Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Journey So Far...
I left home early but not too early Monday morning. I wanted to leave before I started to cry so quickly got in the car. Dad got in and we drove to the airport. We still had time before the ticket booth was open so I went to the currency exchange and swapped my Aussie dollars for U.S. ones. Dad gave me another $100 which I was grateful for. I got my bag wrapped in plastic, and headed over to the ticket thing, whatever we call that place. I joined the que and handed over my luggage when my ticket was cleared. Went and sat and waited. Ox was coming, so I guess I was waiting for two things. Ox made it and bought me a scarf. Now I have two. I got tired of waiting, I just wanted it to be over, so said my farewells and went down the escalator to customs. Passed through fine and then waited some more.
I think it was then that I started to think about how we are all travellers on this earth, we're all just spending our time here for a little while, we're all the same, going from point A to point B, whatever that is. I was heading to Colorado via Las Vegas via Los Angeles via Auckland. Where were these other people going? Were they feeling as apprehensive as me? Who knows. But I wondered, more so than I normally would. Travelling had made us connected in a way we weren't before.
I got a window seat, which is nice. I brought some things to read and listen to, but much preffered to watch the inflight movies. I started with "In Bruges", which got me to Auckland, with a bit of help from an episode of "Ugly Betty".
Then more waiting. I strolled around this commercial purgatory, impressed by the price of Jamesons Irish Whisky, but had no money for it. I was tired, so went and sat down and pulled the hood up over my head to rest. Finally it was time to go to the boarding gate, and I was lucky enough to get another window seat. The flight to L.A. was made up off more movies and Ugly Betty and intervals of rest and maybe sleep if I was lucky. I thought "In Bruges" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" would make for a nice double bill, but it got interupted by Auckland. Still, it's an enjoyable film. I started watching something else, but just wasn't in the mood for it, so watched a Japanese film about a guy who develops the kind of amnesia that's in "Memento" and "50 First Dates", where he can't retain new memories. It was good, I liked it. He joins a professional wrestling club (like Luche Libre, as seen in "Nacho Libre") at his university, because the pains and bruises seem to him like a memory. We flew into the night, so I did some snoozing.
We got into L.A. a bit before I left Australia, around 10am on Monday morning. It's weird. LAX is busy. So many planes. I can't emphasise how many planes there were. Alot. Got through customs ok, didn't go through my bags or anything, so that was easier than I thought, though they do look stern. Called for the free shuttle bus to my hotel, got in, checked in, had a shower, watched TV, went out for dinner at a mexican fast food palce. Discovered the problem with tax. You got to add tax to the price. Why not just include it? I'm sure there's a reason, but I've yet to find anyone to explain it to me.
So basically my next three days were staying up late watching TV, getting up late and catching the shuttle bus to one of the local shopping precincts. I didn't go to the movies the first day, actually, yes I did. I went and saw High School Musical 3, which I had mixed reactions to. I went and saw a couple of films the next day, of which I reccomend "Role Models". I laughed, quite a bit. Wouldn't mind seeing it again.
I also saw a squirrel. In fact it pretty much came up to me. I asked a lady if this was rare to see one, she said it wasn't rare to see them, but to have one just come up so close was. So I felt pretty lucky.
I didn't really buy anything while I was in L.A., as I needed to save my money, but I will before I fly out. I went to Borders and almost cried at how cheap the graphic novels and TPBs were. There were also some really nice art books on their clearance shelves, but way too big to carry around. I decided I'd check Borders in Denver and get them there. (Little did I know that getting to Denver has not been as easy as I surmised it to be, though recent conversations make me think I may be able to get down semi-regularly after all).
Went to Target one of the days, and saw a row of Converse shoes there. Cheap Converse shoes. I don't know what I'll be bringing back, but I might have to send some stuff back by post, because how can I resist such a low price on Cons? And comics? And books?
I thought take-away food was going to be cheaper, but it didn't really seem to be any cheaper than back home. Though chocolate is. I bought a huge Hersheys block of Cookies and Cream for a buck something! A block half the size would cost 3 times as much at least back home. How cool is that?
Anyway, got up on the third morning nice and early so I could check out before beggining the social security processing. Fair few people are already there waiting, and I find a spare seat. So many Kiwis. Feel a bit outnumbered. Anyway, that doesn't take a huge amount of time, once the waiting is over, but then more waiting. I could have gone back to my room if I hadn't checked out, but alas, I didn't realise I'd be able to.
Finally we get on the bus headed to Vegas. Leaving L.A. and California bored me. I didn't like the look of the countryside. I thought America was meant to be this place of great natural beauty, but it didn't match the countryside back home. Going out on some freeway I could see downtown L.A., and it was covered in a haze of smog. I hadn't noticed where I was staying, but it was obvious from that distance.
We got into Vegas coming into dusk. We had to organise ourselvers into rooms, and I went with some strangers. The first thing I did was try find the closest comic shop, since it was Wednesday and I'd been lazy in L.A. I thought I found one nearby, bid my roommates adieu, and made my way to the road the shop was located on. Unfortunatley it seemed to be the wrong end of the road, it was getting dark and I didn't feel like travelling the 3000 numbers down the road to try find it. I was a little paranoid about being mugged, so erred on the side of caution and made my way to the Strip. I had two priorities while I was there, to try see a show and to see the fountain they stand at at the end of "Oceans 11". I went in some casino to look around and see about ticket prices. Too expensive. Maybe later in the year. But I did see a lion or two. This casino (MGM Grand?) had a lion enclosure in it. Las Vegas, hey? Anyway, I saw a picture of the fountain show with the Eiffel Tower in the background, so I knew which direction I had to head. I found the Bellagio and went to see if the Gallery was open. Unfortunatley it wasn't, and would have cost money anyway, so I left a little disappointed. But I found the fountain. It was pretty cool. I went around to get a better viewing position and satyed for another 3 shows. I like it. Decided to go see what else was around there and went and walked the rest of the way down the strip and up the other side, stopping for some dinner and my first internet stop. Went home and watched TV till late again. Made a makeshift bed on the floor and tried to get some sleep. Probably could have taken a bed since the other guys didn't get in till after 4am, but at least this way I had my own bed.
Had Maccas for breakfast, hopped on the bus and headed out 2 Colorado. We were finally getting into some pretty country, in fact the last few hours of daylight gave us some pretty magnificent views, travelling through beatiful mountains and canyons. It was awesome and something I'd rather like to go back to, rather than just travelling through it. We travelled through the night and swapped to smaller shuttles for the last part of the journey up the mountain, the shuttles we would be driving. We were at our home for the next 5 months.