We were back on the road by 8:30am, but were delayed for an hour and a half in Yucca Valley where we had new brakes put on Giwi for under $80. Not bad. We then made a beeline for L.A. in order to meet Rik, a longtime friend and John's best friend since childhood, for lunch in Hollywood
. Rik gave us a fabulous whirlwind tour of downtown L.A. after re-energizing with some good Thai food (unfortunately we missed the Thai Elvis performance). We zipped past Gromann's Chinese Theater, The Brown Derby and up to Griffith Park & Observatory, where we caught a fog obscured view of the city and famous Hollywood signage. After Rik shared some of his Cali camping wisdom with us, we absconded with his coastal camping map and jumped on the Freeway to make some headway up the coast before weekend, rush hour traffic peaked.
Unfortunately, all of the campgrounds we targeted up the coast were full due to spring weekend outdoor enthusiasts, so we found a motel in Pismo Beach for the night, walked down the street for a quick dinner, surveyed the dark, icy Pacific and called it a night.
Joshua Tree National Park provided great camping our first night in California. By the time we arrived - early evening- the temperature was cooling and sun was setting. We drove approximately 12 miles through the park, past thousands of Joshua Trees (which John aptly labled, Dr. Seuss trees), and found a nice site to set-up our tent in Hidden Valley, an area populated by smooth, white, giant boulders. John set-up camp while I bargained with the remaining daylight to cook a pasta dinner. Tired from the long drive, we hit the sack early, which was fortunate, because a blazing sun woke us by 6:30 am.