Most people reading this are familiar with standing at the bar waiting to order a drink from your local watering hole. When the bartender approaches, you order a Corona because it is a beautiful sunny day outside; your friends are sitting on the grass in the outdoor garden and an icy, crisp beer would compliment the experience perfectly. Because you are savvy and sophisticated in the world of beverages, when the tender asks if you would like lemon in your Corona you reply; “No thank you Mr. Bartender, I would like a lime please, because limes are much less bitter and go better with an icy, crisp Corona.”
The bartender pauses and looks at you for moment, astounished by your cander, taking his measure of you before reaching for his bar tongs and with a flare spins them around on his finger and reaches for the bowl of limes located right next to the bowl of lemons. He props the juicy piece of lime in the top of the bottle of Corona, hands it to you and both of you go on to enjoy your afternoon.
However… Not all bartenders want to serve you lime. Some bartenders just want to serve you lemon.
But why would bartender want to serve you a lemon? It stands to reason that because a lemon is cheaper and easier to come by than a lime, it would also be more financially profitable to serve lemons to their customers.
This is what we thought we were buying.
This is what we really bought!
A few days into our American trip we secured a second hand RV located through Craig’s List. It is very difficult to get around LA if you don’t have a vehicle and as such we were not able to view many RVs. The one we ended up with has been a real handful! On our first day of driving in the United States we set off to our first derby training at the OC Roller Derby’s banked track, while driving there we noticed the lemon was pulling to the right. Significantly. The pulling was followed by an intense heat and a strong citric aroma. We were getting the impression this car was pulped. The black smoke billowing from the front right wheel confirmed it. It felt like the brakes were locked on and when we got out to examine, we found our fears were true.
The front right brake was locked on so we were going no where. After finding a mechanic to take a look at the RV he told us the master cylinder which is responsible for supplying pressure in the brake lines had recently been replaced, however the mechanic who had done the work made some incorrect adjustments which was causing the brakes not to release. That in itself wasn’t a large issue, but the heat that had been caused by driving it had melted all the rubber components inside the wheel such as bearings and seals. The whole vehicle had to get jacked up and the brake lines bled and all the parts replaced. All this happened in a shopping center car park, much to the security guard’s distaste.
Once we got going again we were able to make the bank track training at OC and had an absolute blast! Banked track derby is a totally different experience from flat track, it is fast, brutal and very challenging. The warm up consisted of pace line skating as do many flat track teams. But on the bank track you pick up speed straight away and maintaining a pace line at top speed feels like you are racing on a speed circuit. I’d happily enjoy skating the bank again, but prefer the finese of flat track rules.
We spent the next 3 days trying to get the lemon registered an insured under our names. My advice to fellow travellers is to avoid the Californian DMV at all costs!! That place sucks!!
We were rescued by some cool people from South Coast Roller Derby, who are also the proud owners of the CiB TRAMP RAMP. We got to skate and look rather foolish (me at least) on the ramp graced by the likes of Estro Jen. We learned some cool moves from our kind hosts, who also invited us to visit their training the following night.
South Cost Roller Derby training.
As we were finding the city very busy and tiring, we decided to head for the hills. We took the 5 north of LA into Soledad Canyon.
The landscape’s alien appearance is inspiring; mountains streaked with harsh, sharp ridge lines outlining every curve in the mountain. The ground barren, with only sparse plantlife reaching out for water. Through the middle, cuts a twelve lane freeway, the thousands of cars further adding emissions to a state desperately in need of water.
Further into the canyon, nature has begun the slow progress of reclaiming what was left behind by man. Whole abandoned mines from a time gone by rusted and crumbling, eroded by the harsh winds, trash and car bodies dumped and forgotten becoming part of the land. In the canyon water is pumped to small oasis through pipeline from a private company. People everywhere share their concerns about the water crisis here in California, but water consumption rate remains excessive, while more automobiles are registered every year. California has more than one registered vehicle per person in the state. As several locals have indicated to me, the solution to the crisis appears to be pray for rain.
Only ten miles from Soledad Canyon are the Vasquez Rocks, a famous film location known to producers across the globe. Old episodes of Star Trek set on an alien planet feature the rock formations created by the San Andreas fault line, harsh, spiky rocks blast out of the flat dessert at parrel angles. Strange shaped caverns in monolithic cliffs where native American tribes once created their homes have been used as the setting for a bush ranger’s hide away and crude animal dwellings in Planet of the Apes.
Our North American Odyssey is turning out to be an amazing adventure that has thrown some really hard curve balls at us in the two weeks we have been there. But we are taking it head on, meeting some great people, skating plenty of derby and seeing some amazing naturl sights.
You know what they say, when life gives you lemons…