The start of the road trip

Just as always when I travel to America, I wake up super early at 3am. I love that effect of the jet lag, making me even more a morning person than I normally am. I’m still feeling a bit tired though, so I keep laying down for a while, but I know I won’t fall asleep again so I get up for a shower and get dressed. The earliest breakfast restaurant opens at 6am, so I have some time on my hands. I use the opportunity to post yesterday’s story and pictures. Just like last year, I don’t think I’ll be posting on my blog every day, but I do enjoy writing again. One of the goals of this trip is to relax, so I’ll try not to be on the computer too much. I think that’s harder for an entrepreneur, to let go of work. It’s because you’re so vested in your business. You put most of your time and energy in it and then to let it go for a while might actually be a challenge. Time difference and physical distance usually help making that easier. After posting the blog I check my e-mail and am thankful that it’s very quiet there.
Just before 6am I walk to the breakfast restaurant for a typical American breakfast: eggs, bacon and pancakes. I give it my best, but can’t finish it all. I guess I’m not used to the American portions anymore. Because I’ve rented my car at 9am, I’m kind of forced to take it slow this morning and that’s a good thing. It helps me relax. I’ve planned an easy day today anyway. Picking up the car, driving to my favorite local coffee place, perhaps a visit to the Barnes & Noble book store and then tonight to the Walmart close to Hollywood to get my camping gear and to stay the first night of my road trip.
When I arrive at the Hertz office, I see that the manager from the previous years is still there. With a big smile she says “Welcome back!” and I’m happy to see her again and to catch up. I’ve been renting from the same place the past few road trips and it’s very nice when they know you and take good care of you. I always get a great car and for this trip it’s a minivan again. It’s a 2023 Chrysler Voyager, has about 13.000 miles on the counter and feels brand new. I’m blessed and thankful. Instead of driving the fastest way via the inner state, I decide to take a touristy route along the coast. I drive through Pacific Beach and La Jolla. Two winters back I lived in that area for about a week. I enjoy driving through the streets where I was running back then. At the corner of the neighborhood I stop at the cove where there are a lot of birds and sea lions. Where it was cool weather yesterday, it’s warming up again today. It’s still very nice outside though. After a short walk along the shore I continue driving to Encinitas to the coffee place Pannikin. There are no free parking places, but after driving around the block three times there suddenly is one available right next to the coffee place. Things always work out for me. I order a cappuccino and a cinnamon roll. One of the guys working there is roasting coffee, really cool to see. He shows me how the coffee looks before it gets roasted and after. He sure does a great job, because the coffee here is delicious. And so is the huge cinnamon roll. I think it’s enough for lunch, haha! It’s so nice not to be in a rush. I can just sit down and enjoy the moment. I love being on vacation. After the delicious break at the coffee place, I drive to another of my favorite places: the Barnes and Noble bookstore. We don’t have these large bookstores back home, so it’s always a nice experience to browse them when I’m here. I get myself one book for this vacation and then drive further in the direction of Los Angeles. Even though it’s in the middle of the afternoon, traffic is very busy and the drive is going slow. After about two hours driving I see the skyline of LA appearing and another half hour later I’m driving in Hollywood. I stop at a viewing point of the letters and then drive to Walmart for the big shopping for this road trip. I notice that I’m tired, because it much longer than I expected. First I buy a measuring tape to see how much space I have in the back of this car and then I find an air mattress that fits just perfectly. I’m adding a sleeping bag and a pillow, a tent for when I can camp somewhere and a lot more, like a cool box to keep food and drinks cold and sun blocking shields to keep the light out at night. I had planned to go on an evening hike to the Hollywood sign, but it’s already sunset when I’m done with all the shopping and turning the car into a camper. So I go to a restaurant instead, get dinner and think about where to stay tonight. I had camped at this Walmart before, but now there are signs saying that overnight parking is not allowed here anymore. For a moment I consider just winging it, but I want my first night of the roadtrip to be a relaxed one, so I drive back to Hollywood instead. There is a quiet street I know where I’ve camped before. It’s close to the hiking trail and in a neighborhood with a lot of huge villa’s. Years ago I also stayed here one night and it was a great stay. I think that all these people in multimillion dollar houses don’t expect someone to be sleeping in a car, so they probably don’t even think about looking inside a parked minivan. What also helps is that most houses have such big fences around them that they probably can’t even see the street from their house. It takes me a moment to get comfortable to sleep, but I’m still very tired of the past short nights that it doesn’t take long for me to fall asleep. I’ve set the alarm clock at 4AM so I can hike to the Hollywood sign tomorrow on time to see the sunrise.

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