Tacos and Doughnuts

Sunset on Venice Beach

Another Amtrak ride, another blog post.
Rolling out of Los Angeles after a fantastic 2 weeks in Venice Beach.

Last we left, I was on the train to Houston. I had a great time there. Continuing my role as the cousin ambassador, I got to see many but not all of the Texas Cousin Clan. Got to see some good stuff in Houston: The Museum of Art is excellent and had a fantastic Art Deco car exhibit. The Museum of Natural History has a world class dinosaur exhibit and the finest opal I have ever seen. Then I headed up to Wimberley, just south of Austin to spend time with cousin Barbara. Turns out South by Southwest was starting then so I spent a weekend with cousin Robert and his family. I went into town to the SXSW job market which was interesting but nothing spun my beanie. Had some world class BBQ at La Barbecue. Beef ribs: $17.95/lb. One rib= 1.5lbs.

By this time, I found out about the beach house that cousin Linda has. So rather than make my way west through NM and AZ, I flew from Austin to LAX and ensconced  myself in the sweet house on Venice Beach.

So for the past two weeks, I have been ‘busy’ with reading, eating amazing tacos and having my soul changed by world class doughnuts. Spent hours on the front porch, watching the bikers and skaters and all sorts of characters roll on by. Went to the Science Center to see the local Space Shuttle.
Got to see cousin Greg Booth a few times, visiting his office at Google and getting third place in pub trivia…twice.


Finally I was within walking distance of the Santa Monica REI, so I made a few trips over there to stock up for the hike at hand: warm things, new trekking poles, water bottles, etc.

It was great to see old California friends: Jan my old SF roommate and his family. Alice and Nick met me at the Getty Villa for a lovely afternoon. The Getty Center is also a spectacular visit and a great example of what should be done with great wealth. There is currently a fantastic Mapplethorpe exhibit and a nice one on Daguerrotypes, so it hit my photography buttons nicely.

Downtown Pizza

But mostly I enjoyed the nice spot and appreciated the civilization around me: the good food, plentiful water and comfy bed.

Because now, after a couple days in San Diego gearing up and getting food, it’s off to Campo, CA and the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The PCT is Same Same but Different than the AT. At ~2600 miles, it’s longer than the AT by 300ish miles. But because it’s graded for animals (not as steep, path is wider), people tend to do more miles per day and therefore tend to finish more quickly. Instead of 5 months on the AT, this will take you 4 months.
It’s more open and exposed: More to see, more sun. The temperature gradients are steeper. The first month is in the desert. Super hot and not a lot of water but I someone reported snow on the ground last week. Highest point on the AT is 6600 ft. PCT is around 12K and you spend a lot of time over 6K. After the desert, you hit the High Sierra and spend the rest of the walk in them or the Cascades further north.
Most people start northbound in April because you want to be in the desert before it gets too hot but into the Sierras after the snow stops. So I have to plan for desert heat and then transition to snow and ice before the summer is in full bloom. THEN you have to get to the Canada border before winter starts up again in late Sept/early Oct.
In the desert, I will have to carry up to 7 liters of water at a time (VERY heavy) and then in the mountains, I can drop back to 1 or 2 liters at a time.
So I am going to hit the San Diego REI one more time to make sure I have what I need.

Next post should be from the desert!

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