Angelina, IHOP and pieces of home...
Trip Start May 22, 2010
17Trip End Jun 28, 2010
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...is how this would have started if our flight from Fiji to LA hadn’t been delayed because of a 'technical error with the cabin lights’.
Instead, we sat on the tarmac at Nadi for almost an hour while some engineers turned the cabin into a disco. You would think that with the strobe lights we wouldn't have been able to sleep, but we all managed.
Border Security at LAX is insanely involved. "Put your right fingertips on the scanner. Ok, now your left... Hmmm, I'm having trouble verifying your fingerprints - are you sure you haven't been convicted of a felony before? No? Didn't do any pole dancing in Fiji?"
Shane luckily had his wits about him, and made a cheeky reply "Oh, I don't have the body shape for pole dancing." I was flabbergasted, and half expected that my husband would be swiftly whisked away for further frisking and possibly even a cavity search
But the guard just laughed, and bantered with us while I scanned my own sweaty palms into the United States' permanent records, and tried not to look like I'd just gotten off a 14 hour flight for the mug shot they snap at you.
"Planning on spending some time in Hollywood while you're here?" he asked, smiling at me in such a friendly way that I forgot about my silly nerves.
"Yes, I'm hoping to see some celebrities," I replied.
"Oh? Well, if you'd been here half an hour ago, you would have seen Angelina Jolie - she came through with one of the kids and an escort."
I almost couldn't speak, I was so frustrated - I don't even like Angelina, but I can't not admit that she IS a celebrity... Stupid airline throwing their hour long light show and making me late for a celebrity sighting my first day in LA LA Land.
* * *
One blatantly obvious trait I have found about America is that you wait in line for EVERYTHING
It's not all bad though - Jeff at the counter of Hertz, where we were picking up our rental car was very lovely, he wanted to know all about where we were from, where we were going, what we were doing, and wanted to tell us every piece of advice he had about the destinations on our itinerary. I could see how lines got out of control if everyone behind the counter was as pleasant as Jeff.
We took the freeway out of LA, en route to our first night's accomodation in Carpinteria. The ever helpful Jeff told us that on a Saturday the traffic wouldn't be too bad. Something else we learned is that the American idea of good traffic and the Australian are lightyears apart.
Crawling at a snail pace gave me a good chance to look around. On first glance, it didn't look all that different to home. The weather is very similar - sunny and 18 degrees celsius. And as I turned my head I noticed the pinkish-red carpet on the sides of the roads - a carpet of bottlebrush flowers that were planted all along the verges of the freeway. I even saw eucalypts soaring above me either side of the road
But beyond the superficial first impressions, I started to notice the individualities. The steep, steep mountainsides that rise sharply at the side of the road. The long, wooden piers that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, easily visible from the road that balances precariously between the sheer almost-cliffs and the churning sea. The crazy juxtaposition of urban and rural - cropland snuggled up against brightly glinting high rise towers, their glass windows reflecting blue sky and the browns and greens of the farming landscape.
Our enormous rental tank (I have to call it a tank) towered over everything else on the roads, and Shane drove it with surprising skill. Despite the one scary moment (thankfully on a deserted street) where Shane turned onto the left side of the road instead of the right, he managed to make the trip relatively stress-free, considering he was trying to navigate a tank that is the exact same width as a lane on the freeway.
It's been a long day, so a much awaited shower and a quick dinner were on the cards. Shane managed to find a food chain that we hadn't heard of before - International House of Pancakes, otherwise known as IHOP
Ironically, none of us ordered pancakes, but we DID think we'd stumbled onto an episode of Man vs Food when Shane's Country Fried Steak showed up. Needless to say, the score is currently Food 1, Man 0. He's really going to have to work on his professional eating skills. Or we're going to have to start sharing meals...
On the cards tomorrow is an early morning walk on the beach, and then back in the tank for a bit of exploration in Santa Barbara, and then on to San Francisco via HIghway 1. But right now bed is calling me.