Part 1: Can't wait to get out of this hellhole...
Two hours later, the planes touched down on the tarmac of LAX. The hustle and bustle of the terminal was a welcoming sight after spending the last couple of hours crammed up like a sardine. Dave and I headed out of the terminal to meet up with a mutual friend. She goes to school at Caltech and was spending her Christmas break at school. When I told her that I had a seven hour layover in LA, she jumped at the chance to show me around.
We hopped into her car after exchanging greetings. LA wasn't what I expected. I guess I had the notion that it'd be really posh and affluent, but we drove through areas that reminded of me of Warren or Pontiac. Not all of LA, just parts of it. We drove around aimlessly, Cali-Girl asked us where we wanted to go. Neither Dave or I had a clue what LA had to offer, so we said the first thing that popped into our mind. Let's go see the Hollywood sign. "Alright, now lemme see where the sign is. Hand me that map." Turns out she didn't know how to navigate around LA. After doing a distant drive-by of the famed sign, we decide to head to Venice Beach.
Having no idea what to expect at the beach, I make sure to bring my camera along in case there are interesting sights to capture. Good thing my intuition paid off. As we took a stroll down the boardwalk, we came across booth after booth of eye catching ware. A few locals came strolling up to ask us to hear their "jamz." Dave and I obliged, but we quickly learned that it was the wrong thing to do. We spent the next 10 minutes trying to convince the guy we didn't want to buy his CD.
A little further down, we came across this street performer. I think it's common to find a living statue in just about every major city. And why not? For the cost of paint and incredible patience, you can turn yourself into a attraction for next to nothing. People love taking pictures of living statues. I snapped off a few shots and moved on.
We decide to grab lunch on the boardwalk. After surveying a few locations, we decide to hit up this snazzy looking joint. Let me tell you, I am not a big fan of the California sales tax. No wonder it's hard to afford a living in California. They have a tax for almost everything. Plus the food wasn't even that great. Afterwards, we head off to search for a pair of sunglasses. I figured that it would come in handy while I'm in NZ. We spent 30 minutes trying on various styles before settling on a shape that semi-suited my face. It's always been difficult to shop for lens. It took me three days and four picks for me to settle on my eyeglasses.
We head off towards the beach. I checked the time, we had about four more hours before Dave and I had to be back at our gate. The sun was beginning to set as we walked along the shoreline. Dave, being the water junkie that he is, decided to soak his feet in the ocean. He spent the majority of high school in the pool, involved in all sorts of water sports.
The local scene is alive. There are people participating in random activities. From spray painting a wall to surfing the cold water. My camera barely got a chance to rest as I snapped off shot after shot of the action all around. I got sucked in watching this group of guys surfing. I've always wanted to learn how to surf.
I feel surfing is one of those images that remains me of California. It's such a West Coast thing to go surfing. Grab your board, your suit and jump into a Wrangler to catch the waves. The surfers were just entertaining themselves on the small waves that build up as the water nears the shores. A few times they were able to get decent rides.
We moved further down the beach and started digging in the sand for kicks. Dave got worked up and enthusiastically made a tunnel in the sand. When I was little, we would always make these elaborate system of interconnecting tunnels in the sandbox. Eventually the structural integrity would be breached and the whole thing would collapse on our digging hands, but it was fun while it lasted.
The sun started dipping below the horizon, cue for us to head back to the airport. We had back to the boardwalk and rinse the sand off our feet. On the walk back to the car, we made a pit stop to stare at the people working out on Muscle Beach. There was this one woman who was jacked as could be. From the neck down, with the exception of the obvious, you couldn't tell that it was a woman's body. It was incredibly ripped, each muscle jutting out like a razor edge. My self-esteem propelled me away from the scene, I felt smaller than I usually do. Good sign to leave the beach.
Cali-Girl drove us back to the international departures gate and we said our goodbyes. I told her that I would probably call on her again when I made my return trip to the States. "Sure thing, just give me a call. Have a safe trip." Yeah I will, don't worry. Have a great break. Thanks for showing us around.
We were actually early because the rest of the group was not there yet with a few exceptions. Having nothing else to do, we decided to make small talk with the other group members. Guess you could call it my first attempt to break the ice with the rest of the group. The desks calls out our flight and picked up our gear to line up again. I had to get used to this because I would be doing this multiple times during the trip.
The setup on this flight put the other flight to shame. Not only did we have large cushy seats, we also had personal TVs with a large list of current movies to select from. I started getting excited about the movies that the flight had to offer and made a mental checklist of movies that I simply had to see before the 15 hour flight was over. I figured if I worked in a methodical fashion, I would accomplish everything on the list. If this is what the rest of this NZ trip is gonna be like, I'm already in love. To make matters even better, since we were flying in international waters the drinking age didn't apply. *Mischievous grin* Can't say I didn't abused that privilege.
After gorging myself on all sorts of luxuries, exhaustion finally overtook me. Right before my eyelids won the battle, a thought popped into my head. When I wake up, I'll be in NZ. I could hardly wait.
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