California, Here We Come! (2021): Introduction

Yes, California here we come … but forgive us if we take the scenic route. (See above categories, and there are a further two countries that we merely transited!)

2021 was another year marked by multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, more national economic self-harm and travel industry chaos. In spite of it all, my Bristol-based friend Bruce and I managed a fair amount of travel from May onwards. What was absolutely unprecedented, however, was that by the end of October, all our trips had been within the United Kingdom. That’s right: for the first calendar year since we made our first joint-venture trip in 2008, we had reached the month of November without once venturing overseas.

As soon as things started to look better, then, it should be no surprise that we were ready to seize any reasonable opportunity that presented itself. By July 2021, with several domestic trips still scheduled, we were discussing the details of a potential visit to the USA. Planned around the annual Thanksgiving holiday, our proposed trip would begin outside the UK (it’s so much cheaper), follow an unconventional routing (we both love flying!), include a longish-distance train trip (to use a time-limited Amtrak voucher) and end outside the UK (because we could!)

The main objective would be California, where Bruce had lived for many years before coming to the UK, and which I regarded as one of my favourite parts of the United States. As the course of the pandemic unfolded during the second half of the year, we both experienced a roller-coaster ride of optimism and pessimism. By the beginning of November, however, it increasingly started to look as if the trip was on. And indeed, that’s exactly how things turned out!

As ever, here’s a brief pictorial ‘taster’ of what’s to come: