So a couple of weeks ago I flew over to the west coast to join PhD boy on part of his intrepid road trip adventure. This involved flying to Vegas to meet him, going on a day trip to the Grand Canyon, hanging out in Vegas for a night, then driving to LA and meeting up with akawaka and then chronos for food, drinks, and floor mooching.
Overall, this was a pretty rockin’ holiday. Vegas is indeed pretty tacky, but in such an extreme unapologetic way that is has its own bright shiny ridiculous charm. I have to admit that I loved it, though I don’t know if it would be worth spending longer than a couple of days there. Our trip to the Grand Canyon was also pretty fantastic, in large part because it involved helicopters. Everyone loves helicopters.
We left Vegas after a couple of days and headed to LA, stopping along the road at a former copper mine’s ghost town, and a spectacularly redneck gas station with a huge “Ron Paul Revolution” sign 50 feet high. That plus a water fountain outside was pretty much all there was for miles around, they also sold bottled water, various foodstuffs, and saddles. Yes, saddles. Your guess is as good as mine.
We eventually made it to where we were going in LA despite multiple GPS fails. By which I do not mean that the GPS broke in any way, I mean either it failed at telling us exactly where to go, or we failed at asking it. The latter because we were occasionally uncertain about addresses, the former because GPS is only accurate to a range of 10 metres. In Ireland this not a problem, because the concept of having another nearby road when a perfectly good one already exists (and sure we could just stick a roundabout in if there was a traffic problem) would be viewed with skepticism and general distrust, but LA is a finely meshed network of interlaced freeways. Soaring concrete flyovers and bypasses and the dozen looping exits to get from one to another are pretty frequent, and if the GPS is incorrect in identifying which one you are currently on then quite frankly my friend, you be fucked.
This was understandably a source of some frustration for PhD boy, as he was doing all the driving. That’s right, I can’t drive. Yes, I know it’s ridiculous, but you know what else is? Owning a car you don’t fucking need to drive places you should walk or get the train to, and then complaining that the price of petrol is too high and there is nowhere to park. Granted I should learn to drive anyway, believe me, it’s on the list. But so far I have never had even the slightest desire to own a car, or live anywhere where this would be a necessity. So it’s a little far down said list.
In summary, driving in LA could suck a tennis ball through 15 feet of gardenhose, so we tried to do as little of it as possible. After a couple of days of impossibly perfect weather and extremely fun mooching about, it was time for me to go back to new york and PhD boy to continue his journey up to Yosemite, which I was of course deeply jealous of. Being the experienced travel junkie that I am, I did not leave very much of a margin for error in planning our trip to the airport, as it appeared on google maps to be approximately 5 miles away. Flight was at 9.25pm, so I figured if we were driving by 8pm it could not possibly leave me with less than an hour of actually being at the airport time. Now, anyone who knows me has probably experienced my somewhat cavalier attitude toward air travel. For me this actually was a substantial margin. To try and place this in context, ludicrous things I have done at airports in the last 3 years include – but are not limited to, the following:
- Showed up at Gatwick with a boarding pass printed online and no luggage 11 minutes before my flight left.
- Accidentally brought a flick knife to customs at Stansted
- Lost the passport of the person travelling with me in the taxi on the way to the airport
- Lost my own passport the previous day and picked up a new one from Cork the same day I was flying from Shannon
- Forgotten to reset my clock to local time, overslept by an hour, and paid a fortune to get a cab to a ryanair airport an hour and a half outside the city.
On each one of these occasions, I have still gotten the flight in question. As a friend of mine said the other day “I will stop doing things at the last minute just as soon as the universe demonstrates to me that they will not work out”. I have to admit though, that even by my standards my trip back to NY was pretty spectacular.
To be continued….