Even though we didn’t stay in all of these states, we did cross the borders (and got photos of most!)
Friday 24th July, 2009 until Sunday 26th July, 2009
San Diego to Los Angeles by train – 120 miles
Los Angeles to Brisbane by plane – 7183 miles
I LOVE the lines in this song that say
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again
I remember feeling this way when I was travelling around the UK and Europe. I was constantly meeting people, only to have to say goodbye indefinitely. That’s how I felt about America. I loved it SO MUCH and I really would have loved another month over there (or 2 or 3) but I know we’ll get back there some day.
Anyway, back to our last day! The adventures aren’t finished yet!
Charlene took us down to the “drug store” as we had decided to buy our duty free booze there. We got a 1.75L bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin for $30USD!!! BARGAIN!!! And we got 750ml bottles of Bacardi, Lemon Smirnoff and Raspberry Smirnoff for $10USD each. Crazy! We headed back for some brekky and a final pack to fit in the booze, and a final weigh-in. 1 bag was 50lb (22.6kg) and the other was 60lb (27.2kg) so we were luckily under the 30kg each weight limit.
Charlene was keen to show us around a bit in the morning and we were lucky enough to be able to push our train trip back to 3pm instead of 1pm. This was great as it meant we didn’t have to wait around at the other end (LA) and amuse ourselve. Charlene took us to the Cabrillo National Monument lookout and there was a beautiful view of the bay, the ocean, and the city.
There is a US Navy port as well as a Marine Corps in San Diego, so it is a very military city. And we were in for a real treat, seeing:
Thursday, 23rd July 2009.
Many miles on foot, walking around the San Diego ComicCon.
When I asked Hubs if he’d like to do a road trip across America, he wasn’t overly keen. It wasn’t on the top of his “to see” list, but he decided to broaden his horizons and agreed to the trip. So to get him excited, I asked if there was ANYthing in America he wanted to see. And he casually said that “I think the San Diego ComicCon is on over the summer.” So I looked it up straight away and it was the very first thing I booked. Hubs was happy.
It was on the 2nd last day of our trip and it was something Hubs was looking forward to from Day 1. I was to be his wing-man and his stand-in-line person (the things we do for love!) but I ended up having a great time too! We got up at 6:45am (being a nerd is hard work!) and Charlene fed us a lovely brekky of breakfast pockets and fresh fruit. A great way to start the day! She then dropped us off at the trolley stop and we noticed a few people dressed in costumes so we figured we were going the right way. And then we just followed the crowd. It was madness!! We were told where to line up and this line was, I’m not kidding, about a mile long, but it twisted and turned so much – out to the car park and marina and around a building and all the way back again – and it was constantly moving, that we didn’t even realise! There didn’t seem to be an end to it but we were just chatting with a few people in line and started taking some photos of the
crazy people fans.
Hubs’ first point of call, and the one stand he REALLY wanted to see, was Penny Arcade. PA is a webcomic that Hubs has been reading for years and years and he really wanted to meet Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, and his dream was soon realised:
Hubs was very excited but played it cool and, as it was still early, he got to chat with them for a while. They tried to do an Australian accent (not so good) and drew a couple of sketches for hubs in his book, as well as signed his poster. They were really cool guys and a lot of fun to talk to. As we were walking away, Hubs turns to me and says.
“Honey, I don’t understand. I can cut bodies open with a scalpel, I don’t flinch at giving a guy stitches, but you put me in front of these 2 guys, and I get nervous. WHAT’S WITH THAT!!”
I assured him that he did very well at keeping his cool and after that, he was like “well, I’m done! We can go home now!” Ha ha ha. More dorky photos needed to be taken baby!!
Wednesday, 22nd July 2009.
Aaaaaaah. Our last day in New York and boy was it a beautiful day. Still slightly hazey, but the sun was poking through the clouds every so often which was enough to get us excited. We were super-keen to get our caricature done, so we left all our packed-up stuff at the hostel and headed back to Central Park one last time. There really weren’t many people around, but we found a couple of guys who accosted us. We had seen them being done for $15 for 2 people in Times Square so that was our budget. We had our $15 for the picture, $12 for our shuttle to the airport and $5 for a snack later on.
One of the guys started harassing us and we asked how much and he said $60 and we were like “noooooo no no no no. That’s too much for our budget” and we started walking away and he said “well you tell me how much” so Hubs said “fifteen dollars” and he said “okay okay okay, morning special” (he was Chinese) and we were like “well we want a pencil drawing, not charcoal so we can roll it up” “yes yes no problem” and he took out a pencil and showed us. So we agreed.
He sat us down and got to work. He drew me first, then Hubs. It probably took about half an hour (maybe more?) and when he finished, he showed us.
We were really impressed! He finished it and signed it and then told us we needed to buy a cardboard and plastic frame for $15 so it wouldn’t smudge.
This is where it went bad.
We were like “no, that’s why we wanted pencil” and he acted all innocent, rubbing it a bit, showing us that it would come off if we didn’t buy the frame. We kept saying no and he said “$10” and we said no again and then he said “okay okay $5 for frame.” In the meantime, he had already sticky-taped it inside the frame so we didn’t have a lot of choice. So I handed over $20. $15 for the picture and $5 for the frame. He just looked at me.
This is where it got worse.
“What is this?”
“That’s $15 for the picture and…..”
“FIFTEEN??? NO FIFTY!!!”
Hubs and Wifey just stared at him, and at each other in disbelief. This was not going to go well. We tried to reason with him that we said fifteen dollars, not fifty, and that’s why we were so surprised when he agreed to it. He started to get really agitated and was talking to the other portrait guy, telling him we were trying to rip him off and we were trying to explain that we HAD NO MONEY. Etc etc etc. It kind of fell on deaf ears. We really didn’t know what to do and we felt ill over it. It was just a MASSIVE miscommunication. We offered him another $10 and after a LOT of bitching, he came around.
It was really awful. We couldn’t work out who got ripped-off, but we figure we came out of the deal okay. We were a little stunned by the ordeal, but had to make the most of our last couple of hours, so we set out for the reservoir and took some fun photos on the way.
A rainy New York day. A few miles on foot.
Well, we planned it perfectly. The day we do all the outdoor sightseeing, it’s beautiful and sunny. The day we decide to go to the museums…. not so much… Perfecto! I had to take photos of the New York streets because they were just… so… NEW YORK!
The exhibit was froggin’ awesome!!
Monday 20th July, 2009
An amazing day – one of my favourites of the whole trip. So strap yourself in for a plethora of photos!
**squirrel was not part of the menu
Sunday, 19th July 2009
A sunny day in NYC
We headed out around 9:30am, breakfast bagel in hand, and took a wonder down 8th Ave. We then headed east and hit Times Square. I loved the vibe and feel and atmosphere of New York – it’s busy but laid back.
Saturday, 18th July 2009
Washington DC to New York City. 225 miles on a train.
As I mentioned, I thought our train left at 11am but when I got up at 8:40am I double-checked the ticket and it was for 10:20am. Oops. We (I) still had to pack everything!! So I babbled something to Hubs about making us peanut butter sandwiches and started throwing things in our bags. We got on a bus and thankfully there wasn’t much traffic, and we arrived at the station at 10am. Nice one! Jumped on the train no probs and even got a double seat that no one sat opposite us in. Score! I love travelling by train. It’s so relaxing and there’s so much to see! We went underground just outside of New York and didn’t resurface until we hit our hostel, so it really was amazing when we poked our heads out from underground!
Our hostel was not far from Central Park, so that was on our agenda for the afternoon after we’d checked in. It was everything I’d imagined, and more.
I had a crab cake and Hubs had the ostrich burger. After another couple of beers + tax + tips we had had a $50USD meal. Again, not the best value (we weren’t that full) but we WERE in New York after all. Oh and they had paper table cloths! So Hubs got busy drawing our dream home that we’re going to build one day.
Afterwards we just headed back to the hostel to make some friends but there weren’t many people around so we just chilled out with whoever happened to pass through the common room. A great first day in New York City!
Friday 17th July, 2009.
A second day of sight-seeing in Washington DC.
Today we had a better start after a fairly good night sleep. The Hostel really was dirty and kinda gross, but what it lacked in cleanliness, it made up for in character. Oh, and free peanut butter and bread! We set out for Capitol Hill once more, and this time we were more prepared!
All the Museums and Monuments are free in Washington which really is wonderful, but they only give out a certain number of tickets each day, so we cued up for our tickets and really didn’t have to wait that long. We went on a guided tour that was really interesting and well presented. We then lined up to sit in the Gallery of the House and listened to a Bill being debated. They (opposition??) were proposing a $700million mustang conservation project. Mustang the animal, not the car, that is! It didn’t get passed.
We left and sought out a McDonalds to do our McDonalds taste comparison. I got a cheeseburger and Hubs got an Angus Burger that hadn’t been introduced in Australia at that stage. My cheeseburger tasted the same as back home, though, it seemed to have a bit more onion in it. It was goooooood! Hubs’ Angus Burger was pretty good too. An unexciting yet necessary experiment!
And here they are! It was awesome! They had the dinky organ music and everything!
Here’s us drinking the ridiculously over-priced beers out of aluminium pint tins. ($7USD each!!)
Luckily for us, Aaron was on a work junket and had a meal allowance, so he was quite happy to buy some beers and curry chips to share!
We were going for Washington and it was a really great game, but I think they lost pretty convincingly! Oh well. So much fun!
I think baseball in the US has gone the way cricket in Australia has. You used to be able to go to the cricket for $10-$15, sit in the sun and drink cheap beers and have a fairly cheap and entertaining day. Now with all the new fancy-pants stadiums and alcohol regulations, it can turn into a very expensive evening out. But we did have a great time with our new friend, and afterwards we headed back into town to grab a beer. This was easier said than done! After wandering around for about an hour and a half, we finally found a place (reminded me of the Belgian Beer Cafe in Brisbane) and had some fancy beers (I had raspberry! YUM!) and then went home.
I thought we had to catch an 11am train the next day, so I set my alarm for 8:30am. I should have double-checked the tickets. To be continued……
A few of you have asked for this, so here it is!