L.A Day 2 and coming home

L.A Day 2 and coming home Flickr Album

Route 66 travelogue #14

Los Angeles Day 2 and coming home.

Or “And now, the End is near!”

The morning of day 2 saw Mick and I rise around 8, nip across the street to hire a couple of bikes and go for a pedal up Santa Monica Boulevard.

There’s a cycle lane that runs right along the coast and rather than a long straight line, it twists and turns around beach attractions, grassy areas and bits of sand. 

This is an iconic stretch of beach and on such a gorgeous morning I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing. We rode from the pier up the beach path far as the path would take us, cycled the wrong way up a one way street for a while to try and pick it up again but we’d run out of path so we headed back. 

This is one part of the trip which is exactly how I’d imagined it, the most eclectic group of people I’ve ever seen in one place, aged from 18 to 80, all out commuting, cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding, walking, power walking, dog walking, running, some doing yoga and tai chi on the grass while others sat cross legged deep in their own inner peace. Dressed in everything from suits to spandex. It was awesome! I could have ventured out in leopard print spandex pants, a mink coat and a cowboy hat and no one would have batted an eyelid! In one single moment it struck me what a conservative, backward little corner of the world we live in. 

Riding back down the beach we stopped at a couple of notable places, the first being muscle beach gym. This place is legendary and though I’m sure some chunky chaps work out there still, this early in the morning it was deserted. There’s a ring of plaques around the outside wall of the gym so I snapped some shots of these plaques and headed off. There’s a large area of free equipment like parallel bars and rings but the gym itself is around $50 a week to train there. 

Moving on we headed for the skate park, this undulating collection of bowls, rails and ramps is free to all but has a strict set of rules and a couple of government park workers were policing the place, picking up litter and keeping order. An ex skater, I watched enviously as those kids effortlessly rolled freely around the bowls with grace and ease, slaloming around the berms and curves like they were born on wheels. I would have asked for a go but there’s a strange shift in the way gravity affects those over 30,  instead of bouncing back up off the ground when you fall, you hit it like a sack of manure and given that I haven’t skated in a while I thought spectating would do just fine.

The ride back was full of colours as we passed a long wall of graffiti. The wall seemed to have no other purpose but to be painted over and someone had done just that. Palm trees and some other concrete structures had also been painted but it felt more decorative than destructive. 

Following the path down beneath the pier we rode into the dark tunnel and through to the other side. There’s an amazing dank aroma down there, sea salt, must and creosote from the wooden pillars that provide the foundation for the boards above. The few seconds rolling through that cool, dark tunnel were really pleasant, just enough time for eyes to adjust from the sun and then you emerge, back into the light, slightly dazzled but only momentarily. 

Turning back after another mile or so we climbed up the steep hill to the main road and headed back to drop the bikes off and get breakfast at my new favourite place.

I tried a different drink today, one called the hangover which had a pineapple juice base and was delicious. The food was an echo of the previous morning.

Those of you who know me may know that I’m partial to podcasts.

Podcasts (for those who aren’t aware) are an interesting way of listening to your favourite social commentator (celeb, comedian, musician, etc) in an unedited, free conversation environment. There’s no obligation to advertise unless they choose to and because there’s no network involved the subject matter, language and everything is completely uncensored. They are free, readily available online and I listen to them instead of radio. My favourites include, Otis Gibbs, Bill Burr, Joey Diaz, Duncan Trussell, Dan Carlin, Doug Stanhope and my favourite, Joe Rogan.

Rogan is a stand up comedian as well as doing the commentary for the UFC and is probably my favourite living comic (along with Stanhope).

Listening to these guys inspired me to start my own guitar/music tuition podcast (available on iTunes, shameless plug).

LA is the Mecca for podcasts, all but 2 of my faves are based in LA and I know that occasionally they do live shows so after a quick web search the previous evening I found that Rogan was doing a comedy gig with another 4 comedians that night at the Pasadena Ice House, a legendary comedy venue. It was about 40 minutes away and the lads were up for it so I got us tickets for the 10pm show. 

After a day of packing, picking up last minute postcards and souvenirs we got ready and headed out for the evening, leaving a good couple of hours early we should have plenty of time for some food and traffic.

This turned out to be just as well as there was a Dodgers baseball game on (boys rounders with padding and hats!) and the traffic was slow. We still managed to arrive an hour early for the show and get a table at a little restaurant around the corner (Bistro 45). The food was good, I almost had the sea bass but was all fished out so I had a pizza instead which was tasty.

A couple of beers later we headed up the road to the Icehouse. 

Americans sure know how to manage a venue and put a great show on!

On the tickets it says 2 drink minimum which means the tickets are cheap ($15) but you have to buy 2 drinks from the menu. 

The waitress comes and takes your order for both drinks and brings you one at the start of the show and one half way through. Orders are taken in a whispered voice while the first comic is on and the drinks arrive silently as though delivered by a ninja. 

I ordered a corona and an Irish coffee which turned up on cue, Mike managed to order the 2 campest looking non alcoholic drinks on the menu (and possibly in the universe!) which provided as many laughs as the first comedian did. 

The first four comics were great, all doing 10 or 15 minutes each. One of them was Brian Redban, Rogan’s podcast producer.  The venue was the smallest room in the club which seats 80 people max. We were on the second row with a great view. 

There’s no interval and each comedian introduces the next as the show flows onwards and after an hour it was time for the main event.

Joe took to the stage and blasted through a comedy set of well over an hour which was so natural it’s like listening to a conversation with a friend. I was doubled up laughing at a couple of points (I do get carried away at comedy gigs). At the end of the show he took some questions and when everyone was finished he wrapped the show up to rapturous applause. What an absolute pro! Mike and Mick were sold which was a relief as they’d opted to spend their last night in the US doing “my thing” and I really wanted them to have a good night, and they did! 

Drinks paid for and show over we headed out into the lobby where Mr Rogan was sat chatting to a fan so after giving him a minute to ask a couple more questions we steam rollered in and I got to be a complete fanboy for 10 minutes while he talked with us, was genuinely interested in our road trip and was a complete gentleman!

Bidding us a safe journey home after posing for some pictures, we headed back to the car and to be honest I sat in the back like miss daisy, completely buzzing my bonce off!

This was the perfect way to end the the trip on a high and I was beaming!

The next morning we went once more to True Food Kitchen for a final LA breakfast me choosing celebratory quinoa and blueberry pancakes, they were awesome, instant 10/10! After breakfast we finished packing, cleared the room, checked out, posted my postcards and headed for the Airport. 

LA is the only place on this trip (with the possible exception of Santa Fe) that has felt like home, i could live there in a heartbeat. 

I don’t know what it is but despite the terrible traffic the place has a chilled out feel, like you can be you, whatever you’re like and that’s ok with us. I like that nonjudgmental attitude towards personal freedom which my own country seems to be completely ignorant of. I’m not sure if i was just down about leaving the US or if it was LA specifically but i was a little sad about leaving, the same way i get when i’m leaving my Mums in Ireland which is about the best complement i could give LA, i can’t help but feel i will return here someday!

We still had the issue of what to do with our guitar, we had initially planned on giving it to a homeless guy but the problem is, in LA the line between homeless and just eccentric is quite blurry so we weren’t quite sure which was which.

In the end we gave it to a chap called Franklin who works for Alamo car rental when we dropped the car off and he was super happy about it. A $100 guitar is not a bad tip!

Sitting on the plane home it’s hard to believe it’s all over.

The best part about the trip without doubt has been the company and I’m sure this won’t be the last operation for the regiment;

Mike Barker – Commander & DJ

Mick Kiernan – Recon & Bursar (after vegas, you’re in charge of the money dude!)

John W Doyle – Documenter, ballast and wearer of hats.

I think a special mention should got to our trusty steed for this adventure, The GMC Acadia never faltered, even through the off road trail section of the route or the deluge in Colorado with torrents streaming off the windows and rivers of silt beneath its wheels, it stood firm and didn’t give any ground!

So, would i recommend Route 66? Hell Yes!

I’ll post links to everywhere we went, stayed and would recommend in a final Epilogue and i’ll stick all of these travelogues on my website along with the tour company we used. 

Writing these travleogues has been an absolute joy for me, thank you all so much for your support and nice comments.

Rest assured that though you weren’t there in body, you were there in my head on the route while i was looking out across the Grand Canyon, peering over the Hoover Dam, laughing like a madman at the Icehouse or fending off pimps in Vegas and thinking “How the hell am i going to describe this!”

I’m not sure what, where or when the next adventure will be but this is definitely not the end for my writing, i will keep you posted as always and to quote California’s old Governor;

“I’ll be back!”

Thanks for coming along for the ride  🙂

John W Doyle x