Friday, October 18, 2013

23 September: Las Vegas to Los Angeles

We started our day with a 2.4 mile (3.8km) walk to the Dollar Rent-a-Car place. To be honest, I hadn't really considered how little public transport there is in Vegas. There was a bus we could've used for part of  the walk, but it was quite expensive (valid for 2hrs of travel) for the one little stretch we'd actually use it. Plus, we probably needed the walk with all this food we've been eating! Haha.

It went faster than we thought and after a little bit of a queue we were handed the keys to the convertible Mustang that'd be ours for the next 2 days. Yeah, baby!

We headed back to the Excalibur to collect our bags and then we headed to a nearby IHOP for breakfast (for another tick on my list of long-heard-about-but-never-tried food chains to visit while in America)

And on our way we accidentally stumbled onto the famous Vegas sign. And there were only like 2 other groups there ... apparently it can get kinda crazy there. But we lucked out and got a quick photo quickly before continuing our drive.

Super glad I tried IHOP, once. I had 2 of their pumpkin pancakes and 2 Chocolate Chocolate Chip ones (generally they serve 4 in a portion, but how could I choose just one flavour to try ?! Haha). Pancakes! Nope, I could not finish it all. And, of course, I had to give their peanut butter syrup a taste as well :) The Trucker stuck with a (fairly) normal breakfast (eggs and the like. But hello, House of Pancakes, ridiculous, right?!)

We rolled out of there and dropped the top on the Mustang and hit the road to Los Angeles. It wasn't a very eventful journey but I loved driving in a convertible. I think it was actually my first time! Also, I do love watching the scenery. It's so nice to travel in such a variety of ways on holiday :)

We saw a Solar Farm, which The Trucker made us stop for. Haha. And a little later, we drove past a road called Zzyxx. I mean hello? Really ... how on earth does one even pronounce that?! Go home Road Sign, you are drunk.

We saw loads of signs along the way for Peggy Sue's 50's Diner so when we reached it, we decided we had to stop. We were still full although the food looked delish so we just sat at the counter and I had a Root Beer Float and The Trucker had a milkshake. Perfect :)

Compared to New York and Vegas, Los Angeles felt sprawling. I guess in New York, it feels smaller because we stuck to Manhattan (mostly) and there is so much public transport. And Vegas was basically just one road.

Our first stop in LA was the La Brea Tar Pits, which have been on my list for as long as I've had a list! And it was pretty damn amazing. I didn't know that much about it, really ... other than the whole tar-trapping-fossils part. It was truly mind-blowing to find out the scale and quantity of the fossils they've found so far.

It reminded me of how I felt seeing the Terracotta Warriors. If they've been digging up the Warriors for 30yrs and found so much but uncovered so little of the area, it boggles my mind as to how much more there must be! And it is the same here, with all these fossils. In fact, I gather they have stopped digging up more from the pits and are just sorting thru masses of buckets from a construction site (Project 23).

I loved seeing the fossils. They had a Dire Wolf skull wall (a mere 400 of the 1600 found so far) which reminded me of the skull wall at The Mutter :) Haha. Even The Trucker was fascinated!

After wandering thru the museum (where they also have a Fishbowl Lab, much like the Artefact lab at the Penn Museum), we took a wander past the tar pits themselves. Yes, that famous one where they have the fake mammoths stuck in the tar. But also up to Pit 91 (which is currently paused mid-dig) and Project 23. Unbelievable.

With that item ticked off the list, we headed up to Hollywood Boulevard (since it was in the opposite direction to where we were staying tonight, we figured we'd go visit it before checking in and while there was still daylight), so I could be proper-touristy and see The Stars.

But, before we could park (or rather, pay for our parking), I had a good shout at Standard Bank. Before I left South Africa, I dutifully called them to let them know I was going overseas and would be using my card to draw cash. They asked if I would be reachable while traveling, I said no (since we'd planned to get a US sim on arrival, how on earth could I have known the number to give to them anyway?!). And then, when the time came to actually draw cash, I got a transaction declined message (up till now we'd been using the cash we'd taken).

Turns out it was declined because I didn't answer my SA cellphone number when they'd called o_0 Which I had told them I would not be able to do! How freaking stupid are our banks?! Regardless of what you notify them of before you go away, there is a magic random little transaction flagger that will stop your transaction till they contact you and get confirmation. Awesome. Thanks alot, Standard Bank!! I mean why ask if it doesn't make a jolly bit of difference?

Anyway, I eventually managed to successfully draw some cash and then we took a stroll down (some of) Hollywood Boulevard.

OMG. It is long and there are a billion people you've never heard of. I wish I'd thought of who I'd particularly like to see and looked up where their star was beforehand!

I picked 2 people I would have my photo taken with if we came across them ... Robert Downey Jnr and Tim Curry. I didn't see either of them. When I got back to the car, I found out Robert Downey's star is outside the Chinese Theatre, but loads of that area was covered because that section of the road was closed for a Paul McCartney concert. And apparently Tim Curry doesn't even have a star. WTF? I shoulda had my pic taken with Drew Barrymore's, we saw hers :)

When we got to the closed section of the road, we had no idea what was potting, it was chaos. But somehow we timed it just right to see Jimmy Kimmel bringing Paul McCartney out onto the roof of the opposite building for a wave at the crowd because he was doing a free concert there, in the road, later in the evening.

Generally I am not a fan, but he *was* a Beatle! It was definitely surreal seeing it on the news at breakfast the next day and knowing we'd actually been there (although not for the concert).

After that we headed down Sunset Boulevard, as the sun was setting to the Santa Monica Travelodge to check-in.

Things in LA seem very far apart. It feels a little like Joburg, actually. So we checked in, had a shower before heading out for dinner. At In n Out Burger. This place was The Trucker's entire reason for wanting to add the West Coast onto our trip here!

I just got a (single) cheeseburger. Their standard Double-Double seemed too daunting. I don't think I've ever had a double-patty burger in my life before.

This experience was fairly disappointing. We forgot to order the fries "Animal Style" ... so far I wasn't sold on this as The Best Burger in America. Shake Shack still has my vote :)

After eating, we took a drive to the Santa Monica Pier, paid an exorbitant 9 USD for the short time we parked and took a walk.

I was disappointed. It wasn't the hustle and bustle I was expecting. Turns out I may have been thinking of Venice Beach instead. But by 9pm on a Monday night, just about everything was closed.

And it was cold. I thought a hot chocolate might improve my evening so we got one from Bubba Gump's (the only thing still open!). Which mostly just tasted like hot water :(

This was not a great evening and I wasn't feeling very mad about LA. And we'd spent so much on parking at the different places we'd been (for < 2hrs each time)

Meh, home to bed!

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