Well Hi There Tout le monde
…from New Zealand no less!
Yep I made it through the twilight zone and the lumpy bumpy clouds for which lasted about half a dark hour of doom but now amazingly enough, despite missing a day, here I am in a clean, friendly but somewhat drab Motel in a town called Hamilton, North Island, New Zealand.
My last day in the States peaked when after a long drive from Santa Barbara (mainly because of post 4Th July traffic) I found myself facing a young larger than life black woman in lime green velour 'easies' shouting at me 'You dumb ass bitch!' as she crossed the road with her little ones. It slowly dawned on me that I was driving the wrong way down this thin back street in the very busy, slightly dodgy Venice beach area, LA. And, coming in the opposite direction, a low slung black limousine with four diamante clad gangster types, elbows sticking out of all four windows. I just kept on going, couldn't turn back, waved like a right wally at the woman and constantly mouthing in an over smiley manner 'Sorry sorry!' until I got to the end where the limo of dudes kindly backed up and smiled at me with sparkly teeth, as I flapped past, window open ' SORRY SORRY I'm ENGLISH SORRY!' They just grinned and I felt like a misplaced and slightly pathetic Hugh Grant in the Godfather.
Anyway, they didn't shoot me.
I was doing so well driving and navigating my way round LA. It has to be said, even though I say it myself, I have to, there's no bloody one else around to bloody say it, that I am exceptionally good at map reading. So I will give myself a pat on the back for that if you don't mind. But then there's those odd occasions that you get given CRAP MAPS. I might start collecting them.
CRAP MAPS are usually the type of maps where things have been simplified down for a variety of reasons which, like these maps, I still haven't quite worked out. But, from what I can tell their aim is to make it look easier than it actually is to find a place .... or to give the impression that somewhere is nearer than it actually is. They are often done in a style as to look ' hand drawn' and a bit quirky. I wont go into detail but one of the things I least liked about Santa Barbara,was its CRAP MAP and here I was faced with another sort, the amateur graphic designers budget map.... a different league.
Anyway, the time came when I had to put my Lonely planet map down and read the minimal 'man map' that Stevie 'Yeah Yeah its easy to find yeah" Weevie had given to me in San Fran. I managed to find completely the wrong car hire place because of course 'SUPER CHEAP CARS' is the smallest company in America and has a portaloo for an office in a random road … no where near any of the other rental businesses. They have obviously had a Bat design the 5cm map with which you are meant to navigate your way through LA and into some airport suburb, arriving at the clearly illustrated blue star drifting in the middle of a three road printed glossy Super Cheap Cars map.
In the end, I surrendered and decided to approach a yellow cabbie driver who was having a nap under a newspaper. I asked if he would help me out. I only had 15 dollars cash left and a book on California. He agreed to the challenge and switched on his navigation thingy so I could follow him for the last leg of my journey West side.
EVEN his sat nav thing couldn't find it and twice we ended up in "Exotica - the topless ladies dancing bar' car park and I thought .. 'Eh Up, my embroidery career is over….'
Eventually we made it and I quickly grabbed all my stuff (all but my darling Mr Blanket's compilation CD which remains in the CD player :( ) …. and he drove me to T4, 4 hours early for my NZ flight. So the next thing I knew I had checked in on Q26 and was sitting at the airport bar having my last West side Beer.
Lou Stateside x