28.03.2008 - 02.04.2008 32 °C
It’s been a bit of a giggle over the last 24 hours. We dived into Disney for our second day – it was a nice change – we were in no rush to do anything as we’d already done most of the rides so we just strolled around and did all the silly things, like going to the Princess’s castle (Kirstin insisted of course), walking round Tom Sawyer’s Island, catching a lake ferry and other frivolous stuff. We went in the park after 10am this time and it was rammed already. People watching was, as before, the main attraction.
We also went in the “Invention centre” which overall was pretty lame, except.. we happened across Segways! – you know – the two wheeled stand-up transport thingies. Always wanted a go on one so we queued and both had a zip round a course. They are wicked! Both K and I managed to handle them much better than the others we’d been watching – of course :--) – I so want one. We both do.
Space Mountain was also back online so we had a go on that – quite impressive, much like the Black Hole at Alton Towers. After that we had a walk around the history of Disney museum and it was then we realised why the rides seemed dated. The Matterhorn Bobsled, for example, was crated in 1957! It was the first steel railed rollercoaster in the world. Space Mountain is at least 20 years old too. Now it is all clear.
Done with Disney we went back to our pool and hot tub again and fell asleep in the sun. It’s nice to be back in dry heat rather than the sweltering humidity of Asia. Mind you – I underestimated the power of the sun, what with no insane humidity to warn me. I am now officially a redneck – I have a perfect red circle round where my t-shirt collar was. Bugger!
This morning we set off back towards Long Beach. They have the Queen Mary cruise ship docked there – you can walk around and look at all the Victorian rooms etc. It was $30 each and we decided it was too much to spend on something English! But.. they also have a Russian Scorpion submarine moored next to it which was far too good an opportunity to pass up. We had a good old poke around inside – quite interesting overall. “Go inside a submarine” – tick!
(My little submariner!)
After our sub-adventure we headed to Venice Beach, to the Ocean Drive Promenade. We’d read it was a freak show and by God it was! There is a line of “stalls” for a good mile, all of which are run by old hippies, beggars, alkies, stoners, nutters. The lot! We sat and had a beer and listened to a street band who, as far as I was concerned, had done well enough just to get up out of bed this morning. All the while they were playing a totally nuts woman was dancing with a shirt on her head. We’d spotted her earlier talking and laughing to herself. The music just sent her into orbit.
(she was totally, utterly barking mad)
The whole atmosphere of the promenade was one of old hippies and wasters, it was hilarious to watch and we loved the atmosphere. There were some great live show – you know, street performers – the highlight being a group of “African Americans” doing break dancing. These guys were nothing short of gymnasts, and their carefully practiced banter with the crowd was genuinely hysterical.
(A typical "band" on the promenade)
Kirst spotted a “Freak Show” and curiosity got the better of us, so we both shelled out 3 bucks and went in… to a room no larger than a pantry, lined with jars containing malformed animals, you can imagine, i.e. with their brains on the outside, two heads, three eyes etc etc. Mostly a humorous con :--) – the bigfoot footprint in plaster cast was a bit of a giveaway. As we were about to bail out, a shirtless guy in black and red striped pants came in. He looked somewhat like Iggy Pop. He announced that we should stick around if we wanted to see him perform “sick acts” on himself. There was no moving us now. We got the choice of seeing him swallow a sword (fairly common in LA if you get me) or stick a spike through his arm. We chose sword! – I checked it for authenticity and sure enough it was a bona-fide sword – he then wiped off my finger marks on the blade with an alcohol wipe – in his own words, “I don’t know where your hands had been and I don’t want them in my stomach”. Sure enough, he swallowed the lot!! – then pulled it out and showed us the stomach-slime on the blade. Whoa! “See man swallow sword two feet in front of you” – Check!
We strolled on and saw all sorts – one chap in a thong which had to be seen to be believed, lots of weird as hell tarot readers, nutty old men, “wizards”, skaters everywhere. It really had a true “Californian Beach” feeling to it. You could tell everyone had dropped out and all that mattered was the sun and the weed. Great place but we won’t be going back there at night.
We’ve now found a cheap motel right on the beach – Santa Monica Beach / Venice Beach – it’s fab – it’s completely retro “California” with a sun deck and lots of bleached blue wood. We are a couple of minutes from Santa Monica Pier and a few minutes from Ocean Drive Promenade – and we are right on Ocean Drive / Pacific Coast Highway – the road that runs all the way up the West Coast. Super location and relatively cheap. We love the atmosphere, - there is an old geezer in the room next door who sits there with his windows open smoking his cigars. He’s clearly been here a long time (family photos on his table etc) and the landlady is an old dear who’s very sweet. We are going to stay here tomorrow night too and spend tomorrow cycling along the beach… or perhaps… we’ve just found you can rent a Segway for 2 hours!!! Yay!
(Our sundeck at the beach motel)
Oh – a couple of random things..
1) We are finding the Americans to be amazingly polite, helpful and welcoming.
2) You need to spend a little time in each area to scratch under the surface. It’s very easy to drive down bland streets and think , “ok, lets move on”, but if you hang a round for a while you start to notice what the place has to offer and why it is so popular with the locals in the first place. It’s easy to let the touristy gloss cover up what lies beneath…..
Oooh! More! – it’s Monday now and we are in Phoenix Arizona with Uncle Pete and Mary (not Uncle Mary). On our last day in LA I ended up chatting to the old geezer in the motel I mentioned before. Weird – without provocation he kept going on about how his wife left him and how he likes Asian girls, and , “you can get them cheap in Thailand can’t you?”. Why oh why do they all seem to bring this up when you mention Thailand? Sigh. In Cambodia a chap leant over and said to me AND Kirstin, “do you know if there are any Girlie bars here?” – I mean, WTF!?! – why ask me when I’m with my wife for God’s sake? Odd. K says if it happens again she’s going to give them a piece of her mind. Not that she has much to spare this morning.. More on that in a mo…
(stupid China Airlines – their seating is for little people, plus, on top of that, it’s the first long haul flight we’ve been on with no screens behind the seats! Daft old projectors, and in my case, a small TV mounted above the aisle miles away with half the screen obscured by the overhead locker. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I tried to sleep I could see through my eyelids the flashing of the television – the television I couldn’t even watch! – I got creative though – no free eye masks here – I grabbed my pillow and removed the cover and put it on my head. Worked a treat. Me and K sat in different parts of the plane so we could have aisle seats each – leg room was a must have – even for just one leg – she came looking for me half way through the flight and couldn’t find me as I had a pillow case on my head – wish she got a picture)
Mary picked us up from PHX airport in the biggest truck known to man. I was in the passenger seat and was so far away I could have done with those coloured ping pong bats they use on the runway to talk semaphore with her.
Their pad is amazing. Breathtaking views over Phoenix and a very stylish house. We’ve been here about 24 hours now and I’ve already set up his wireless network, printer, and fixed his hifi :--)
(the view from the poolside)
(Mary with doggy)
(me & Pete)
Kirstin was more than excited to have female company again – so she got smashed with Mary. I sank a few beers and gins too – Pete bought the biggest bottle of gin I’ve ever seen. K fancied dancing so Pete drove us in his Roller down to a seedy blues bar and we continued getting thoroughly wasted. Mary danced with a bearded kind of wino looking bass player, Kirstin was stroking a big fat nerd’s beard, and then they both asked if they could sing with the band. Luckily they declined – phew.
I got chatting to the nerd about sci-fi movies and stuff – fortunately I have a good quality geek stripe in me so I was able to hold court well. He’s seen all the odd films I’ve seen but no one else has ever heard of. He’s going to sci-fi-con in August. I’d have LOVED to have seen that lol. Won’t be here then though – ahh well.
Looks like Pete has lined up lots of entertainment – we are off to the cabin for some r&r and some skiing later this week, then some other things which have escaped me right now. Also Bud has the use of a client’s mega-millions pad in San diego next week and we’ve been invited down so we may well do that.
(The sunsets here are something to behold)
We are also hatching a plan to camp (in a tent) our way round the national parks in the West – should be a ball and will save us a tonne of money.
K just got up – she had the hangover from hell (It’s ten past one now).