“Come and knock on our door.”
Today was the second and last travel day of my trip. By evening I would be back in Las Vegas and hopefully getting to sleep early as the biggest day of the trip was coming up.
Barry Short and I originally were going to go to Santa Monica after spending some time at Knott’s the day before but Jeff Johnson suggested we try going on Sunday as it would be less crowded. This seemed like a better choice so after getting ready, Barry and I hopped into Chris’s SUV and headed to Santa Monica.
As we were getting close to Santa Monica, we passed a large dam or sorts to the right. I have seen this dam in many commercials and movies before. Chris mentioned that he usually sees some sort of filming going on each time he passes it. Today was no exception. It looked like one of those anti-smoking Crazy Town commercials had just finished shooting as we saw the Crazy Town facade up on top of the dam. Look for the commercial soon.
As we reached Santa Monica, we could tell the beach area was pretty busy. It also appeared that parking was going to be a chore, or expensive. After driving around a bit we found an underground parking garage with all day parking for $4. It was fairly close to the beach as well. Within minutes we were looking down over Pacific Coast Highway and Pacific Pier. The West Coaster could be seen as well. That is where we headed.
It is neat walking down the pier from the top of the bridge. Once again, I could recognize the location from many movies. For instance: Do you remember when Forrest Gump stops running and turns around and heads back after a cross country run? That took place right here. The last time I visited the pier was a couple of years ago and I didn’t really notice much in regards to movie locations as I walked onto the pier from a different location.
Barry hadn’t ridden West Coaster yet so we quickly purchased tickets. I decided to sit it out and video tape their ride. I did end up buying a couple of tickets for the Big Wheel though. As I waited for Barry and Chris to ride, I noticed the train on West Coaster looked different than normal. Not only was the train one car shorter than it used to be, but the train looked to be brand new. One ride on the coaster still consists of 2 laps. While this coaster is pretty mild in terms of thrills, I do remember the front seat offering a nice airtime moment as the train popped back into the station. From the look of the shorter train, that pop isn’t as severe as it used to be.
Once Barry and Chris were done riding, we headed over to the Big Wheel and took a ride. The wheel provides a great view of the beach and surrounding area. For those of you that have the first CD from the band Dexter Freebish, you may recognize this view as the picture that is actually on the CD as this is where it was shot at. Our ride on the wheel lasted longer than expected thanks to a loading issue with some guests. Since the ride operator was only loading 4 guests per tub, and a family of 5 wanted to ride together, this brought on a small argument between the family and the operator. The mother ended up riding by herself then all was well.
The next thing we had did was walk all the way down to the far side of the pier and check out the historic photos of what the pier looked like many years ago. There used to be at least one wooden coaster that looked like a racing coaster, but we weren’t totally sure from the old photo we were looking at. Not only does the pier have a lot of vendors all over the place, but there are all kinds of people doing tricks and performing music in their own special way.
Ok. I have to get this out of the way right now or you won’t understand the next part I about to talk about. This may seem strange to some, but I am a huge fan of the show Three’s Company. As a matter of fact, as I type this up, I am taking a break in 20 minutes before posting this so I can watch two back to back episodes on Nick at Nite.
For those familiar with one of the show’s intros, you may remember the cast spending some time at this pier. The closing shot has Jack, Janet, and Chrissy walking back towards Santa Monica from the pier. I knew exactly where this was and wanted to walk it just for the heck of it. If you don’t know what I am talking about, perhaps this photo will give you some sort of idea. I guess this was my version of what Beatles fans want to do when they visit Abbey Road. Oh well, at least I got that out of the way and I don’t expect anyone to understand, well, except for Shaggy.
Once we were done with the pier, Chris took us on a nice walking tour of some of the areas in Santa Monica. The weather was perfect. It was probably 70 degrees and even though my cold wasn’t totally gone just yet, I was feeling great just being in this weather. We stopped in a mall to get a quick bite to eat before moving on down a kind of alley with all kinds of shops and street performers. There was even someone dressed up as Yoda doing some kind of show. The whole area was filled with people who wanted to have a good time. Had Chris not mentioned it to me, I would have never have known this was the location of a horrible accident last year involving someone driving down this closed street at high speeds.
As we continued to walk down the street, we were approached by two guys. One of them had a professional video camera. The other man claimed to be a magician and wanted to show us a card trick. At first we thought he was trying to sell us something but he claimed he wanted to get reaction shots on video for his tricks. The first trick he did was to make it appear that a card had switched in Barry’s hands without him touching it. Yes, we all knew it was slight of hand but it was a nice trick.
The other trick however wasn’t as successful. The magician told Barry to pick a card out of a deck and remember it. Barry was then to put the card back in the deck, which he did as instructed. He then gave Barry the deck and told him to shuffle it good. Barry tried his hardest but he could not satisfy the magician. He then gave the deck to Chris who, once again, didn’t shuffle the way we were “supposed” to. I didn’t even attempt. Barry gave it one more shot but bent the cards slightly. Obviously this trick required us to shuffle cards in a certain way. None of us play cards or can shuffle in a rapid manner so we screwed up the trick. The magician wasn’t happy about this and said some unkind things to Barry and Chris. We all thought this was rude so we left him. Even when we continued to walk away, we could hear a couple of snide remarks from the dude. What a crock that was.
By this time, we were thinking we better start heading back to Chris’s place so Barry and I could continue back to Las Vegas. Once out of the parking garage, Chris starting taking back roads until he could find the Interstate. He turned left onto one back road and it lead directly to the start of I-10. If you look on a map of the U.S., one end of I-10 is in Santa Monica. The other end is clear over in Jacksonville, Florida. The west side of I-10 basically dead ends at the pier so if you ever want easy directions to get to the pier from Florida….=:^)
After we arrived back at Chris’s, he gave us alternative directions on how to get back on I-15 without going through L.A. It took about an hour or so to reach I-15, but his directions paid off as it took a large amount of time out of our drive. Chris is the man! He knows his way around the area and always is there to offer help. I am glad I got to spend a lot of time with him this weekend. To me, he seems more like a “local friend” than someone that is on the other side of the country. Every time we meet up, it’s like we picked up where we last left off, even if it was months ago. Pretty much all my friends in California are like that. What is it with you folks?
We only stopped one time on the way back to Vegas and that was to get some fuel in Barstow. By the time we could see the skyline of Las Vegas, it was dark. We were welcomed into Vegas buy a large yellow moon while listening to Garbage’s Version 2.0.
For the remaining days in Vegas, we stayed at the Tropicana hotel which is located on the south side of the strip. Since we split up our hotel visits, we wanted to try something on the south side. Tropicana might be one of the less flashy and older hotels on the strip, but it’s location near the airport was a big plus, and the fact that it was a lot cheaper than Luxor or NY NY or one of the other hotels in the area. Well, there were cheaper ones, but they were creepy looking.
It only took us 4 hours from the time we left Chris’s place to the time we were in our room. We made excellent time. We took a half hour or so to relax a bit before walking over to New York New York to get something to eat. After we got back to our room we noticed the toilet making a loud sound. It wouldn’t stop and we tried to fix it but it just kept on running while making a loud sound. We ended up keeping the bathroom door closed but we could still hear it. If that wasn’t enough, the bright LED MGM sign was shinning directly through our window. Even with the curtains closed we could see the light through it. In a way I found this to be humorous. The one night I needed to get some quality sleep and there were two things trying to keep me awake. No worries though as I successfully made it through the night without any interruptions
The BIG day, and one of the biggest surprises I have ever gotten.
Thanks for reading,
Santa Monica is very beautiful, as is Pacific Park. I really enjoyed it the one and only time I was there a few years ago.
Can't wait to hear the *height* of your trip! Those photos blew me away.
I believe that's what my mother did when she did a bus tour or the area last year. She qucikly went over and rode the coaster before getting back on the coach. That's cool.
The part you have been waiting for has been posted. =:^)
Anyway, kudos to you. If you're ever in need of a trip buddy, let me know. Especially since I've lost my "Louisville" coaster buddy. :(
A lot of us *do* remember Sean. ;-) lol.
Just let me know when you are in my neck of the woods and I will try and meet up with you. Yea, I promise I will show up this time. LOL.
Are you going to be at Beastbuzz?
Sean Flaharty said:
Had Chris not mentioned it to me, I would have never have known this was the location of a horrible accident last year involving someone driving down this closed street at high speeds.
Woops. I guess I was mistaken. Chris informed me that the area we were walking down wasn't in fact the area of the accident. I guess that was a few streets over.
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