Wednesday, July 20, 2011

GAWA2011, Day 13: Winding Down

Waking up in a cheap motel may be more depressing than falling asleep in one. Trying carefully not to wake up Alissa, I eased into the bathroom and prepared to take a shower. The bad lighting, the yellowed walls, the bathroom window (ground-level) having no curtains, merely opaque glass and a mesh screen with dead bugs trapped in it... I had flashbacks to those summers at camp and the terrible, spider-infested bathhouses a stone's throw from our cabin.

That's one positive thing I have to say for our stay in San Luis Opisbo: there were no spiders.

Before eight o'clock, we had all of our gear loaded into the Beetle and were prepared to strike out for Los Angeles. Munching granola bars, we once again headed south, increasingly battling traffic as we neared our destination.

Moments before pulling off the interstate into the downtown Hollywood area, we observed an expensive black sports car cutting back and forth frantically across multiple lanes of traffic without either slowing down or signaling. The driver seemed unaware that there were other cars on the road. Unfortunately, having visited the area before, I knew that this was par for the course.

After installing the Beetle in a high-rise parking garage, we hit the streets of Hollywood: Mann's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, the cheesy gift shops, all of it.

Along the way, I bumped into an old friend.

Come Fly with Me

Neither one of us is particularly interested in celebrities, so in under two hours, we'd had our fill of crowded sidewalks, edifices of old theaters, pushy salesmen hawking their own "Star Tour!", etc. Near where we'd parked the car, we found a little outdoor table at a California Pizza Kitchen. While happily soaking in the mild warmth of the sun, we munched down our lunch and took in some of the best people watching of the trip.

Our lunch view:

Hollywood

Since Alissa had expressed a keen desire to drive through Beverly Hills, we hopped back into the Beetle and headed down Santa Monica Boulevard. Along the way, we were nearly blinded by huge rainbow flags flapping in the medians and festooning local businesses. We actually saw a store that touted itself as the "GAYEST STORE ON EARTH!!!"

If you're not sure what the big deal is about Beverly Hills, then see here for a glimpse of some of the explosions of opulence that pass as real estate. We found in our experience, however, that a self-guided automotive tour of the area leaves much to be desired. In the first place, why would people build such beautiful homes only to hide them behind ridiculously tall hedges? The least they could do for the curious would be to screen-print a floor plan of the house on the front of the hedge so that gawping tourists would at least have something to update their Facebook statuses with other than "I saw the bushes outside Tom Cruise's house!!!" In the second place, some people were driving their novelty sports cars and mammoth SUV's like idiots.

One good thing did happen, though. Alissa saw a sign for Bel-Air, allowing a new song to supplant the one that we'd had stuck in our heads ever since first deciding to drive through Beverly Hills.

After crawling out of LA and its environs at turtle speed, we escaped to a nearby Holiday Inn in Garden Grove. Both of our dirty laundry bags had reached critical mass, requiring immediate attention. After I snarled up the washer/drier in the Guest Laundry room by inserting the quarters incorrectly (seriously, who does that?), we weighed our dinner options.1 Since our hotel was a stone's throw from the Disney theme park, we did not lack for restaurant choices. We had, however, decided to try our luck at a regional fast-food chain. We picked up a late dinner to go at Carl's Jr. and devoured it back in our room. (My rating: fair.)

Showered and bundled up in our clean jammies, we snuggled down (in our separate beds, of course) to watch a little TV and enjoy the relative comfort of staying in a decent hotel room.
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1 - All told, I had to visit the reception desk three times in my attempt to do laundry. Once when I had to purchase laundry soap, once when I put the quarters in wrong and needed assistance, and once when I needed more change to get the dryer started. The receptionist probably thought I was mentally handicapped by the time it was all over.

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