Monday, October 3

Hooray for Hollywood

We finished our Southwest USA road trip with a three-day stopover in Los Angeles. While I’ve stopped in LA many times over the years, this was Garry’s first proper visit. Of course it wouldn’t be a California vacation without a hire car to get around. To make things as authentic as possible I splashed out and booked a convertible. However, we saved a fortune on our hotel by cashing in some credit card loyalty points. It ultimately cost us US$30/day and was located next to a large Westfield shopping mall. This pleased Garry no end as he was keen to make the most of end-of-Summer clothing sales.

Our first evening in LA was taken up by a visit to a local coin-operated launderette. After two weeks on the road we were both running short of clean clothes. It made for a novel evening as we hung out with dozens of the other people doing their laundry. At times it felt like a scene from a movie which was rather apt considering Hollywood was a few short miles away.

The following morning we drove down the freeway and through palm fringed streets to the La Brea tar pits. I’d visited the area back in December 2009. However this time the water table was much lower making the naturally seeping tar and petro-chemical fumes far more prominent. I was also delighted to find the main fossil excavation pit open for viewing. It’s fascinating to peer into the excavated pit’s gloomy depth and spot fossils still sitting in the black ooze.

Our next step was Hollywood Boulevard. This allowed us to see the famous Hollywood sign, admire memorial stars embedded on the sidewalk and go searching for the footprints of famous actors outside Grumman’s Chinese Theatre. The recognizable names are everywhere from Frank Sinatra to the Marilyn Munro. Even Kermit the Frog has his own memorial star.

Our second full day in town was devoted to shopping. I took Garry to the best shopping mall in town, the Beverly Centre, where we both shopped until our arms groaned under the weight. Our final day in town was then spent visiting Santa Monica beach to see its famous amusement pier, stand at the west terminus of Route 66 (you may recall we visited a popular section of the highway in Winslow, Arizona) and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sun.

All too soon it was time to tackle the rush hour traffic, collect our luggage and make our way to the airport. Garry ensured our vacation ended on a high note by securing an points upgrade to First Class on Qantas’ uber-comfortable Airbus A380. Hooray for Hollywood.

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