Now, this is slightly off piste to the run of the mill event coverage or car feature – this is more of a nostalgic journal entry from a recent trip. My Girlfriend and I visited California for a 3 week road trip, it’s something we have wanted to do for a while and in all honesty it’s been my dream trip ever since visiting with my folks as an unappreciative spotty teenager 12 years ago. We covered some 2000 miles, had the time of our lives but still left knowing that the Golden State had much more to give.
Many consider California to be at the forefront of car culture and it’s clear to see as soon as you step onto the streets from the plane the sheer diversity of road bashing machinery rolling around. However, this isn’t meant to be a typical “look at my holiday snaps” post, of course, no trip to California would be complete without capturing some of the automotive essence the car culture capitol of the world has to offer.
To kick it off, this Cal look Beetle may look like you’re normal text book slammed bug but digging a little deeper I realised it was far from that. This was buzzing around Beverly Hills, buzzing being the optimal word – it’s a fully electric Beetle designed and built by zelectric Motors. In a land of gas guzzlers, California has a thing for hybrid vehicles, this strangely fitted right in – the environmentally “conscious” socialites cruise around in Tesla Model S’ or your classic Prius all day sipping on their chai tea latte, an electric bug is lot more original I think you’ll agree.
I’m a huge fan of jacked up Jeeps and they are plenty running around on the Californian streets, this bright blue weapon rolled through Beverly Hills with more road presence than the sea of Rolls Royce’s and Ferrari’s, it’s got me hankering after a piece of Americana myself. I wouldn’t get away with that wheel and tyre set up and the thing would scare Mabel and her mobility scooter off the tight roads in the UK, but one can dream hey.
I honestly expected to see more American muscle than we did, to be fair I wasn’t looking that hard but there were still a few burley muscle heads burbling around, this rattled past us out of nowhere – I’ve been working on my trigger finger and managed to get a couple of shots away.
Venice Beach was one of my favourite areas of LA with such an eclectic mix of people, places and cars. Venice encapsulates the very essence of what it means to be a Californian, the beach, the surf, the people and the atmosphere. Abbot Kinney was a cool, hipster esq shopping street with independent clothing and furniture stores.
Venice is also the home to Deus Ex Machina, a brand that I have very quickly come to admire and follow. Deus is an Australian brand that has quickly become well respected in the custom Motorcycle world. What started as a custom bike building company now is a reputable clothing and apparel brand with “Emporiums of post modern activities” in Sydney, Byron Bay, Milan and of course Venice Beach.
Deus was on my hit list of places to go so we made the pilgrimidge walking from Santa Monica all the way to 1001 Venice Boulevard without fully appreciating the exactly how far it was, the best bit after dragging my girlfriend 4 miles, yes 4 miles, in 30 degree heat…was that it was closed!! Closed for a TV commercial filming..so LA. No worries though, we came back the following day. It’s fair to say my lady is a Saint but she definitely had racked up her fair share of points to use when she wanted.
The store itself is a mix between a coffee shop hang out and retail space and very much worth a visit for your intake of flat white and motorcycle and surf related gear.
I fell in love with this VW Type 3 Variant that rolled into the Deus carpark as we did, surfboard in toe the dude jumped out, got his flat white and headed out – that’s the SoCal life.
Trudging the streets of Venice and we stumbled upon a little slice of home in this geared up Land Rover Defender, obviously owned by a distinguishsed gentlemen.
Our time in LA was pretty hectic, it’s such a sprawling City with each district bringing it’s own charm and sub-culture to the forefront – there are so many things to do and see but after a few days we were ready leave and experience a totally different side to California – we packed up and heading out and hit the road heading for Yosemite National Park.
Now my mind is pretty small but man Yosemite blew it well and truly out of the water, the sheer scale of this place is just hard to describe so I’m not even going to attempt to. All I can say is that it made me feel a very small blip on this place we call Earth. In fact it was the last place that I thought I would meet 3 of the nicest car people I’ve met.
We were cycling past one of the camp areas on the valley bottom when through the trees I spotted a bright yellow VW panel van, I jammed the brakes on and headed in for a closer look. We were greeted by not one but two very early VW panel vans and 2 of the friendliest VW dubbers I’ve met. We spoke for a long time about cars in the scene and their own machines, they had travelled all of the way inland from San Diego stopping along the way for a triathlon in Bakersfield, an annual trip. It goes to show no matter where you are in the world that cars and machines bring people together through one common and universal language.
Yosemite is one of those pinch me is this real kind of places, every view is epic, no matter where you look you lose yourself gazing at the vast beauty that lays before you, it changes your perception on what is really important and that’s not a nostalgic crying into my tea as I’m writing this exaggeration – it truly is breath taking. Next stop – San Francisco…
To be continued…