Leaving on a Jet Plane
Trip Start Mar 08, 2008
9Trip End Mar 28, 2008
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I had planned for my first entry to be called something else but when I first used my IPOD on the plane this was the first song to play on shuffle and so a new title was born. The trip over proved 2 things - my nerdiness and Vaughan's travel inexperience. My nerdiness was on display for all to see when checking in for the flight. Upon being told that I missed out on my beloved aisle seat I asked the cute girl checking us in what the formula was for the seat allocations. She duly told me that the seats were worked out the night before using a formula giving preference to all families and couples and so therefore us single losers could be put anywhere (she didn't say losers but I read between the lines). I guess I need to procreate to get an aisle seat. Vaughan however, who checked in just prior to me, was wrapped with his seat allocation of 11G and I was a little surprised that he wasn't in the back of the plane like me, in row 68
After watching as many movies and TV shows as I possibly could I was left feeling a little bit ripped off that the flight wasn't longer so I could watch more. However we passed customs without incident and after some dodgy black guy tried to scum money of us at LAX we found the car hire place and checked out all the basics - liquid levels, spare tire and I checked if there was a gun in the glovebox (there wasn't). We then duly got lost on the streets of LA as Vaughan came to terms with driving on the wrong side of the road and I wrestled with the worst GPS unit in the world. If you made 1 mistake the entire system reset itself and so you have to start again. Using my advanced knowledge of American geography, and some stellar driving under pressure from Vaughan, we found the San Diego freeway and we eventually sorted ourselves out and made it here to the beautiful town of Newport Beach.
The idea to come here to the OC started as a bit of joke. I got addicted to the show upon purchasing the 1st box set of the series a few years ago and didn't leave home for an entire weekend as I watched wall to wall episodes
Newport beach is the largest city in Orange County, the county so named for the beaufiful oranges that grow in the area. It is situated just south of LA country and is one of the first major cities you come to upon entering the area. The township has about 100 000 people and it seems that every single person here is in this overall great mood. Its difficult to explain how you can come to a place where everybody is so unusually friendly. People say thank you when you move out of the way (or yield as they say here) and Vaughan nearly got caught in an infinite loop of saying thanks and having someone say you're welcome back to him until I broke it for him. Everything here is simply beautiful. The beaches, the sunset, the pier area and the boardwalk are the place to be for people watching
The OC is of course more then the OC. Newport beach is also the place where the SS minnow set sail in Gilligians island. You see the footage at the start of the show before they embark for a 3 hour tour that all went horribly wrong. This explains why they were left stranded for 15 years, everyone thought they were around Hawaii but in fact they were in southern California not all that far from their Hollywood studios. The township is also the setting for another quality TV show in Arrested Development. In fact that show is made even funnier if you watch the OC and pick up on the digs it makes at the show. For instance in coming to the OC you don't go around calling this place the OC as locals don't call it that. Its like going to Perth and calling the sea breaze the Fremantle doctor. Its a no go. But I digress. If you come to the OC and call it the OC, everyone will know you're not from here (if the Aussie accent doesn't give it away beforehand).
Our primary mission in coming here was some basic R&R but more importantly to find the mythical Frozen Banana stand that features so prominently in Arrested Development. Central to the plotline of the show I wanted nothing more then to find this stand and have a photo taken of me in front of it. Nothing could prepare Vaughan and I for what we found when we came here. We set off to find a stand and duly found one in 5 minutes. We then found another one around the corner. Further investigation revealed that these stands were literally everywhere around the town. Frozen Banana's were actually a delicacy of the area and we just thought the entire idea was a joke! I then did a recon mission to one of the stands and got talking to the guy and asked him to explain to me what a Frozen Banana actually was. It turned out it was just a frozen banana but then the Americans have taken this concept to the next level of junk food. Taking something that is naturally healthy they then dip the banana into melted chocolate and give you the option of adding various sprinkle based toppings onto it. Presumably these are all the toppings that corrupt Australian donuts that aren't wasted on the American varities such as hundreds and thousands. You learn something everyday. We were amazed to discover how popular these frozen banana's were with the locals and I was trying to convince Vaughan that it was actually healthy as I was eating a banana. He didn't buy it. I eventually tried a frozen banana and wasn't all that impressed with it. The banana ruins the flavour of the chocolate.
Vaughan has been settling in nicely to American life. He did get sunburnt on his 1st day here and is struggling a bit with that but is otherwise good. He made an excellent restaurant selection on our first night - it had a bit of colour, a bit of life and we received our complementary bread and water as soon as we sat down. We're keeping detailed stats on restaurants throughout the trip. He is noticing many of the things I did when I first came here.
For instance when he first saw American toilets he was sure that the basin had overflowed but I pointed out that the water levels over here are naturally higher in toilets and that therefore you need to be aware of kickback when using them.
This is a new section evolving from Keith's words of warnings. Here I note various observations on American life and / or our trip.
1. The Cheers Game - America is a place where everyone wants to know your name. This is most true in take away type places such that when you place an order they have to ask you your name. Inspired by a true story on my last visit when an English tourist in front of me in a queue once ordered a double shot expresso with a shot of cream and stated his name was Bond, James Bond and had his order processed as such (cos Americans don't get sarcasm and took him seriously). We have decided to use fake names wherever possible when ordering. In particular we're basing these on classic Aussie names. Mike & Mal, Bill & Tony, Ian and Richie as well as a few other offerings such as Hall & Oates, George & Micheal. You get the drift. I will let you know how we go toward the end of the journey.