03.10.2014 - 06.10.2014 40 °C
Finished, at least with the first part of the journey. I returned the rental car with 16835 miles on the counter, which read 13457 when I picked it up 3 weeks ago in Seattle. That totals to 3378 miles (5437 km) I drove during that period, and I'm pretty sure those guys in the rental company are scratching their heads right now... I just hope they don't put me on the black list, considering the way I abused their 'unlimited miles' clause. Oh well. I already mentioned how exhausting, yet rewarding, the drive has been - but in the end I'm really glad I won't see the driving wheel in front of me, at least not for a while now.
Actually that last ride from Las Vegas to Los Angeles was a very pleasant one, just gliding down the road directly into the sunset:
As the recent events have shifted my schedule, it turned out I have only 3 days left to spend in L.A. instead of the 4 or 5 originally planned. And to make matters even worse, the traffic in L.A. is just what I have been warned of: terrible. Any attempt to go from point A to point B, even when they are just a few miles apart, ends in a traffic jam. Add to that the fact the city was nothing short of a FURNACE the entire time I was there, burning with 35-40 degrees Celsius (and why, oh why, have they rented me a car that is painted BLACK, of all the possible colors?), and you get some real frustration going on all the time.
Friday was OK, I met with my friend Susan who handed me my missing ipad which she had received a few days earlier, gave me a nice short tour of some L.A. Twin Peaks sites (and oh by the way, if you haven't heard yet: Twin Peaks is coming back to TV with new episodes!), and after we parted I drove down to Malibu, also Santa Monica and finally took a nice night ride on Mulholland Drive before getting back to the hotel.
But it was Saturday which was especially frustrating, something you could call a 'major fail'. First I went to Pasadena to see NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), something I've dreamed of visiting ever since I was a kid. Back then I was enamoured by all those photographs of planets, star clusters, nebulaes etc. in encyclopedias, and they all had this small print beneath which read: "Courtesy of JPL". Later I found out what JPL means and now I know they are giving public tours of the site at Pasadena which is, according to google, 40 minutes away from where I was staying in L.A. Of course, 40 minutes estimate had easily doubled considering L.A. traffic, but that wasn't the worst part: it was the fact that JPL site is closed on weekends. Ouch! There it goes again, my lack of preparation causing some great experiences to be missed. But this was just the beginning of a frustration that day. After driving back to L.A. I decided to check out two sites in downtown which were used for filming some prominent scenes in Blade Runner, one of my all time favorite movies. The first one was Union Station, a train station transformed to a huge and peculiar police headquarters for the movie purposes. After spending some more time just trying to find a place to park the car (and finally settling for a paid slot), I got into the Station only to realize the part of it used in the movie was closed off for that day, due to a PRIVATE PARTY. Yes, that's right, somebody had decided to have a private party at a TRAIN STATION, and it just happened to be this train station on this very day I came to check it out (after flying half of the world, driving 5500km to LA and then crawling my way through the crowded downtown).
Where is my Alanis Morissette CD now?
Okay but that still isn't the end of this day! I was now in downtown and not far away from another historical artifact - the Bradbury building.
Now, this building has some interesting history behind it as well (including the funny but well known fact that the architect refused the job at first, but later accepted it after consulting an Ouija board and supposedly received a message from his dead brother urging him to accept this job which will make him famous), but for me the most interesting part was that the design was inspired by a SF book (from 1887, describing the utopian society in the future year of 2000), and that it was used by Ridley Scott so famously and memorably in the Blade Runner. And guess what: when I arrived it simply said "closed after 5 PM". Grrrr...
So the day was a disaster at this point, it was already evening, I haven't done anything, and it was due time to meet my friends Susan and David for a dinner. Thankfully, they took me to a really nice place with some great food and a great rural-rustic setting, we had a great time and that saved the day from becoming a complete failure.
Instead of exploring some other things the next day, I returned downtown and managed to get inside the Bradbury building and the Union Station, but I wasn't able to go through the nearby 2nd street tunnel (also a Blade Runner filming site) - they closed it off for some kind of a bicycle run...which kind of continuted my streak of bad luck, but I wasn't frustrated any more: already got used to it. Took a ride through Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills to experience all the glamour concentrated there, and then went on to see the famous Ennis house. Ennis house also has some really interesting history. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a well known architect (who designed more than a thousand structures and was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time"). He believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.
This particular building he had designed based on ancient Mayan temples (prominent detail being the relief ornamentation on its textile blocks, inspired by Mayan buildings in Uxmal).
For me though, the most interesting thing about this building was that it was used by both Ridley Scott (in the Blade Runner) AND David Lynch (as a setting of a series within the Twin Peaks series), so it was a must see. Surely enough, other people were already there taking pictures of this strange building, and others were coming as I was leaving.
In the evening I tried my luck again with the 2nd street tunnel (successfully this time) and then hurried to meet Josh Eisenstadt, the man who knows everything David Lynch related, who I have met 10 years ago on the Twin Peaks festival (and witnessed his encyclopedical knowledge firsthand). Josh spent years and years in deep research of Lynch work. Josh is the man who says to David Lynch "you just blew my mind" (after FWWM deleted scenes premiere), and to whom Lynch responds with "coming from you, Josh, that means a lot!". And Josh is the man I spent the last few waking hours in Los Angeles chatting with, thus perfectly closing the Snoqualmie-L.A. circle.
Fairly exhausted but deeply satisfied, I embark on the long trip to Lima, Peru the next morning...