I woke up feeling really calm, as if I were jut dumping all my stress in Fresno. It was great. I had breakfast and hit a few thrift stores (two cool shirts), and then headed south on the highway formerly known as US 99 for Bakersfield, where I had lunch and didn’t do much else.
I wasn’t much in the mood for LA, so I took I-210 almost to Riverside and went south on I-15 through the surprisingly traffic-filled wilderness of the “Inland Empire”. The great thing about LA freeways is that, even when they’re choked with traffic, they very often still move at about 80 MPH.
I really didn’t stop much, as I was in a hurry. But one thing caught my eye. First I saw a sign reading “Champagne Boulevard”. At first, I figured it was a vineyard, but then I realized I was close to the Lawrence Welk Resort. It was just too perverse not to be seen, so I pulled in. I was amazed that (a) it was not as tacky and pink as I expected, (b) there were far more golf carts than actual old people driving them, and (c) the convenience store had Funyuns on sale.
I tried Stan again (no luck) and proceeded to Eugene’s house in San Diego. We had dinner at the Chicken Pie Shop (four courses for about four bucks), toured the wonderfully dowdy El Cajon Boulevard, sneered at the plastic gaydom of Hillcrest, and hit a few bars.
First was Pec’s, a great dive I’d found rather by accident on an earlier San Diego trip while looking for a cab. Turns out Eugene likes the place too; it has a lot less of the terminal preppy and circuit-type idiots so common elsewhere in the city. Then we hit the Hole, near Ocean Beach, with its tropical tiki patio and three customers. I liked it.
After a few minutes of the “Get Smart” marathon on TV Land, I settled in for a semi-insomniac night, the first of many to come.