Holidays Our little holiday diary

California One

(May 1997)

My brother Alf had been pestering us for a long time to go out to San Diego and visit him and his family and though I never fancied going out there, Diane had on a number of occasions said that we should go, “because they are family”. I finally gave in. I’m an old softy at heart and to be perfectly honest, I was a little bit curious about the attraction of America anyway, so we booked and flew out there from Manchester  on American Airways, going by way of Chicago O’Hare Airport and then on to San Diego. Both flights were very good, with attentive service and trouble free. This was the first time we had flown Trans Atlantic and couldn’t get used to them bringing drinks round. We assumed we had to pay for them and it was some time before we noticed that they were free, at which time we tried to make up for lost time! We arrived safely at San Diego Airport and cleared customs with no problems and we were met by Alf and his wife Denise. Alf was an oil tanker driver in and around Orange County (Southern California) delivering to filling stations and bulk oil users. Because of his job he refused to drive Diane and me around saying that it would not be a holiday for him (fair comment I suppose).  I therefore had to hire a car which we picked up at the airport. Having gone through the usual formalities of hiring a car, we set of to Alf’s home. He travelled with me and Diane followed with Denise in their car. As we were coming up to a set of traffic lights at the exit to the airport which were on red, I had a vague recollection that someone once told me in America, if the traffic lights are on red, you can still go if you are turning right (with the traffic flow) and if there is no traffic coming.  With this in mind, I looked over to our left and saw there was no traffic coming so just carried on and turned right onto a dual carriageway, at which point Alf informed me that I should have stopped at the traffic lights first anyway to be sure that it was safe to proceed before continuing with my turn. Never mind, no damage done.  As we continued down the road, Alf told me to get into the outside (left lane) ready to turn left at the next set of traffic lights. They were on red, naturally. So while we waited, we chatted about how things were back here in England, how the family was etc. and generally distracting me from what was happening on the road. The traffic lights changed to green, I set off, turning left onto another dual carriageway only, forgetting where we were, I had turned onto the wrong side of the dual carriageway and was facing the oncoming traffic. A moment of panic before realising what I had done, but seeing that there was no central reservation, we careered madly across all eight lanes to reach safety on the far right hand (near side) lane.... Alf never said a word, but the silence was worth a thousand words. Apparently, Denise, who was following directly behind us, let out a string of words that a bricklayer would have been ashamed of. What a way to start a holiday!! I got the hang of driving in America very quickly after that. We stopped on the way for a quick snack before arriving at Alfs house in the early evening. After unpacking, we just had time for a few drinks before we retired for the night. Being old farts we get tired easily and quickly.

Go to Part Two

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