Tag Archives: Los Angeles

My, that was quick!

It seems like only yesterday, I was thinking about a trip overseas in 2012. Well, right now I’m in a hotel room in Santa Monica (which fortunately has free wi-fi).

This trip snuck up on me!

The flight over was kinda horrendous. It was almost fully booked so my hopes of us getting an empty seat next to us were crushed. I felt a bit sorry for the guy who got the vacant seat in our row. He was rather tall and ended the flight with his knees poking out into the aisle but at least he had the aisle.

I was exhausted so I managed to either sleep or doze for about 10 hours of the trip which is a heroic effort for me. So why was it so horrendous even though I managed to sleep? There was a screaming child. And she screamed for about eight hours. Eight hours on a 14 hour flight. She was quiet for about the first four hours but then she started – right when everyone was trying to get some sleep. She started crying but then her parents seemed to let her go, probably hoping that she’d calm down but she ramped it up into ear splitting screams quite quickly. I was alternating between earphones and ear plugs and I could still hear her. Not fun. Not fun at all. She would calm down for about 15 minutes and just when you though that was the end of it, she’d start up again. She was actually the reason I put my earphones in the second time. I’d taken them out because they were hurting my ears a little but I could hear her screams quite clearly through the ear-plugs. My earphones are the alleged noise reduction ones and they did seem to drop the volume on her screams more effectively. Maybe that was just because I could drown them out with music.

Okay I understand that babies cry on flights. They can’t re-pressurise their ears during landing and take-off, which I know hurts. But this kid was going off for no reason at all. I walked past to go to the loo and she was kicking her mum so having a proper tantrum. Babies on planes are okay – give them a bottle and their ears will pop meaning they’ll generally settle down – but toddlers whose parents seemed unable to pacify or even control? Nuh uh.

The other reason it was horrendous? Two people – I’m assuming kids – vomited. Neither of them were in our section but you could definitely smell it. I have a habit of going to the loo that’s the furtherest distance away and every time I did, I had to walk though the terrible smell. I felt incredibly sorry for the people in those sections and initially though it didn’t smell so bad in our until we landed and we exited out through premium economy and it smelt a million times better. So no air fresher for the plebs in cattle class I guess.

Getting through customs at LAX was actually quicker than getting through customs in Melbourne. Then it was into a cab and off to our hotel in Santa Monica. We were way too early to check in so we left our bags at the hotel and walked down to the pier. The walk to the pier felt much shorter than the walk back. We both had fully laden back packs and were exhausted from the flight so you can just picture us staggering back up Santa Monica Blvd after lunch. Still, the walk probably wasn’t a bad idea as we stretched our legs and got some fresh air after being cooped up for 14 hours.

Today we rewarded ourselves with a sleep-in (a well deserved one I thought) and did some shopping. I’m now the proud owner of two new pairs of jeans, some Dermatologica mosituriser, cycling gloves, sun sleeves (even though I know I won’t need them for quite a while), two water bottles and some Honey stinger waffles and chews which I knew I shouldn’t buy because they’ll probably be delicious and I won’t be able to get them again. I was sorely tempted by a box of white chocolate and macadamia Clif Bars that were on special but they’re simply too heavy to lug around in my suitcase. I did try to find some toe covers as the ones I bought last year are pretty trashed but it’s the wrong time of year to be looking for them in America. Maybe I’ll have better luck in Seattle.

We’re off to Seattle tomorrow lunchtime. Which reminds me I should do a search for bike shops. I need a new pair of long fingered gloves.

Tuesday – Disney Studio & FlashForward sets

Today was one of those days were if something could go wrong, it pretty much did. The plan was to leave nice and early to have plenty of time to get to the Disney Studios at Burbank so Quinton to take us on a studio tour and show us the sets of FlashForward.

Things started off according to plan. We were out of the house and on our way by 8am. We got caught in a bit of traffic which was to be expected. We were making steady progress when we got caught out a highway closure. It looked like there had been an accident which had been cleared but the road hadn’t been reopened. This meant we got sent off in a different direction that was packed full of traffic.

It started to get closer and closer to our appointed meeting time and we were still a little distance away from where we need to be so Jackie suggested I call Quinton to tell him were were going to be late. That’s when I realised I didn’t have my phone in my pocket. That worried me slightly so I searched my bag the best I could. We pulled off the freeway so I could properly search my bag by tipping the contents all over the seat. No phone! Turns out I’d left it behind on the coffee table. Feeling monumentally stupid, I called Quinton to say we couldn’t make it because we had to go back and get it. It didn’t cross my mind to simply buy another phone until Di called up to say just that. Yup, monumentally stupid – that’s me!

We continued on our way towards Burbank but got tricked by confusing signage and missed our exit. We decided it would be better to turn around and simply drive back towards Burbank and turn off when we thought it was about right and at worse, ask for directions. We eventually made it to the lot, about two hours after we should’ve arrived. LA is such a confusing place to drive, even for those who grew up there.

The studio tour was kept short and sweet. There are some fabulous examples of art deco buildings on the lot but the only one I managed to take a successful photo of was the theatre that they re-did for the first screening of The Princess and the Frog

A tiny snippet of the front doors.

Quinton took us through one of the production buildings that started out life as the animation building. It acts as a small gallery and they had some wonderful pieces of animation art up – background drawing, character development sketches, costume designs and preliminary drawings.

After this, Quinton took us to Stages Two and Four, where FlashForward is shot. I’ve never been on a tv set before and it was pretty cool to see how much work goes into building a set. The cityscapes which look so realistic when they shot inside people’s houses are simply a backdrop. Amazing how good something can look if it’s slightly blurred and not in focus 100%.

They were filming in the hospital set that’s on stage two but we were allowed inside the FBI set that shares the stage. While we were waiting to see if we could go inside, Di snapped this photo of me. Been awhile since someone took one of me that I actually didn’t mind.

The level of detail in the FBI set was incredible. It’s amazing how real and unreal the set looked. It was strange to walk out a door and be outside again. There was a guy getting about in a hospital gown who was a special guest for the episode but I had no idea who he was. Turns out he’s an actor on Battlestar Galactica. So there you go.

After our tour, we had lunch in the commissary. Turns out FlashForward crew had broken for lunch because Jack Davenport (Lloyd Simcoe) and Sonya Walger (Dr. Olivia Benford) wandered past with their lunch. And then as we were leaving, Stan Lee walked pasted. He’s much shorter than I thought he was. Maybe he just seems tall because every time I’ve seen him he projects such a big personality.

Di did a brilliant job of getting me to LAX on time, even with a stop at a Best Buys to get a new cell phone. The flight was packed and when we first got on it was like a sauna. I think the A/C wasn’t working properly because a maintenance guy came on board as I was waiting to get down the aisle.

So, right now I’m lying on Steve’s bed with his cat curled up next to me. I seem to be a cat whisperer. Apparently Steve’s cat hasn’t slept on the bed in ages. Last night, one of Jackie’s and Jake’s cats slept on the bed with me as well. Tomorrow I’m heading into San Francisco. I’m going to check out the Cartoon Art Gallery on Mission St and have a walk around looking for bike shops. Thursday night, Lisa and I are going to see Princess Mononoke.

Monday – visiting with Jackie, Jake and Daniel

I had a great day hanging out with Jackie and Daniel. Jake had to go to work unfortunately. I had a slow start to the day after not being able to get to sleep last night. Stopped by Target to pick up some peanut butter M&Ms where I discovered I had left my wallet behind. At least we were close to home so it wasn’t a hassle to go back and get it. Lunch was In ‘n’ Out. Yum!!!

We then visited Downtown Disney so I could hit the Lego store in the hope of finally getting a Batman keyring to go with my Catwoman one. Sigh. I discovered the Batman line of key rings has been discontinued. So I bought a Darth Vader one instead. My first choice was Boba Fett but I wasn’t surprised when I was told they didn’t have any. I imagine he’s hugely popular.

It’s a Lego store. Of course I took photos.
To scale Darth Vader.

To scale (!!!!) giraffe.

Can’t decide if it’s meant to be a T-Rex or a robot.

An absolutely not to scale Lego Indiana Jones. Loved it!!!

We wandered around a little and I saw the most gorgeous shirt featuring Snow White and the Witch Queen. So I bought it. Never in a million years did I think that a) I’d buy something so obviously Disney and b) it’d be a cream coloured top. But it reminded me so much of James Jean’s covers for Fables I had to buy it. There was a t-shirt version of it but I decided to get the more stylised top. Need to get cream coloured singlet to wear underneath it. I’m not sure the style actually suits me but I’ve decided I don’t care.

The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s the most delicate cream colour with branch detailing all over it.

Close up of Snow White and the Witch Queen.

We ended the day by going to Jake’s parents’ restaurant. His parents do southern style cooking, which means loads of spicy sauces and smoked – or pulled – meat. I had an extremely yummy sandwich with pulled beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and mayo. I’m sure it had something else in it but I can’t remember what. Doesn’t matter, it was delicious. I’m definitely a fan of southern style cooking but I can’t imagine it’s terribly good for you. But aren’t holidays meant to be about indulging yourself to a degree?

And speaking of indulging myself…

My red Sidi bike shoes:

Batgirl tee:

Catwoman tee:

Isn’t the sun always supposed to shine in California?

But it’s raining! Meh. What can you do? It has to rain eventually.

It’s been a very long day. My body clock is totally out of whack right now but I’m hoping it’s better tomorrow. I did get an empty row on the flight which was awesome. So much easier to sleep on a plane when you can lie down. But I paid for my luxury of being able to lie down. The kid behind me fidgeted the whole time except for when he was asleep which wasn’t for very long. A few rows back, there was a toddler whose parents seemed completely incapable of managing her. She was so annoying. Every time the seat belt light came on, she’d start squawking when they tried to belt her in – which she should’ve been in the first place. Still, I have my fingers crossed for another empty row on the way back. Being able to lie down was excellent, even if I couldn’t fully stretch out.

I was pretty pleased with V Australia. The seat did seem a little wider and the food was pretty good. I skipped breakfast this time though. Long haul breakfasts are always so disgusting and this time the smell was enough to persuade me not to eat it. But it seemed to concern the hostie a good deal who asked me twice if I was okay, which I thought was a nice touch. The lunch earlier in the flight more than made up for it though. Cheese and spinach ravioli with a salad and a yummy cake for dessert. They also give out bottles of water that you’re encouraged to refill which is a great idea.

I really liked having a row to myself. I could get up whenever I wanted, stretch out even when I wasn’t lying down. I had three pillows and two blankets. Booyah!

Tail wing of V Australia 777
All I could get was the tail of the plane.

Still getting my butt kicked with the change in time zone. My body is wonder what’s going on. I’m not as nauseous as I was last time but the only sugary thing I had on the plane was the cake with lunch. That seems to have helped. I also drank a lot more water, something Qantas doesn’t seem to encourage at all.

I’m staying with Haley in Pacific Palisades. I’m so lucky I have people in my life who are willing to open up their homes to me. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do trips like this because I wouldn’t be able to afford the accommodation. It’s great to be somewhere that I feel secure and know that I’ll have people looking out for me.

I think I’ve found a bit of Los Angeles I really like. The Palisades and Santa Monica are gorgeous. A trip out to get me a cell phone gave me a chance to have a look around and it’s just lovely. We headed towards Santa Monica pier (yes, the Santa Monica pier) and were going to have a look but it started to rain so we headed back to the car to get out of the weather.

I did manage to get two photos I liked quite a lot.

Ferris wheel at Santa Monica pier
The ferris wheel at Santa Monica pier.

Clouds rolling in
Then I turned around and took this photo. It was meant to be a shot of the clouds rolling in (amazingly quickly) but it ended up being a photo of the fence. But I like it anyway.

Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow and so we can actually go to the pier. It’s been in so many movies so it’ll be cool to see it up close.

Well, here I am…

I’m sitting at the Daily Grill at LAX. Sandy, my waiter was nice enough to mix me up a cherry cola as they don’t have any here. I really shouldn’t be drinking a second one but I figure what the hell? It’s not like I can buy it when I get home. (I could just buy some cherry flavoured syrup and some coke but I bet it doesn’t taste the same.)

Just to prove I wasn’t making things up…

There. A fish being thrown.

It feels strange to be here already. The trip has gone by so quickly. It feels like it should just be starting when it’s over already. So much planning goes into something like this and it’s over in the blink of eye. But I’m so glad I did it. It’s been worth the debt, the hassle, the constant explaining that yes, I’m going back again even though I was just there. It’s worth the aches, pains and bruises (I’ve got a fantastic one on the inside of my left arm). I’ve loved it, every second of it even including the ridiculous amount of time I spent in Barry’s line and I hate queuing. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I think is what traveling overseas should be all about. I’ve had a brilliant time, got to hang out with fabulous people and experienced some more of the world. I’ve expanded my art collection and my horizons.

The best thing is that I got to spend time with some of my favourite people in the world. It makes me wish I wasn’t so far away but I suppose that’s what makes it special. We don’t have the opportunity to get sick of each other. We get together and it’s great. It’s funny, I’m such an anti-social person these days but these guys make me want to get out of my safe little shell. I just know I can trust them and I think that’s a rare thing to find. It doesn’t matter how far apart we all are, they’re my peeps. They’ve expanded my world and I’ll always be grateful to them for that.

Anyhoo…. two final photos before I disappear for a day.

It’s a real, proper snow covered mountain range.

The wing-tip of a Virgin America A320.

Los Angeles to Oakland, Tuesday 31st March

The drive north from Los Angeles to Oakland was simply amazing. I think it took us twice as long as it would’ve if we’d gone the quicker way but it was so worth it. I’m in Lisa’s debt for agreeing to the trip.

The coastline was startlingly beautiful. However, it looked vaguely familiar because there are stands of eucalyptus trees everywhere you look. But the undergrowth is totally different and the leaves on the gum trees are a healthy green instead of the faded khaki they are at home at the moment.

Our first stop was in Ventura for lunch. We headed towards the beach to see what we could find in the way of food and settled on fish and chips eaten whilst sitting on the beach. I’m not sure what made me do it but I decided I should try the cherry coca cola. And I… eerrr… actually quite liked it.

A mermaid painted on the building next to the fish and chips place.

The chick in the shop went a little overboard with the condiments. That’s a lot of sauce for two people and there was more in the bag.

Lisa and I sat on the beach, watching people play in the surf (which must’ve been freezing) and talking. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the beach but you can’t be in California on the coast and not stop there at least once. One thing I did notice is the seagulls are enormous, about twice the size of the ones I’m used to seeing at home. They’re actually quite intimidating.

I probably could’ve gotten a better shot of this if I’d moved closer but I couldn’t be bothered to get up.

Eventually we decided we had to move on but I had time for one more photo…

Just so I remember I have been on a beach in California.

Heading north, the scenery becomes more and more dramatic. I was mid sentence when a mountain loomed up in front of us, filling the entire windscreen and I stopped talking. All I could think was wow and I’m certain I said it several times.

The other thing that really stuck me was how green everything is. There are parts of Victoria that are white now because they’re so dry. It’s been a long time since I’ve been surrounded by so much green.

This is what hills are supposed to look like!

The coastline starting to get more dramatic as we headed further north.

We stopped again at a pier in San Simeon State Park. We were originally going to visit Hearst Castle but they were closing up for the day. So we crossed the highway and walked up the pier instead.

Blue, blue and more blue.

One final photo…

On the road, Highway 101 curving away from us.

Unfortunately this is where the photos stop. The sun was setting into the ocean and that’s what I wanted to shoot. I did try take a few photos but they’re overexposed and if I’m honest, not that good. Plus I think I was a little overwhelmed with how beautiful it really was.

The coastline reminded me a lot of the coastline along the Great Ocean Road. The further north we got, the more dramatic the scenery became. Huge cliffs looming on the right and a sheer drop on the left. It really was incredible. The drive got a bit hairy on occasion as there were loads of sharp corners and the sun was setting making it very hard to see but much kudos to Lisa for managing it.

We stopped for dinner at a tiny place in Big Sur. The sun was setting when we went in and when we came out about half an hour later is was pitch black. My comment to Lisa was that I wouldn’t want to break down as it’s the middle of nowhere and there’s no assistance readily available. It’s such an isolated place. It was hard to reconcile the fact that I was in California. My impressions of the place have always been heavily influenced by what I see on TV and the emphasis is always on Los Angeles. It’s kinda strange to think of this wildness existing in the same state as a city that has huge urban sprawl and awful pollution.

We finally made it to Steve who was waiting for us at CCA. We then made our way to Oakland and he took us on a quick tour of his campus before we parted ways with Lisa. It feels kinda strange to know I probably won’t see Lisa again for over a year. But it was awesome to spend a day with her. She’s a really cool chick and I’m eternally grateful that she allowed me to have this experience.

I’m here!

Right now I’m struggling to stay awake. My laptop says it’s 4pm in Melbourne but it’s 10pm here and I’m so jet-lagged it’s not funny. So this will be quick. Feels like it’s been an eternity since I had a decent night’s sleep.

I knew the A380s were big, I just didn’t realise how big. They’re ginormous! To illustrate the point…

I didn’t even manage to get the whole tail in the photo. What you can see sticking up behind the A380 is the tail of a A320. Obviously there’s a bit of distance between the two planes and the 380 was much closer to me but it still significantly dwarfed the 320.

The flight itself was a little delayed and once we got going, it was rather bumpy. My belly has been grumbling away since the second bout of turbulence even though it didn’t seem to be that bad. It wasn’t anything worse than the bumps I used to experience every day on the train (except when it dipped – that wasn’t so much fun). I actually broke out in a sweat because I felt so nauseous which is really unusual for me. I think I might’ve overdone it on the sugar though and that does funny things to me now. In an effort to avoid the nausea I decided it’d be a good idea to try to get some sleep. I kinda did. I never really managed to get fully asleep but it was better than nothing.

Anyhoo… I arrived in one piece.

I found my way to a cab and made my way to Tim’s house. Tim was out on his front lawn when I finally arrived which made it easy to find the right house. There are so many wonderful pieces of art hanging on his walls. I have to admit that at first all I cared about was the fact I could lie down. Once I was in a safe place I became so tired it was difficult to think straight.

After an hour and a half kip, Tim woke me in time to go to lunch with Quinton, Lisa, Jackie and the adorable Daniel. The company was brilliant and I had a fabulous time. But I couldn’t eat anything. My belly was churning and I ate just two mouthfuls of my fantastic looking tuna melt before I had to stop. One of the wait staff came over to see what was wrong and I felt so bad saying I couldn’t eat it. Any other day I would’ve been shoveling it down with enthusiasm. I should’ve used my brain and asked if they had peppermint tea when we first arrived. But jetlag = brain not working properly.

Lunch with (L-R), Tim, Quinton, Daniel, Jackie, Lisa and me.

After lunch, Tim and I zoomed back to his place (he has a MX5 and he put the top down so I ended up with interesting hair) where he took me on a tour of his house and explained all the art he has. I am so jealous of his Bruce Timm collection – five pieces!

Then came the big moment of seeing his studio. It was crammed full of stuff. I would’ve loved to have poked around but that would’ve been rude. He has so many books it was brilliant. I think I could’ve easily spent a day in there just flicking through the various books.

Proof I was really there…

Tim’s coffee table/workspace in his front room.

Dinner was at the lovely Christina’s place with her two children. That was highly entertaining and the roast chicken she prepared was delicious. I managed to eat much more than I thought I would and it’s helped my stomach settle down. I’m feeling guilty right now because I’m tucked up in her daughter’s bed! How mean am I, kicking a 13 year old out of her room? But it was lovely of Christina to offer to put me up. It’s great to be in places I feel safe in.

That’s enough for today. I’m exhausted and I really need some sleep. Tomorrow is a big day with Lisa. She’s driving me from L.A to Oakland where I’ll be staying with Steve for a few days. I’m super excited about this part of the trip. Road trips are something I should do more of but I never seem to find the time when I’m at home. Well, I’m doing one tomorrow and I think it’s going to be brilliant. I’m sure we’re going to take much longer than it should because I’m going to be constantly asking her to pull over so I can take photos.

And the word is: GAH!!

I missed my flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles.


I ended up at the wrong desk and by the time I got to the right one it was too late, I’d missed the check-in. Guess who totally freaked out and had a mini meltdown? Right when my dad decided to call to see how I was going. A very nice man at another counter talked to me very calmly (I got the distinct impression he’d talked down quite a few passengers) and put me on the next available flight. Which included a two hour stop over at Denver Airport, which I must admit has a pretty spectacular main hall. I deliberately booked direct flights but now I think that was probably a bad idea. At least this way I got to walk around and wasn’t stuck on a plan for five solid hours.

Okay, so it was really my fault for not being more careful when booking my flights and really combing over the fine details but the majority of the people on the counters were so extraordinarily rude to me. I’ve been sick the last few days so my voice is totally screwed and they would’ve heard my accent which would’ve marked me out as an ill foreigner but not one person at the check-in desk helped me. I was really shocked at how rude they were after all the fantastic people I’ve met on my trip.

But then again I must remember what Shadow is told in American Gods: Don’t mess with the check-in staff.

Right now I’m in the relative safety of a hotel room at the Four Points by Sheraton right near LAX. The room rate was pleasantly cheap for a decent hotel and I’ve ordered room service for the first time in my life. I’m gonna lounge around in my jim-jams, eat something when it arrives and try to unwind after what was a fairly traumatic morning. I may even try to get some sleep – operating on about an hour and a half at the moment. However, it’s all part of my dastardly plan to get some sleep on the plane – wait until I’m so totally exhausted I can’t function and lapse into a coma when my butt hits the seat.

But I made it!

The con was brilliant and I have loads of goodies. I blew just about all my money, which was the point wasn’t it? I’ve been writing about my trip on my laptop’s text editor because I didn’t sort out the internet in the room in Baltimore until last night but I decided I’d rather spend my last few hours with my friends than hang out in a hotel room on my own.

Exploring Orange County

We drove around Orange County today looking for comic book shops. There were meant to be four within easy distance but in the end we only found three. MapQuest lead us astray.

The second one we found to was a bit creepy. It’s everything a modern comic shop shouldn’t be. It smelt bad and the people behind the counter were the scary comic book guys I tend to run away from if given a choice. We stayed in there for about five minutes before bailing and moving on.

The final one we went to was Comics Unlimited and it had the rarest of creatures – a chick working behind the counter! I finally bought something – a t-shirt with the yellow elliptical Batman logo and vol. 3 of Runaways (so much cheaper than what I’d pay at home). I’ve got my green Superman t-shirt on and she commented on it so I gave her one of my mini-moo cards. Pity I didn’t have one of my superhero cards – which reminds me I need to find them because I’m sure I put them in my suitcase somewhere.

Tonight I’m flying to Washington. I’m sure there’s a million more things I could’ve done but I’m actually glad I skipped the standard tourist things like Disneyland. The closest I got to it was a visit to downtown Disney for dinner (Cajun food – yum!) and driving past it. The standard tourist fare isn’t something that really appeals to me but I do wish I could’ve managed a visit to Venice Beach. I could’ve gone to MOCA yesterday but it was getting on in the afternoon and we got stuck in traffic as it was. I dread to think what it would’ve been like if we’d left later. Maybe next time.

Today’s photo:


Jackie is a crafty, crafty woman. We went to downtown LA today to go to some comic book shops and have lunch a nice hotel (as you do). We went to Meltdown on Sunset Boulevard which was pretty cool. I spied a Batgirl t-shirt I really liked but they didn’t have it in my size unfortunately.

We were going to go to Golden Apple comics but decided lunch would be a better choice. Jackie took me to The Standard and we settled into a table outside by the pool. We’d ordered and were just chatting when I was surprised by a guy walking in wearing the Joker t-shirt I’ve got on my Bubble folio. That man turned out to be Tim Sale with his lovely girlfriend Christina.


I had no idea and I had a mini fangirl meltdown at the table. (Hi Tim!!) As I recovered, the fangirl part of my brain was kicking the rest of me for finally taking out my copy of The Long Halloween out of my backpack. D’oh!

It was a brilliant lunch and Jackie is a crafty, superb woman 🙂

Today’s photo (which is probably going to be a favourite even though I hate having my photo taken and I should’ve taken my sunglasses off):
tim and me
Tim and I, The Standard Hotel, Sunset Blvd.