Having such a long way to travel in a space the size of the average London bathroom (f-ing tiny), it’s nice to once in a while shout yourselves to a little luxury, and the kitsch and quirky (though slightly expensive) Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo did not disappoint. Having had this place on our radar for the last year or so after stumbling across it in a magazine, we booked a nights stay and were allocated the Sugar and Spice suite, decorated in over the top shades of bright pink, gold and brown.
Each of the 109 rooms are individually decorated with themes like Caveman, Buffalo Room and our favourite, accessed by a small trestle bridge, the Love Nes. Unfortunately you can’t pick individual rooms, only a category, and they’ll assign you a room, pot luck really. You can request the room you’d like but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it. Having checked in and now lounging at the pool, a message came over Sarah’s phone on Skype. H-ah (the one and only Mr. Hayden Graham) was staying in San Luis Obispo and had spotted on Facebook that we were also in town, shit. Now we love the Big Friendly Giant to death, though we know from our London times that when we’re together, we’re trouble with a capital T!
Deliberating for some time over what to do, we finally agreed and soon enough we’d given him directions from town and he’s up at the Inn, third wheeling our romantic evening with a bottle of scotch and tequila in tow. Chewing the fat about the times since we last met, we spent the night talking to the extroverted guests who were all keen to check out other people’s rooms whenever they had the chance. We eventually found ourselves in the hotels awesomely kitsch Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge having a ball with the eclectic mix of both young and old clientele. Sarah was at one stage whisked away for a boogie with a 70 old man that rocked the dance floor.
Waking early and heading straight for the pool to enjoy the rest of the ‘three’s a crowd’ crowd, we finally dragged ourselves away and left for town to have one last beer in San Luis Obispo, as Hayden couldn’t stop singing its praises. And he wasn’t wrong. The student/artsy vibe lends itself to create a laid back town. Hanging out at Frog and Peach pub, we were soon in conversation with a couple of local lads, one of whom had a guitar in hand, belting out renditions of various tunes of varying tonal quality. The outback patio is set along a creek with a shaded bank that adds to the relaxation of downing a few brews. Lucky for us the locals told us of a car park that had no restrictions and was only a short walk across the creek bridge right out the back of the pub, so we ended up spending another unexpected evening in town.
Losing a day in San Luis Obispo spent hanging with the big H-ah (Hayden) we now needed to make it to Las Vegas and the lead up to the wedding. With guests turning up the next day we had one night to get there. Flying past Pismo Beach, turning left toward Bakersfield, to cut time and avoid driving right through town we took the I-5 south. FAIL. As soon as we hit Grapevine we were confronted with a weaving hill that was to take Porkchop and us towards the summit of Tejon Pass in the deserts high noon heat. No sooner had we started to climb than the temperature gauge beginning to rise.
Turning around sharpish we pulled over with stress levels bursting through the roof, and took refuge under the rest stop trees. Opting not to disconnect the radiator hose and remove the thermostat (advice from Sea Pete) if we could avoid it, we turned around northward bound to Bakersfield. Heading out of town we took the 58 towards Tehachapi, only again to be greeted with another bastard road climb into what the road atlas portrayed as a broader mountain range.
Porkchop’s temperature again started rising only this time we were in the middle of the mountain range, miles from anywhere, caught with our pants around our ankles! Pulling over on the side of the road, again, there was no other choice but to wait for boiling temperatures to subside, nerves to calm by reading the latest books of Silent Spring (a little depressing given the situation) and The Devil in the White City.
Radiator hose off, thermostat out, re-sealed and 3 hours on the side of the road later, realizing that we should have cut our loses and done this the first time, we trudged up the rest of the road chanting ‘we think we can, we think we can’ until the pass was met with jubilation and a sense of triumph, the thermostat staying firmly below the halfway mark. We’d won this battle. With the sun well and truly below the western horizon and another hill climb to face the next morning, a roadside truck stop with gated toilets became the last ‘relaxing’ night before the arrival of 50 friends and all that is Las Vegas assuming we could make it over the pass the next day.