USA: Road Trips, Deserts & Hollywood...

My long weekend trip to Las Vegas was about to take another turn! Paolo could drive, that's why he had a hire care who we had called 'Marlene'. Packing into our care before sunrise we made our way into the Nevada desert en-route to Los Angeles, California! We loved our breakfast at Peggy Sue's before we crossed the state line into California! Hollywood was expecting us! Serve! 

The Las Vegas three set off into the Nevada desert for the four hour drive to Los Angeles, California. We decided to take the plunge, setting off before the birds made their song 'Marlene' took us away from the glitzy of the strip into the desert. As we pulled away from the Monte Carlo Resort along Las Vegas Boulevard things were still very much alive, it was well and truly an all-night playground! I had a little bit of breakfast from McDonald's but that was around 5 AM in the morning, it would do for then as we entered the barren desert plains. We stayed ready! Things were quite straightforward, we hadn't hammered the booze really so we were fresh for the journey. It was just me that was getting those deserved tequila's done during our penny slot casino visits. I had wanted to see the Grand Canyon but being a birthday trip I went along with the program, going to Los Angeles was a group decision that I definitely approved. Yes!

What was our plan for the day? We had our route mapped out from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, I wasn't navigating so that was cool for me. Getting onto the road felt great, I snoozed a little bit after we had left the mayhem of Las Vegas Boulevard, the desolate Nevada turned up the hear but we had the air conditioning on, no worries! That plan! Both Paolo and Thomas hadn't been to Los Angeles before and I had so that was something I was proud I had been before! I was excited to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame in all of its craziness, the first time it served nothing but realness with many crazy folk along the boulevard. I still have to pinch myself, I have only been back in America for about four months and have experienced a lot already, there are no mistakes and that's for certain! The drive was going to be about four hours, less than two hours in I really wanted a proper breakfast! In the desert it didn't look like there would be anything around for miles, how wrong we were! Peggy, who?

Around two hours into our trip we needed some time to grab a little breakfast, my McDonald's orange juice wasn't going to sustain me since I had finished it before 6 AM! In the middle of nowhere we found Peggy Sue's Diner, a truly bizarre place that felt like it had stopped in time. Peggy Sue's was like mirage, was it even real? Our breakfast was quintessentially American with lashings of extra bacon and coffee to fill us up before we reach the city of angels! Peggy Sue's outlandish decor had us captivated, fashioned as a 50's diner we were surrounded by loud colours and endless film memorabilia. The mayhem of Las Vegas had begun to catch up on me, I wanted to be tele-ported to Hollywood Boulevard already! Fuelled and raring to drive onwards, I was really excited to reach the state border of California as we wanted to experience a brand new state! Thank goodness for Peggy Sue's 50's diner!

We soon left the desert behind us for the scenery started to change, civilisation seemed to be kicking in for it was a blessing to pass through the California Inspection post without any trouble. It was insane to think that we had passed through the Nevada desert! I was over the drive by the time we saw road signs for Los Angeles, bring on Sunset Boulevard! The sprawl of hills and trees slowly turned into houses and sooner or later we could see the urban sprawl of Downtown Los Angeles. I love the Downtown but we weren't going anywhere near that for certain! Growing ever restless to see the Hollywood sign for a second time in my life, I was like "Marlene go a bit faster please oh! It's the horrendous Los Angeles traffic!" Passing signs for San Bernardino had us feeling excited, the city of Los Angeles grew closer, Las Vegas seemed like distant memory! It was amazing to be almost back in Hollywood, my BB persona was living within that California comeback moment! Where's my sign!

Recognising the Hollywood & Highland complex it was time for us to park 'Marlene', our hire car had faithfully got us from Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California without any hitches! Because Paolo had driven us all the way over from our Monte Carlo hotel resort, he stayed in the car for a well deserved nap whilst myself and Thomas found somewhere to have a drink to cool down at the Hollywood & Highland complex, the L.A humidity was no joke! It felt amazing to be back, I had first visited Los Angeles during December 2005 with my family to see Disneyland, Hollywood and to also experience a Royal Caribbean Cruise to Ensenada, Mexico for the Christmas holidays. During that June 2012 moment I was feeling very fortunate to be visiting that part of the country for a second time! The Hollywood & Highland complex looked very much the same, although that time I saw the 'Rupaul' pop up shop! Yes L.A, I came back! 

Paolo came back from his nap, the day could continue with the 'Las Vegas 3' being back together! I found the sign, well we did! We took a few moments to take the obligatory 'Hollywood Sign' photos for all to see on Facebook! I thanked them for welcoming me onto their trip, I had gatecrashed their pre-planned trip and had twisted the rules at my airport job to get some time off before I was allowed to do so. We toasted to our day in Los Angeles with a non-alcoholic drink because Paolo would need to drive us all back to Las Vegas later that day. I did a little bit of shopping at one of the sports stores, my auntie's in England had just babies, I had wanted to buy something for my cousins from the Hollywood & Highland complex but refunded those items because the finds in NYC were better purchases. Where would we be going to? We hit the Hollywood Boulevard, I was prepared but the other hadn't seen it before! The Dolby Theatre? I had remembered it as the Kodak Theatre!

Hollywood Boulevard hadn't changed one bit, it was still filled with tourists and those stars along the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame' looked just the same. I was having all kind of flashbacks, it was great to be back within that berserk environment once again. The other two hadn't seen the exclusive 'Beverly Hills' and 'Rodeo Drive' area of Hollywood. We booked up an open top bus tour, leaving right away we left the brash Hollywood Boulevard en-route to where the rich and famous called home. The driver liked the sound of his own voice a little bit too much, in retrospect I learned a few new facts like when Lady GaGa supposedly gave all her fans free pizzas whilst they waited for to appear from one venue that I didn't quite remember the name of. The other two saw this new experience without experience, for me me I able to see this part of Los Angeles through new eyes, some seven years later. That felt correct!

We passed the filming location used for 'The Osbourne's' and the 'Beckham's' former Beverly Hills residence. Shopping never looked so chic, Rodeo Drive still had the same glitzy feeling, the summer sun ensured those design stores shone their superiority over us! No, bow down to me! Seeing another famous sign solidified our location, the 'Beverly Hills' sign looked just as good as it had before! The tour took us back to the buzzing Hollywood Boulevard, the heat grew more intense and with the four hour drive ahead of us, we decided it would be wise to head back to the casino's and life of Las Vegas. The day had been full-packed with the searing heat of the desert, our 50's diner breakfast at Peggy Sue's and our brush with the stars! Los Angeles still looked good those years since my initial visit, it planted the seed to visit again in the future! We reached Las Vegas that evening, retiring to our hotel we rested, that was one epic day spent in two states! I didn't want to go back to NJ!

Road Trip! 

Joseph Harrison


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