America 2016: Day Seventeen (11 June)

Over there all the woman wear silk and satin to their knees
And children dear, the sweets, I hear, are growing on the trees
Gold comes rushing out the rivers straight into your hands
When you make your home in the American Land

There’s diamonds in the sidewalk, the gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There’s treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American Land

– Bruce Springsteen
Saturday 11 June
Strangely, it rained in Los Angeles today. That’s a very rare occurrence and it unfortunately wrecked our plans for the day – cycling along the trail between Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. Instead, we went to the movies to finally see the new Captain America film, which was as good as advertised. Amazing that we paid $6.99 cash for the ticket, when movies back home cost at least twice that. Sensational value for money.
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After the movie, Nathan and I continued our tradition of having a meal at Bubba Gump’s on Santa Monica Pier before heading to the airport. The restaurant, with more Forrest Gump references than you can poke a stick at, makes really good seafood dishes – I had prawns with capers and linguini – and we both enjoyed the Bubba Gump trademark alcoholic beverage, the Coronarita: a margarita with a mini Corona on top. Amazing.
Perhaps the best thing about the restaurant is it’s location – right on the beach. The views of the southern California coastline are spectacular. I only wish the sun had been out. We definitely picked the right day to go out hiking. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun today as it was yesterday, and the views wouldn’t have been as spectacular, either.
Right now, I’m sitting at the departure gate inside LAX International Airport taking stock of an amazing two weeks in America. Every time I come here, it seems to be a better trip than the one before. That’s mostly because of the people I know here, who always make visiting so awesome and because I get to do it with one of my best mates – thanks, Nathan, you’re a legend – so, obviously, going home isn’t the most fun thing I can think of doing right at this moment.
These two weeks – seventeen days, to be exact – have felt much longer, but in the best possible way. We’ve seen so much, done so much and seen so many great people. The Indianapolis 500 was better than I thought it would be, and that’s really saying something, because I had very high expectations for the one hundredth running of the greatest race in the world. The event was spectacular in every way, and exceeded my expectations by the length of…well, the front straight at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And then a little bit more. There aren’t enough adjectives.
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Snap Chat shenanigans whilst waiting to board!
On that hot and sunny Sunday in Indy, we witnessed history – twice. The one hundredth running was a slice of American and motorsport history and seeing an American win the race in such unlikely circumstances topped off the day. I’d always known the Indy 500 was big, but big is just the beginning. It’s an immense event that I’ll never forget. We were the fifty seventh largest city in America during the race, an insane statistic, really.
And Chicago. What to say about that place? Fast becoming my favourite city in America and perhaps second-only to Sydney anywhere in the world. That’s mostly thanks to the people, of course. Jaimie and Matt looked after us so well at their place and we got to hang with so many awesome friends. That’s what makes it so much fun, and what makes me come back time and time again. So, thanks to the Alley’s and Longhini’s, Weller’s, Rovik’s and Donahue’s for being so welcoming.
America, it’s always a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Until next time…

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