Trip Start Feb 07, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, October 29, 2007

Sadly, it was time to leave the home comforts of Palo Alto (we haven't eaten and drunk so much for a looooooong time!) and head off to City of Angels. Our flight was delayed nearly two hours, so we arrived late on a Monday night. Tim had booked a rental car in advance and was extremely happy that there was a Mustang available. So, we screeched and lurched our way into West Hollywood (hail the sat nav) to find our hostel. We have a late night dinner at at a buzzing Jewish deli/diner that's been around for years (Canters). We're served by a veritable werewolf look-alike called Douglas.

We're up early on our first day, keen to get out onto the streets to explore. We cruise along Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and up into the hills along Mulholland drive (dotted with plush mansions). It's so dry up in the hills, you can see how easily fire could spread. We've seen the La Brea Tar Pits on documentaries before, and they really are fascinating. They are ancient pits that ooze tar from oil deposits below the surface. The most amazing thing about the pits is that they look like water pools as the water sits on top of the tar. During the Ice Age many animals became stuck in the pools after attempting to drink. Often other animals came to feed on the partly submerged bodies of other animals and themselves became stuck. The ancient pools are now part of a small park and look incredibly incongruous set amongst the flashy streets of LA. Pit 93 is the excavation pit and since the 1960's thousands of bones have been removed, including those of dire wolves, sabre tooth cats, mastodons, American lions and many more. In the Page Museum you can see the skeletons of these animals, as well as the 'fish bowl' lab where paleontologists sift through the matter removed from Pit 93. Because they have found masses of the same species in the pit, they are able to track changes to particular animals over time. Enough Science already, back to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood!! We check out the sidewalk stars along the Walk of Fame and the hand prints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre - not the most exciting experience unless you're a star gazer. We drive up towards the Hollywood sign to take some snaps and look at some of the cool old motels and neon signs along Sunset Boulevard. We finish the day with a trip to the dark 'Kibbitz' bar beside the Jewish diner. We sit at the bar beside the only other customer - an older black guy wearing a diamante studded sailor's suit. He's later joined by his big blonde haired lady friend and they hold hands as they sip their drinks and watch the American Football game on the box.

It's Halloween today and we're slightly hungover. However, we struggle out of bed for another action packed day in LA. Our day starts with a visit to muscle car outfitters. I stand around trying to look interested as Tim and the mechanic get excited about what's under the bonnet. We head to Venice Beach where we hire bikes to ride along the huge beach to Santa Monica Pier, then back along Ocean Front Walk to the famous Muscle Beach. There's freak shows going on along the front, but who needs them here? There's enough freak action on the walk! Amongst the kiosks, souvenir shops and tattoo parlours are tarot readers, buskers and lots of weirdos - the robed sheik on roller skates singing along to his ghetto blaster, a wino telling jokes to get drunk, a screaming black lace-clad fortune teller (she's taken a dislike to the sheik), muscle Mary's flexing their muscles, a guy being interviewed for TV in his leopard print underwear... Tim's soon spotted another car joint and my eyes glaze over as he closely inspects every car. Our next stop is out of town - to the infamous suburbs of Watts and Compton. We don't get too close to Compton and do a quick drive by of the Watts Towers, which are built entirely from refuse. Back in town we're pulled up at the lights and the woman in the car next to us asks for directions. I tell her we're Australian and don't really know our way around. 'Australian!? Russel Crowe!? Love that guy!'. She starts going into detail about his latest movie, despite the fact that the light is changing to green... Only in America!

I have great fun in the West Hollywood thrift shops in the afternoon and manage to find a mask for tonight's Halloween celebration. We start off at a 'kegger' party at the hostel, then head off to Santa Monica a few blocks up for the street party. The party is in full swing by the time we arrive and the costumes are INCREDIBLE. There's hardly anyone not dressed up and most people have put in a lot of effort. There's music and food, but the main activity is walking up and down and finding the best costumes in their crowd. There is so much to see - Mr Hanky, Darth Vader, the Tin Man, drag queens galore, ghouls, bearded bunnies, Austin Powers, angels, devils, storm troopers, politicians, a guy covered with sticks of dynamite (you wouldn't get away with that in London!), Superman (with super flies eyes!), Borat in his sexy trunks (my personal favourite), pirates, armed bunnies, Homer, a trench-coated flasher, Carmen Miranda... One of our favourite sources of entertainment are some fire and brimstone preaching types (real, not in costume) telling the party goers that Jesus is angry with them for sinning. These guys got seriously heckled, most amusingly by Jesus himself. Cartman and a near-naked gay party boy also got in on the act. Madness! I have to sneak into the beer tent as I don't have any ID (they won't even sell me a can of beer in the grocery store here, telling me you have to look over 50 if you don't have ID!!). We finally make it home along streets clogged with the weird and the wonderful...
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