30 April 2012

Not all fun and games

So, I haven't mentioned this on the blog yet, but I'm pretty injured at the moment. Hurt my ankle. Don't ask me how, there isn't really an answer, I think my body just doesn't want to be here.

As a result of the injury this entire past week, since I have been back in Los Angeles after my week in San Diego, I have literally done nothing besides sit around the hostel in an effort to rest up as much as possible. At first I dreaded being so confined on holidays, but then I realized; all those fun projects that I've always wanted to work on but never had the time to do at home? I now have unlimited time to spend on them! It was actually the most productive I have been in years ha.

After a week of rest my injury still wasn't healed as much as I would of liked so it was time to see a doctor. I couldn't figure out how health insurance works so the best I could think to do was to see a free medical clinic (thus not requiring insurance). After receiving directions from staff I limp outside to start my quest by bus... to find the greyest of skies and the heaviest of rains. Sigh... Los Angeles is sunny 95% of the year apparently, I guess this wasn't one of those days. Fine, I'll roll with it.

Little did I know that today was to hold one of those moments that are just so utterly depressing and pathetic that all there is left to do is laugh. And let me tell you, it was an absolutely hilarious day.

After about 30 minutes of sitting on the bus I figured I'd gone way too far. This was partly due to my lack of listening skills when receiving the directions, but equally due to the fact that it was nice and warm in the bus and outside was a raging storm. Eventually I sucked it up, got out, and caught a bus back the way I had come, eventually finding the correct street then catching yet another bus I needed. I sat on this bus long enough to be the last person on it. The bus driver appeared concerned "What stop are you after?"

"Umm... La Cena... La Cien... something... La Senorita..?"

"Ah, La Cienega. That's my last stop" It's at that moment the sky lights up and heavy thunder rolls past, the rain doubling in intensity... almost as if it knows I am about to get off the bus. "Ooh, I wouldn't want to be out in this storm if I were you" he says in a far too jolly tone for my liking.

"Thanks mate..." I drone out in reply.

We arrive at the stop, I pull my hood down tighter and jump out into the rain, hobbling straight over to some shelter at a nearby building, my ankle killing me. The skies were dark and the thunder loud, cars zooming down what look more like raging rivers than roads. I decide to give up on waiting for the rain to stop and start my 2 block walk to the clinic, a fresh round of thunder cracks over head and I look to the sky to admire its beauty... just as a wave of water from a passing car engulfs me, drenching my shorts. Cool. (and yes... shorts... I don't know why I'm wearing them either).

And that's when it hits me, the extent of my situation.

I'm in Hollywood, completely alone, every step consisting of pure agony as I hobble along the streets at an excruciatingly slow pace, drenched to the bone, freezing, surrounded by the greyest of skies in the moodiest of days and the chilliest of rains, trying to find a clinic I'm not even entirely sure of its location. And as I stood on the unrelenting side walk I just had to ask myself "How did I end up here?"

This wasn't quite what I envisioned when I dreamed of this trip a year ago...

I thought about all the events that had led me here, it really seemed like all of this could have been avoided so easily, yet somehow everything fell together so perfectly and here I am. I've been in situations like this before, although this was by far was one of the worst in recent memory. Despite my bleak situation however I wasn't angry, or sad (well, I was, but not that much)... because this truly was a typical 'Aaron moment'. I knew I couldn't have been in a worst situation even if I had planned it.

So I came to the conclusion that there was only one thing left to do... a smile broke out, and I laughed my absolute head off. For like, a good 5 minutes, I just couldn't stop chuckling. It was so surreal, to be laughing in the face of such misery, but I couldn't help it, it was too strange of a situation and place to be!

And yes I am quite aware that there is a very fine line between 'staying positive' and 'clinically insane'... that line was pretty blurred by this stage.

So with a smile on my face I continued to hobble down the street in pain and the pouring rain. After another 10 minutes however, finally hope was near for I could actually see the clinic just on the other side of the road. Through a curtain of torrential rain mind you, but I could see it nonetheless. 2 hours of travel and I've made it! I eagerly wait for the lights to change to cross the road...

3... 2... 1... They change, it's so close!

I'm still laughing as I cross the road, a mixture of relief and anticipation swelling within as I look forward to being able rest my ankle and enjoy the warmth of the clin... oh, hang on... what's this? There appears to be a river of water flowing along the roads' curb, 2 meters wide and 25 centimeters deep, completely blocking my path...

I am literally stuck in the middle of the road unable to get to the footpath.

I walk along the road trying to find somewhere I can cross... I can't see any. I crack up laughing again, suddenly figuring that the day has been insane enough that what's a little more insanity going to hurt? My solution? I decide to simply walk right through the river, the water easily rising above my ankles, completely submerging my already freezing shoes and socks to the core. Awesome!

With my water logged shoes that now feel like squishy bricks I flip-flop up the steps and enter the clinic, immediately drawing looks from the waiting patients as I walk up to the reception desk with a very noticeable 'squelch, squelch' sound on the tiled floor, leaving huge puddles in my wake. I ask to see a doctor.

She gives me a look over before answering.

"Sorry sir, but we are completely booked and understaffed today and are not taking any walk-ins under any circumstances"

Sounds about right. I ponder this for a moment, smile, and have only one thing to say to her:

"Can I use your phone to call a taxi please?"

27 April 2012

San Diego rocks

Carrying on from the epicness that was 2 days at Bolboa Park, today Tim and I hired some bikes and rode our way to a museum that is stationed on an actual retired US Aircraft Carrier. Or in other words, the aircraft carrier is the museum. This was definitely a first for me.

And guys, riding bikes! I can not recommend or praise highly enough how much fun and better hiring bikes to explore a new destination is. The freedom is just so awesome, not to mention the fun of dodging traffic and figuring out the laws of a new country on the fly ha! Anyway we soon arrive at the aircraft carrier... it was pretty impressive from the outside to say the least.

And now you get to walk inside and on top, pretty cool.

Tim and I got separated pretty early on, which is no big deal as this happened frequently during our Balboa Park visit yet we somehow always managed to find each other at the perfect time to leave, so I was confident that that would happen again.

Two hours of waiting later however and Tim was still no where to be found. Not happy.

Travel Buddy growing very agitated as we wait for Tim
I kept myself busy by reading the 2nd book of The Hunger Games series (which is pretty epic). Eventually Tim re-appears (he thought I was still on the ship for the last hour), so we continue to bike ride along the waterfront, seeing some awesome sights and experiencing some really great and vibrant atmospheres along. Most of it was one long stretch of markets, restaurants and performers, a very cool place to be.


Found this thing. No idea what it is for but it looks cool.

Riding around San Diego I would say is definitely a key highlight of the trip thus far, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Alas it was getting late, time to head back to the hostel.

Oh yeah, and I'm an idiot. Yes I know everyone will agree with that statement.

So I was originally meant to head back to L.A today (Friday) but with Lewis around until Wednesday next week, and with becoming such good friends with Tim, I've decided to stay in San Diego until Monday. All well and good... but I'd hesitate a guess and say that letting the hostel in on this change of plans would be a rather crucial step in the success of this idea, wouldn't you agree? So yeah... arrived back at the hostel Friday afternoon... key card to enter the front door wouldn't work. Sigh... what's wrong now? Stupid hostel. The guy buzzes me in, I get to the front counter.

"Oh, Aaron yeah? Yeah... you were meant to check out this morning. All your stuff has been put in a garbage bag and stored in our storage room, and you've lost your deposit."

Ah... I see. Forgot to tell them I am planning to stay longer ha...

All good though because as my luck would have it they had a spare bed for the next few nights, and I am now in Lewis' room, sweet!

Just my charm I guess.

Anyways so, back to L.A next week now. And really, that's the true beauty of this trip, the fact that it is just that, my trip, with no itineraries or deadlines or people to conform to, just the freedom to go where ever the wind takes me.

I'll leave you all now with a picture of Travel Buddy eating nachos.

Nom nom nom!

24 April 2012

Exploring Balboa Park - Part Two

Today Tim and I continued our tour of Balboa Park from yesterday. Again I will let the pictures do most of the talking:

Second lawn bowls I've found now. You know it is going to be a good now.
First stop was the Science and Space museum... and it was awesome! Again I completely forgot to take pictures because I was too busy reading about Black Holes, Gravity, and how California receives, filters and distributes its water supply (riveting!). I did manage to take one photo however, there was a kids science area that had all these wooden planks of wood that you could use to build whatever you wanted (like Lego)... I built a fort for Travel Buddy.

The army is approaching, my lord!
So that was heaps of fun... Tim and I spent far too much time with these actually ha. Next up was the Greenhouse which I was really looking forward too as it looked quite impressive from the outside:

Yeah... it was ok. What's next? The Air and Space museum!

Pretty cool to have these life sized models all over the place

Actually, to be honest, it was pretty bland. Well if you were into planes then it would be absolutely amazing to see, there were so many real planes involved and a heap of information, but I guess I'm just not too into planes to get excited about being there. What I am really into however is space, oh man did I spent ages in this section of the museum, check out these!

A model replica of the International Space Station, how cool does that look!
A model of one the Mars rovers... to think that the real rover now sits on Mars... amazing
Then there were these pictures on the wall of Mars that were taken by one of the rovers that are currently on the surface of Mars this very minute! Sadly they didn't turn out great when I took a picture of them... but they seriously looked amazing. I also watched a short documentary of how space shuttles launch which I'd say was the highlight of the day so far, it was brilliant.

After this was the Natural History Museum... you'd think I would have lots of cool pictures to show. But no, I do not... because it was pretty poor to be honest. It was nothing like the one in Los Angeles anyway (which was awesome). By this stage Tim and I had been here for a solid three hours or so... there really is so much to do and see here.

Next was the Japanese Garden which was pretty cool actually.

I for one feel more Zen flowing already

Travel Buddy finding some inner peace through some meditation
Cool, I know I for one feel much more at ease after that experience. Travel Buddy fell asleep in my bag afterwards. Time for lunch! We went back to the same restaurant that we went to the day before... although I noticed something new this time however:

Umm... what?
A few more big lunches like this one and Travel Buddy will need to loosen his belt
I reckon we spent 5 hours here easy, and I know my pictures above (which are the best from my collection) still fail to give the impression of how grand the place really was. A highly recommended place to visit. And while my visit here was mostly science based (because that's where my interests lie) there was so much more to do. As I mentioned yesterday there are 15 museums, about 7 different gardens, tours and much more, so I only scratched the surface really.

After walking the entire day I was very much looking forward to Tim and I heading back to the hostel, meeting up with Lewis, and grabbing a beer. Oh what a life.

And that concludes the third, and yet another, amazing day here at San Diego.

23 April 2012

Exploring Balboa Park - Part One

Guys, if you every come to California then forget Los Angeles because San Diego is definitely the place to be.
After the grand welcoming I gave to San Diego yesterday, it was necessary to have a more relaxing day so today Jon-Paul, Tim and I spent the day at a place called Balboa Park. I've never heard of it (which apparently I should have), but whatever, it was awesome nonetheless. I shall let the pictures tell the story:

Our hostel in San Deigo's 'Gaslamp District'. Great place.
Look how nice San Diego is

A dog park. Made me miss home greatly.

Downtown San Diego in the distance. Amazing views!
And now I would like to present Balboa Park. It is basically this huge park complex thing with museums, gardens, restaurants, performers, sight seeing events, tours and much more. It has a deep history in San Diego and is no doubt a must see if you ever find yourself here some day.

My favourite aspects of the park was definitely the gardens and the huge variety of museums, there were 15 museums spread out each offering a completely different topic like science, history, art and so on. I opted for the Anthropology museum (sweet!), the Air and Space Flight museum, the Space and Science museum, and of course the Museum of Natural History. I was excited to say the least =)

This post will actually be in two parts because there was so much to see that Tim and I had to take in Balboa Park over two full days.

There were gardens like these spread out all over
Some of the architecture was incredible

The Naturual History museum
The Greenhouse
The Anthropology museum had an exhibition about the Maya people... awesome!

AND an exhibition about Ancient Egypt, two of my favourite topics in the one place!
I read signs like these for hours
I apologize as it is only now I have realized that I didn't really take many pictures whilst inside the museums. I think this is because I got so caught up in soaking it all in that I simply forgot. And, like, I know how much everyone wants to see more pictures of obelisk's and mummies!

Alas it was getting late, we had already been here for hours so it was time to walk home.

San Diego at dusk is simply brilliant.

Planes fly a little low here it appears!

The Anthropology museum I would easily say was the highlight of my day, it went into amazing detail starting from the beginning of civilizations (with exhibitions about the Maya and Egyptian era's which were simply brilliant), all the way up to what we have achieved in the last 100 years, and what we could possibly expect in the next decades and millenniums (with discussion about nanotechnology and AI, two of my favourite topics also). But even just walking to and from each museum on its own was amazing in itself with the scenery, gardens and architecture being really impressive.

My next post will have more pictures of Balboa Park with so much more to do and see, it really was such a grand place that it required 2 full days of exploration.

Oh! And Travel Buddy, despite being with me for the day, forgot to make an appearance... although that's his fault not mine I'd argue.

Part two can be found here.