North America, Europe ·
15 Days ·
26 Moments ·
18 November 2017
I have now just drank a second strong coffee on the plane as the sun sets on L.A. but unfortunately they've immediately turned the lights off as time zone's changed and it's now the middle of the night. At least in my wired state I've got to finish this journal and reminis about the adventure I have just encountered during these fantastic and epic 14 days. Now time its time for a rest.
Ah here it is, the final day, welcome! I'm still tiered from all the action from the previous 13 days. Tom and I made the m the hotel hot tub while we still could. It was so nice sitting under a palm tree outside in a hot tube in November. I said bye to Tom and ubered (again) back to Hollywood for lunch with Sarah, River and Dylan. We past a building used for the final scene of Pretty Woman as We headed to a restaurant for brunch. We ate at a place called Mama's, which was Mexican themed. The four of us played a very competitive game of Foos ball, which Dylan and I lost. I said farewell and finally headed to the airport, passing an In n Out burger restaurant, which I've meant to eat at all week. LAX was a pleasant experienfor once and I boarded the plane. The sun has just gone down as I left America and drank a coffee.
17 November 2017
Tom and I woke in our hotel room and walked to Jerry's American diner for breakfast, where we were served by a sour faced older lady. They made nice eggs though. Tanja joined us and we chilled by the pool before going to the Warner Brother's Studio Tour. We had a great time being driven around on a buggy around the huge sets. We didn't see anything being filmed but visited many places with our guide Gillian. We saw lots of probs, were sorted in to Harry Potter groups by the sorting hat. I think I was Hufflepuff. We performed broomstick antics again greenscreen and I sat on the actual Friends sofa from Central Perk!
That evening we got yet another Uber and walked around Santa Monica, which was lively and buzzing with life. We ate on the terrace of True Food restaurant, was beautiful and had great food. Finally we played on various games in the arcade on the pier, collecting enough tickets for a rubber duck, 2 sweets and a scorpion ring. That night we said bye to Tanja
16 November 2017
Here i said farewell to Tony and Ben then Tom, sandra, Tanja and I headed back to Hollywood to the Griffith Observatory. I was bloody knacked at this point. I had been up since 6am walking continuously in brouges. The city looked beautiful so high at night. We learnt a lot about the sky from the exhibitions in the observatory and went to a show at one of their domed ceiling shows. The detail was amazing surrounding the whole ceiling with stars and a journey back in mythical time until 10 minutes later I'm passed out in the chair. Eventually we went to Universal Studios City Walk for some food. I believe I ate the worst KFC sandwich ever made. This was the when we said farewell to Sandra.
Tom, Fabienne and I were staying in the same hotel and had breakfast at a little cafe in El Segundo. This is where we said cheerio to Fabienne, while Tom and I ubered to Studio City where we were staying in The Sporsman's Lodge. Bill Murray was leaving the hotel as we arrived I'll have you know. It's a nice hotel with pool and hot tub. We got a taxi to Hollywood, where I had set up a meeting at Trailer Park, a production company with John, the post production boss. It went well and he asked me to keep on touch. I then had a meeting at The Farm post production company, which went equally as well.
I met up with the remaining group members in Hollywood and we head off to downtown L.A. There wasn't much apart from offices and traffic. There was an ice rink but we headed The Standard Hotel roof top bar where we were rejected entry due to the girls age.
15 November 2017
That evenin we started the process of saying goodbye as people slowly left the group to continue their travels or return home. I had to say goodbye to SH, which was a sad time. As I'll miss him, his kind words and kind natured personally. I've not met many people as good hearted as him. Then we had to say bye to Elane, who was wearing my jumper (which i know she loves, mainly as it reminds her of me but she wouldnt admit that) Sarah left to see her family and brother at bible college. Later Zoe, Fabienne, Ben and I went to Manhattan beach for dinner, which is a beautiful and expensive area. The streets were closed off and 1000s of people lined the streets for the turning on of the pier lights. The residents were all very attractive and had a great sense of community. Itwas impossible and tedious to get a table anywhere. Eventually we settled and Ben bought a Steiner by accident. Fabienne stayed in my room when afyer a very expensive phome call, we eventually managed to get in the room.
Day 10 of the 10 day TrekAmerica tour. 2 hours sleep and I feel dreadful! But let's soldier on, its time for L.A. again. We packed up the tents for the final time, shook them out and drove to L.A. 1st stop was Hollywood. We just wondered aimlessly and I bought a terrible promo CD of an urban rapper called Success on the street for $5.
I bought Elane a coffee to make up for the drunken drop kick of her wine the previous night. We them had lunch in The Farmers Market, which is home to 100 outside eating booths. I had chicken kebab if you were wondering. I bough my mum a black glittering yorkie dog Christmas tree decoration for Christmas and we drive down to Venice beach for our final stop. We strolled along the board walk watching the interesting people skate, street perform, sun bathe, scream at nothing and eat out of bins. Chilled for a beer and headed back to the van. I bought a mini surfboard for my wall.
14 November 2017
For lunch we ate at a nice authentic Mexican restaurant by the boulevard and then headed to the beach for Frisbee and I was transformed into a super hot mermaid. After drinking lots of whisky and coke on the beach we hired roller blades and skated around the beach boulevard until the sun went down. We were all rather tipsy at this point. Elani was wearing my jumper i bought. I told her they were on offer and she could get one too so she bought one.That night we ate at a nice American diner. Tony, SH, Fabienne and I went in the hot tub while the others sat at the camp fire. That night when we were all around the fire we got even more drunk. I spent most of the day with Elani. Just us gentlemen were left at the end of the night chatting deeply until 4am.
Tuesday 14th November in San Diego was a great day. A small group of us went to Mission Beach. Chilled with a coffee at a bar on the beach and walked down the boulevard. I spent a while looking for a jumper and finally found a real nice one which was only $15 or 2 for 25. There's a small fairground on the beach. Zoe, Tanja, Elani and I went on the Big Dipper. We were the only ones on it.
13 November 2017
On this Monday we had the most amount of driving so far (5 hours). We split up the journey by visiting some sand dunes. There was a production company filming a movie there. They wouldn't tell me what it was. We then decided to check out the steel wall that is being build between Mexico and America. I could fit my leg through but no more. Im not sure if you can see but the USA side is neat but the Mexico side is full of donkey manure. Finally we made it to San Diego and set up camp in the very nice Camping By The Bay site. I showered at last and then we went to La Jolla beach to watch the sunset. Its a very nice area of San Diego That night we ate fajitas by the campfire.
12 November 2017
That afternoon we made our way to the Colorado River where there is a campsite. It was nice to set up the tents on grass instead of rocks and sand. We swam in the river, which had a little beach and threw an American football around. That night we didn't have a fire but played card games around the table while drinking.
The next morning I woke in the desert and we sat down to a traditional cowboy breakfast of biscuits and gravy, which is like dumplings and chicken stew. The 1st set of riders were saddled up and went on their horse trail. Sarah from Sydney, Ben, SH, Fabienne and I went out 2nd so we cleaned up the camp and took some photos. I was partnered with a horse called Jonny who was a white 15yr old horse. He was very obedient, did everything I instructed and we made a great team.
We set off in to the desert trekking amongst the cacti. It was a hot day. We trekked for 2 hours with a guy called Dave. Jonny was a quick horse so I moved myself to the front. Dave wasn't happy I wasn't following single file but it saved my horse's nose being stuck in the backside of SH's horse. The dogs came with us to warn us of the snakes and run around. Dave's horse was new to the ranch and kept spinning in a circle so he couldn't get on him.
11 November 2017
As we drive further in to Arizona I notice there are cacti everywhere, just like you would see in the movies. We reached our destination, which is Betty and Rustie's Horse Ranch. We setup camp and went to swim in Lake Pleasant. The backdrop was nice with the Amazonian desert and high sun. That night we ate steak cooked by Betty around the campfire. I dont know what she seasoned it with but it was incredible!
Betty and Rusty are old but still going strong. We never spoke to Rusty but he was walking around. He's 91 and still chewing tobaco with his white beard and cowboy hat. Betty is friendly with her long dresses and country demeanour. SH and I spent most of the evening laughing about a photo of a poor guy who burnt his fingers with a firework that Fabienne showed us because she works in a hospital. We named him piano man. We felt guilty about this joke but were somewhat inebriated. Around the fire we listened to an Ed Sheran concert I ripped off iTunes, went down very well.
The next morning we packed and met at the gift shop, which was next to the Mexican. It had a sandwitch bar in it so we had a toasted breakfast sandwich to mop up the alcohol from the previous night and set off further in to Arizona. We made a stop at Montezuma Castle which is an 1100Bc settlement carved out of a rock face before setting off to Betty and Rusty's horse ranch. We should have been impressed by the 40 room cave carved settlement but to look at it seemed like a rock face with a few holes. I'm sure 900 years ago it would have been better. Well I hope so!
10 November 2017
We spent the afternoon visiting the visitors centre and filling in the Junior Ranger booklet to get the JR plastic badge, which is aimed at kids. Ben and I slept in the information cinema and we all then met up at the cafe in the local store for a coffee while waiting for Nick and the bus. Quite happy to be sat down after a long day of walking and scrambling.
That evening we ate at the Mexican next to the motel. It was a colourful place with painted picturs on the walls and on the mulitcoloured chairs. The servings were huge and I ate a very nice enchilada. After the meal we conjugated in Ben and Tom's room for drinking games until 12am. Setting us all up for a hangover the next day. I regretted some of the daft photos I participated in while under the influence of JD and Coke. I believe the game Kings was the start of our down fall.
So I got the meeting up time wrong and SH and I were late to the bus for our sunrise hike at the GC. Luckily only by a little. It was bloody cold so I wore jeans and hoody. We all walked down South Kaibab Trail while the sun rose at 7am. I was unshowered and in the previous days underwear but the views were great. Many of the girls slipped while walking down the Canyon.
We made it to Ooh Ahh Point, which was only 1km but it was a tough walk. 3 turned back after and the rest carried on stopping at Cedar Ridge and all the way past Skeleton Point with more stops. At 9.30am the sun was already churning out 25' heat while I was in jeans still. Everyone headed back up Ben, Fabiene and I stuck together. It was much tougher on the legs walking back up. It took 3 hours and we were all very happy to reach the top. An elk was drinking water by the bus stop.
9 November 2017
We left Vegas and drove to a small town on Route 66 called Seligman in Arizona, remembering to changed the clocks forward 1 hour. Seligman is somewhat of a museum town with mannequins outside the stores. I posed on a horse and we looked around. As the freeway was built, many of these towns shutdown. The style of this town is to encourage drivers to stop. There were a lot of thrifty shops there.
We dropped most of the party off to do their helicopter ride at the Grand Canyon. Myself, Sandra, Elane from Cape Town & Fabienne went to see the Grand Canyon. Then we all watched the sunset over the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
We checked in to The Red Feather Inn, 10 minutes from the GC. SH and I shared a room again and we all gathered for pizza at the restaurant next to us. It was excellent pizza. After we went to the steak house across the road for their bar. Most people were tiered from the previous night in Vegas and went to bed but Ben and I propped the bar up.
8 November 2017
We kept drinking and walking, saw the Belagio fountains and Venitian gondolas until we finally made it to The Mirage where we watched the volcano erupt and met all the others.
We had another mile walk to Circus Circus, which is slightly off the strip. It was a large casino but the most run down and tiered of them all. They had hourly circus shows inside. It was 2 Chinese girls on tall unicycles flipping bowls on their heads. It was impressive but still not elaborate. Fabienne and I played on the roulette machine and got some free drinks before heading back to our hotel to pack for the next day. Some of the the other stayed up to carry on drinking and zipwire down Freemoumt street.
I wanted to make a pun about the Chinese performers going bowling in their spare time. Or should that be strike time? but have only just thought about it. At least you lucky readers get to enjoy my joke.
All 10 of us had breakfast together in a little cafe a short walk from our hotel in the downtown area. A small group of us then got a taxi to the start of the Vegas strip. Tanja and Sandra from Austria, Fabienne from Switzerland, Ben, Tom and I started in Excalibur and then The Lux. At 12.30 it was time for the 1st beer at happy hour outside New York New York at an Irish bar. A man was banging 2 buckets like drums badly. I gave him $1 hoping he would stop. The beers sorted me out from the night before and then we carried on visiting the casinos. The girls were under 21 so didn't drink.
I was scammed $20 by a supposed Buddhist monk for some beads. Fabien has 2, I had 1. I won $24 on a $1 Dolly Parten slot machine in Ceasor's Palace. So I got my money back at least!
We stopped at the M&M store where I bough gifts and we watched the M&M 3D film. The professor woman who hosted the film in the cinema had a really strange high pitched voice and elaborate hand movements for the kids.
7 November 2017
We checked in to The Golden Nugget hotel in downtown Vegas. I was surprised it was such a nice big hotel. Very large rooms. Slightly dated but 2 double beds in each room. I'm sharing with Tony and our room is the party gathering room it seems.
Tony, Ben, Tom and I went for a wonder down Fremont street which is the main road in old Vegas, also known as downtown Vegas before the strip was built with the huge casinos. It's long and very lit up. The whole road is also covered by a huge led screen with people ziplining down the length of the street.
We met the others for dinner in The Heart Attack Grill where everything is bad for you and you have to wear hospital gowns. They have an 8 patte burger and if you don't finish your meal the girls in nurses uniforms spank the customer with a paddle. Then we went on a party bus to some sites and played blackjack intoxicated in a casino. Finally all 10 people ended up in my room.
We all awoke at 6am to go to the Mesquite sand dunes early for photos. Then we drove to Badwater salt flats and decided to taste the salt. We stopped at Area 51 gift shop where Tony, another brit, who works as an officer stearing a cruise ship bought Dave the blue inflatable alien. I slept at the back of the bus until we made it to Vegas.
6 November 2017
We set our tents up while Nick built a campfire. Ben from Melbourne, Tom from Kent, and I went to find beers. Found a bar. Had one then chilled at the camp. I shared a tent with 'SH' a 23 yr old guy from S Korea whos full name is Yoseonho. Pronounced Yo-sang-ho but he said to call him SH as it's simpler. We sat around the campfire chatting until It was late enough to go to bed. It was a lot warmer than I thought in the desert at night. I had a bad night sleep though due to the thin mat I slept on. Turns out you can blow it up but I didn't know that until the morning.
Monday 6th November at 7.30 I met the group in the lobby of the Marriott. Nick, the leader took us to the pool to tell us about the trip. We all introduced ourselves and I tried to remember everyones names. There's 4 guys and 6 girls but you'll learn more about them throughout the trip.
Afterwards we packed and we boarded our tour bus. It's a nice bus with a DVD player and wifi. I sat shotgun by Nick as we set off to sit in the infamous L.A. traffic. Two hours later we ate lunch a 100 miles east of LA, outside Jawbone Canyon store then drove to Ballarat ghost town, which was a mining town. There wasn't much there but Rocky, the only person living there alone in the desert in a caravan. He told us about his Freedom Days festival he throws with some bands and 200 attendies, where you're aloud to do anything you like as he owns that land in the desert. He also gave me some of his Moonshine whisky. We watched the sunset over Death valley and set up camp in the heart of the valley.
5 November 2017
Day2, Sunday 5th Nov and it's 25' and sunny. I hiked up to the Griffith observatory, which took 30 mins. Maybe jeans weren't so smart but I was used to wearing a winter coat in November. I looked at the view of L.A. and the hollywood sign and a took a brief look inside at the astrology displays before heading down.
I then walked half hour to Los Feliz town for lunch. I sat outside at a restauarant on the main road near the Los Feliz Cinema, eating and speaking to 3 music students who had been there a year. I then got a taxi to Sarah and Guy's apartment in Hollywood. Rooftop pool and hot top. Cinema room etc. Excellent. Lesbians in the hot tub. Us and the kids went to a burger place 5 mins walk from theirs. Great burger. I loved their complex. The taxi drive home told me all about her life and her son who wore a kilt and cared for her after surgery in a rather intimate way. Nice lady. Beat cancer twice and still loving life. I shook her hand dearly when I left the taxi.
4 November 2017
There's a welcome to Los Angeles sign at the entrance to passport control, which puts a smile on my face, followed by a two hour queue to get through passport control. I have my prints and photo taken and a sketched version of my photo that i actully quite like. Finally I'm welcomed by an angry passport officer who screams at me for going to the wrong line. Welcome to Los Angeles indeed!
I arrived and sat in the Fairfield Marriott hotel waiting for my bag to arrive, which BA kindly didn't put on the plane. It will be there in an hour I was informed. Have a shower at your hotel and it will be delivered to you in an hour. It didn't arrive. 5 hours later I went back to the airport at 10pm and finally after speaking to 5 people tracked it down. Good thing! It has all my camping stuff and I didn't fancy shopping for all that again. The hotel is great. There's an outside pool that looks nice with a firepit and the free coffee in the room tastes really good. Happy days!
Woke at 5.30 and went to Manchester airport. Caught plane to London after an English breakfast.
The flight was delayed leaving me 30mins to run to the furthest cornor of terminal 5, Heathrow to my connecting flight via a metro train which was also delayed while security searched for bombs.
I made it as the last passenger to board my BA flight. Crying at Batman the Lego movie on the plane was not my greatest moment. Neither was laughing aloud at the same movie and spitting chicken at the screen.
The 20 something year old Swedish lad sat next to me is a researcher from a hospital. He's going to San Diego for a conference. I'm trying to read his laptop screen discreetly. The words and equations are complicated and make no sense to me, which damages my ego.