On January 16th I began the drive down to Santa Monica from our new house in Devon. Along with me to split the long drive ahead was my mom. We left in the morning, planning on ending the day somewhere in Montana. As we made our way South the snow slowly started to get thinner and thinner. By the time we were in Lethbridge it was above zero. We crossed the border around 3:00 pm and set out into new territory. For some reason I was expecting wildly different lanscape as to warrant the border, but it looked just the same as Southern Alberta for many kilometers. As the Sun went down I was unfortunately driving through a mountain pass and the fatigue off travelling all day coupled with unfamiliar and unpredictable roads was a bit stressful for me in the dark. So at around 6:00 pm we entered state capital Helena where we would spend the night. The whole experience was a bit interesting starting with the kind girl at the front desk of our hotel bringing us freshly baked cookies while I was on the rollers. Later we dined at a restaurant that intentional or not, looked identical to a Montana’s Cookhouse. I found this quite humorous. Then as we were leaving town the next morning, in the middle of town were a herd of deer waiting at a traffic light.
The next day of travel took us across 3 states. We entered Idaho where we once again found an abundance of snow. Idaho was a bizarre, seemingly deserted place with parts looking like the moon. There was also a strange haze near Pocatello that seemed out of place with the snow on the ground. This same haze reappeared, but stronger as we made it to our next state, Utah. At this point we could not see much save for a 10-15 kilometer radius around the Interstate. As we continued to descend further South, the traffic became worse and worse. This was of course due to the Salt Lake City population. The traffic became very heavy, with lanes beginning and ending and people going every direction in every lane. For over 100 km I had to deal with this new mess, having never seen traffic like it before. It was a big relief when it finally dissipated and it felt even better when we ended out day in Cedar City.
We woke up in Cedar City, which looked to be quite a cool and unique place, and were on the road quickly. It was not long before we saw the last snow of the trip and came upon the bright red rock and arid desert characteristic of Utah. This provided a great sag-way to Arizona and the Virgin River Gorge. I was amazed by the sight of these massive red mountains, driving a narrow road through gigantic foreign rocks. As we left the Virgin River Gorge we almost immediately were upon Nevada. Crossing through Las Vegas, we took a brief detour down the strip before heading back on the I-15 and what seemed like the home stretch. From Vegas on, the traffic was thick. We entered California, which wasn’t as big a relief as I expected, however the burritos we had from the Mexican stand in Baker were the best I have ever had. Continuing on, I expected some valley to open up into lush green fields with fruit trees as was my vision of California. Instead, around each bend was another open desert with minimal plant life and a town or two that looked like they have a hard time sustaining themselves. But soon we dropped down to a lower elevation and were just a massively populated space of land from our destination. We made our first real turn of the trip (from the I-15 onto the I-10) and this is where we once again encountered the traffic. To put it simply, Los Angeles freeways are crazy and illogical. One lane is going far too fast and another far too slow. But wait, they have just reversed roles. You can go from a standstill to 80 mph (~130 kmph) very quickly, but don’t even bother trying to change lanes. So, we eventually made it to Santa Monica in one piece and it was beautiful. Sitting at an uncharacteristic 28 degrees Celsius, I went for my first real road ride of the season.
From then on I met the team who are all nice and very accommodating and later found a room in an apartment after a few hard days of searching. My place in Santa Monica is great; only about 10 blocks to the Pacific Ocean. It sits between Wilshire and Montana which are both streets with a lot going on. I am maybe 6 blocks from Third Street Promenade and Downtown Santa Monica. Basically what I am trying to say is that I really like it here and after a long journey this is the type of place where I would like to be.