Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

The hot phoneI’m hoping to get my first Mexican surf in tomorrow so a bit of planning is in order. I also try to update the blog too, but no real surprises when my best laid plans are hampered because the mobile phone’s internet doesn’t work as promised now that I have gone south of the border! I waste half an hour trying to sort it phoning the USA helpdesk, being far too politely told by everybody that they are going to sort it, even though nobody does and I am cut off once and put through to the wrong department twice. They can’t even hear me telling me them my phone number and I find I am practically shouting down the phone in my hotel room. My sister describes this as ‘doing a Robert’ and I don’t want to be that me on this trip, so eventually I just hang up and give it up as a bad loss. I can look forward to being metaphorically shafted by a Mexican telephone company next.

angry-man-yelling-in-to-mobile-phoneMobile phone companies worldwide please take note. You are a service industry, and should try providing one that people actually want. Stop being such money grabbing b@stards, spend some money training your staff so that everybody you actually allow to answer your incoming calls can really help anybody with everything relating to their account, be it a technical or customer service issue. Go on treat yourself and your customers to some spare capacity in your call centres too.

If my tailor provided me with an equivalent level of service that was just good enough, I would be walking around in an overpriced thong that fell apart as soon as I went abroad and nobody wants that!

Rant over.


US QueueI drive to the border and join the huge queue to go to Mexico. Border was closed yesterday due another USA nut job going mental with a gun, and the fear that he might try to flee to Mexico, so the queue is even bigger than normal. There is massive security everywhere on both sides of the border and I don’t think I have ever seen so many machine guns being brandished. However I am just waived through when I eventually drive up to the checkpoint. My research told me I would need the Mexican Insurance that I sorted whilst in the USA, but also to arrange a cash bond for the car as well as a temporary importation permit at the border, but I didn’t see anywhere to do that. I am hoping this will not be an issue. Time will tell…

Border FenceStraight away I turn right alongside the border fence and head back towards the sea passing through Tijuana, which featured in my favourite film Big Wednesday. However despite the surfers running into big trouble in the film whilst here, it still made it look much more glamorous than the reality where huge numbers of desperate people line the border looking longingly north and trying to figure out how to get across. I don’t fancy their chances much at Tijuana. I think the guys from the Great Escape would have problems here!

Comments Off on San Diego

San Diego

San Diego2I have my last afternoon in the United States free, and use it to check out San Diego. I have seen so many big buildings in the USA that the city skyline is not amazing but it is definitely a pretty city. There is so much to do but I dont have enough time to see it all.

Bob Hope and MeI head straight down to the harbour area and stumble across this memorial to Bob Hope in recognition for his morale work with US servicemen. The statue I am leaning against is actually surrounded by other life sized figures of servicemen listening to him and there is a looped recording of his gags when he visited the troops out on Vietnam, Korea, etc so that one of his shows appears to be recreated.

I go for wander around the dock where there are some classic sailboats, working fishing vessels and countless pleasue boats.

USS Midway 4However the biggest ship in the city harbour is the USS Midway which you can see in the background here with the aircraft lined up on its flight deck.

The Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first US warship to be too big to transit the Panama Canal.

USS Carl VinsonEven that is eclipsed by the USS Carl Vinson moored over at the US Naval base across the bay, which is a Nimitz class supercarrier boasting two nuclear reactors and over 6,000 servicemen and women will be stationed on this boat when it goes to sea. At the end of a recent infamous mission it was involved in, Osama Bin Laden’s body was brought back to the boat after the operation which killed him. Then after a religeous ceremony the body was buried at sea from this ship.

I see two more carriers in the port area, which make me laugh because the UK cant even afford to share one with France at the moment! One US aircraft carrier has a more powerful air force than 70% of all the other countries in in the world. Perhapss they would be willing to lend us one?

Coronado Bridge Struts2I drive up over the fantastically curved Coronado Bridge towards the coast and see the Hotel Del Coronado which was where all of the resort scenes were filmed for Billy Wilder’s masterpiece ‘Some Like It Hot’, which starred Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. The hotel was supposed to be in Florida in the film.

Dolphin4From there I went along the stretch of sand known as the Silver Spur southwards towards the Mexican border, which is now within sight. There is just the town of Imperial beach and its Pier left before crossing the border itself. I go for a stroll along the pier and enjoy some fish and chips, whilst watching both the dolphins and the locals fishing off the side of it. Actually bagging this shot of one of them.

For my last night in the USA Joanne cooks me a lovely meal. I havent had home cooked food in over two months so it is a real treat and to wash things down we tuck into some of the fantastic wine I bought at the other end of California. We are chatting for hours but as soon as Joanne is trying to spoil my yawn (I had earlier explained how you do it) I know it is time to go to bed.



So I am stood in the queue for the checkout at Staples where I am buying a new external hard drive (I am sending my old one with copies of all my precious USA photos home) and all of a sudden a tail whips over the shoulder of the lady in front of me nearly taking my eye out!
The lady has gone shopping with her green iguana. As you do! He is called Wizard and is getting feisty. However apart from his sharp claws he is very friendly and I am allowed to stroke him.
I will miss California! Another one for the Doolittle collection I suppose.


Motel 6I have been staying in this motel chain for the last 10 days. I have been treating myself to it because I know I will be roughing it through large parts of Mexico. It is very reasonably priced at $50 for a room, and they even provide free coffee each morning.


Motel ParkingI get to park my car right outside the room I am staying in which makes loading and unloading really easy and all the staff are really friendly. I would definitely recommend this chain to anybody coming to stay in California.

They appear to have outlets all down the coast, and the rooms are comfortable coming with cable TV, which has allowed somebody as square eyed as me the chance to get a double dose of staring at the idiot lantern.


Wetsuit LaundryThere are laundry facilities onsite, but I have taken the opportunity to properly wash my wetsuit and allow it to dry. I am not using it for a couple of days and it has served me well so far, so a little TLC is well deserved.

There are a few minor repairs that are needed too, but I can sort them out in no time with my needle and thread.

I think the Mexican cleaner must have thought there was somebody hiding in the bathroom though. She got quite a fright when she went into the bathroom his morning!


The Beach Boys sang the following in 1963, which were definite targets for me:

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U.S.A.
Then everybody’d be surfing
Like Californ-I-A – check
You’d see ’em wearin’ their baggies
Huarachi sandals, too
A bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfing U.S.A.

You’d catch ’em surfin at Del Mar (Inside, outside, U.S.A.) – check
Ventura County line – check
Santa Cruz and Trestles,  – check and check
Australia’s Narrabeen, – has proved difficult whilst in the US
All over Manhattan, – check
And down Doheny way – checked but it was flat

Everybody’s gone surfing
Surfing U.S.A.

We’ll all be plannin’ out a route
We’re gonna take real soon
We’re waxin’ down our surfboards
We can’t wait for June
We’ll all be gone for the summer
Were on safari to stay
Tell the teacher we’re surfing
Surfing U.S.A.

At Haggerty’s and Swami’s – The only one I passed on and check
Pacific Palisades – Sunset Boulevard check
San Onofre and Sunset – check and check
Redondo Beach, L.A. – checked but was flat
All over La Jolla – check
At Waimea Bay – check

Everybody’s gone surfing
Surfing U.S.A.

Everybody’s gone surfing
Surfing U.S.A.

Yeah, everybody’s gone surfing
Surfing U.S.A.

I have also bagged Malibu, Huntington and Rincon from ‘Surfing Safari’ for good measure on my own trip from Hawaii to the shores of Peru.



Uke Jam3After a very dull day sorting things out for Mexico and then an even more tedious Southern California 8 lane traffic jam trying to get out of San Diego I travel north to Today’s Pizza in Encinitas to meet up with Bill and his wife Sue at the Ukulele Kanakapila jam session which is held there every week.

It is the perfect filip and unlike the uke jams I have attended in the UK where a lot of contemporary tunes are played, almost all the songs are Hawaiian love songs. All through the night the ladies adorned with tropical flowers in their hair get up and dance Hula in front of the house band. There are loads of kids having a go too and everybody is having so much fun.

Uke Jam2It is brilliant, and my own ham fisted playing is drowned out by the 50 other ukesters at the restaurant. I even risk some off key singing to the songs, which seem so much more relevant having just been out to the islands myself.

As you can see I dressed for the occasion, and have loads of fun talking to the regular attendees who are really interested in my trip. Of all those playing I would have to say that the majority are quite a bit older than me, but I am most impressed that just about every one of them has an Ipad or equivalent with their songbooks stored on them, as well as a mini music stand to place it so that they can read the songs and play easily. It is the first time I have ever seen so many older people so whole heartedly embracing digital technology and is a wonderful sight.

Uke JamJoanne, who has travelled up from San Diego to join the fun, is also attired to enter the spirit of things with her flower lei, and borrows Sue’s uke for a song or two. Its a small world because she bought one of her previous cars from Bill’s dealership in Carlsbad, and is serenaded with a version of George Formby’s ‘On The Wigan Boat Express’ by Bill and Sue as soon as they know its her home town. (It was his home town too.)

It isn’t rock and roll, but I love it.


Through our mutual friend back the UK, Andy Hughes, I have been put in touch with San Diego resident Joanne who has been kind enough to receive some mail for me and takes me out to see San Diego old town. Taco Tuesday is a big tradition so we go to a Mexican restaurant where I enjoy my first fish taco and we share a pitcher of Margarittas whilst getting to know one another.

Joanne is from Shevington near Wigan in the North West of England, and Wigan is my favourite night out in the whole of the UK, so we are getting on brilliantly. So much so that I completely forget to take any pictures.

Later in the evening we head into the historic gaslamp area downtown so that Joanne can ditch her car and enjoy a few more drinks. We have a really great night but she has an early start with work the next day so we think it best to call it a night some time after 1am. 


La Jolla Cove Swimmers1I’m keen to get another wave in today because I think it will be my last day surfing in the USA. I drive past Torry Pines, and Blacks beaches but am not tempted by the surf on offer there, so push on for La Jolla. The cove there is one of California’s big wave spots but it hasnt even broken sufficiently for people to surf if for nearly 6 years according to a local diver I get chatting to. There is no chance today but I watch the local swimmers working their way through the water and the sea-lion colony, most of whom are sunning themselves on the rocks you can see in the background here. I might have to go for a swim here with the Go Pro if time allows to get some close up footage of the Sea-lions.

DCIM104GOPROI drive around the bay to the beach alongside the pier and paddle out there with all the others in the water. It is a frustrating session due to a cross shore rip which is dragging me down the beach and preventing the waves from breaking properly. I only have an hour here but catch a couple, but this was the best picture of the session

DCIM104GOPROQuitting while I was ahead after one wave I caught in, I am in the shallows and notice something moving behind me. I have been followed in on my wave by the two inquisitive sea-lion pups you can see here. Apologies for the picture quality but it is the best I could do quickly using my board as a camera stand. I couldnt hang around for long because I am meeting somebody this evening so do a quick change and head back to my room.

Mormon TempleThe only other thing to report here is the breathtaking Mormon Temple which is alongside the road on the way back to the motel. The hard edges of the white stone look fantastic against the night sky.


Cardiff Kook2Steve, the surfer I was chatting to in the water at Del Mar told me about the Cardiff Kook, which is the nickname given to this statue which has been erected adjacent to the beach at Cardiff-by-the-Sea. I had missed it on my way south, so I drove back northwards to check it out.

Apparently there was some degree of dismay when it was first installed that the surfer looks like such a geek even a tad effeminate, and the statue has been dressed up and abused by mischievous pranksters ever since. However the town has now embraced the statue and regularly goes to some efforts to decorate him. He is naked as the day he came into the world on the day that I get there but I have added some pictures of their best work below. There are many, many more. Check them out at

Magic Carpet RideThe statue’s official name is Magic Carpet Ride and there is an engraving of this poem of the same name on the side.







Enjoy these:

Cardiff Kook Van Goch Cardiff Kook Commandments Cardiff Kook Pterosaur Cardiff Kook SharkCardiff Kook Silvered Surfer