Cruising California Topless

Convertible Roadtrip California

California dreaming. You’ve heard it. Many people live it. All over the world, especially in cold places, there are people who dream or occasionally fantasize of moving to California and rubbing shoulders with the stars. I don’t. It’s a tax hell.

But that doesn’t stop me, as a perpetually traveling, tax-free, anarchocapitalist global citizen, from visting the “Golden State.” And it doesn’t stop me from taking in California’s many sites and natural beauty.

US West Coast Road Trip

Before cruise down the California coast, I consulted a CA native friend of mine as to whether a convertible would be the best option. He said no, that February is not a good time of year to be driving topless in the golden state. I didn’t listen to him. He was wrong.

It did rain a little while I was in the Bay Area, where my California adventure began. But I didn’t let the weather rain on my San Francisco Castro District gay pride parade. Just kidding. I didn’t partake in that.

US West Coast Road Trip

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, driving down the switchbacks of Lombard Street and hopping on over to Alcatraz (the famous island prison), I made a Silicon Valley stop, largely to peer into Google’s headquarters. Since they know so much about me, should I learn a thing or two about them?

US West Coast Road Trip

Then I hit the road southbound in my black BMW convertible for a hilarious cheap 23$ a day with SIXT (have a look in my travel hacking section).  Highway 1, which runs up and down the California Coast, is a beautiful drive. Unfortunately, parts of the coastal highway were closed as a result of flooding. But I drove around them and hopped back on Highway 1.

US West Coast Road Trip

Taking a brief break from the coastal beauty, I stopped at a disgusting yet popular site. Bubblegum Alley, a narrow passageway between two streets in the town of San Luis Obispo, is two giant walls of bubblegum. Some of the already-chewed gum has been stuck on the walls for decades. People keep adding new layers of saliva to this alley in San Luis Obispo, a place that was once declared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to be the happiest city in America. I didn’t spend much time there, but I hear it’s a tax and regulatory hell.

LA is the place where most of the action is — if you can get to it. One drive I took around Los Angeles required a total of nine hours. You get stuck in traffic pretty much everywhere you go. Nonetheless, I got to see all the main attractions, including Hollywood, Malibu, Venice Beach and Japanese fangirls gawking at Leanardo DiCaprio’s $12 million villa. Standing above someone’s house with a pair of binoculars is creepy in most parts of the world. In LA, it’s a way to fit in with the crowd.

US West Coast Road Trip

Since I don’t really fit in with that crowd, I headed toward Trump country (not that that’s my crowd either) cruising around the southeastern half of the state where no convertible top is necessary. For that matter, a shirt isn’t so much needed either, though some sunscreen can help if you are crazy enough to visit the Mojave Desert in the summer.

US West Coast Road Trip

While in the desert, I learned the plural form of cactus is cacti and that the world’s longest rotating tramway is in Palm Springs. It actually takes you up the mountain from Palm Springs, where you can get some fresh air, do some walking or hiking and catch a great view of the sun setting over the mountains. Driving over to Mexican border town Yuma I left the tight gun laws of California behind and went shooting with a friend – not on Mexican refugees, of course. Seeing a young family with the 5 year old son happily shooting his assault rifle on the shooting range let me think again about gun laws in the US.

US West Coast Road Trip

After looping around other western states with matching natural beauty — think Grand Canyon and XX — and more Trump stickers, I reentered the potential separatist territory of California. Round 2 — a briefer but still high-mileage trip — included Death Valley, Lake Tahoe and the beautiful Yosemite National Park. I also tried out for membership in the cult of Scientology while back in LA. According to the Church of Scientology International, I have an IQ of 141. And failed in their obedience test.

Don’t worry. While there is photographic evidence of my presence in their church, I did not convert to Scientology, although they know how to manipulate you. I entered the state of California an anarchocapitalist and left an anarchocapitalist. While cruising California topless, I merely flirted with Scientologists. 😉

 

Stay: The US West Coast aint cheap – thats why I mostly stayed in hostels. The Californian coast has a pretty selection of converted Lighthouse hostels which are very recommendable.

 

Eat: Hard to summarize a 3 week US trip – but a loyal friend on every US trip is Dennys Diner. Dennys is quite a big casual dining chain in the US and almost everywhere where you need it. I especially go for their mango shakes and the steak. 10-20$ depending on the location is quite a fair deal for the Western United States.

 

Drink: Too many tales to tell. I enjoyed a taco evening at Venice Beach, Los Angeles most. Cant remember the pub, but it is in the middle of the action…

 

See: California is big and I was far from seeing most of it. I still enjoyed cruising around with my convertible over less visited mountain roads. Very recommendable roadtrips are the Carmel Valley Road G 16 (the Big Sur Coastal Road was closed due to mudslides), the Santa Monica mountains (Latigo Canyon Road near Malibu) and the very long, but beautiful Highway 395 from Death Valley to Lake Tahoe. Make stopovers rather than driving it in one day like me.

 

Do: Just crusing around with a nice open deck car makes you happy enough. At least after the rain stopped in coastal California. Geek or not – I can really recommend visiting the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Sillicon Valley. One of the most interesting museums I ever been to. And when you are in the area – try to visit the Apple, Google and IBM garages as well! All empires start small..

 

Date: Being on a roadtrip moving every 2 nights I did not have much dating time – days were filled with adventures on the road and nights with work in front of my laptop. Remember, I still work! Still, living the hostel life while having a fancy car was not the worst time…

 

Go there: I flew into San Francisco after one month in Hawaii. Air Canada from Milan, Italy over Frankfurt and Vancouver to Honululu return were ridicolously cheap 350$ (Error Fare), I did not fly back to Milan, but just left the plane at stopover in San Francisco (blessed be carry-on only) and forfeited the return flight. Flying back was an also cheap 150$ flight with Norwegian Airlines from Los Angeles to Copenhagen. Even if it was Economy, I remember a pleasant flight. Fly Norwegian, WOW or Icelandair to get to California cheaply, fly Delta for most comfort. Avoid American and United at all costs – there cannot be worse airlines.

 

Go next: I crossed over to Arizona and Nevada on that trip. The obvious next country however is Mexico – exploring the similarly named Baja California south of the San Diego/Tijuana border – a narrow peninsula with desert and beautiful beaches. I still need to go.

US West Coast Road Trip