Back at the start of October I was invited by an old friend of mine to do a road trip around California to top off the time he had spent in Whistler, Canada for the previous 4 months before he came home to the UK. The timing was perfect as I would be in Las Vegas a week before the release of Fallout New Vegas and get back just in time for the launch of the game and New Vegas Nexus.
We hired a convertible 2010 Mustang from LAX airport and set off to do as much as possible, not staying anywhere for too long. Through our 2,500 mile trip around California we hit most of the sights California had to offer including taking a stroll down the walk of fame in Hollywood, a cycle ride on Long and Venice Beach, strolling the pier at Santa Barbara, quad biking in the 1,500 acres of sand dunes at Pismo Beach, cruising the entire Pacific Coast Highway roof-down at night, standing on the Golden Gate bridge and cruising up the Pacific Heights of San Francisco, travelling the circumference of Lake Tahoe, driving through a snow-covered negative 15 degrees Yosemite National Park and then through a 38 degrees Furnace Creek in Death Valley, hitting up the casinos and The Strip in Las Vegas, visiting the Marina and Sea World in San Diego and cruising through all the rich houses of Orange County. It was time very well spent.
I'm an admirer of American geography and having visited America many times in my life normally in the North East; Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York State and Vermont I relished the opportunity to visit the south-west where so much of the pop culture music (Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold, AFI, Deftones, Finch, Incubus, Lit, Machine Head, Saosin, Sugarcult, Tool, etc.) and TV shows (The O.C., Baywatch, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Saved By The Bell, etc.) I was brought up on herald from.
According to the US State Department 68 million Americans have a passport, around 22% of the population. Many Brits think that's very low but if you've actually been to American you might understand why. They have every nationality imaginable mixed with every type of environment possible and California itself is like an entire continent in microcosm; snow capped mountains, water starved deserts and everything in-between; why would you want to leave your own country if it has practically everything within it? The only thing America lacks is history ... and that's just a matter of time (lawl).
I love Las Vegas; I'm not a massive gambler, far from it, but I go there with a set amount I'm willing to gamble and lose and never go over that amount. The time I was there before last I actually won enough to pay for my holiday. No such luck this time! I'm a big fan of the Roulette table and will often gamble away my winnings from the Blackjack table with an "all-on-red" gamble. It's an invigorating place that has an aura of power and want-on waste about it; I find it empowering but I understand why others skulk away from it or find it insulting. If England had a city where all the alcohol was free, where you could take your free drink out of one building and walk the streets with it and enter other buildings with the drink and get your drink topped up the city would not last more than a night. It'd be burnt to the ground by drunken idiots.
Not winning anything in Vegas I had to make my money back. Clothes shopping in America is a great way to do this; everything is between 10% and 100% cheaper than the exact same clothes in the UK. The savings alone I made on clothing purchases actually paid for my plane ticket there and back. And don't get me started on the price of petrol (or gas). I was told Californian oil would be expensive. Hah. $40 (£25) to fill up the Mustang. About $3.40 for an American gallon, which is 3.79 litres. In the UK we pay about £1.20 for a litre of petrol, 3.79 x £1.20 = £4.54 for an American gallon, or $7, so even Californian oil is half the price of British oil. What are all you people across the pond complaining about!? And once we crossed the state line in to Arizona that price dropped to $2.90 a gallon. Damn you all. I think it's time the queen took her country back...
It was a brilliant holiday with a great chance to top up the tans I'd received in Spain and Greece earlier on in the summer before the great British Winter that lasts from the 1st of August to the 31st of July. I'll definitely be visiting Cali again, but maybe I'll get the yellow Corvette Z06 next time..!
Here come the obligatory holiday snaps...