All the leaves are green, and the sky is blue

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, June 21, 2004

After a surprisingly gentle interrogation coming through immigration at LAX (they didn't even ask how much money I had!) I took a shuttle bus to the Greyhound bus station. I had never taken a Greyhound before, but I thought it would be survivable to make it the three hours south to San Diego. I don't know why, but it always seems that Greyhound stations are in the dodgiest part of town (apologies to any of you who live near one) and LA was no exception. The bus was nearly full, and I was one of about three whiteys trying to understand the Mexican driver (I caught the bit about the no fighting and no drugs, but I was thrown when he send something about what sounded like 'Boutros Boutros Ghali').
Driving south down the SUV-clogged interstate I noticed that all the flags (and boy do the Yanks like their flags) were at half-mast. Obviously somebody had died, but as I hadn't seen the news in over a week I was clueless, and seeing as my Spanish is a bit rusty I couldn't ask my fellow passengers, and it was only when I saw a newspaper at the hostel that I learned about Ronnie Reagan.
San Diego is only about half an hour from Tijuana, one of the busiest border crossings to Mexico. I was thinking of going across for the day but after speaking to some people who had been I decided that if I wanted to see somewhere hot and dirty and have kids hassling me to buy stuff I would have stayed in Cambodia. Instead I went to Balboa Park which, this being California, has more roads and car parks than grass. I thought about going into the zoo but it was in the afternoon and was told that all the animals would be sleeping, which seemed a bit inconsiderate of them.
The next day I met Leigh and Scott, friends of mine I knew from my days on the east coast, and had a relaxing day on the beach (after doing laundry at their apartment, of course). I managed to find one of three bars in the whole city showing the England - France game, but I had to pay $20 for the privilege of witnessing the heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.
I hadn't planned of spending any time in Los Angeles because I don't really like it. I was hoping to go to Vegas and the Grand Canyon instead, but the logistics would have been a bit difficult, and there eas no way I was going all that way on El Greyhound. So after a change of buses in downtown LA (that was an experience) I took a local bus to Hollywood to a hostel located between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards.
You would think that Hollywood would be all glitzy and glamorous, but unless you think tattoo parlours, tacky souvenir shops, and homeless people out their heads on chemicals are glitzy and glamorous then you will be sadly mistaken. Apparently it's better than it used to be, but they've tried to revitalize the area with a new shopping centre and the impressive Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars. Together with some people from the hostel I went to a taping of a TV show (Jimmy Kimmel Live, with guests comedian Jay Mohr and a band called The Killers) although after about five minutes I was pissed off by all the forced hootin' and hollerin'.
Walking along the streets of Hollywood I found myself looking into all the flashy, ridiculously expensive cars thinking that there would be a celeb inside. I didn't see any that I recognised, and all the coffee shops were full of wannabees nursing their decaf mocha javas whilst learning their lines for a play nobody will see or writing scripts that nobody will read. But at least they're trying. After a trip to the Farmer's Market it just so happened that the Los Angeles Dodgers basesball team had a home game against my team from the east, the Baltimore Orioles. Four of us jumped on the bus and went through the 'hood to Dodger Stadium. I was the only one that knew the rules so I had to try and explain what was going on as the Orioles slumped to yet another defeat.
The next day I didn't feel like going to the beach or standing in line at Universal Studios for six hours, so I decided to walk up to the Hollywood sign in the hills. It was further than I thought, but some of the houses in Beachwood Canyon were quite ostentatious. I must have seen about 200 gas-guzzling souped-up SUVs (and if I hear another complaint about petrol prices I'm goona hit someone!) most with bullbars on the front to push all the untalented, poor ugly people out of the way. I made it close enough up the hill to get a photo, but that's all I have to show for three hours of hard work.
So that was it for LA, and hopefully the last of hostel living: next was San Francisco, a seven hour (non-Greyhound) dull bus ride up through California. I had arranged to stay the weekend with my friends Ed and Amy and I met them in a bar on Friday night. I have been to San Fran a couple of times before, and I much prefer it to LA. Ed had to play gold on Saturday so I grabbed his bike and spent the day riding around the city, through Golden Gate Park, across the Bridge, through the Presidio and along the marina and past a gay volleyball tournamanet. I've lready been to Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf before, so had no desire to slum it with any more tourists. The street here are quite steep, and I arrived back exhausted and hungry, but nothing a super-burrito couldn't sort out from the Hispanic Mission District.
Sunday was time for more baseball, this time watching the San Francisco Giants beat the Boston Red Sox in SBC Park on the water. Now I'm waiting for England's crucial match against Croatia, and I'm off to a bar just around the corner in Haight-Ashbury. Tonight I'm off to Alaska for a couple of weeks for two weddings (strange but true) and catching some big-ass salmon whilst avoiding some bigger-assed bears (Click here to jump to my TravelPod entry for my trip up there in 2000). I'll be out of contact for a couple of weeks, with no way of watching any more football which, being English, probably won't be a bad thing. But it's just my luck that we'll win the whole thing!

POST GAME UPDATE
Two words: Wayne Rooney. Just returned from the Dog in the Fog English pub where I watched our next teenage sensation shine on the world (excluding US) stage. After a nervy first half you'll be pleased to know - unless you're Croatian or French - that we won 4-2, meaning we'll play Portugal in the quarter final on Thursday. Not that I'll be able to see it...
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