America 2016: Day Sixteen (10 June)

he stood there bright as the sun on that California coast
He was a Midwestern boy on his own
She looked at him with those soft eyes, so innocent and blue
He knew right then he was too far from home He was too far from home

She took his hand and she led him along that golden beach
They watched the waves tumble over the sand
They drove for miles and miles
up those twisting turning roads
Higher and higher and higher they climbed

– Bob Seger
Friday 10 June
Final full day in America. Woke up at 8:30am feeling only a little dusty after last night’s beers and cocktail with Nate. It was a cloudy start to the morning in Los Angeles. We ate breakfast at the Denny’s Diner adjacent the hotel, then headed over to Culver City, to the Westfield – yes, they’re over here, too – mall there so I could buy the new Frankie Ballard album, El Rio. Played it in the car on the way from Culver City to the campus of the University of Southern California. Every single track is brilliant. The guy from Battle Creek, Michigan, is on a major winner.
Those who know me well know I’m a big fan of college football, and especially the University of Southern California Trojans. It was great to wander the campus today, see some of the athletic facilities and stop at the book shop, where you can buy every imaginable item with the Trojans logo on it. Bought a few things, and wandered about some more. Very impressive place. Lots of open parkland and beautiful buildings. Plenty of Los Angeles history on those grounds, too.
After USC, we drove into Hollywood and through the streets to where the walking trail to the Hollywood sign began. You wouldn’t want to tackle this one if you’re out of shape. You start with a very steep uphill, and the rest of the trail, whilst less steep than the start, definitely tracks upward. In the end, you’re maybe a hundred or so yards below the famous Hollywood sign, and the views back across Los Angeles are amazing.
The sun came out at the right time, and made the vista even more impressive. The views from the top end of the trail made the hot hike – it took us about 45 minutes up and half an hour back – really worthwhile. Probably a journey best made early summer or else in the winter or fall. I can’t imagine how hot it would be in the middle of July or August.

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Back to the car, and out to Anaheim. Man alive, was the traffic bad. Twenty four miles in two hours. A slow, slow crawl. Lucky the music and company was good. Oh, and Mrs Knott’s Chicken Dinner at Knott’s Berry Farm was also good. That’s the reason we trekked out there, and it was worthwhile: chicken soup to start, then the main meal of fried chicken, potato, corn and a side salad, along with a big slice of apple pie for dessert. Insanely large helpings. I was absolutely stuffed by the end.

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Thankfully, the traffic back into Los Angeles was much more agreeable. It was a novel thing to be driving at more than twenty miles an hour. Awkwardly rolled up to the hotel to find that, for some unknown reason, both our key cards weren’t working. Had to go back to the front desk to get them reset.
Watched Gerard Butler in London Has Fallen on TV once we were inside. Nathan hadn’t seen it yet, and I love it, so happy days. TV was showing a real live police chase on the interstate when we tuned in after the movie. Strangely compelling stuff!
Tomorrow – Santa Monica Pier and more. And then, a flight home to Sydney.

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