Sep 9, 2009

What I Did in California and Nevada on my End of Summer Vacation

My entire life, I have heard stories about Los Angeles. Most stories involved tales of the horrible smog, the insane drivers, the freeway, gangs, and the like. Everything I read, was the opposite. I read of poets, musicians, old Hollywood starlets, and hippies and lived vicariously through their stories of fame and fortune, drugs, love and good times on the Sunset Strip and Venice Beach.

Luckily, the latter was what I experienced for the most part. There was constant smoke on the horizon, due to the wildfires, but I didn't notice any smog. The traffic was a bit scary at first, but we quickly got the hang of it. And everyone we came across was friendly and helpful. Even the crackheads were lively, and welcomed us to Hollywood.

The beginning of our trip started out rocky. My one and only complaint about The States, would have to be their definition of a "debit card". Going on vacation, and finding out that the little card that holds all of your money is useless, is a scary and frustrating feeling. Luckily, we got it worked out to some degree.....Smyrish put money on my Visa ( which in the U.S, is a debit card), and we were able to use our debit cards at the ATM machines to get cash ( our debit cards are called ATM cards).

Once we had money, we were good to go, even though, by then, we had missed the Ween concert, and were frustrated beyond belief. So, we found Knuckle Toes, drank some Malibu at her hostel, and went to bed.

For me, being in Hollywood was amazing. It is one place, that when I was younger, I figured I would live, even though, that obviously didn't happen ( neither did my idea of living in Paris and drinking myself to death right after my best-selling novel came out). Seeing all of the places that I had read and day-dreamed about was almost as over-whelming as realizing just how huge Los Angeles is.

However, a city is a city, and after a couple days of wandering in the intense heat, and catching the Nine Inch Nails show, I was ready to get away from the craziness.

Smyrish and I finally got a rental car, and got the heck outta Dodge.

We went to the Santa Monica Pier. The second we got there, I felt chilled out. Coming from Saskatchewan, where the ocean is nowhere to be seen, and summer was only about a month long this year, it felt like I had just arrived in heaven. Smyrish took me on the roller coaster, on which I had a mild panic attack, and then we splashed about in the water, ate hot dogs and cheese on sticks, and had an all around good time. We also went back there for our last night...and got drunk on girl drinks before sitting on the beach and watching the waves.

The next day, we hopped in the car, and headed to Las Vegas, in search of Smyrish's mom, hoping we could surprise her, and do supper. We never did get ahold of her, but we decided to spend the night. I had never been to Vegas, and never had actually planned on going there, due to the fact that I don't gamble. However, I am a huge fan of stories of "Old Vegas", and CSI, so it was super neat to be there. I even ended up gambling...spent 4 bucks on the penny slots and won $23.00, which bought us a couple drinks down on Fremont, before we headed back to the strip and checked out an oxygen bar. I am definitely going to pressure some friends to plan a trip to Vegas in the future....we would have a blast!

When we got back from Vegas, the next destination was Venice Beach.

We were there approximately one minute, before I decided that I never wanted to leave. Venice Beach was what my brain told me California was all about. Buskers, muscle men, hippies selling their wares, surfers.....that is exactly what I wanted to see and experience. I swam in the ocean for the first time in my life ( I have been to oceans before, but tend to vacation to them when they're bloody cold), and couldn't get enough. We wandered about the markets after the beach, and then took a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.....a lovely day all around.

Overall, even with the bumps in the road, it has been a fantastic week. If nothing else, going to somewhere with a warm climate cemented in my head that I need to get away from Saskatchewan. I love it, but I can no longer deal with the weather that makes me all bi-polar and crazy and sad and depressing and so on. Our brains are full of life plans now....who knows what we'll end up doing, or end up going, but at least California taught us that we don't have to settle for what we have.

For now, I am counting down the days until our official month long honeymoon to Cuba. That may seem ridiculous, but January always comes much too fast.

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