After a couple of days and a short walk in Yosemite we drove to Stockton (not far from San Francisco) where we had arranged to replace the alternator at Valley Hybrids.They replaced my 60 amp alternator with an 80 amp one from a petrol version and also gave the cruiser a good check over and tightened one wheel baring. The new alternator is a big improvement and is now putting plenty of charge into the leisure batteries.
As we drove into San Francisco we drove into a thick mist and the temperature dropped from a warm 32 degrees to a chilly 17. We drove over the Bay Bridge, vaguely saw the Golden Gate Bridge through the mist, followed the GPS to 3 camp sites that no longer exist (up and down the famous hills where so may car chases have taken place) and decided we had had enough of San Francisco so drove out again and found a camp site about 40 miles south..
Monterey on the other hand (once the capital of California in Spanish time) was delightful and fortunately the mist cleared whilst we were there, but the mist was to plague us on and off most of the way down to LA and the following day saw very little sun at all.
A couple of days later we found ourselves at the weekend again and all camp sites full, but found that we could camp on the beach for $10 a night. This was a huge area with lots of dunes where any form of 4x4 was allowed to drive over as long as they had a high flag (so they could be seen from the other side of a dune). To access the camping area it was necessary to drive about 3.5 miles along a narrow passage way along the beach front. This was easy as the tide was out and we drove down the wet sand by the water and pitched up between a couple of trailers. That evening numerous vehicles from quad bike to specialist 4x4 trucks with big engines went roaring by in the dark, with banks of LED lights to light there way, all with flags flying high and sometimes up to 4 deep and you could quite believe you were on the set of Mad Max 4 (or would it be 5?)
The following morning there is a lot of discussion about where high tide would reach, potentially beyond were we were pitched! We were ready to make a quick getaway if it came up to far, but in the end just about reached the back wheels, but by that time only an inch or so deep. the next day high tide was supposed to be 6 inches lower, but the waves were a lot higher and had to evacuate up the breach a couple of times whilst we packed up, until one wave came up as far as the running board whist I was stood on it as I was getting in to reverse up the beach (which I did without problem). By this time the beach was carnage, with vehicles up to their axles all over the place. We skirted round the back in the soft sand (which was good fun) but when we got half way along the narrow section the sea had gone up to the fence and the only way out was to basically head out to see to a sand bar about 100 meters out and back on to the beach further down. Half way through all this I realised I should have put the go pro on, but there was no way I could stop and probably missed some of the best footage I would ever get. I did consider going back but Chris wasn't too keen.
Whilst in Death valley we met a couple of guys on Harley's that worked for a land Cruiser Specialists in Chatsworth (just north of LA) that told us they kept stock of diesel parts, so after lunch at Santa Barbara (where apparently the rich and famous go to get away from LA) we made a slight detour to Chatsworth and stocked up with filters and brake pads. After which we soon realised we would not get very far in the traffic so back tracked to Malibu and found a very reasonable camp site (given the location) over looking the bay.
The next day we made it to San Diego, through the worst traffic we have encountered on the trip, up to 7 lanes in places and when it wasn't stationary cars would overtake on all sides and some would weave across all 7 lanes!
So here we are at San Diego, waiting for a couple of tyres to be delivered so that we will have a full set of Coopers, which will hopefully last until we ship back. We met up with Susan, who we met in Canada and told us to look her up when we got here, and we have all ridden our bikes round the bay and imbibed rather more than perhaps we should over the last 2 evenings.
Coast of California