Traveling Through Thursday
December 13, 2007
Thursday morning began, fabulously.
My roommate and I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, and we took off for Southern California.
We had to do a few important errands prior to leaving Vegas. At a quarter to 10AM, we were rolling through the desert roads away from the City of Possibilities.
Nic wanted to see Los Angeles, and since we were on a time crunch - even if we were there to catch a glimpse, it was enough. We would have decided to stay overnight in SoCal, however, we were scheduled to go with a group of Celine tourists on Friday (you will read about this next). In total, today we traveled nearly 800 (YES) miles, about eight hours on the road, and just four hours of sightseeing.
The roads to Hollywood were circuitous and fun. One thing for sure is that people drive as fast as 110MPH on these roads - quite dangerous and illegal. I'm sure most drivers have their excuse of "If I'm not hurting anyone, then it's okay": which is quite ridiculous. And of course, there are those annoying tailgaters who would creep right up to your bumper if you're driving slower on them, so that you would change to the right lane for them to pass. Officer, please give these folks a ticket.
The funny thing is, I did not notice these drivers too much because on the journeys each way Nic and I were at the top of our lungs singing, ad-libing, back-up singing, and harmonizing to Celine Dion, Anthony Callea, Faith Hill, Ronan Keating and the Pussycat Dolls! It was karaoke at top-speed! LOL
We arrived in Hollywood around 2:00PM, thanks to my trustworthy GPS system. Prior, as we entered the city of Los Angeles (Hollywood is a part of Los Angeles city), I turned on Celine Dion's "Skies of LA," which was quite appropriate. Nic brought out his video camera, and used the songs in the car's stereo as soundtrack. It was fabulous to park in the Hollywood and Highlands parking garage and come up to the entry to the Kodak Theatre. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to roam. So, we rushed out to find Celine's star at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard. The area was appropriate, since Celine's star glowed right in front of the Kodak Theatre. Remember, Celine was the VERY FIRST person to EVER perform at the Kodak Theatre, when she had the "A New Day Has Come" Comeback TV Special back in 2002. The Kodak Theatre is home to the Oscars.
In the surrounding, I could see different people making a living on the sidewalks, including jewelry vendors, aspiring singers, and, of course, middle-aged men in superhero costumes. As Nic got down next to the star and waited for me to hit the shutter button, I could spot Chewbacca coming in from the East. I felt an itch in my side looking at its hairiness creeping up towards us. I did not know what to do. Then, we began hearing some weird noises coming in, which totally crept me out. It sounded like a combination of a woodpecker, a person gargling, and farts. It was totally gross the sounds Chewbacca was making. Then, he pulled Nic to take a picture with him and Darth Vader. I snapped a photograph. All of a sudden, Chewbacca approached me and gave me a massive hug. I saw my life flash before my very eyes. LOL Where was the pepper spray when you needed one? In this case, I thought a deodorant would have probably been more necessary. So, being nice, I took a photograph with them. Suddenly, I heard one of the characters say, "Hey bud, we work on tips, you know?" I reached into my pocket and I had a one dollar bill and a twenty dollar bill. I gave one of them a dollar, and told the other characters that I'll be back after dinner with some smaller bills to give to each of them. They said okay. As we walked off, I heard them laughing.
Nic and I proceeded into Hollywood and Highlands center to have a late lunch. I was so hungry. So, we came across a French-themed restaurant that made crepes. Nic was from France, so this was certainly his forte. We sat over the edge of the fourth story, overlooking the beautiful center, with mega sculpture and bursting fountains. I ordered crepes with beef, and Nic ordered an Italian-inspired crepe. We definitely had to sample each other's meals. Next came a bottle of sparkling lemonade, my personal favorite. If I was in Scandinavia, it would be sparkling pear cider. Our family love Martinelli's. Right around this time of the year, our family would normally order frozen apple cider from a special company affiliated with my alma mater. So, yes, fruits are our friends. Truly it was nice to sit down and have a conversation with my friend Nic. What a journey it was for him, to come all the way from France to celebrate these moments of the Holiday Season with me.
After our meals, Nic had me videotape him as he did a video log in French about his experience at Celine's star. Chewbecca, Darth Vader, Batman were all gone. I guess this part of time was not so lucrative. Nic and I managed to get a few more photographs with the star before we headed off on a mission to have a photograph with the Hollywood sign on the hill.
So, we drove around, and around. Finally, I stopped in a private neighborhood and asked one of the people who was out watering her flowers. She kinda smiled and gave me directions. As I proceeded east and then north, and then northeast and then northwest, I made a right turn, which took me through some beautiful neighborhoods of dream homes of Hollywood Hill. I drove quickly and cautiously. Finally, when the sign was in sight, we stopped to take a few photographs with each other. I had Nic videotape me briefly as I made a small video log, talking about our little journey. Then, I placed the camera on my jacket, on top of the car's trunk - and it took a picture of the both of us.
Next, our goal was to get to Santa Monica for the sunset. Unfortunately, we were welcomed by the Friday evening gridlocks of LA. We did manage to get to the Santa Monica Pier, but it was already dark. However, we still could see the dark amber and pink sky in the distance. We rushed through the sandy beach to the waves and under the pier to take some photographs. Then, proceeded under the pier for more photographs. Each time I turned my back to the ocean, I kept telling Nic to alert me if the waves were about to hit me. They say "Never turn your back on the ocean." I just had to risk it for the sake of the art of photography. Next, we walked the boardwalk across the pier. We were really looking forward to riding on the rollercoaster, however it was closed. So, the amusement park became, pretty much, Christmas ornaments. We headed to the edge of the Pier and I taught Nic long-exposure, natural-light photography - a process where we used no flash, but only the light of the moon to take photographs. The camera had to be completely still, as I hit the shutter-release button and the shutter in the camera is left open for 10, 20, or 30 seconds to allow light to be collected by the camera, to create the picture. I did not have a tripod with me, but I had his shoulder - which I nicknamed the shoulder-pod. So, here is something to remember: If you are with me and I do not have a tripod, have your shoulder ready! We did a 30-second experiment with the moon in the distance, over the ocean. It came out so beautifully. Next, we each did a few modeling poses. After that, we dashed off into the car, and rushed home to Vegas.
We left Santa Monica around 7:30PM. I wanted to arrive back in Vegas in time at 10:30PM, so that I could get the opportunity to meet more with more of Celine's fans, and my dear friends. Unfortunately, it was still Friday evening and the traffic jam was tremendous. Suddenly, I realized that the single crepe that I had ordered was no enough for my hunger. When I get hungry, sometimes it is very uncomfortable for me. This was the time. I felt that I needed my concentration on driving well, to get us back to Vegas as swiftly and safely as possible. So, we pulled off the freeway into LA again, and approached Wienerschnitzel for some chili dogs and chili fries, through drive-thru. I stopped a parking lot to grab a few bites of the fries. Nic looked at me. I knew exactly what he was thinking: "Americans!" So I laughed, and he laughed. Suddenly, I had an idea. "Nic, I drive and you feed me." He gave a look that seemed to have told me that I was crazy. I said, "No seriously, here's a fork. Grab me four to five fries each time, with chili and feed back while I'm driving." It was hilarious because that was exactly what happened. I was driving swifty and safely, while my appetite was being pampered. I told Nic we were like a Grandpa being fed by Grandma. Ten minutes later, I was still being hand-fed. Then, he finally finished all the fries. Next we had a hot-dog left. I gave out the biggest laugh and said, "No, Nic, I can handle this myself!" So, he gave me the whole hot dog, and I was able to feed myself.
We arrived near Vegas at 11:10PM. We had to do a pit stop. Earlier today, I gave Del a call, hoping that we would finally meet at 10:30PM this evening. So, I called and txted Del again. He had just finished watching a Cirque du Soleil show and was at Fremont Street area. As I approached Vegas, I called him again and told him that I would pick him up, along with his friend Emily. 10 minutes later, I finally saw Del in the distance as I approached to pick him and Emily up. I rushed out to give him a huge hug, and Emily as well. They both got in my car, as we sped to the Strip.
Del and Emily both stayed at Treasure Island Hotel and Resort - the same as Nic and myself. We went up to their room, and Emily was telling us about a strange, take-out box that was deliver to their door. They were too cautious to touch it. They too, had ordered some take-outs from Panda Express, but they had no idea what that box was. So, we made a little joke by having Del act as a hungry kid with Emily as mom pulling him from his food, for a picture op.
Del went along with Nic and I to our rooms for a visit. While we relaxed and talked, Del told me about his experience landing in Vegas after many hours of restlessness, and having to wake up early on the morning after arrival - to go on a tour of the Grand Canyon. That was why he was unable to meet me from the day before. I cracked some jokes. I never really felt a distance from him, because our conversations whether over the phone, through online chats, or emails flowed well. Regardless, until 2AM, it was so nice to finally talk to Del, in person. It's true, we have known each other for over four years now. We're bros