Tuesday, July 23, 2013

California Dreaming: My America Adventure

I'm still coming down from whatever the car version of 'Cloud 9' is after experiencing the utter madness of Gatebil Rudskogen last weekend. It was truly the experience of a lifetime and if I didn't have all the photo evidence of what went down there, I think I'd be struggling to believe that I was even there at all. If you haven't been reading Speedhunters then make sure to head over there and check out all the rad Gatebil coverage we've been putting together!

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Now that I'm back in New Zealand, I've spent the last few days looking through all of my photo albums on my computer from my travels so far this year and I realised that I still have so many photos from America that I haven't used anywhere. So I thought I'd dedicate a blog post on here to them along with a few words about my impressions during my short stay there.

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Firstly, it really surprised me how much I loved California. Perhaps the time of year that we visited contributed to the great first impression I was given - something about that super golden sunlight and amazing hot weather made our whole trip so enjoyable. But I also felt so accepted and welcomed by all the people we met there, so it was hard to dislike any part of the experience I guess!

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It seems like most of my car obsessed friends were first attracted to their hobby through either drifting or taking an interest in old school Japanese style. But if you've read my 'about' page then you'll understand why I was so keen to get amongst the USDM car scene to check out how they do things. Rides like this Scion xB were what originally pushed me to take notice of cars in the first place. Of course, my obsession goes much further than just wheel fitment now, but it was still really cool to see some of these cars with my own eyes.

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I spotted quite a few people wearing my stickers over there too! Thanks Yogi :)

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It wasn't just new human faces I met either - you guys know Orbit the dog, right?

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There were so many cars there that I'm so used to seeing on the internet so I usually wouldn't think twice about them, but then when I saw them in person I was really impressed. For example, we don't have any Rocket Bunny kitted 86s here in NZ yet, so I'd never actually seen one until the night these pictures were taken. Seeing them like this made me realise that they have such a cool street presence.

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Formula D was really fun! I really hope I can go to another round again one day. What livestream doesn't really capture is how amazing the atmosphere there is - the whole event area was buzzing like crazy!

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As to be expected, there were some really low cars there too. But like... too low for how incredibly shit the roads in LA are. I don't get how they do it! #MaximumPavementAttack

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Bill Baldwin is such a dude! So not phased.

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It was so cool to get the opportunity to meet some people who knew of me and that had read my blog before. Hello!

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Fatlace founder Mark Arcenal is someone that I really look up to, and after meeting him he wrote these kind words about me and Sean Klingelhoefer from Speedhunters. Thanks so much Mark!

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As well as socialising in Long Beach, I really enjoyed venturing out of the city to check out some ocean views and open roads.

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More on that in a different story!

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I just remembered that I took this to show how bad the roads are... pretty crazy, huh? Bum-cheek clenching stuff, that's for sure.

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The interior colour scheme on this Porsche 356 looked so good against the terracotta tones of the Terranea Resort where we stopped for lunch; I couldn't resist a quick photo.

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One of the tourist spots at the very top of Pedey's list was Neptune's Net - for obvious reasons. These photo comparisons he put together were actually pretty cool though! The night before going there we were reading some hilarious online reviews of this place; one guy reckoned he walked in on two bikers doing it in the port-a-loo toilet there.

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Despite the, err.. negative ratings, the food there was actually really good. When I first started eating food in America I was all like, 'Why do they put so much STUFF on chips fries here!' and then when I got back to New Zealand I was all; 'Why do we NOT put stuff on our fries here!' Chilli cheese fries FTW.

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Here are some road trip photos from our drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. My friend Matt kindly let me borrow his 5D Mark II for this trip, and shooting on ISO 50 really helped show how dreamy the weather was...

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... see what I mean? The sunlight captures everything in a different way here. I can't explain it!

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Look how happy Pedey is to be stuck in a Mazda 6 for NINE hours with me! Haha.

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I especially loved driving along the coast of Big Sur; it was so stunning. I MUST drive a Cadillac along here at some stage in my life! Or at least something with around three times the power of our rental car.

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Finally we made it to the outskirts of San Fransisco by dusk. After being totally mind-f*cked by how big Los Angeles was, SF was refreshing. Everything is very close together and it's much easier to get around there.

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More beautiful weather followed us there too. It was nice to do a bit of sightseeing that didn't involve cars or driving for a change.

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I fell in love with all the buildings and houses, as you do.

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This part of our trip really felt like we were on holiday. As in, I actually felt relaxed and not in a rush for once!

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More of that light as it escapes another day. I think this was actually our last night.

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Checking out Mark Arcenal's car collection was another highlight of our trip - because he pretty much owns all of my favourite cars! Except for an S30Z - although I have a feeling he'll get one of those too some day. It was so awesome to meet the crew at the Fatlace Paddock too!

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Even though we could only be there for a week, that was all it took for me to fall in love with California. The people there all seem to have such a positive attitude and are really outgoing, and I guess with my personality I can relate to those traits so I got along really well with everyone! Thank-you so much to all the amazing people that made our trip what it was. We had so much fun and looking at these photos is making me realise how much I really miss it there! Hopefully we can come back soon :)


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