Day 1- Hattiesburg-New Orleans- Dallas- LAX
Anthony picks us up at 6am from Anna’s house to take us to the airport. He has to take his rental car back by 10am so we’re extremely early but in all honesty I’m not bothered, I’m just glad that we have a ride to the airport. We all wake up before 6am because one of the cats is crying. I haven’t slept much the past few days because I’ve been out with Madison everyday and also it is unbearably humid in Mississippi. I’m so tired that I went to sleep in my clothes and didn’t have the energy to shower at 6am. Anthony is very thoughtful and has bought us food and drinks for the ride because we haven’t got time to make any stops along the way. The ride to the airport is very smooth and we arrive at 8am. We receive several emails from Spirit Airlines saying that our flight has been delayed all the way to cancelled. They’re the cheapest and also the most unreliable airline- America’s version/ answer to Ryan Air. Eventually they manage to transfer our group to a flight that goes to LA via Dallas with American Airlines. After this we go through customs and head to our flight. I sit next to Andrew and fall asleep almost immediately I have several nightmares and wake myself up from jumping in my sleep. At one point I unintentionally draw attention to myself by screaming in my sleep and find many alarmed passengers giving me quizzing looks. Mortified is not the word! We find the gate to our connecting flight once we land and I buy a quick lunch at McDonald’s. I sleep again on the next flight. There’s been some magnificent views up in the sky today and I take what I call “artsy” photos and edit them with Instagram filters before uploading them to Facebook. As we prepare to land at LAX, I feel a sense of awe that I haven’t felt since I was about to touchdown in Sydney, Australia in 2013. I was chewing on Trident tropical twist excitedly and my chest felt so alive, the happiness and excitement making me feel so happy that I could have died blissfully in that moment. Because our flight changed we have to sort out accommodation which is easy since the information desk is helpful and we get a room at the hotel we are starting our tour from. Their shuttle bus picks us up and takes us to the hotel from the airport. We get to the room and shower; Andrew and I feeling particularly grotty. It feels so good to be fresh again. We put the TV on and get a Domino’s pizza delivered to our room. California is 2 hours behind Mississippi, so we’re now 8 hours behind England.
Day 2- Exploring our Surroundings.
The hotel does a free breakfast 6:30- 9:30am so we all go down and make the most of it. To our surprise it’s really good and actually worth waking up for. After we finish breakfast and getting ready, we walk around our local area, the city of Lawndale, in the hope of finding a CVS so that we can get razors and toothpaste and so on. There’s a lot of beautiful flowers on our walk and I always feel compelled to take photos of them ever since I did a day trip to Chester with Ellis and Sudawan in 2014. Elizabeth takes the mick out of me for this. I’m not completely sure why I do this, I think it’s because each individual flower is beautiful in its own way and I feel that way about people: both friends and dates. Beauty is all around. Beauty is individual. Beauty is a matter of opinion. As I’ve said before, homelessness is a prominent problem everywhere in the USA. They compact their lives into a single shopping trolley. I want to take a photo of this but I also don’t want the homeless person to see me either so I decide to do it once I’ve walked past her and take it from behind. However once I go to take the photo, I see that the homeless woman has pooed herself and immediately decide against the photo. When I tell Elizabeth and Andrew about it, we are all roaring with laughter; Elizabeth exclaiming “I’m going to take that camera off you; you and you’re ‘artsy photos’ – you’re too much.” Andrew says “what would have been artsy about that anyway?” To which I reply “catching someone in their natural element.” We continue our walk, still continuing to laugh and joke about the incident and taking photos of our surroundings. I take some great shots of them both which I’m really proud of! They are simple photos but they speak volumes which is what I like the most about photos.
We eventually find CVS and buy our supplies. They have really cute toy cars and the pink minivan reminds me of my best friend Katie. I use that phrase a lot but she is actually my all time number one. We’ve been BFFs for two decades therefore nothing and nobody, near of far, will come between us. Anyway this reminds me of Katie because she sent me a postcard once with a minivan on it (she is obsessed with cars) and said “one day we should travel the UK in one of these.” However, I didn’t receive this postcard until November (it was sent in August) because my postman was actually stealing my post. Just my post too; it was all very unsettling! I only found out when my HMV order didn’t arrive and I had to check at the depot before getting a refund and the employees told me. I eventually received all my post in an evidence bag (in the post, ironically) with an apology from the Royal Mail. So I bought this toy car for Katie and a pink Cadillac for me.
We then go back to the hotel and ask the clerk for directions to the beach, and if there is a bus that goes that way. She immediately and bluntly cuts me off and ends the conversation stating “no bus.” But the way she pronounces it is “no boos” so this becomes a recyclable joke among our group. We map the directions in the room and the head out. However once we reach Hawthorne we realise we are going completely the wrong way and turn around. It’s a long walk anyway, being 3.6 miles from the hotel itself. After walking in the “right” direction for what seems like forever, we realise again that we’re going the wrong way. My knee has flared up again so after this I’m not bothered about finding the beach anymore. It’s a beautiful day, we’ve taken in a lot of scenery and its not 4pm. So we go to a local park, take photos and soak up the sun. I do some reading on a park bench under the sun. The weather has been awful in Hattiesburg so I haven’t been able to enjoy such a simple entity as this. We head back to the room and chill before going to a Chinese restaurant buffet for dinner since we’re all starving by this point. We dig in, all of us having more than one plate each. On our second plate Andrew says “I can’t get over that homeless woman. Are you sure she pooed herself? Describe it to me.” I say “well, the leggings were rubbish bin in England green and there was a dark stain by her bottom like a mini explosion.” We’re all cramping with laughter at this, struggling for air as we laugh too hard and too loudly. I add “plus I know what it’s like to poo yourself so I’m speaking from experience as it happened to me all the time as a kid. One time I had a dance show and I was really nervous. I threw up before I left the house, again at the theatre and again at the interval. Then when the finale came we were due to go on stage in our sunshine leotards but I suddenly had explosive diarrhea. Our outfits were supposed to connote sunshine and positiveness and there’s me with ‘thunder from down under.’ I was crying and pooing at the same time and my aunt tried to comfort me as the rest of my dance class walked past me in my sorry state to the stage.” We’re again dying with laughter and Elizabeth “I’m dying! I’m leaving for the restroom.” When she returns, I tell them similar tales such as “my first day at school” and “one day in year 2, another in year 5.” “The last time I wet myself I was 8. No wait I was 10. No actually I was 12,” I say. We pay and go back to the hotel and book a room for when we return from our tour the following week. I crash out at 10pm, so exhausted. As I said in my Texas blog, I’m not well so I’m tired all the time and only desire sleep; the same as my time in Michigan.
Day 3- LA to Las Vegas
We wake at 6am, skip breakfast and get ready to meet our tour group at 7am and head to Vegas. We watch an interesting documentary an Orangutan and Chimps documentary as we get ready. We board the bus at 7:10am and head out. After 2 hours of travelling the bus breaks down. Our tour guide gave us designated seats on the bus so they are together in 35 and 36 and I’m in front of them in 32. The tour is bilingual, Chinese and English. At least 80% of the people are Chinese and English so its no surprise when a Chinese girl sits next to me. She’s really fussy. At first she asks me to switch seats with her for the window which I agree to and then she asks me to move so she can put her stuff away. The tour guide asks who’s dropped their Maybeline eyeliner and she immediately takes it. She then asks if its mine as soon as the tour guide is out of earshot. I say “no,” because it isn’t and she makes me move so that she can put it in her bag. I don’t know if its hers or not but using pre-owned make-up is not only cheap, it’s also RANK! She doesn’t sit next to me after putting it away, much to my relief. She comes back to me an hour later when the bus becomes full. Elizabeth jokes that she is “my new bestie” which is ironic. I read some of Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and listen to the Shinedown album “The Sound of Madness.” I nap too. We go to some outlets in Vegas at 2pm for lunch and arrive at our hotel around 4pm. We go on a night tour at 6pm with a different tour guide who takes us to various different casinos such as Excalibur’s. Its interesting to see but we don’t gamble due to being under 21. I’m in awe of the man made architecture of the strip and can’t wait to take photos. It is ironic to say that Sin City is pretty? Its so hot as we walk around but we take comfort in buying drinks from a souvenir shop as we watch to the light show. With or without gambling, “Sin City” is something to marvel at. After our tour ends we buy snacks at Walgreen’s as we have to be up and out at 5am the following morning to go to the Grand Canyon. upon returning we go to our room we all shower and go to bed.