The road south soon turned from cactus covered hills to sprawling concrete. The right side of the road still sported beach views and the route sometimes took me along beach paths and boardwalks. To any cyclist riding this section after a storm I would recommend not riding any path next to the beach as the wind blows copious amounts of sand onto the pathways. For the first time, I was forced to get off the bike and walk.

I was fortunate to be able to stay with and get to know a family friend and her roommate in Long Beach. It’s always nice to stay indoors, especially when you don’t have to pay the typical $70.00/night for an “affordable” SoCal hotel. Thanks again Sylvia and Jade for the hospitality and the scenic Long Beach tour!

A day or so into the LA area I stayed at a hotel in Santa Monica which was touted as the cheapest hotel in the area. At $60.00 / night I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was wrong. Upon checking in I was told that I could have a five dollar discount off the typical rate because my room didn’t have heat; fine with me. As I whipped out my credit card to pay for the room a grimace formed on the proprietor’s face.

“Oh, we really need to have you pay cash.”

“Um, OK, that’s fine I guess.”

I later learned that this hotel had been busted about 6 months back for drug trafficking and had racked up some public health and safety violations. I’m not sure if they were renting out rooms under the table to avoid taxes or to keep out of view of the public health department.

The room was laughable: mold in the shower and bathroom, a gaping hole where the heater used to be, large stains on the sheets and the bedspread, a few cockroaches attempting to steal my bike, some dried blood on the door jam, and the crowning amenity of this chateau du ordures? A used crack pipe under the mattress. I didn’t ask if rock included in the continental breakfast. Instead I went to dinner with a friend, thanks again Chico!, slept inside my sleeping bag liner, and left first thing in the morning. All in all, a very amusing experience since I didn’t contract scabies. I’m almost sure this won’t be the worst hotel I will stay in on this trip I hope it’s the worst for the price.