22 September, 2014
Well hey there and welcome back! It's been a while since I've been round these parts and even though I had a fantastic time on my USA holiday it feels good to be back here. I've missed you guys! I have to admit I was a bit slack when it came to posting pics from the road, well at least to my blog page and Instagram, although my personal Facebook page was inundated with pics so I've got plenty of fun stuff to share with you guys! I figure we covered so much ground while we were over there that it'll be easiest to break it down into little bite-sized chunks for each place we visited. So away we go!
We arrived in Vegas a little worse for wear after the long flight but we were straight into it, catching up with our friends Matt & Elisa at Frankie's Tiki Room on the first night. We spent most of our days doing the tourist thing and checking out all the amazing casinos. On the second night we caught up with Buddy Holiday, our tattooist from last year, who took us cruising in his Mercury to a secluded but awesome BBQ joint for a delicious dinner before heading once again to Frankie's where way too many tiki cocktails were consumed! We finished up our last night in Vegas with a definite highlight, the High Roller. The newest attraction in Vegas, this huge observation wheel is the tallest in the world at 550 feet and at night, the views are absolutely spectacular!
The next day we headed to Palm Springs which was HOT! It was 109F when we arrived which is about 45C. Phew! Still, it was the perfect weather for this desert oasis and we filled our days here shopping, relaxing and with a little bit of sightseeing. We got to check out the new Tonga Hut that has recently opened up here and while it's not the most 'decorated' tiki bar I've seen it certainly offers great food, great atmosphere and most of all, great drinks! We were even lucky enough to be able to dine in the secret room, which you have to enter through a hidden telephone box - super cool! However the highlight in Palm Springs had to be the Elvis Honeymoon House. THE house where Elvis and Priscilla honeymooned and indeed intended to be married, the house is in great condition and is an absolute treat for Elvis fans and Mid Mod lovers. It was AMAZING! Definitely my favourite thing about Palm Springs!
After a little rest in Palm Springs it was time to hit the craziness of Tiki Oasis! It was an amazing weekend filled with so much fun, shopping, gorgeous people and, of course, partying and drinking! The effort some people go to decking out their rooms for the room parties is phenomenal. The symposiums were fun, especially the one by Skipper Josh from Melbourne's The LuWow and the amazing Charles Phoenix - gosh I love that man! I do think I would be a little more selective about which symposiums I did next time, I tired myself out trying to get to them all. It was also really great to catch up with Aussie and US friends I'd connected with on Facebook for so long and finally meet them in real life. However one of the real highlights for me was buying the original line drawing of a Derek Yaniger piece that a number of my friends told me looked just like me. I got to meet Derek and he even personally signed the piece for me - he flipped out at how much it looked like me! He was such a great guy!
New Orleans was quite the change of pace from TO. It was hot and steamy and yes, a bit smelly. But what do you expect in a town that lives on seafood and was baking in the hot sun? The culture and history of New Orleans has always fascinated me and it was an absolute dream to finally get there. It didn't disappoint, the French Quarter was just as magical as I had expected. After a couple of accidental party nights that saw 'just a quiet, early night' turn into major partying with friends until 4am our Segway tour was a surprisingly effective hangover cure. We might have looked nerdy but damned if we didn't have the best time ever! The 3 hour tour covered so much ground and it was the perfect introduction to the many areas and neighbourhoods of New Orleans and the history that they hold. Also, keep an eye out for us in the new NCIS New Orleans, they were filming one night at one of the bars we were at. I hope we don't make it, we were very drunk! Haha
Memphis was a bit of a flying visit, we only spent 2 nights here but there's no doubt we'll be back. We kicked things off with an amazing meal at the best and oldest BBQ joint in Memphis where we had some amazing ribs and spent the rest of the night checking out Beale Street. The next day we visited Graceland and Sun Records. Although not quite as big as you imagine, Graceland was amazing. It felt surreal to be there and I couldn't help but tear up when we got to the memorial garden and Elvis' grave. Sun Records was also awesome and our tour guide was really fun. It was so cool to see such an important part of music history and the atmosphere really made you appreciate the big things that happened in that famous little studio.
We spent 4 nights in Nashville and although we arrived on a Sunday the town was still rockin! It was a case of another of those 'we'll just have an early night' famous last words that saw us partying up in the Legends Bar until 3am. Damn that town rocks! Aside from shopping for cowboy boots and trying some down home cooking, we also visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Oprey and the new Johnny Cash Museum. The Hall of Fame is absolutely phenomenal and although we did it in one day, you could easily spend 2 days in their soaking up all that amazing music history. If you're like me and music really speaks to your soul, prepare to get a little emotional. Originally we were just going to take the Oprey tour and skip the show but come on, if you're there you HAVE to see a show! And so we did. Boy were we glad we changed our minds because it was awesome! Simply amazing. That the show is still going all these years later just blows my mind. The new Cash Museum was also great. It's a little small, but the admission price reflects that and if you're a JC fan then you're sure to love it - I know we did.
Ventura was a dream and just what we needed after all that heat. It was a really laid back beach town with lots of great vintage and thrift shops, bars and restaurants. We were really keen to check out Ventiki, Ventura's own little tiki bar and decided to stop in for a cold drink and some lunch. We accidentally ended up there all afternoon and into the evening. Our friends from Anaheim Mark & Dyanne, decided to show up and surprise us and they wanted to meet us there. 9 rather strong cocktails later we'd made friends with the bartender and a few other people who we ended up partying well into the night with. Which meant that the next day at the Ventura Nationals we were a bit worse for wear but we had a great time anyway and saw some amazing cars. The next day we even got to go on the Reliability Run up and around the coast and Lake Casitas which was SO pretty! Ventura showed us a really nice time!
We spent the next two days at Sunset Beach, right by Huntington Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway. Our aim was to spend a decent amount of time at Don the Beachcombers, seeing as we really only got to pass through quickly last time. This was where we met our friends Mark and Dyanne last year, so not only did they come along back where it all began but we ended up running into a bunch of tiki peeps who we had drinks with in the private room (to avoid the awful karaoke). It was like a little Tiki Oasis reunion, plus we got to meet a bunch of new friends. We checked out Seal Beach, just down the road the next day and enjoyed a relaxing couple of days by the beach.
Then we headed to Anaheim (well, Buena Park actually) to stay with our friends Mark and Dyanne for a couple of days at their house. Boy did they show us a good time! They were so kind and took such good care of us and we had so much fun drinking beer in their pool and listening to some great tunes. They also cooked us up so many amazing feasts! We didn't just hang out at home though, they took us to the Elvis Bar in Garden Grove which was amazing! We also visited Mooneyes in Santa Fey Springs which was extremely cool and the perfect warm up to the Mooneyes Christmas Party in Japan in December!
Then it was on to our final stop in L.A where we were reunited with our friends Kristy and Justin who we met at Viva last year. These super stylish cats showed us a great time and took us to a bunch of cool old historic places around L.A including Damon's tiki restaurant, The Pantry which has been serving breakfast 24 hours a day since 1923 and does THE BEST bacon (it tastes like pork crackling OMG!!). We also did the tourist thing and visited Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier which was another lovely day by the seaside. We went out to a couple of gigs with them too and strangely enough ran into a few people we knew including Brent from the Ding Dong Devils, Deke Dickerson and Eddie Clendening! We just can't go anywhere! Haha We decided we should spend our last night in the US going out with a bang so we went to The Viper Room (yes THE famous Viper Room) and saw The Chop Tops as well as a bunch of other cool psychobilly bands. We stopped in famous Mel's Diner for a middle of the night greasy on the way home too. Our flight back home wasn't until midnight the next day so after nursing a bit of a hangover we headed off to Universal Studios for the day to act like big kids. We had an awesome time! It was the perfect way to see out our very last hours in America. We did this last year as well, so perhaps it will become a tradition.Gosh we had such a brilliant time! It should come as no surprise that we're already planning another trip back. But first, Japan in December. Of course until then it's just back to the grind and what better way to cure the post-holiday blues than with a new 'do! For those of you that may not have seen my post on Facebook, my hair looks like this now! Wild I know, but I love it!