Archive for October, 2013


Chris and Sue renew their vows

On October 9, 1984, Depeche Mode played in Gloucester, UK on their ‘Some Great Reward’ tour. Chris and I met in Bristol, waiting for a coach to the venue.

Fast forward exactly one year, and we got married in Bristol. Over the next 28 years we emigrated to Brisbane, settled there, and had our family. On our 28th wedding anniversary we happened to be in Vegas, so of course we arranged to renew our vows while in town. Because that’s what you do in Vegas.

The usual choice is a wedding with an Elvis impersonator, but we wanted to be different, so we arranged to hire a trike and go through the Little White Wedding Chapel’s drive through ‘tunnel of love’.

At about 9.00 am, we took a taxi down to Eagle Riders to pick up our Harley trike, their office wasn’t far from The Palms, so it only cost about $10.00 to get there. We decided while at the desk doing the paperwork, that we’d better have a GPS fitted, so we had to wait while they installed it for us. No worries, we had allocated plenty of time.

We got to the chapel early, and because it was a slow day for them they did us a little before our 11.00 am slot.

It was so good, cheesy but lovely, and perfect for us.

We wore jeans and our new Depeche Mode T-shirts to remember what brought us together, and my bouquet was a single red rose, a common symbol of the band thanks to their album, Violator.

violator rose     my rose  the tunneltrike wedding

Our gushy pastor was really welcoming and nice, the ceremony only took a few minutes, but it seemed longer at the time. I nearly lost it near the beginning, when I was suddenly overwhelmed by what we were doing. It was all recorded on to DVD, and when the ceremony was over we had our official photos taken. I didn’t have an official photographer the first time around, so I found this bit really good fun.

We gave the pastor the recommended $40.00 donation in an envelope, and Chris gave a $20.00 tip to the photographer because he was so lovely. We were out of there with a DVD of the ceremony and a CD of the photos by 11.15 am. Brilliant.

done it

After the ceremony we rode off towards Red Rock Canyon. Thanks to the Federal Government shut down, we knew we could not go on the scenic drive through the park, but we went for the scenery along the normal road.

Red rocks

red rocks road

The guy at the Eagle Riders counter had recommended Bonnie Springs Ranch to us for lunch. It was a great little place, quirky and very friendly.

the ranch

They were decorating it ready for Halloween activities starting from October 10. They had a ‘cowboy town’ and petting zoo there, and some other things, but we had very little money left, and it looked like it might rain soon, so we just had lunch there, then headed back to Eagle Riders to give back the trike.

They were quite surprised to see us back so early, we could have returned the trike at 6.00 pm, or even kept it overnight and got it back before 9.00 am tomorrow, but we had done what we wanted to do with it, and it was getting quite cold now, and by cold I mean below today’s high of 24 degrees C.

The other reason was that the Harley trike was uncomfortable for Chris to ride. I was OK on the back, but Chris was not used to the upright position compared to our Panther Trike at home. His short legs were not suited to that style and in his words, gave him a “sore leg and a dead ass.” Charming.

Eagle Riders gave us a lift in the courtesy bus back to The Palms, but as usual, nothing is really free, there was a tip jar prominently positioned on the dashboard, so a few dollars went in there. Still, it saved us walking for half an hour.

We got back to our room for the last time and sorted out our boarding passes on one of the hotel’s complimentary computers and printers, and packed our cases ready for tomorrow.

Our USA adventure was over. We had a nice soak in a hot bath and relaxed for the rest of the day. Everything after that is censored. :p

Our Grand Adventure started outside our hotel at 6.25 am when Kevin, our driver and guide for the day picked us up in the mini-van. There were four people in the van already; in the first row, a young couple from England, and behind them a middle-aged couple from Minnesota. We got in the third row and went to pick up the fourth couple from another hotel. This last couple on the bus were a retired/semi-retired couple from Florida. The woman, whose name I never got, basically talked to us all day, she was a lovely, lively lady, and by the end of the day she was practically inviting us to stay at their house should we ever visit America again.

Our guide, Kevin, was very good, he told us lots of facts and stories about the land as he drove through the different areas. The first stop was for breakfast at McDonalds in Boulder. The cost of breakfast was included in the price of the tour and went on Kevin’s tab.

After breakfast our next stop was at the Joshua Tree forest for a leg stretch and photos.

Joshua tree

Then we drove on an unsealed section of road. I think they were grading it or something at one point as we were delayed for a while.

At the end of the road, Kevin parked the van and we all got on the shuttle coach to the gift shop. We hadn’t budgeted for any souveniers, so we just used the rest room and had a look around the shop for the 15 minutes we had there before boarding another coach for the West Rim.

The West Rim was packed! People were so near the edge, it was scary. I went nowhere near the edge, it wouldn’t take much for me to get knocked off accidentally.

The packed edge

Kevin looked after everyone’s bags, and we all got in the queue for the Skywalk. We took about 20 minutes to get to the front of the queue, then we had to put disposable covers over our shoes so we wouldn’t scratch the surface. Mobile phones and cameras were not allowed on the Skywalk. They had professional photographers there, and you could buy the prints in the gift shop on the way out. We weren’t going to buy a photo but when we saw it we couldn’t resist buying one, and we put it on the credit card. Naughty.

The Skywalk was freaky. The edge was opaque and that was where most people walked, holding the reassuring rail as they walked around the loop. I couldn’t walk across the see-through bit until quite near the end, by which time I had come to trust that I was not going to fall through it.

After the Skywalk, we went to have our picnic lunch, that Kevin had in his backpack. We had ordered our sandwiches in advance when we booked the tour. I had a veggie one, and Chris had a beef and salad one. We all sat together at the picnic table where Kevin had guarded our bags. With our sandwiches we also shared grapes, crackers, and orange coloured cheese, and washed it all down with bottles of cold water.

After lunch Kevin took us around the American Indian village, showing us examples of different homes and sweat lodges. One of them had a very peculiar smell in it, someone had just smoked pot in there.

American Indian structure

Kevin also showed us the bushes that are hallucinogenic when you chew enough of the leaves. Only one person was game enough to try a bit, the lady from Florida of course.

After our wander through the different American Indian dwellings, we all followed Kevin up to the highest point. It was not a difficult climb but there was one point where I had to bounce a couple of times to jump up onto a rock. Kevin asked if I was doing OK, I said, “yes, climbing is fine, it’s edges I don’t do.”

It was a good feeling at the top, and although there were still lots of people around, it was amazing to be there.

The top

Kevin was brilliant at taking lots of photos for everybody on the tour, and some for other people too. We had allocated a $20.00 tip for him from our budget. He was worth every cent, he knew all the best places for photos.

Sue saving Chris

Living on the edge

On our way back down from the highest point, Kevin showed us Guano Point, and told us all about us about bat shit, that ironically was not boring.

When we had finished at the Grand Canyon, Kevin gave us the option of visiting the Cowboy/Indian village here on the reserve, or going to the Hoover Dam. We all chose the dam, we’d seen a natural wonder, now it was time for a man-made one.

The dam was huge and Kevin told us a few facts about it, like the white marking around the edge being deposits from the high water mark, and the line of buoys being the top of the torpedo net. The bridge we were stood on cost $250 million!

bridge on the hoover dam

We drove down under the bridge to have a closer look at the dam itself, and so we could see the bridge from a distance, which was cool in more ways than one. By this time it was late in the afternoon, the sun was going down and the wind picking up.

the dam

We got back in the van and crossed over the dam once more, and the state line between Nevada and Arizona. Soon our grand adventure would be over.

The drive back did not seem long. We had a stop at the Fabulous Las Vegas sign, where we saw at least three brides and bridal parties waiting in line for photos. Kevin took all ours slightly to the side of the sign so we wouldn’t have a long wait for an ‘under the sign’ photo.

Vegas sign

And that was it, our grand adventure was over, and Kevin took us all back to out hotels. It was a lovely day out and we’d been looked after well.

Tomorrow we would have another adventure, we would be renewing our vows on a trike at a drive-through wedding chapel: as you do.

Chris and Sue Buy a Suitcase

After the high of the Depeche Mode concert and a very late night, we had a long lie in this morning.

We Skyped Mum and our friend Marc in the UK who was online at the same time.

Our plan for the day was to go to the cheaper end of the Strip to buy a new suitcase, and to go to Fremont Street, the ‘old’ Vegas this evening.

We took the hotel’s courtesy bus to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, then we bought a 24 hour Deuce bus pass for $8.00. These buses travel up and down the Strip 24 hours a day seven days a week, so we could use it to get to Fremont Street later.

We didn’t spend long on the Strip, we just took the bus down to the cheaper end of the Strip and bought a case the same size as the one we killed trying to walk to our hotel on our first day here. The new case cost us $50.00 plus taxes: money we didn’t really have to spare.

We took the Deuce bus back to Caesars Palace to wait for the courtesy bus back to our hotel. Well, our driver was anything but courteous. We were curtly told that we could not bring our ‘luggage’ on board the bus. “But it’s empty, we just bought it”, we said. But that didn’t matter. No explanation, just “you can’t bring that on here Sir”. So we had to fork out for a taxi… Bummer, another $10.00 or so that we didn’t anticipate. The money allocated to the USA part of our trip was running out faster that we thought it would. How depressing.

When we got back to our room with the case we decided we’d had enough of slot machines, flashing lights and herds of people shuffling along footpaths, so we didn’t go to Fremont St after all. We had a nice quiet, cheap night in and went to bed early. Which was probably a wise thing to do, for tomorrow we had a very early start. We had to be ready and outside the hotel at 6.30 am as we were off to the Grand Canyon: and that was going to be awesome.

This morning Chris Skyped his brother, Den in the UK, then he picked up a large cup of tea from the café downstairs, and we stayed in our room until lunch time listening to Depeche Mode and catching up on my blog. Looking out of our 32nd floor window we could see the trucks and coaches lined up behind the hotel for tonight’s concert.

DSC03698

For lunch we went downstairs to the eatery to buy McDonalds wraps, but we had a crazy woman in front of us who was obviously angling for a cheaper/free meal. She kept saying the meal deals and lists of food were confusing, and she banged on about it for ages. We ended up changing queues.

After lunch and our one dollar coffees, we played ‘spot the DM fan’. Anyone in black was of course a suspect, but some gave the game away by wearing band T Shirts.

We went back to our room to get ready for the concert and when we returned to the casino, there was no doubt about what was going on. Our game changed to ‘spot the non-DM fan’. The casino was engulfed by the black swarm.

DSC03706

Another strange phenomenon in the casino, was the sudden appearance of floor mops leaning up against the slot machines, and people carrying them around. We traced the mops to a room just off the casino floor where people were queuing up for them. We asked the lady at the door what was going on, and she told us that the local, regular players often get sent a flyer or an email saying they can come and pick up a free gift, today’s gift was a mop.  How exciting.

We walked back through the casino and noticed an online, and recent real-life friend, Jennifer in the GA line with a friend so we stopped for a chat. When we left them, another person in the line stopped Chris to compliment him on his Mesh T Shirt, and they talked about Mesh for a while, the guy was so excited to see another Mesh fan.

The 24/7 Cafe was our next stop, we weren’t very hungry so we had a banana and nut muffin each, then went to the bar for a drink. When we booked our hotel room they threw in a $45.00 beverage credit, so we used $16.00 of that on a Malibu and pineapple for me and a Stella Artois for Chris.

Then we tried to work out how to play the slot machines: it took ages. First we figured out how to buy the ticket from the machine, then when we got the ticket we didn’t know how to play, so we just kept pressing ‘spin’. Our $2.00 gambling money lasted a few minutes, and when that was gone we walked away. We wondered how much money the locals wasted to get their ‘free’ mop.

Then, at last the doors opened at the Pearl Theater: concert time! We were in the back row, but that didn’t matter, the theatre is small, it holds only 2,000 – 2,500 people. This venue is the smallest on the arena tour and sold out in 30 seconds. We were very lucky to be here in our nosebleed seats.

Lead singer, Dave was extremely raunchy in this show. His mic stand is the envy of many a fan, and during Policy of Truth, it might as well have been a pole-dancing pole. Chris, said to me, “he’s probably just having a scratch… itchy balls.” Haha, way to ruin a moment.

Chris stood on his chair several times as we had no one behind us and a six-foot tall, six-foot wide person in front of us, (it’s always the way). Despite tiered seating, when you are only 5 ft tall, sometimes when everyone stands up, tiered seating is not steep enough. I was fine, I was on the end of the row and could look down the aisle.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 3.22.46 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-23 at 3.03.31 PM

There was a guy a few seats down our row who was having a bit of a wild time. His shirt was off and his arms flailed about while he danced. The security guys came and checked on him twice, I assume to tell him to calm down. Chris had to get down off the chair when they turned up.

The set list this time was almost the same as the one we had in Santa Barbara. This time we did get Just Can’t Get Enough instead of Shake the Disease.

After the concert we went back upstairs to our room, but we didn’t stay there long. Hungry after dancing all night, we went downstairs to see what was still open. The answer was, not much. We found ourselves queuing at McDonalds again, then a random man asked if we’d like his wife’s roast beef roll as she couldn’t eat it and he didn’t want to waste it. So I had that and Chris had a fillet ‘o’ fish.

We went back through the casino and spotted Donell and Michele at the Central Bar. I have been online friends with them for years, and had finally met them both on this trip at previous concerts. We chatted with them until gone midnight, and then hugged goodbye, it might be the last time we see them in the flesh. I hope not, but realistically we can’t do a trip like this when DM tour every three to four years.

We were in bed ironically at 1.01 am, Chris was soon snoring, but I was wide awake on a concert high so I went on the internet for a while, and at around 2.30 am I finally went to sleep. Bye Depeche Mode, we’ll see you next time… maybe.

DSC03734

Chris and Sue see a Show

We slept in again this morning, then at about 11.00 am we went downstairs for an early lunch at the Earl of Sandwich. We both got the chicken and salad wrap. We should have asked them to omit the balsamic vinaigrette dressing, Chris’ face was a picture. But worse than that, there was no hot tea available, so we had iced tea instead, except it wasn’t… it was room-temperature tea. Yuck. We added sugar but it was no better, in hindsight we should have added some ice cubes to it, but it didn’t occur to us at the time. Duh!

Then we checked out the hotel’s pool, it was a massive area, with lots of young people sunbathing on lounges, and the background music was all recent hip hop style stuff. Not really our cup of tea… much like this morning.

Back inside the casino, we tried to use the slot machines, but they didn’t take coins, only notes, or a purchased ticket. So our $2.39 of loose change stayed in Chris’ pocket.

After our failed attempt at gambling, we took the hotel’s free shuttle bus to the Strip. First we walked through Caesars to see the animatronic Greek statues, but the area was closed down for a new show in the works, so we went outside and walked along the front of the Bellagio. This time we were treated to three synchronised music and fountain displays as they run every 15 minutes on weekends. We haven’t seen the same display twice yet, there must be a lot of them.

We had decided that while in Vegas we should see a show, so we went to one of the Tix4tonight booths to choose one. Even at discounted prices we couldn’t justify watching any of the ‘big name’ shows, or the popular, expensive shows, like Jersey Boys, or the Cirque shows. So we decided that Vegas! The Show would be perfect, the cheaper GA tickets were only $52.00 each, and what better memories could we make than see a Vegas show, that was about Vegas?

We made our way back to Planet Hollywood as the show was at the Saxe Theater inside. Along the way we bought some water, and yogurt/fruit/muesli things as we weren’t really hungry for a proper meal. While at the cheaper end of the Strip, we also looked for a new suitcase. They are about $40.00 to $50.00 for a similar sized case to the one we killed walking to our hotel on our first day in Vegas.

As we walked through the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood, we noticed a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. The coffee smelled divine and I hadn’t had a latte in over two weeks so we splurged and had a regular (and by regular I mean huge) sized latte. Delicious.

We walked back to the Saxe Theater about 1 hour and 20 minutes before the show and a queue for general admission was already starting to form, so we joined it. We had a long wait, but it was worth it for us as a normal reserved seat was worth nearly double the price.

The show was great, and the dancers were all full of energy. There were two tap dancing guys, numerous dancing-girls and guys, impersonators singing old songs, even a comedy/bird tricks act, and a couple of amazing roller-skaters. The entertainment was loosely held together by a guy telling the story of ‘old’ Vegas from the Neon Museum. The ending was nostalgic and moved me to tears, but that’s not difficult, I cried during ET.

After the show we walked back along the Strip, towards the Bellagio to see some more fountain displays.

Vegas lights

Vegas lights

Vegas lights

This time the displays were lit with white lights under the water. Very pretty. Then we walked to the Mirage and its volcano show. We were there five minutes before it started so there was a large crowd gathered there and we were quite far back. Despite this we were near a speaker so the brilliant drum soundtrack was loud, and we could still feel the fire’s heat when the show was in full swing.

Mirage volcano

It was impressive but the Bellagio Fountains are still my favourite.

We wandered back down to the taxi/bus area under Caesars to catch a cab back to our hotel, just off the Strip. The fare cost a bit less than $10.00. A lot cheaper than what a new suitcase was going to cost us, isn’t hindsight great?

Chris and Sue Explore Las Vegas

Our first full day in Vegas! We slept in and got up at around 8.15 am. There is no free breakfast at this hotel so we went downstairs to check out our options. After two weeks of free continental breakfasts, Chris wanted a ‘proper breakfast’, meaning bacon and eggs, so we went to the Bistro Buffet with our newly acquired ‘Players Card’ to give us a couple of dollars off. (We picked up these cards yesterday for discounts within The Palms Casino, Chris gets even more discounts for being over 50!)

There was a huge range of food to choose from, but we could only fit so much in, so the blueberry pancakes had to stay where they were. Our cups of tea were delivered with some assembly required; two cups of hot water, two small teapots of hot water, two tea bags, two glasses of milk, and two packets of honey.

After our all-you-can-eat breakfast, and our do-it-yourself tea, we took the free shuttle bus from our hotel to Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. The bus ran every half an hour from 11.00 am, and the last bus back from Caesars was at 8.10 pm. We spent all day walking along the Strip, right up to about 6.45 pm when we got back to Caesars to catch the bus back to The Palms.

We saw lots of free attractions, starting with the Bellagio Gardens. They had it themed for autumn, with huge pumpkins grown specifically for the display. It was very impressive, a beautiful place.

Image

Outside, the Bellagio Fountain displays were wonderful, the music was so moving I cried a bit: bloody hormones. We plan to come back one evening to see them lit up at night.

Bellagio Fountains

There were the usual characters wanting a few dollars from people for photo opportunities, including the very odd combination of Freddy Krueger standing opposite Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There was a Homer Simpson, drunkenly lounging on a wall, and a Hangover guy with a plastic tiger, he was a big hit with the crowd.

On a few of the bridges over the Strip there were buskers and people illegally selling bottled water from Eskies for a ‘donation’ of a dollar. There were also some people who were obviously homeless and asking for money. But on top of all these usual suspects, we had a new group of people to contend with… these mostly short, darker skinned people, were all dressed in the same baggy T-shirts with “GIRLS” and phone numbers printed on them. It was obvious what they were pushing, flicking business cards towards everyone who passed them, there seemed to be no discrimination. Potentially everyone was given the opportunity to sin in Sin City.

We criss-crossed these bridges over the Strip many times, ducking in and out of the air-conditioned Casinos. We saw the gondolas inside The Venetian, the medieval themed Excalibur, and probably about a million slot machines.

The Wildlife Habitat at The Flamingo was nice, a little oasis away from the crowds. The big Japanese Koi Carp were beautiful.

Japanese Koi Carp

We ended up down at the ‘cheaper’ end of the Strip with all the souvenir/T-shirt shops, and went into McDonalds for a $1.00 coffee. Don’t worry, we are not turning our backs on tea, it’s just that the coffee was cheap.

This area of the Strip is also home to the Harley Davidson Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and the Miracle Mile Shops.

Outside the Harley Davidson Cafe

Late in the afternoon we started to walk back to the Caesars Palace area of the Strip again, and all their ‘higher end’ shops, like Jimmy Choo and Tiffany’s. There weren’t many people in these shops, it was mostly only the shop assistants, how can they afford to stay open?

Caesars Palace is massive, it is easy to get lost in there, we took a few wrong turns before we found our shuttle bus stop, even though we took a photo of the entrance when we came in this morning.

Caesars Palace

When we got back to The Palms we were starving as we hadn’t had lunch, so we went back to the Buffet Bistro for our dinner, it was a bit more expensive than we expected, then we realised why, it was a seafood buffet that night. It cost  $44.00 including 18% gratuity and tax. At this bistro, the price included beer and wine so we had a Chardonnay with our meal. Oh yes, we were living the high life.

Chris and Sue and the Wonky Wheel

Thursday morning, Vegas day! We were up before 6.00 am, and had our usual continental breakfast at 6.30 am, then walked down to the JW Marriott by 7.05 am to catch our 7.30 am coach to Vegas. While waiting we noticed that a lot of people ride their bicycles on the footpaths here. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want to be in this traffic in a car, never mind on a bike.

The coach finally showed up at 8.00 am due to a couple of no-shows and bad traffic, we got to the interchange at Anaheim and frantically changed coaches to go to Vegas. We also had to pay another $2.00 per person fuel surcharge. Nothing is ever the price you expect here, there’s nearly always some extra charge or other, and taxes, and tips to take into account.

Our bus was number 222, and our attendant Marley was funny, informative, and helpful. She had a slow awkward delivery, like Josie Long and Hannah Gadsby combined, if they were talking about mountain passes, desert, Joshua Trees, and mysterious ninja donkeys.

The trip was good, a lot less stressful than if we’d driven ourselves, frankly we couldn’t face doing that after our driving experiences so far.

When we got to Vegas our luck ran out. We decided to save the taxi fare and do the half hour walk to our hotel off the strip. Not a good idea as it turned out. We were about ten minutes away from The Palms Casino when the wheel on our largest case collapsed. It was 31 degrees today and the surrounding of the wheel had actually melted, rendering the wheel useless. We balanced the case on another smaller case, but that made it very top-heavy, and difficult to pull.

Chris being chivalrous wouldn’t let me try to pull it, so I took the two smaller cases. But soon he’d had enough. He looked about ready to collapse. He stopped at the corner of the block The Palms was situated on, and I went to get help with the cases. I walked right through the building and out the other side before finding a manned desk under the second tower, The Palms Place. A nice man there could see I was a damsel in distress, and got a car and took me to pick up Chris and the cases. He drove us back to The Palms Casino and got our cases on a trolley for the bell boy to take away. We were so relieved.

We went inside and checked in at the reception desk, it was on our left, behind the main entrance doors. In my haste to find help I had walked straight past it beforehand. I put it down to being temporarily dazzled by the hundreds of flashing slot machines right in front of the main doors.

We walked through the casino area to the eatery and got a Hawaiian toasted sandwich and a juice from the Earl of Sandwich, before heading up to our room on level 32. We phoned for our luggage to be delivered to the room and then unpacked and settled in for the night.

Wonky wheel

When we checked out the bathroom… the bath had jets! Fancy!

Palms bathroom

The rest of the room was nice, except there were no tea making facilities, nothing, not even a coffee machine! The minibar had weight sensitive shelves, so we didn’t dare open the door in case we accidentally moved something and got charged for it.

The Palms room

After our adventures getting here we were happy to just relax while Vegas partied on around us. But by mid-evening our tea addiction got the better of us and we went downstairs to the 24/7 Cafe. Our teas cost $4.00 each! This would be an expensive week.

Our last day in LA started with a curve-ball from Grand-Adventures.com. We had an email telling us that our Grand Canyon Sunset tour was canceled because the South Rim had been closed down by the Federal Government. Now, because of right-wing Government nut jobs we had to change our plans. Either we go to the more touristy West Rim, or get our money back and find something else to do. The West Rim was still open as it is run by the native American Indians, (the Hualapai Tribe), so it doesn’t come under National Parks.

From what I have read, the West Rim is not as wide or deep as the South Rim of the canyon, it does have the Skywalk, and it is closer to Vegas, but we were still disappointed that the tour we booked could not go ahead. We decided to move the date of our tour from the 5th to the 8th October in the hope that things might change by the time we are due to go.

We had a late breakfast downstairs, then went out for a wander around the local Downtown LA area. Luckily for us it hasn’t rained since we arrived in the USA. We walked through the jewellery district, with the sun shining through the shop windows onto the sparkley diamonds. Then we found a farmers market open at Pershing Square, there were lots of food and drink stalls, fresh fruit and veg, nuts and dried fruit. This was all set up around a huge water feature in the park. It was nice.

After our walk we went back to the hotel to finish our washing so we’d have all our clothes clean for our week in Vegas. We also Face-Timed Sarah, it seems the cats are missing us and they are pestering her for attention. Nice.

Our evening meal was at the Corner Bakery, we both had chicken and bacon carbonara, it was very rich and cheesy with spicy breadcrumbs on top. It was so rich and there was such a lot of it, I was afraid I might get indigestion, but thankfully I didn’t.

Back in our hotel room we packed our bags with our freshly laundered clothes and I updated the blog, (sorry it’s so far behind). We went to bed early because we had an early start the next day, for Thursday we’d be off on our next adventure: Vegas!

Today was the second day of our 48 hour Hop-on Hop-off bus pass, so we walked down to the invisible purple line bus stop across the road from the Grammy Museum, (no really… there is no sign there), and rode to Mann’s Chinese Theater to change buses to the red line like we did yesterday. This time we rode downstairs, so we were out of the wind on the 101.

Today’s collection of characters at Mann’s Chinese Theater included; Jack Sparrow, Spiderman, Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper, and Chewbacca. Also; Charlie Chaplin, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and an excellent Transformer. Add to them all the tourists taking photos of the famous hand prints in the foot path, some noisy buskers, multiple CD pushers, and people wanting you to go on their tours, and it was sensory overload. We pretty much went straight to the red line bus so we could get out of there as quickly as possible.

Our destination today was the Petersen Motor Museum, to look at the history of cars and their impact on LA, and to just admire the pretty, shiny cars. We got off the bus at the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and walked to the Petersen Motor Museum from there. Showing our bus ticket gave us a two for one deal at this motor museum, so we both got in for $15.00. Bargain. We were in there for nearly two hours.

Petersen Motor Museum

I really liked the way the first floor was set out in streetscapes as if you were walking along a road with the cars set out in chronological order along the way. And being in LA, we could not go without a couple of recognisable characters added into the display.

Laurel and Hardy

Upstairs, we saw lots of hot rods and custom cars and a few ‘celebrity’ cars. Cars either previously owned by celebrities, or famous cars like the Batmobile, or cars from famous movies. There were also sections on the evolution of motorbikes, alternative power cars, an exhibition on the rise and decline of car fins, and one on pickups, or as Aussies would say, ‘Utes’. We took a lot of photos.

On our way out of the museum we spied a very 50s looking diner called Johnny Rockets. It was fitted out in red decor with a black and white tiled floor, and little jukeboxes in the booths. We were going to have a banana from this morning’s breakfast for our lunch, but after nine days of continental breakfasts, Chris and I were both craving bacon, so we decided to forgo the fruit for bacon, lettuce and tomato toasted sandwiches. They came with unlimited salad and chips, but there was no need for either of us to go back for seconds. I couldn’t even finish my chips, or should I say, ‘fries’.

From the Petersen Motor Museum, we walked about 15 minutes down Wilshire Boulevard to find Whimsic Alley, a great little shop selling Harry Potter and Dr Who stuff, and other similar things. It is set out to look like Diagon Alley, and it’s delightful to wander through. Unfortunately for them we were only window shopping, but there was a lovely velvet, burgundy cape in there for $45.00, I would have bought it in a heartbeat, if our budget weren’t so tight.

After Whimsic Alley we headed back towards the bus stop at the LACMA, stopping at the La Brea Tar Pits to look at the bubbles of methane gas rising to the surface of the tar/water lakes. There was a museum here too, full of the fossils found in the pits, but visiting wasn’t really an option due to lack of time and money, so we moved on through the grounds of the LACMA back to the bus stop, looking at the sculptures and the street lamp display along the way.

Streetlamps

The red line bus picked us up from here and took us back to the Mann’s Chinese Theater Interchange, but this time we got off one stop early to walk along the Walk of Fame. The nearer we got to the theatre, the more people there were. And, many restaurants along the way had people out the front touting for business, trying to entice us in with their special offers and ‘happy hours’. But we had a purple line bus to catch at 5.00 pm, and if we missed it we’d have to wait until 6.30 pm for the next (and last) one of the day, so we were not stopping anywhere.

Once on the bus we went upstairs, as the sun was not so hot at that time of day. After studying the bus map we realised that if we got off at the first stop, (only an hour away), we would only have a short walk to our Downtown hotel, instead of  doing two hours of a two and a half hour loop. So that’s exactly what we did.

On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped in at Ralph’s Supermarket for some washing powder and tea bags, and got some extra quarters in our change from the cashier. For tonight, with an extra hour up our sleeves, we decided to start washing our dirty laundry. Exciting stuff.

Both the washer and dryer took five quarters each and we had nearly all our laundry washed and dried by nearly 8.30 pm. The guest laundry was in the hotel’s dingy basement, but we were happy there was one available, as we were dangerously close to running out of undies.

The rest of the night was spent in our hotel room updating Facebook photos, general web-surfing, and chatting to Sarah online. Bed time was at 2.00 am, but that didn’t matter as Los Angeles is huge and overwhelming, and after all our activities lately we decided that tomorrow would be a recovery day. Yes, tomorrow we would have a lie-in.