Things have been quiet on the blogging front lately. It has been a very busy time in life generally but I also recently went on holiday. Naturally this took up a lot of my focus and dare I say it, made me think about somewhere other than Margate ;)

I always knew I wanted to go to Los Angeles and first visited the city back in 2014. Ever since that dream holiday (which also took in San Francisco and Las Vegas), I couldn't stop thinking about how incredible LA was, how much I would love to go back and how I wanted to see a lot more of California generally.

It's always been my opinion that you should always try to go to different places on holiday and that going back to the same place was a bit lame. However, California is bloody massive and the landscape varies so much. So, back in April, I took the 11-hour flight and made the trip back to the dreamy West Coast.

Once I landed at LAX, I met my friend who is originally from Thanet, and now lives in Ventura - about 90 minutes from Los Angeles. After staying there for one night, we set off on our road trip down to Palm Springs, but not before pulling over here of course...

The allegedly 'world famous' International Banana Museum...who wouldn't pull over? We shouldn't have, it was closed.

              Reluctant to accept that we, unlike everyone else on the road, were not on our way to
                 Coachella, I found great joy in some excellent signage as we entered Palm Springs. 

I'm pretty sure my Instagram did a little squeal of excitement when we arrived at our hotel. It was SO colourful! Palm Springs has some serious architecture porn. 

After some obligatory time spent sunbathing by the pool, I donned my Louis Theroux hat (they must exist) and we set off the next day to see some weird but great stuff at Salvation Mountain.

Before we got there, the sat nav decided to take us to the entrance of a state prison instead, so by then I really was feeling like Louis. But after a quick Wikipedia search on who was jailed there, we redirected ourselves and made our way to the mighty mount of Jesus-based joy.

Seeing one man's commitment to sharing something beautiful with the world like this was so lovely. I'm not sure how many times I read the words 'God is Love' but it was a joy to photograph. Sadly its creator Leonard Knight has passed away, but the sense of peace and scale of the achievement really came across. It seemed like it had been some sort of therapeutic exercise for him.

Back on the road, we then headed to Bombay Beach. A thriving resort in the 50s and 60s, it is now more of an abandoned rusting wasteland. It appeared to be inhabited by bohemian types and actually reminded me a little of Dungeness. 

We headed back to Ventura and the next day I saw this lovely cinema building...

I spent some time photographing the area where my friend lives, which instantly put me in the mood for listening to one of my favourite albums, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs.  

You can only really do one thing when you read a sign like this. I can confirm... it is. 

Next up was beautiful Santa Barbara. 

Hendry's beach is potentially the best beach I've ever been to. Soz Margz. 

                                          Not only is it stunning, it's also dog-friendly! 

While we soaked up the sunshine surrounded by cute dogs, genuinely thinking that life couldn't be sweeter, all of a sudden we spotted three whales and some dolphins!

The next day I did something that was a bit unnerving; I took the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train and spent the day in LA - alone. 

Naturally, this meant I spent some more quality time appreciating architecture.

I discovered The Broad - a contemporary art museum with an amazing collection, had fun revisiting the Walk of Fame, and got to know Downtown LA a lot better.

Ok that's enough blue sky and sunshine. Time to head further north. 

Located approximately halfway between LA and San Francisco is Hearst Castle - probably the most extravagant place I've ever seen. It took a 15-minute constantly uphill bus ride to even get to this mansion. During its heydey in the 1920s and 30s, Hollywood stars and political figures visited regularly. 

Everything is so luxurious and really encapsulates the hedonism of this period in history. Zebras still roam the land surrounding the site. 

This might be my favourite photograph from the entire trip. These are the tennis courts at Hearst Castle. Mmm, symmetry. 

The gold mosaics, ornate marble steps and statues in this pool room blew my mind a little. Everything is so over the top, it's perfect!

On the way back South from here we made a quick stop in Cambria. All of the buildings were so well presented and the main street was deserted - it felt like we had walked onto a TV set. 

Smelly, noisy, but sweet....Elephant Seal Vista Point in San Simeon.

Madonna Inn is officially my spiritual home. Pink everything.

Look at that carpet. 

The drive back to Ventura was pretty lovely. 

Especially when the sun reappeared...

For the final leg of the trip, we returned to Los Angeles for a couple of nights, staying at the Ace Hotel in Downtown. Hooray for rooftop jacuzzis! 

The view from the hotel rooftop. 

It's not a trip to LA without a visit to Santa Monica and the pier. 

Or indeed without renting a beach cruiser and riding down to Venice.  

On the final day, we did some shopping on Melrose Avenue. 

And went to The Beverly Hills Hotel - home to the best wallpaper in the world. Obvs. 

We had a quick sunbathe on the deck overlooking the pool. It was another pink-filled dream. 

We also spent some time admiring the outrageous homes in Beverly Hills...

...and the insanely tall palm trees. 

On the final night, it was back to the hotel rooftop for one last view of the city.

I realised that it really isn't lame to go back to the same place on holiday. My experience this time was totally different and I saw so much more of California than I could have imagined. 

With a peaceful mind, a very slight tan and a heavy heart, I bid farewell once again to a city (and state) that I just adore.

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