Saturday 30th August. Hollywood, California, USA
Judith had a few things to do this morning, so we didn't end up getting to Capitola till 3:00p.m. I have to say I was a bit anxious by then. It's four hundred something miles from there to LA and with my recent hitching efforts in mind, I suspected I'd be sleeping by the road tonight. Judith had printed a sign for me on her computer. In large bold black letters it read "World Tour 2003". With the sign and my new clean shaven appearance, I hoped motorisits might see me as a world traveller rather than a bum, and be more likely to pick me up. This theory seemed to work. Just a couple of minutes after I first stuck my thumb out, a little red pickup screeched to a stop. The young guy driving was in a hurry; he had business to sort out in San Lois Obispo, 180 miles to the south. The mini baseball bat on his lap made me wonder what could be so urgent about a game of ball. Less than three hours later and I was thumbing on the highway outside San Lois Obispo.

I wanted to get to LA tonight. I didn't think it was likely at first but I'd try. There's a backpackers hostel in West Hollywood that I worked in on my first trip in 1992. It was called Banana Bungalow but has since changed ownership and goes by the name of Hollywood Bungalows. Anyone who knows me has heard many of my travel stories begin with "When I was in Banana Bungalow...." I wanted to check the old place out, and see if it's changed over the years.

Again, it was only a couple of minutes before I got a ride. That got me to Santa Maria, and after a short wait there a young couple on their way home from a reggae concert stopped for me and took me to Santa Barbara. By then it was nine o'clock and as a rule I don't hitchhike at night. I was prepared to catch a bus or train the rest of the way. Bad news. The last train to LA had already departed, and the bus doesn't leave till midnight. That would get me into downtown LA at two in the morning, and God knows how I'd transfer from there to Hollywood at that hour. It really didn't bear thinking about. There was eighty miles or so left to LA and I could imagine myself bursting into the hostel in the middle of a huge party, with beer flowing and loud music and hundreds of dancing laughing young people everywhere. Maybe I'd be too old to fit it now, but I could always relive the memories. I really wanted to get to LA tonight, so I returned to the highway on-ramp and thumbed for exactly half an hour. When that didn't pan out, I walked to a nearby gas station and put plan 'C' into action. Plan 'C' is when I hang out at a gas station with a sign on my backpack, and ask motorists if they can give me a ride. It seems a little safer than standing out on a dark highway, and it gives the motorists a chance to talk to me *and vice versa* before they decide to let me into their car.

An Indian guy paused to read my sign aloud "I NEED A RIDE SOUTH...PLEASE". With his tattoos and long hair, he looked like a slightly older version of Anthony from Red Hot Chili Peppers. He asked if I had gas money, and I said I'd put in ten dollars if he drove me all the way to the hostel. It was right on Highway 101, not out of his way at all.
"Fifteen and you've got a deal" he challenged. I gave him a disappointed look and explained that I just simply couldn't afford that much. Besides, if he was already going that way, surely he'd be happy with an extra ten dollars for fuel. Of course I was bluffing. The bus would have cost me twelve dollars and I'd still have to transfer from there. I would have gladly paid twenty dollars or more for a ride directly to the hostel.
"Twelve-fifty" he said. I said I was sorry, but I'd have to wait for someone else.
"Okay, twelve" he pleaded "I need ten for gas and two for more beer."
I told him all his negotiating was making me tired, and we should just be on our way. He threw me the keys and said "You drive! I haven't got a licence...and I've been drinking."

So that's how I came to wheel into Hollywood Bungalows in the middle of the night in a big white Ford with Eagle feathers all over the dashboard, and a drunk Indian as my passenger.

Like I said, I imagined hitting the hostel mid-party. It was still before midnight, and things should be just getting festive. What I landed in was more like a ghost town. There were two staff members milling sleepily around in the reception area, and not another soul to be seen. The car park was full of vehicles, but where were all the people? As Rick and I were saying our goodbyes, the manager came out to 'greet' us. Actually, his manner was more like "What the hell do you want?" Rick returned north. It turns out he wasn't actually heading to LA at all. He was just bored and fancied the idea of going for a drive. I checked in, and the receptionist was as miserable as the manager. She didn't even make an attempt to be friendly. There was a notice on the reception door proclaiming "NO ALCOHOL PERMITTED ON THE PROPERTY". When I crept into my room, I was surprised to find that five of the six beds already had sleeping bodies in them. I checked my watch again. Had I travelled through some sort of time zone anomale? Was it really only midnight?

I showered and changed into fresh clothes. Surely there was something happening around the place! I just had to give the property another cursory walk-around. Flickering light shone from the TV room, where I discovered three people dozing in front of MTV. There was a girl on the public phone, speaking in Spanish. The manager and receptionist sat behind reception, staring into nothingness. I went to bed, not quite sure what to think.

Here's a few 'before and after' shots. If you want to see more photos from my time in LA in 1992, check out the about me page or click here or here.

The room 3 beergarden, complete with life sized Budweiser girl. Locked gates and carpark.

- - - - - - - - - 1992 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2003 - - - - - - - - -

The pool was the centre of activity during the hot summer days, and well into the night. The pool is deserted in the middle of the day. I find that the gate is actually locked.

- - - - - - - - - 1992 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2003 - - - - - - - - -

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