© 2011 jemma

Welcome to Thunder Dome – aka Los Angeles.

Thunderdome from Mad Max pretty easily sums up LA – its time for surprise writer Jess Belliveau!

Its a crazy town with plenty of crazy people. We started in Venice beach which was just weird. Or wild. One of the two – probably both. Way too much self medicating with weed going on there. Glad we went just for the experience and to tick it off the list.

We had booked a hotel close to the airport to make it a little easier to return the rental car and see Ma off – turned out to be a nice place with a decent pool and restaurant. Beds were comfy as well.

Once situated we hit the town to catch some sites. Shot to the other side of the city and cruised up Sunset Blvd through Sunset strip. Interesting seeing all the big name clubs – Viper room and so on. Pretty sure we saw Leonardo Dicaprio in a Aston Martin at this point. We pulled in and grabbed some dinner at ‘Mels diner’ a retro US diner chain with good food and prices to match. Real nice milk shakes as well.

Over food decided we would see the city lights and head up Mulholland Drive – turns out a load of rich people live up there. We pulled in at one point to get some piccies and were accosted by what we thought were police (turned out to be Park Rangers). Evidently the rich people bought (as in the paid for it) a new law in where its No Stopping on their entire road – the fine? $500 per person. Madness. We were let off as tourists thankfully. As we returned to the hotel a drunk gave us a little love tap in the rental car – so not cool but no damage. Decided she was drunk as the sped off after and cut across three lanes to make a right turn. A fun night in Thunder dome.

Next day we started with the La Brea tar pits. I’d always wanted to see these and watch the *tar* bubble out of the pits so I was a little excited. Turns out the main pit isn’t that great – it smells a little, you can’t get very close and there isn’t much tar. Luckily though I found a secret little mini-pit that had some tar I could play with and *touch* (my favourite thing to do with unknown stuffs). There were some big gas bubbles in the main pit but otherwise meh. The 3rd and 4th pits were much much cooler. Turns out its not tar at all – but real genuine Texas tea baby – crude oil! Its so crude it can’t be used for anything but a tourist attraction though. I got stuck at one pit staring at the stuff bubbling out of the ground. Was great. So very gooey and bubbly – I’ll force Jemma to include a good bubble photo I took.

At this point I should mentions the roads – they love the freeway in LA. At first, I was intimidated and we are feared being shot (Americans shoot people you see!). By the end of this trip I had grown a think LA freeway skin. I’m stoked I managed to get plenty of driving in here because its definitely an experience! The 405, 101, 1, 73 and all you other crazy highways – I’ll never forget you!

Next we decided to head to Hollywood Blvd and see some more madness. This time it was pretty much tourist madness – so many people going wild for so very little. We coughed up for a celebrity houses tour in a open top van – was cool. Saw some big places and nice streets and ticked that off – one of those things you have to do I guess. Not impressed with Beverly Hills though – the houses are massive but the land plots are tiny – so many didn’t have much lawn and were right on the street. I’ll spend my millions on something else thanks.

We did some more touristy stuff around Hollywood including getting some piccies with look a likes – I got Ma with the pulp fiction lads. Jemma and I went with Bumble-bee from Transformers. Grabbed some lunch then departed the madness back to the hotel for a swim, we were all wiped out from the sun and people. Should mention on the way back we went to “Randy’s Donuts” made famous for its *massive* donut on the roof (4 stories I think?) and making a cameo in Simpsons. The three of us weren’t very impressed but I admit they got a little crushed in my back pack.

The next day was sunny again so decided we would check out of the hotel and go for a hike (a short one). Ma flew out that afternoon – 6pm – so we had plenty of time to kill. Someone, no idea who, recommended Griffith Park. Was nice out there – started with lunch at a Cafe where Mum started talking to a weirdo and Jemma was sucked in… I spent the entire time trying to break away but not to much success. Finally escaped and we got walking. Was a pretty hot and dry walk up a hill to the observatory but was worth it. Some interesting displays – including a direct feed of the sun showing sun spots and magnetic fields – and some great views of greater LA. Finished up the return trip to an air conditioned car and still had a bit more time before Ma’s flight.

A local had recommended Manhattan Beach just out past the airport so we headed over there. Was really nice – might have been my favourite part of LA. More laid back and relaxed. Pretty and the beach seemed nice. When we return later in the year I hope to stay there but its a bit more pricey.

With the beach done we had to take Ma to her flight – a sad moment in our trip. It was great having Mum along for a bit and good laugh. We completely blew our budget but it was worth it. With Mum walking off into the sunset Jemma and I had a nervous drive. We had met a couple in Alaska – Jamie and Bryan – who live in LA and invited us to stay with them. I’d tee’d it up and so that was our next stop for 3 days. Amazing what you can manage over 5 beers in a random state. We spent three nights with ‘Team America’ – thats what I called them – and had great fun. Work schedules permitting we played tennis with Bryan and did a hike. We visited his fire house at exactly the same time a big fire started and managed to fit in all you can eat Korean BBQ on our last night. Real nice people and some good friends made.

A highlight I should probably mention was the afternoon/day trip Jemma and I made to Laguna Beach/Newport. Mainly famous for its TV shows but for us the attraction was a nice swim. Laguna was nice – busy – but nice. The beach was good and there were little coves to swim in. Parking was way cheap $1 an hour. Downside was the sea weed that was coming in to shore. I hate swimming with that stuff. We saw some dolphins though that made up for it. We then shared an ice cream and did romantic beach stuff like watched the sun. Glad we got to hang out with all the rich/famous people and saw a big Californian icon.

Then it was off into the wild again – returning to Canada. We were both looking forward to this. It had been 2 months away from the Mother land shacked up in Alaska/California and we were really stoked to get back. No one shot us on the way to the airport and customs etc went smooth. Flights were good – via a transfer at Houston and arrived Toronto at midnight to the hottest day in forever.

This brings to a conclusion another exciting entry from Mr Jess Belliveau. I do hope you have enjoyed reading my regurgitation that is this entry.