Heat, traffic and travels

Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
Trip End Jan 17, 2014

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Where I stayed
Nando's place
What I did
LA, Santa Monica Pier, Yosemite

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 1 - bags and shopping

I arrived on the 12th of August in LAX after a good 24hoursish of flying and walking around airports trying to find the cheapest place to buy my toblerone block of chocolate. Upon my arrival into LAX after having gone through all the procedures at customs like having my finger prints scanned and whatnot, I was left waiting at the baggage pickup for what I was deeming to be an unacceptable amount of time. It all made sense when my name was called across the loud speaker to go to the Quantas baggage terminal where I was quickly made aware that my baggage was in Sydney and it would take at least a day for them to get over here. After receiving a complementary US $100 for the inconvenience I was on my way - realising that my insurance might actually turn this into a positive experience...

I amazingly found my buddy Fernando who I had flatted with in semester two at Otago patiently waiting for me at the place where all the usual people were coming out of the baggage collection place, and after a a nice reunion we headed out to his flat near his college (Occidental) in LA.

Upon arriving at Nandos flat and meeting a few of this flatmates, I jumped onto my computer to see what the deal was with my insurance and soon found out that if my luggage is lost for more than 12 hours I am entitled to up to $1000 for essential things! Needless to say we were soon headed to the mall (Gensdale Galleria). I actually struggled to purchase much with this money as I was slightly concerned about the legitimacy of my claim in regards to what I would be buying and knowing that I still had to claim and hopefully would get the money back.. However, I did buy lots this day. New shoes, socks, undies, jumper (did actually use this in the evening surprisingly), sports tops, shorts and a hat.

In the evening we headed out to Santa Monica Pier, a place I had actually been to before with mum back when we travelled to LA. This is a well known mini theme park on the end of a wharf, with beautiful sandy beaches running down either side (note when I say beautiful I am not referring to the water that is actually a slight brownish colour). We chilled out here before I headed back for my first night of terrible sleep due to planes and time zone changes. However, before sleep we had to get some food - it was taco truck time. and it was good.

Day 2 - Tramp and Froyo
Nando and myself went to the occidental gym and he gave me a tour of the joint. It was really nice, a bit smaller then Otago (but this comes with having 2000 students at oxy) however, it had a large range of equipment and facilities that Otago doesn't have such as: their own athletics track, full turf field (something that could be a good investment in Otago especially considering the weather..) and a pool! We had a workout that was cut short due to my back that I had injured back in wellington, but thankfully the pain resided later on that day.

That evening/late afternoon we headed out on the Hollywood Hike with Nandos buddy and flatmate Oscar, this is not through the rich streets of Hollywood, but instead the hill up behind the Hollywood sign. It was a nice walk, although I was being destroyed by the sun and temperature and by the end was a little bit burnt. The walk took around 3 hours total and at the half way point (that being the turn around point) we were around 30 meters behind the Hollywood sign, the sign is expectedly fenced off with cameras watching the fence and signs about being arrested and receiving fines - large and scary enough to persuade me against getting that golden photo.. On the walk we saw some great wildlife, that being in the form of a large spider that I decided to go Steve Erwin on and see if it had fangs.. It did.

On the way home I experienced some great truly great American cuisine (I am serious), I had a Froyo (frozen yogurt) - I have heard rumors about this existing in Auckland but am yet to confirm these.. the process goes that you have a little cup (big cup for me) and self serve your frozen yogurt into this cup - from flavours ranging strawberry and blueberry to chocolate and caramel to peanut butter.. and then the spreads.. the spreads.. every fruit and lollie imaginable all self serve into your mix of frozen yogurt - and my huge cup (more like bowl) turned out to only be $5.

Day 3 Yosemite
Nando and myself woke at 430 to drive to his hometown in Linwood which is next to the infamous Compton to pick up his homeboys before we headed to Yosemite national park. On the way we went to the diner Denny's, a famous diner in America that I would say gives truth to all the movies that involve american dinners. After a good 5 hours we arrived at the Yosemite entrance and information centre where we stopped to ask where exactly our camp sight was, we were told we had to drive another 1 hour 30 to reach this.. The drive was amazing though, with huge rock formations and cliffs either side of us as we drove through a wooded valley. I could attempt to get all descriptive of this, but don't think it would do justice so I will leave that to the photos.

Upon our actual arrival we set up our tents and headed off on a walk to the waterfalls (Vernal and Neveda falls) after a couple hours we set up at a little swimming hole that came off Nevada fall and dropped the backpacks. Jumping from rock to rock we go to the base of the Neveda fall which was awesome, even though it has not raining in ages around these parts the water was still had a strong flow and made a thunderous noise as it dropped from the 181m high cliff into the pool of water below. The spray off this was so refreshing as the temperature at this point was around 37c (around 100 f). From here we proceeded to spend a good hour and a bit just lying on rocks and dipping into the rock pools. 

Unfortunately we did not see any bears, although there were a lot of signs about them and we had a special food and smelly object place that these items were to be stored in to make sure bears would not come and eat us. I was thinking though, I'm sure that some campers (including myself) would be a lot more smelly themselves then some cooked sausages and I dont think the bear would be too concerned whether his meat is cooked or not.. maybe we should have been in some special bear proof tent.. Although we did not see a bear, we did see a million and one squirrels and even a wild snake afterwards I found out it was not poisonous to my disappointment :(.

Upon our return we made very large sandwiches and had a couple beers (couple for the boys means a lot of jack Daniel's along with lots of beers...).

Day 4
 We headed back to LA and this was via a lake called lake Isabella. The drive there was nice, but the lake not so. Although the weather was good, the lake was just average, and comparing it to new zealand standards it was well below average with a slime in the water, brown water, and rubbish over the beach. However, it was nice to have a stop and a wee sunbath and some target shooting with a bb gun. The sunbathing could not last long though as the temperature was 106f which is around 41c.. So that being said we continued our journey back to LA.
We were around 30miles out from LA on a 5 lane per side highway going down a reasonably step hill when it happened.. the type completely blew. I was wondering why we were slowing drifting left and why there was an ever increasing noise coming out from the left side of the car. Fernando handled this incredibly well actually, and didn't slam on the brakes and rode it out and we ended up in the far left relatively empty car pool lane. (in the states if you break down you are suppose to be in the far right lane). So there we were, in the middle of 10 lanes of LA traffic with a shredded tyre... Oh yeah, we didn't have a spare in the trunk (boot :)) either. The boys were going mad on their phones trying to sort out AA and friends to come pick people up, a highway patrol pulled in behind us and simply told us to move over more then drove away.
After a good hour or hour and a half the boys friends started making their arrivals, with me and nando being some of the first to get a lift out of there, Oscar to the rescue!
On the way home the boys wanted me to experience In-and-Out - a burger joint. The pushed me into getting some deal where you max out on getting something that I wasn't exactly sure was. It turned out to be some cheese covering my whole meal - it started off alright but after the 3rd mouth full was quickly turning quite sickly.. 

I think I am not going to eat this day due to that meal..

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