such solitude and such a great ride in LA.

My friends Greg and Amy are putting me up again in Westlake Village. They've got two great kids too--and three dogs to boot! I'm sad they are moving to Arizona this winter. Their place has been my home away from home for many years now.

In the morning I'm off to San Simeon and Hearst Castle. Hoping for light traffic, good weather, and great photos. Looks like I'll arrive in SF on Thursday evening or Friday evening. I would really like to get in Thursday to catch up with my softball team for pizza. Playoffs should be starting soon. Otherwise I'll be in Big Sur for one last night of camping before arriving in SF Friday. A helluva trip so far. I'm in the home stretch.

Posted by James McPherson at August 17, 2005 06:27 AM GMT

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