18-28th September 2016
LA, baby! I came expecting sunshine, attractive people and everything being super expensive. It’s a god send that Marvin, from our BIGAM gang, has kindly agreed to put me up for the week. That’s one less extravagant expense needed.
The first day was action packed. Marvin picked me up from the airport. We went to Randy’s Donuts (often seen on TV as the place with the GIGANTIC donut outside!), then to a local look out point on top of a hill to see the whole of LA. Then the beach and then an abandoned silo which provided another great look out at night. Marvin’s right. The pollution does at least give you some incredible colours at sunrise.
That night we start looking at plans. I want to go to Las Vegas to see the Beatles cirque-du-soleil. We try to figure out when’s best for me to go so that we can still do things like the LA county fair. Turns out the best time to go is tomorrow! I hurriedly book my tickets and Marvin’s adorable girlfriend, Brooke, has kindly offered to drive me to the bus station at 6 in the morning too!
I’m back in LA! Marvin’s friends all come together and the first drinking session begins!
They’re a really lovely group of people. It’s the first time I meet Sam, who’s very kindly going to host me for the remainder of my time here. It soon becomes evident I won’t be keeping up with their drinking though. I try. God do I try. Rage Cage commences. I’m in between Marvin and Bryant. Bad move. Round two, why not. Everyone’s pretty much finished now. I suggest round-three thinking no one will take me up on the offer. Marvin turns. He smiles. “Sure thing”. “Great” are the words that come out of my move, but great is not the look that is on my face.
The game finishes. I sit down. I’m handed a bag. “It’s OK” I hear. The bag is filled up. The bag’s put inside a bigger bag. Then it’s put inside a plastic bag. Somehow there’s my previously-digested dinner on the floor too. Don’t know how that happened. I have gallons of water before Sam babysits me for the journey back to his. He sets up the sofa-bed and with all my clothes on I hit the bed and I’m gone for the night.
Come morning I’m feeling a bit better. Today’s the LA fair though. What better way to nurse a hangover than go on all the fairground rides? My hopes are not too high.
In reality it was a blast. The fair was so much bigger than I ever expected. Sure, the rides were a bit rough on me but I did it. I survived. I went on all the rides everyone wanted to do aside from the final one. It consisted of a rolling cage which a locked metal door that flies forward, back and swings 360 in the air. The rest all did it. I’m still glad I didn’t.
The other things to mention about the fair include watching a cow being born (you read that correctly), watching a demonstration for a Vitamix (“you can make soup with that?”) and the food.
Enough said about the food!
Next on the list is Hollywood. I don’t know what I expected; famous people wandering down the streets, movies being filmed on the streets. I don’t know. The actuality of it is that it’s a lot bigger than I imagined, less glitzy and, what should’ve been obvious to me, a lot more touristy. Given there’s not really a typical LA person, everyone gets hassled by tourist touts so the locals tend to stay away if they can.
The walk of fame runs on for a long, long way. Once you have a name in your head, it becomes quite obsessively fun looking to find it.
And find it we did. Thanks Marvin!
Whilst we’re here lets go exploring the Batu caves because why not?
Marvin said the hill gave him the best view of the Hollywood sign (which is visible from much of LA) he’s ever seen. I must agree, it’s pretty great.
The rest of the day is pretty chill. Some washing, some gaming. Standard catch up time.
In the morning we head to a baby christening and then to Joshua Tree; a national park in a triangle between LA and Las Vegas, which we’re going to be camping in. I can’t wait. Marvin’s whole family was as lovely as I could’ve hoped and we even played poker with them (which Brooke won admirably!).
It was late but the tent was surprisingly easy to set up. Marvin was an old hand at things like a camp fire which was a relief and the both of them were fantastic company. In the morning we went exploring, climbed some jumbo rocks and saw all the main attractions and views in Joshua Tree.
Just like this was my first time camping (as an adult) we went down to the sea for my first time fishing. Again, Marvin knew exactly what he was doing. He bought some bait, his fishing rods and showed me how to tie the bait to the rod and string it all through.
Within minutes of flinging the line out I had a bite. Or did I? I didn’t really know what I was doing and maybe it was just a rock. So I subtlety yanked the line without giving away my excitement. It still flung around so I started to reel in.
“I think I might have something”
I was sure. I kept a steady hold and continued to reel. The closer it got, the more excited I became. Then as it started to come to the surface, the water was splashing around. I did have something! “Ha ha! Brilliant!”. I continue to reel in and sure enough I caught my first fish!
Unfortunately, (or fortunately if you’re the fish!) it was too small to keep and eat. Apparently if they’re too small you throw them back to keep the population strong. Marvin shows me how to hold the fish (a thumb in its’ mouth!) and I went to gently drop it back in the water.
Until it bit me. Then, I must admit, I dropped the poor guy in the water from a crouch. Hopefully he survived! After the initial excitement passed, nothing really happened for the next few hours so I’m even more glad that I caught one so quickly.
Out final day of exploring consisted of going to City Hall and taking two lifts to the observatory level. Which was absolutely empty and a real hidden gem. Then over to LA Harmonics, which has the best gift shop I’ve ever seen and then to a new modern art gallery which was both free and fantastic.
The last thing to mention about LA is the food. A passion of everyone who lives there. We tried In ‘N’ Out which is a simple burger joint with hidden options such as “protein” (the burger in a lettuce bun) and “animal style” (a special sauce on the chips). Cold Stone, an absolutely amazing ice cream parlour which takes the ice cream and puts it on a cold stone to open it up and fill it with goodies like Oreos and brownies to name but two. The Father’s Office was a much more up-market restaurant which did top notch food.
All the while I was in LA the other three members of BIGAM also happened to meet up in Rome. It’s a travel group for life it would seem and I’m more than happy with that!
Good bye LA!