All good things come to an end, so they say. And so did my first ever overseas backpacking adventure. As I flew from Toronto to Los Angeles, I knew that there was very little left to go. And in some ways that meant that I could relax, have a ball and enjoy my last two and a half (ish) days.
I still had a little money in the bank, so I’m not sure why I kept it so short in Los Angeles. I returned again in 2004 and again it was like a day and a half, so I’ve never really taken the time to understand one of America’s most iconic cities. Both times I’ve stayed in Hollywood too, so I’ve never been exposed to the heart of the city of angels, just the frilly fancy side.
I stayed on Hollywood Boulevard. I tried to find the same hostel when I returned in 2004 but for the life of me, I couldn’t. The hostel was nice enough, with a bar and a kitchen, and I remember that they had stand up there. I remember a comedian did some improvisation and asked for some help on stage for a scene, from me. I also remember it just being ummmm… well let’s just say awkward and unfunny.
But it was the end of the trip and what did I really want to do? Theme Parks! We have a few in Australia, up on the Gold Coast. But in America, well, they don’t get any bigger and where does a kid dream of going all his life, even when technically he’s no longer a kid? That’s right, Disneyland! The hostel ran free shuttles to the main theme parks and booked us tickets for around $45 which today sounds unbelievably cheap!
The weather was perfect – just as you’d imagine it to be in California, and I was able to take rides all day. I then followed it up the next day by going to Universal Studios. It was a theme park gluttony session! I remember the wild west display from that one, and I think I went on a ride based on Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. They tried to get the group all excited about Kevin Costner’s acting. They failed.
There was for sure a ‘Back to the Future’ ride, as well as a special FX attraction. Okay, my memory ain’t so good, but this was a great way to end the trip. I saw a strange show in a theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and I saw the stars too, but before I knew it, I was back at LAX and boarding the Air New Zealand flight that was taking me home. Well, most of the way. There were a couple of hours in Auckland changing planes.
And that’s how a big trip finishes really. Bang! You’re home and back to reality. What are you going to do with yourself? I didn’t really know, and to be honest was pretty low for a number of months. I was soon back working at the pizza place I worked before. I applied for Social Work at university, got in and then deferred from 2000 to 2001. In fact, my mood started to pick up when I made an active choice – that by the end of 2000 I would go travelling again. A shorter trip, Thailand, Cambodia, the UK and India, a little less than two months.
And it was then that I knew that backpacking was something I loved. Because, once I had stopped it, I missed it immediately. Isn’t that always the way? Thanks for being with me as I relived the experiences of 1999. It’s been great to relive them. May the Journey Never End!