California: LA, San Francisco & Big Sur

California: LA, San Francisco & Big Sur

Los Angeles

Getting out of my airport shuttle and seeing my friend from home, Caitlin, waiting for me and running towards each other to hug, visiting the Elliott Smith wall and Charles Bukowski's bungalow, speculoos cookie butter and pumpkin toaster pastries from Trader Joe's, Amoeba Records, all you can eat Tacos for $5, appreciating the many beards in baseball, Caitlin's first trip to Disneyland (and my third Disneyland of my holiday), the Halloween themed Haunted House and Space Mountain rides and all the Halloween decorations around the park, staying to watch the 7pm parade because Caitlin had always wanted to see it, pick & mix lollies from Dylan's candy bar, Santa Monica pier, hiring bikes and riding around Venice Beach, pancakes and a chai milkshake for dinner with the lovely miss Valerie at the 101 Coffee Shop!

San Francisco

Going STRAIGHT to the Beat Museum and City Lights Bookstore and Kerouac Alley next door as soon as we checked in to our hostel, the lovely guy who worked at the Beat Museum who I made friends with and chatted to at length every time I went in (which was every other day), going to the 7th Annual Beat Museum Poetry Festival & watching genuine grey-haired hippies read their poetry and play weird experimental noise music while their wives watched and smiled, cinnamon sweet tea from Naked Lunch, making my friend order the Jack Kerouac drink at Vesuvios (I don't drink), going through the Beat Museum properly on my own and absolutely adoring everything - Neal Cassady's striped referee shirt, the sticker on the fire exit door that said "fire alarm will HOWL if you go through here," the section dedicated to the women of the Beat Generation, the Kerouac bobble head doll, getting teary looking at a shirt of Kerouac's with little anchors on the buttons, buying rare zines about Neal Cassady from the museum shop, my friend at the store showing me the cool rare stuff they keep in locked cabinets, going to a poetry reading upstairs at City Lights and buying lots of books and "HOWL if you love City Lights" stickers, doing the Beat Museum walking tour even though I'd already scoped out most of the stops on the tour by myself.

The Green Tortoise Hostel with bagels for breakfast and three free dinners a week and its super friendly, amazing staff who always had time to chat to us and recommend places to eat and let us hang out with them, the woman in the candy shop who said we could taste as many flavours of saltwater taffy as we liked, getting a sample from Ghiradelli every time we walked past a shop, buying $1 books from a book fair at the Fort Mason Centre, almost dying walking up Lombard Street, buying records and candles and books wandering around the Mission, ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe several times over, watching the seals at Pier 39, the cute vintage arcade game museum with fortune tellers and love testers, salads from Whole Foods and napping in the park, Piedmont Street in Oakland and buying my awesome constellation print makeup bag, the funny halloween decoration shop with a pumpkin patch out the back and two dachshunds, hiring bikes and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and back through Golden Gate park, asking a dude at Trader Joe's to show us all the seasonal pumpkin specials which he did with the appropriate level of enthusiasm, buying a 950ml tub of pumpkin ice cream and getting back to our hostel to find they don't have a freezer so we had no choice but to eat the whole thing for dinner with some speculoos cookie butter, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the farmer's markets at the ferry building, 99c Trader Joe's peanut butter cups, taking my laptop to the park so we could listen to music and have a picnic.

Arriving back in San Fran from Big Sur during Fleet Week, dressing up in sailor clothes (which of course we both have while travelling, ha) and having a night out, making friends with a guy who took us to a bunch of bars in the Mission, dancing and playing pinball and getting photobooth photos, finally seeing the Weeknd two nights in a row after obsessing over him since 2012 with ScHoolBoy Q and Jhene Aiko supporting, buying records from Ameoba and second hand places in Haight Ashbury, talking to a man in the street who was selling something called the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and connecting over how incredible Leonard Cohen is and when I told him I was from Australia he found a poem by an Australian in an older issue of the journal and read it aloud to me in the street, having maybe the best tea of my entire life from Samovar with Chelsea and looking through little shops around the Mission, bonding with a man in a cafe about Kerouac and about how the greatest writers can make the simplest things seem like magic, the bar at the top level of the Hyatt hotel with a view of the city, Cafe Trieste where Lawrence Felinghetti still visits and where Francis Ford Coppola wrote the Godfather screenplay with the walls covered in photos, sitting there writing in my journal and a man giving me his business card saying he was the one who had taken all the photos, the woman who whispered to me "you're probably a move star, but don't worry I won't tell anyone," and the KILLER jukebox that cost $2 for 7 songs, I picked:

Sam Cooke - A Change is Gonna Come
The Coasters - Down in Mexico
Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World
The Drifters - Save the Last Dance for Me
The Mama & the Papas - Twist & Shout
Nina Simone - the House of the Rising Sun
Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues

Big Sur & Monterey

Driving down to Big Sur from San Fran on my birthday and making a quick stop at City Lights and the Beat Museum before we left just because it was my birthday, getting in the car and driving around with the windows down and the music up, eating ice blocks that melted all over us with the heat and wind, searching the radio stations every few minutes for something good, driving down the coast through Santa Cruz and stopping to look at the water whenever we felt like it, buying fresh fruit & veg & wandering through the pumpkins at Bob's Pumpkin Patch, hot apple and strawberry cider for $1 and a slice of pumpkin pie from the darling Swanton Strawberry Farm where you put your money in an honesty box, driving through the fog in the night time with the car heater on our feet, eating tacos and birthday cake on the bed, the plastic "happy birthday" cake topper Caitlin surpised me with - she'd picked it up at another hostel weeks ago and had saved it for that night, pumpkin bagels with speculoos butter for breakfast in the sunshine at the little table outside our cabin, the Henry Miller Memorial Library where nothing happens, Bixby Creek Bridge and canyon with the fog hanging low over the ocean, laying on the front lawn outside our cabin eating and reading and napping in the sunshine, waking up to see deer grazing a few metres away twitching their big floppy ears and tiny tails, McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, leaving sadly on our third day and driving back to San Fran via Monterey so I could check out Cannery Row and Salinas so I could go to the Steinbeck Centre and pay my respects at his grave.