Despite having so many people describe it to me, my expectations were waaaay off.
We got here this arvo after a 5 hour journey from Newport which should’ve taken 3 and a half. Traffic. In the middle of the fuckin’ dessert. It was like driving to Wirrabara on a long weekend and getting stuck at Port Wakefield, but on steroids.
Anywho, we’ve checked into the SLS which is a new hotel/casino (those words are interchangeable… weird…) on The Strip where Mary’s friend Rick (who I consider a friend too after getting along with him like a house on fire at The Wedding) is the entertainment manager. What a sweet connection. He’s sorted us out with the room and that’s just the beginning of his abilities in this town. We are hooked UP (say that in an American accent when you read that, please)!
This is the best way to experience Vegas and I think Fish is enjoying it (he’s always hard to read) despite thinking he was gonna hate it (lucky, cos it’s his birthday tomorrow). This conversation actually happened on the plane on the way over:
Fish: I don’t think I’m gonna enjoy The Strip. It’s not really my scene.
Me: Why? Don’t judge it too soon..
Fish: To be fair, I am judging everything based on Cops…
I don’t think he could be disappointed if that’s what he was expecting…
We’re just in the room relaxing with a vodka before we head out for the night (we’re starting at one of Rick’s other clubs, Hyde, at the Bellagio). I’m pretty excited… can’t wait to update again!
The woman washing her hands next to me at a servo restroom said a very cheery hello. So unnecessary.
And every bouncer who’s carded Fish today has said ‘Happy Birthday!’ even though it’s tomorrow.
So sorry about terrible spelling (autocorrect, I swear. Changes shit that doesn’t need to be changed. Case in point: it just changed shit to shut.) and probably some terrible grammar. I’m writing this on my phone and often am too knackered to proof read. I’m sorry, Karen, if you’re disappointed in me!
We’re here in California now and I feel it’s imperative to write a blog about our first few days in Venice Beach right now as our next chapter is about to kick off. I need to channel the chilled vibe of hanging out with my uncle Mark and his wonderful partner Stacy in Venice before we get swept up in the amazing madness of Newport and Adventures With Kosta and Mary.
Mark and Stacy picked us up from LAX where we’d queued for over an hour to get through Immigration only to have the loveliest immigration officer on the planet process us through. No joke, this guy was so friendly and welcoming to America. This was a theme that we continually laughed at over the next few days- Americans are ridiculously nice.
Anywho, Mark and Stacy’s was the best introduction to long term travel; the perfect decompression. We chilled. Their house is so beautiful and welcoming, we were so at home. We had three days there which all started the way that I know Days With Uncle Mark to start- with a surf. When I say ‘surf’ I mean he surfs and we walk along the beach. Then we go for breakfast. That’s how it goes. And I can’t think of a better way to start the day. We ate delicious dinners; Stacy took us out to Topanga Canyon (part of LA which is still not very built up. Filled with hippies and artists and pretty much every big artist in the 60s and 70s from Jim Hendrix to Janis Joplin to The Eagles hung out there); we walked along Venice Boardwalk (why the fuck that place exists baffles me- it’s Nimbin meets Camden, California style. And that’s not good); we researched our future travels through South America (Stacy works for National Geographic in artisan development with a particular focus in Ecuador and Peru so she’s been absolutely invaluable in planning); worshipped at the hipster altar of Abbot Kinney Blvd (a street in Venice which was voted The Most Hipster Street in America and is full of shops and bars and cafes and is pretty rad); and generally just enjoyed spending time with Mark and Stacy.
I won’t ramble much longer but I really feel the need to paint a picture of how hilariously friendly the yanks have been. In Aus or the UK you can share a footpath with someone without acknowledging them, in fact it’s encouraged. Here you say ‘Hello!’ at the very least. The surfers in Santa Monica have a bit of a community where they all know each other and park at the same spot each morning. Yesterday someone asked Mark how the surf was and he said it was ok but not great. This American who reminded me of Guy Smiley from Sesame Street answered with ‘but the sun is out and everything else is GREAT so what more could we want?!’. How optimistic?! And Stacy was out the front of the house and a couple driving past wound down the window to tell her the house was beautiful! You wouldn’t get that in Australia…
We’ve been so well looked after by Mark and Stacy we couldnt have asked for a better start the trip. They were lovely enough today to drive us down to Newport to Mary and Kosta’s to start the nect chapter… We’ve had a fab evening catching up with them and the whole Newport Crew I met at Mary and
Kosta’s wedding last year. We’re off to Vegas tomorrow and I’m so knackered, I have to get to sleep. Probably a good thing or I could’ve gone on a lot longer!
It’s the opening line from LA Woman by The Doors- one of the LA based songs I’ve had in my head.
So, I thought I’d write an introductory post that was a little more informative and a little less irritating than Fish’s.
Fish and I met through mutual friends when we were all living in London (despite growing up in towns 20 minutes from each other and never knowing each other existed) and got together last year when we’d both returned to Adelaide. The thing about travelling is that the more you do the more you want to do and we were both feeling the need to do another long-term stint abroad. And South America was top of the list for both of us. So we decided that we’d kick around Adelaide until the end of March for a few reasons – there were some very important weddings we needed to be around for; the best time to be in Adelaide is Fringe time so we didn’t want to miss out on that; and the need to get some savings behind us to sustain this idea.
We are now both officially unemployed and damn it feels GOOD! We both finished work on Friday; we had an epic houseparty that was a combined housewarming/our farewell last night; and we fly out to Los Angeles tomorrow. If you can read this, here’s our itinerary in calendar form, but I’ll give you a brief run-down anyway:
We fly into LA and hang out with my uncle Mark and his partner Stacy who live in Venice Beach. Thursday we head down to Newport beach to our friends Mary and Kosta (it was their wedding I went to in Greece last year and met a bunch of their awesome friends. We’re all catching up for dinner on the Thursday night and I’m super excited to see them all!). We’re spending the weekend with Mary and Kosta in Vegas. We fly straight to San Francisco from Vegas and spend the week there. When Kaysie and Lol (my life partners and travel buddies when I was in the UK – you’ll hear them referenced frequently) and I walked the Camino De Santiago in May 2012 we met a fabulous American couple, Danny and Alisha, who have since moved to Berkeley (right next to San Fran) and had a baby. I’m really looking forward to catching up with them and giving Baby Ollie some Peter Combe CDs and Mem Fox books (we spent a lot of time on the Camino teaching Danny and Alisha Mr Clickety Cane so the Peter Combe seed has already been planted…). Then we fly back down to Orange County and reconnect with Mary and Kosta and spend Easter weekend with Mary’s family at Lake Havasu on the Colorado River. There’s whispers of possible water sports so Fish is pretty excited.
The next weekend is Coachella music festival – one of the main draw cards to go to the States before hitting South America (other than the fabulous friends and family, obvs). Anyone who’s been misguided enough to ask me about Coachella will have endured my rant about how bullshit the line up this year; but I’m still certain that we’re going to have an absolutely CRACKING time. I’m sure (and I hope) in a few weeks time I’ll be writing a post about how silly I was thinking that the line up was crap and that it was the best weekend of my life.
After Coachella Fish and I fly to Austin, Texas, to kick around for a few days. Mary and Kosta meet us there at the end of the week and the four of us start our roadtrip through Austin – New Orleans – Memphis – Nashville. I’m really looking forward to this. Man, do I love a roadtrip!
We leave Mary and Kosta (already dreading that bit) in Nashville and fly up to New York to spend a few days there before we fly down to Cartagena, Colombia on the first of May to kick off the South America leg of the trip (and try to stem the rate at which we’re haemorrhaging money).The only plan we have after that is that we have to get to Lima, Peru, by the 27th of May because we’ve got a 3 week tour booked. So many possibilities!
So there you have it! That’s the plan for our responsibility-avoiding; real-life-dodging; grown-up-world-rejecting long term travel of the Americas. I’m going to miss everyone at home and I’ll not be around for some significant weddings and, most disappointingly, the birth of the first children of some of my dearest friends. I hope we can keep this blog up-to-date to keep you all informed of our adventures, but I do realise that in doing that I’m less likely to write individual emails to people. I am thinking of you all though! You’re still very special to me 😀 Equally, one of the hardest things about leaving to go travelling is everyone thinking that you’re too busy or disinterested in what’s going on at home and therefore not writing. That’s not true! I’d love to hear any update at all from you – even if it’s just to tell me that you just had a really great Farmers Union Iced Coffee and some Fruchocs.
Ok, I’m done! Let this ‘brief introduction’ warn you about future posts from me – I rant and I digress; feel free to skim read!
PS, I’m going to try to title each blog with song lyrics – this one was Walk Right In by The Rooftop Sisters (or Dr Hook, depending on whether you’re a Forrest Gump soundtrack person or were legit around in the 70s)
Well team, it’s come to this. Turns out we’re those wankers. Oh, you still work for a living and aren’t on a never-ending wanderlust holiday?? What a fuckwit.
So here it is. Our blog. Our little piece of fuck-you-we’re-better-at-life. Just think of it this way – our combined bank accounts could probably buy a smart watch. Or a waterbed. Don’t worry, we aren’t having scotch fillet for brekky and spitting Dom Perignon at passers-by. We’re bums on the street. So don’t be jealous. If anything, have pity on us. Send us money and nice things, we’re roughing it for goodness sake.
So all going well we’ll post updates on the semi-reg. Apparently some parts of the Amazon don’t even have frickin’ wifi though, so if we don’t update for say a couple of days or 4 months then PRESUME THE WORST.
Okey dokes that’s it. Sit back and relax, this won’t hurt a bit.