Chapter 2: Californiaaaaa (here I commmmmeeee)

Oops. Sorry for the break in transmission there gang. Victoria has gone back into lock-down and I’m not gonna lie, it’s harder this time.

In all my daydreaming about travel when I was a kid, I had never once thought about going to America. Everything I knew about America I learned from The Simpsons, The Babysitters Club, and later on, The West Wing. America was TV and movies, and therefore I didn’t really need to go there.

Fortunately that all changed when I first met my friend Meg on a train going to a 21st birthday party in Ballarat. By the end of the evening we were comparing Shakespeare quotes and reimagining Jerry Maguire with Gollum in it, because that’s the sort of thing that we were up to in 2004.

Having a friend like Meg is also very handy when you arrive off your first long haul international flight, brand new backpack on your back, and remarking on how weird it is that there are photos of the president at immigration. (I can only imagine what that looks like now). Meg met me at LAX in a Mini Cooper she borrowed from a friend and took me straight to get tamales that were so spicy I’m still recovering sixteen years later. A true friend.

Los Angeles is a weird place. It’s an industry town, which where I grew up usually meant mining or forestry or fishing, but in Los Angeles industry town means everybody is working or trying to work in film or television, which is objectively strange. Los Angeles always conjures up images of glamour, but it’s also such a concrete bunker of a city. Having said that, I’d like to go back and experience it again.

While I was in LA I did all the usual touristy things like Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, Santa Monica and Universal Studios (the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios was the absolute best) but weirdly enough the overriding memory I have of being in Los Angeles is driving along the coast at night and seeing the oil rigs lit up off the coast of Long Beach. That, more than anything else, is what I think of when I think of my time in LA. Like I said, LA is weird.

After a week in Los Angeles Meg took me down to San Diego to stay with her family and also go to San Diego Zoo (where I bought a hoodie that I still have to this day). I think this is also when we went to Disneyland.

Here’s the thing about Disneyland. It’s wonderful. I’ve been to Disneyland twice now, Disneyworld once and Hong Kong Disneyland once and I will never get tired of it. It’s just such geeky nerdy fun. Yes there’s crowds, and yes there’s queues but there’s ways around this and honestly if you aren’t excited to see Mary Poppins riding King Arthur’s carousel I don’t know what to tell you. Get a fast-pass, and ride the Indiana Jones ride as many times as you can.

After Disneyland, I flew up to San Francisco for a few days. San Francisco is a gorgeous city, I’m so bummed I lost my photos from the California part of my trip. I spent almost a full day out on Alcatraz hoping to see a ghost (I didn’t). I learned a lot about the badass nineteen month Occupation of Alcatraz by Native American protesters, which I knew nothing about beforehand.

I went out to see the giant redwoods in Muir Woods (again, so sad I don’t have my photos from here!) and basically just pottered around Fishermans Wharf. The one thing I wish I’d done, that I would absolutely do if I ever found myself in San Francisco again, is go to the Winchester Mystery House, that place fascinates me. If you’re stuck in lock-down like me, you can take a virtual tour of the house until the world calms down again.

Meg came and met me in San Francisco and we drove back to LA the next day along the coast, stopping in Castroville to pay our respects to the Giant Artichoke, because such things are very important.

We arrived back in Los Angeles that night, and then the following morning, I flew out to Mexico for what I thought would be a three week trip.

Was it?

We’ll find out.

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