Today was the day we fly back home to the UK, it's always a strange feeling, the disappointment in knowing the trip is at an end, running alongside the pleasure of soon getting to see everyone back home. We enjoyed an early breakfast outside, to a glorious sunrise over the Ocean, before packing the rest of our gear away and clearing out the RV. We always offer our 'left overs' to a neighbouring camper so I went and tapped on the RV next door loaded up with Firewood, lighters, loo rolls, milk and a bottle of wine etc and asked if these would be of use to them. The chap was a little taken back and the look on his face suggested he thought I might be trying to sell him stuff. Before he could say anything I explained the situation and he was most pleased, they were a family of 3 from Switzerland and they had only just picked their RV up the night before and hadn't stocked up yet. A few minutes later there was a knock on our door and we were given a couple of bars of lovely Swiss chocolate, Yum !
Sunrise over Malibu beach.
The RV had to be returned by 11am so we were soon on the road and driving past Santa Monica Pier where we had walked with Mark and Megan at the start of our trip, some 3500 miles ago ! Before dropping the RV off in Carson we had arranged to collect a car rental from Long Beach airport so that's where we were headed. The traffic wasn't too bad. We parked in a side road near the airport and Simon and I walked to the rental site while Lezli and Louise had a final brush up and wipe down inside the RV. We walked across the car park towards the office and I noticed a lovely black Suburban in the lot, I jokingly said to Simon, "that would do nicely". Our timing wasn't great in one respect, a flight had just landed and there was a queue at the desk so we waited in line. On the other hand our timing was perfect, as we got to the desk we discovered there wasn't a people carrier left available, so after having a quick chat with her supervisor we were informed we would have an upgrade, yep we got the Suburban. Nice !
We then returned the RV and took care of all the paperwork, the chap serving us done a double take when checking the mileage and then looked a little worried about telling us how much that would cost, he looked relieved when I told him I already knew what to expect. [Apparently a lot of renters do not read the extra's that will be due.] I informed them of the incident on the Golden Gate bridge fearing that they would keep my deposit until resolved, but on inspecting the RV they said they wouldn't be holding it and not to worry. They seemed a lot less bothered by it than I had been.
By this time we had about 3 hours or so to kill before our check in at LAX for the evening flight home. We thought about heading towards Hollywood/Beverley Hills but thought it could become a headache with traffic so instead we took my plan 'B' and headed just down the road to Long Beach for a look at the famous Ocean liner, the Queen Mary which sailed from Southampton England to her new home here at Long Beach in 1967.
We arrived to find that the parking was a minimum of $18 which we thought a bit steep for an hour or so but we were here so what the heck. Once we had parked up we were hoping to stroll along the Quayside and have a coffee and some lunch and enjoy the area, but that wasn't to be. It was like being on a boarding dock and if you wanted anything to eat or drink you had to pay to board the ship first which we didn't really want to do. The views of the boat were obscured by huge advertising hoardings and covered gangways so it was a bit of a let down. We strolled into an area with a closed up Fairground for a look around where a few other people had gone, only for us to be shouted at by an angry security guard telling us we were not allowed here. His anger didn't subside when I suggested he do a better job of securing it then ! We were at a bit of a loose end as to what to do when Lezli read the parking ticket small print that informed us we could park for up to 30 mins FOC, we had left the car 28 minutes ago !! We ran for it and just managed to get out without paying.
We drove to Long Beach and had a stroll along the sandy beach and found a spot to have lunch, Alfredo's. The food was OK but I hadn't seen anything like the nearby public toilets, the cubicles, in both men and ladies, had no doors and the walls dividing them were less than 4 feet high. I am so glad no one was using the cubicle during my brief visit. EWW !!
We wondered what the little Islands were just off shore, Hotels or privately owned by the rich and famous. I discovered that's the look they were going for to the tourists eye, but in fact they are oil wells masked by tropical landscaping, architectural features and fake high-rise "buildings".
It was a glorious sunny day but it was time to drag ourselves away and face reality, it's time to go home ! We dropped the car back to the rental desk at LAX and checked in for our flight. We flew back with Virgin airways and the flight was very pleasant, the plane itself had only been in service a few months and still smelt new. With the time difference it was 2pm [UK] the next day when we finally touched down at Heathrow airport, where my son was waiting to take us home, exhausted !!
I will try and put some facts and figures together soon but that's it for now, until next time !! ;-)
Todays mileage 85. Total 3557.