Lost and found in the Googleplex

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in California again. This worm has had an interesting day, navigation-wise.

My impressions? It’s very easy to get onto U.S. Route 101.

The TC decided, bless her cotton socks, that she now knows her way around Mountain View. No need for a navigation aid today. So we set off in good cheer. Faithful readers can guess where this post is going, particularly if they’ve read my previous scribbling.

Our first foray into unaided navigation went well. We found the Googleplex, which was our intended destination. After a few hours in one office, the next step was to get from one part of the Googleplex to another. To those unacquainted with the TC, that mayhap sounds simple, but not so.

In the blink of an eye, in the twitch of a steering wheel, we found ourselves on U.S. Route 101, heading north for San Francisco. Now, the highway is worth a visit, as a venerable and worthy piece of navigation history. Wikipedia says that US 101 is one of the last remaining and longest U.S. Routes still active in the state, and the longest highway of any kind in California. It was one of the original national routes established in 1926. Still, if you don’t need to head north at speed, it’s probably not the best place to be.

Luckily it’s almost as easy to get off U.S. Route 101 as to get on it. Also luckily, the Googleplex is a big place and thus easy to find. The TC kept calm and steered us to our destination unscathed although not unrattled. There to greet us were a giant Google map pin, a Street View car, and the Code the Road bus.

The book I’m in

Caleb Williams, by William Godwin (1794). This worm is enjoying the richness of language and the care taken with phrasing, though it be at times a trifle archaic. Mr Godwin is adept at building up an atmosphere of menace that lurks close beneath a seemingly civilised society.

Travel tip

Ne’er cast a navigation aid til journey be made.

The photos

Me on the giant map pin outside the Google Maps offices. I am here:

worm-on-marker

A Street View car took a well-earned rest nearby. I made use of its rearview mirror for a quick face-and-hat check:

worm-on-street-view-car

Me hanging out with Pegman:

worm-and-pegman

My own dear Peg needed a bit of me time after seeing the above snap. So here are me and Peg, and a big green fuzzy person who happened by:

worm-peg-android

The Google Maps Code the Road Bus was in the neighbourhood too:

code-the-road-bus

Me on the Code the Road bus:

worm-on-code-the-road-bus

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 3 June 2016 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Golden Gate Bridge – a worm’s eye view

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were in San Francisco over the weekend. We took a stroll under the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog.

My impressions? Bleak, booming, bulky, brrr.

The book I’m in

Search for the Star Stones, by André Norton. A paperback volume combining two books: The Zero Stone, and Uncharted Stars. This worm loves a good Sci Fi yarn!

Travel tip

Always have warm clothing with you when in San Francisco, even in summer time.

The photos

Me (the most recognisable, most photographed bookworm in the world) under the most beautiful, most photographed bridge in the world:

Golden Gate Bridge - a worm's eye view

There were other people under the bridge that day:

Golden Gate Bridge - a worm's eye view

Watch the video to hear the booming of the wind and traffic overhead. You can almost feel the breeze pushing that chilly fog around:

That’s all for today, folks.

Bay Bridge in the wet

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

The TC, bless her cotton socks, paid a flying visit to San Francisco yesterday. It was a trifle wet. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge faded poetically into the drizzle.

Jonathan was there too, of course. Here he is, coming in to land with his usual flair:

Seagull coming in to land, with Bay Bridge in the background

Even a seagull looks bedraggled in the wet:

Bay Bridge in the wet

Google in Mountain View, CA

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Mountain View, visiting the main Google campus (often called the Googleplex) and Silicon Valley.

My impressions? Shiny happy people having fun, and working hard.

The book I’m in

Outer Bounds: Fortune’s Rising, by Sara King. This is an excellent book, with varied characters and an intriguing fantasy world. Take it with you on your travels and read it when you want a comfort zone to snuggle into. It’s full of action, goodies, and baddies.

(To be precise, I’m not exactly in this book, because the TC has decided to read it on her Kindle. I’m a real-life, three-dimensional creature, so I don’t fit into an ebook. Nevertheless, occupying a unique place in the TC’s consciousness as I do, I can inform you reliably that this is a book not to be missed.)

Recommended food store

Ava’s Downtown Market & Deli, 340 Castro Street, Mountain View, California.

Recommended chocolate tasting

The Chocolate Garage, 654 Gilman St. Suite G(arage), Palo Alto, California.

Travel tip

It’s useful to have a car when visiting Silicon Valley. The towns are wide spread, and there’s plenty to see.

The photos

Me on a Google bike, on site at Google, Mountain View:

Me on a Google bike

The bikes are dotted around the Google campus. You can tell them by their colours. Googlers pick them up and drop them off on their way from office to office. It takes half an hour to walk from one end of the campus to the other, so the bikes offer an efficient and healthy alternative.

The Google Android building:

Google Android building

You’ll find an appetising array of cupcakes and cookies next to the Android statues:

Google cupcakes

The TC spends much of her time in the training building, which lies behind this restful pond. Note the blue hammocks under the white umbrella, awaiting weary Nooglers as they emerge from the orientation classes:

Pond near training building

Stan the dinosaur, a T-rex that inhabits the Google grounds:

Stan, the Google dinosaur

Downtown Mountain View is pretty, well kept, and well supplied with restaurants:

Castro Street, Mountain View

Another shot of Castro Street, Mountain View:

Castro Street, Mountain View

The Mountain View City Hall is rather magnificent:

City Hall in Mountain View

If you’d like the TC’s perspective on the life and chocolate at Google, try her post: Report from a new Google technical writer.

That’s all for today, dudes.

San Diego, California

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent a few days in San Diego last week, taking a well-earned rest after our hard work in Long Beach. San Diego is bigger and more vibrant than this worm expected. It’s very like the other bits of California that we’ve seen, in that the air is bright and the roads are wide. There’s some Mexican influence, but not as much as this worm was expecting. The city centre (“downtown”) is quite flat and is right on the sea shore. There are lovely little hills all round, housing Balboa Park, the zoo and La Jolla.

My impressions? Seaside prettiness, big-city architecture, high tech industry and a bit of military action combine to make San Diego an interesting place to visit.

Travel tip

Take a coach and harbour tour to get the big picture, then pick the areas that you want to see more closely. The TC decided that she’d seen enough of La Jolla from the bus. This worm concurred.

Recommended accommodation

The Bristol Hotel in downtown San Diego. It’s close to the harbour, the restaurants and the trolley buses. Service is very warm and friendly, and the rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Recommended restaurant

O’Brothers in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. It’s on the second floor of Horton Plaza. Three of the staff members welcomed the TC, one by one, as she walked in. Even from the depths of my book in her bag, I could feel her heart go pitty-pat! She declared her meal (a Cobb’s salad) to be delicious, and there was a lot of it. Fast food, yes, but of good quality. The TC made a point of finding and complimenting the manager.

The book I’m in

The ELI Event, by Dave Gash. I’m at the beginning of chapter 18, and wishing the TC would hurry up and move me on. This is a great read! You may think my opinion is swayed by the fact that Dave Gash is a friend of mine and the TC’s. But no. This worm is unbending and unbendable when it comes to matters of literary review. Are you looking for science fiction, time travel, artificial intelligence, great characters and action packaged as a good solid yarn? Then this is the book for you!

The photos

Me, Peg and Hugs at the entrance to the Old Town State Historic Park in San Diego:

San Diego, California

Who’s that with me and Peg, I hear you gasp? That’s Hugs the Koala. She’s a cuddly sort and a true blue Ozzie, although, funnily enough, she joined us in Long Beach. This worm has grown quite attached to her, and she to me. I’m guessing she’s a keeper in the TC’s little clan of hangers-on.

San Diego, California

The Old Town Market in the State Historic Park, complete with bell tower, cactus and pointy succulent:

San Diego, California

The San Diego Old Town was established in 1769, the birthplace of California, our coach driver informed us.

The TC was quite taken with the blue sky peeking through the tower of the Immaculate Conception church:

San Diego, California

El Campo Santo, an old graveyard in the Old Town, now happy with children running through it. In 1993, the city used ground-penetrating radar to discover these old graves under Linwood Street:

San Diego, California

The tourist section of the Old Town:

San Diego, California

The Coronado Bridge, spanning the gap between the mainland and Coronado Island. The coach driver told us that 277 people have committed suicide by jumping off this bridge:

San Diego, California

The Hotel Del Coronado, 1887, built in 11 months!

San Diego, California

A fighter aircraft over the hotel, providing poetic contrast in this idyllic setting:

San Diego, California

Coronado beach:

San Diego, California

Another guardian looming out of the gloom:

San Diego, California

Me and the TC took a boat tour of North Harbour. Lo and behold, there was Jonathan, gliding over the city:

Jonathan over the city

North Harbour is awash with naval activity:

Navy in North Harbour

A navy boat with a dolphin on board, heading out for a training session:

A dolphin aboard a naval boat

The dolphin in training with the navy personnel:

Dophin in training

A fighter jet taking off on North Island:

Fighter jet taking off

Me and Peg, about to board the USS Midway. This aircraft carrier is the longest commissioned in the US navy. It is now a museum:

USS Midway

On the flight deck, a jet attached to the launching mechanism:

A plane attached to the launching mechanism

A tale of woe follows. After an hour or so on board, the TC decided she wanted to get off.

Off the ship. Leave the boat. Go to the mainland. Disembark. She uttered all of those phrases, and more, to one of the official guides on the boat. He was standing at a spot near one of the planes, looking uninterested. And instead of showing us the quick exit, he sent us on a round-the-corridors trip into the ship’s innards.

When the TC emerged pink and flustered at the exact some spot, let’s call it spot A, the same dude professed not to have understood her the first time, and sent her to the end of a queue of people waiting to do the “Island Tour”. When she protested, he assured her that this was the only way off. “Just go all the way down there,” he said.

So we did, bypassing irate queue-hoggers, only to be told we were in the wrong place. A second dude took us through a cordonned-off door, up some stairs and through some corridors, and ushered us out with a flourish – right back at spot A, where Dude 1 was still to be seen!

At this point, the TC bless her cotton socks burst into tears. Amidst the floods, she remonstrated that there must be a way off, there should be a big “EXIT” sign, this is ridiculous, the only available sign says “EXIT, DO NOT ENTER” … and so on.

At last, Dude 2 got the general flow of things and took us to an unmarked lift, which took us down into the bowels of the monster and after a few more corridors led to the gangplank. It took us more than half an hour to get off that boat.

So, here’s another travel tip for free: If you’re ever on the USS Midway, plot your exit route at each level and don’t believe anything the official guides tell you.

A corridor on the USS Midway:

Corridor on the USS Midway

Pointing the way to the battle dressing station, a sober reminder of the crew’s activities of yore:

sign to battle dressing station

Me peering through a porthole:

Yours truly at a porthole

Phew, back on dry land and in the open air at last. The Santa Fe Amstrak station, right near the harbour:

Santa Fe station

Inside Santa Fe station:

Inside the station

The San Diego trolleys are made by Siemens in Düsseldorf, West Germany:

Trolley

Looking up Broadway from the docks towards downtown San Diego:

Broadway

Now, this is how to design an interesting, attractive shopping mall. Horton Plaza:

Horton Plaza

Inside Horton Plaza:

Horton Plaza

Some people have big feet and some people have huge feet. A polar bear at San Diego Zoo:

Polar bear at the zoo

And some people know how to pose for a pretty picture:

Giraffes at the zoo

That’s all for today dudes.

Published in: on 23 March 2011 at 2:03 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Long Beach, California

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Long Beach, California. The TC is attending a conference on technical communication. I’ve come along for the ride.

So far we’ve seen the beach, which is long, and some gracious old buildings, which complement the new entertainment complexes, and lots of friendly people.

The TC had a strange encounter on our second day here. As so often happens, she found herself wandering around in places where she’s not supposed to be. At the moment, and perhaps perpetually, the footpaths in Long Beach are in disarray due to some major road reconstruction. The TC went wandering down the causeway, dodging barricades and warning signs, in search of a more interesting route to the shops. She strolled past the only other soul in this bleak area, then did a double take when she noticed that the other woman was weeping. Quite forgetting that she was in California, she turned back and asked the passer by, “Are you OK?” This question elicited a long tale of woe, revolving around the fact that the other poor soul’s “number is 8” and that the number 8 had not been on a good footing since the 8th of August 1968. The TC, bless her cotton socks, took it all in her stride, commiserated and assured the woman that the wheel of fortune will keep turning and will come back round to her in good time. Then they parted ways, each to continue meandering more or less contentedly on their life’s journey.

I myself stayed wisely silent in the safety of my book.

My impressions? Long Beach is smaller and more drab than this worm expected. Still, it has that great open feeling that I’ve noticed in other parts of California.

Travel tip

Don’t speak to strangers unless you’re ready for them to talk right back at you.

Recommended accommodation

Hyatt Regency, 200 South Pine Avenue in Long Beach. This is the conference venue. It’s plush and convenient, with friendly and efficient service. Photo below.

The book I’m in

Portent, by James Herbert. It’s an unsettling coincidence that the TC chose to start reading this book just before the awful series of earthquakes and tsunamis that have hit Japan, and so soon after the earthquakes in New Zealand and the disasters in other parts of the world. Portent is a somewhat mystical book, weaving natural disasters into an extended Gaia philosophy built upon James Lovelock’s ideas. This worm recommends the book for a good fast read in James Herbert’s best style.

The photos

Me at Long Beach:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

A building that graces one end of the beach:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Another gracious building, in Pine Street:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Below is the Hyatt Regency on Pine Street. The waterway around the hotel is part of the Rainbow Lagoon Park:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

More of the Rainbow Lagoon Park, round behind the hotel. In a fast action scene in the film “Last Action Hero”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this park masqueraded as the La Brea Tar Pits:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Most days, Arnie is not around and the park is home to a quieter, more contemplative crowd:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Here’s a view from the hotel window showing Shoreline Village, a tourist’s delight of food, sweets, T-shirts and lovely water scenes:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Moving slightly to the left of the above view, you can see the rest of Shoreline Village, as well as the Queen Mary which is now a hotel and tourist ship, and another ship at dock:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

The TC and I trickled down to Shoreline Village to soak up the sights:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

Me looking back at Long Beach proper, from the boardwalk at Shoreline Village. Or, I should say, from just off the boardwalk. As you can see, the TC does not hesitate to dump me in the dirt if it serves to make a better snapshot:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

A blog post about California would not be complete without a sunset, preferably with some palm trees tangled up in it:

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

That’s all for today dudes.

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are back in San Francisco for a flying visit. The TC is working here for a week, so this worm has tagged along as usual, keeping her book warm and generally looking after her. Today, Sunday, is her only day off on this trip. So we all got in to a Smart Car and drove over the Bay Bridge, to see what happens outside San Francisco.

My impressions? Oakland and Berkeley are worth the drive, if you have time on your hands, if only to see the Bay Bridge and the view of SFO from the other side.

Travel tip

Smart Cars are larger inside than you may think.

Recommended restaurant

Pakwan restaurant, corner of O’Farrel and Jones streets, San Francisco. Quite outstanding. See photos and words below.

The book I’m in

Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child. The TC hasn’t had much time for reading, so I’m still stuck in the same book as when I wrote my previous post. No matter. I’m quite attached to the book!

The photos

Me with Peg and the food at the Pakwan restaurant:

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

The Pakwan restaurant is on the corner of O’Farrel and Jones streets, San Francisco. It offers “Pakistani-Indian authentic cuisine”. The space itself is not all that impressive, but the food is simply delicious. The price is very reasonable too.

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

Me with the Smart Car that we hired for the day. I’m attached somewhat precariously (as usual) to the aerial:

lackadaisical

lackadaisical

Me and Smarty Tyres are parked in the grounds of the University of California, in Berkeley. Here’s one of the attractive buildings on campus:

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

Next we drove down to Oakland. Surprise, Jonathan was there! Here he is, admiring the view from Oakland docks of the mist coming down over San Francisco:

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland

That’s all for today dudes.

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC hit Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and drifted around Hollywood for a day. I bumped into a couple of stars. The TC took the obligatory photographs. Then we moved on.

My impressions? Woah! I was surprised how tacky Los Angeles is.

Travel tip

Spend as little time as possible in LA.

The book I’m in

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s not as gothic as I was expecting, but I reserve judgement because the TC still has me lodged half way through the book.

The photos

Me and Peg hobnobbing with a star:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

“Walk of Fame”? Bah humbug. To be honest, I didn’t meet anyone who carries quite the same cachet as I do myself. Here’s another star. Don’t ask what that dark liquid is, encroaching from top left. I’m sure you can guess. The TC plonked me and Peg down right next to it! Poor old Peg could hardly keep it together, such was her chagrin:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The Walk of Fame runs along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. If you’re anything like this worm, you probably think the Walk of Fame would be in a glamorous area of Hollywood, with glitterati peering out of every gold-framed doorway. Think again. It’s scruffy. Dusty. Urine smoulders in the corners and dribbles over the stars. People accost you, offering to guide you to a specific star — for a fee of course. Dudes, the neighbourhood is not quite the ticket:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

We headed for the hills:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

At least from up there, the city has a smoggy allure:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

We did a guided tour of the Warner Bros. studios. This worm highly recommends the tour. Lasting about two hours, it’s fast, interesting, professional:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s one of the “backlots” inside the studio grounds. The buildings are just facades, customisable for each film that is currently being shot:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s the ambulance bay for “ER”:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

And here’s what it looks like from the other side:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The Warner Bros. tour includes a visit to the museum. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was entranced by the garments and other accoutrements from various films. Here’s Harry Potter’s Ford Anglia:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

See the green screen on the left of the above picture? Tour participants are invited to pose in front of it for a photograph. Later, photographic wizardry replaces the green background with an image of the Gryffindor common room. Naturally, the TC and TC-once-removed could not resist that opportunity. Here’s the somewhat predictable result:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Television afficionados will recognise this room:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Yes, it’s Central Perk from “Friends”.

The Warner Bros. tour guide also took us round the props warehouse. This worm found it the most interesting part of the tour. So much stuff, some genuine and some look-alike. Here’s a massive Egyptian statue nestling up to a stunning Tiffany lamp. The studio has had the lamp squirreled away for years and has only recently discovered its value. It’s one of two genuine matching Tiffany lamps:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s an even more valuable standing lamp. It’s made of Baccarat crystal and recently valued at 3 million dollars. The studio has its twin too, worth the same amount of moolah:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

In the evening we made it to Universal Studios. Glitz and glamour were more in evidence here:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The guitar in the distance marks the entrance to the Hollywood Hard Rock Café. Inside, a car turns languidly above your head, chief raft in a flotilla of memorabilia:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

If you’re in Hollywood around Halloween, go to the Universal Studio Halloween Horror Night. We did.

That’s all for today dudes.

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were in California a couple of weeks ago. The wild wild west and all that. We drove a Mustang down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles. As you do. I wrote about it.

Santa Barbara was one of our overnight stops. That city is so pretty, the TC didn’t know where to point her camera next. To be more precise, she didn’t know where not to point her camera next. As a result, we have gigabytes of images. This worm does concede that they’re pretty and so, with my superior discerning eye, I’ve picked a few for this blog post.

My impressions? Time standing still. In a good way.

Can anyone take so much eye candy? You’ll soon find out. Dude, let me know if you make it to the end of this post.

Travel tip

Go there.

Recommended accommodation

Villa Rosa, an inn at 15 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara. As the brochure proudly states: “Henri Matisse, Carmen Miranda, Ernest Hemingway and Errol Flynn never slept here.” But me and the TC did. It’s charming. There’s a picture somewhere below.

The book I’m in

The Last Apache Girl, by Jim Fergus. I’m between pages 98 and 99 at the moment. From the dizzy rate at which the TC is moving me through this book, I can tell that she’s enjoying it.

The photos

Me catching the breeze in front of the Court House clock tower in Santa Barbara:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Villa Rosa inn, where we stayed for the night:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The architectural styles are clean and pleasing to the eye:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This building has fresco work under the top eaves and in the archways:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

From the outside, the Court House is merely quaint:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

But inside, the Court House is magnificent:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

It feels a trifle weird to walk around such a serene space, knowing that some of the people you pass are attending court cases and probably not having the most stress-free time of their life:

The architecture is Spanish-Moorish.

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Court House was completed in 1929. Its architecture is Spanish-Moorish:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

From the top of the Court House clock tower there’s a lovely view of the hills and the town. Here’s just one direction:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Mural Room in the Court House quite takes your breath away:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Mural Room was originally built for the sittings of the County Board of Supervisors. Now you can get married there. Here’s a closer look at one of the walls:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Sumptuous stair cases abound. For some reason, this one was adorned with urns. Keats would have done his nut:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Ahem, that’s me dangling on the vase. Ode on a Travelling Worm, anyone? 😉 Actually, Peg is in this photograph too. She’s dangling on the inside of the vase, acting as a loyal counterweight. Dear Peg.

There is so much more of the Court House to see. And the TC, bless her travel-worn cotton socks, photographed most of it. But this worm will move on.

Me with Brother Juniper at the Franciscan mission in Santa Barbara :

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Brother Juniper is one cool dude. The mission itself is pretty cool too:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Step inside the mission building. Step into serenity:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

There’s a roped-off walk that you can do, so that you don’t disturb the residents and the people attending a retreat:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

A view across the courtyard inside the mission:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Still inside the mission, see the skulls and crossbones around this doorway that passes from the graveyard into the church. The TC was surprised to see such decoration in a Catholic mission. This worm has since done some research. Wikipedia says that skull and crossbones have long been used to mark entrances to Spanish cemeteries:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This little alcove is inside the church:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Here’s the doorway leading from the church into another part of the mission building:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The mission museum has some lovely relics. Here’s a large old songbook from their collection:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

That’s all for today dudes.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

The TC got it into her head to drive an open-top Mustang down Highway 1, the coastal route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Actually, it was the TC-once-removed who put this idea into the TC’s head. Reluctantly I have to report that the TC got a bit carried away with the whole experience and left me cooped up in her bag much of the time. I didn’t even have the chance to get cozy with the pony (that’s what we aficionados call a Mustang) although I had been eagerly anticipating that photo opportunity.

Still, the TC did give me an airing every now and then, so I can report some highlights of the trip.

My impressions? The drive to Los Angeles is just beautiful. LA is a dump. Drive on by.

Travel tip

If you can, spend a few days on the drive. There’s much to do and see.

Here’s another tip from a wise worm: Invest in a GPS. Don’t rely on your TC. If she’s anything like mine, you’ll get lost and end up seeing the, ahem, interesting parts of town. En route from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica, we encountered Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Sod Farm.

Recommended restaurant

Lucia Lodge Restaurant, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean at the southern edge of Big Sur.

Recommended accommodation

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, 400 Cannery Row, Monterey. Even the TC, bless her cotton socks, deserves a touch of luxury every now and then. But be warned, it’s pricey.

The book I’m in

Moonlit Cage, by Linda Holeman. Highly recommended. This worm felt homesick when the TC finished reading The Linnet Bird, by the same author, so I’m glad to be ensconced in another of Linda’s works.

The photos

Me cozying up to an urn in the Santa Barbara courthouse. Yeah, Keats dude: Leaf-fringed legends, deities and mortals abound. In truth, beauty and all that, I feel that I have a certain unfading charm myself:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Here’s the Mustang backed by a fittingly scenic view:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The TC keeps remarking with glee how the car took her up and over 100 miles per hour before she had time to glance at the speedometer. Hmm. This worm is sceptical of the “before she had time” part of that tale:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

It’s a 4 litre, 6 cylinder mean machine:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We started in San Francisco. Here’s that serene city, as seen from the Sausalito ferry a few days before we left:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We spent our first night in Monterey. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is well worth a visit. It’s housed in a converted sardine canning factory situated at the end of Cannery Row, of John Steinbeck fame:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Me with a seahorse in the aquarium:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The jellyfish displays are awe-inspiring, dwarfing even the TC’s height:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Here are the jellyfish in motion:

Another sort of jellyfish:

And perhaps the most ethereal yet:

These beasties are seadragons, related to seahorses. These dudes have the art of synchronised swimming down to a T:

Wherever I go, Jonathan is there too. Here he is masquerading as a porpoise, but I spotted him. Is he the most inept spy ever? Double-oh-seagull:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in the middle of Cannery Row. It’s luxury squared. Here’s the view of the sea at dusk, from our room:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Just a few steps down the Row, two homeless people set up for the night. John Steinbeck would probably recognise their experience of the Row more than ours:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The scenery from Highway 1 is sometimes breathtaking. This video gives some idea of its beauty. The noise you can hear is the barking of group of elephant seals on the beach at the bottom of the cliff:

Further along the road, you can get up close and personal with more elephant seals.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Santa Barbara is gorgeous. So impressed was this worm, that I plan to write a blog post dedicated to that city. Here’s a snap to whet your appetite:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Malibu is luxury with a road running through it. Can’t visit your neighbours, for fear of getting run over when you cross the road. Can’t get anywhere without a car. As we approached from the north the TC chirped, “I could live here!” Then Malibu went on and on and on and this worm is pretty sure she changed her mind. Not that the TC would admit such a thing, of course.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Santa Monica was blowing up a storm when we arrived. Extreme weather. The TC had to duck the kamikaze palmtree fronds. At one stage she was walloped in the middle by a low-flying cardboard box, but seemed to take that in her stride. Even so, Santa Monica greeted us with glitz, glamour and fairy lights:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Early next morning all was calm and clean again, the palm fronds magically back in their rightful places:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

After a bit of research to find “you know, that beach where you always see people in films rollerblading among the palm trees”, the TC decided on Venice Beach, LA:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We found this skate hire shop:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

And the TC fulfilled her heart’s desire:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

That’s all for today dudes.