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Calico, California

An early start for us today and hopefully the last of the screwing around with airports and transfers until we leave. We were collected by a late running Super Shuttle, which seemed to go all through the houses of Hollywood and was of course crammed to the rafters. We eventually arrived at Tom Bradley International Airport in LA, of course the driver had dropped us at departures so we had to get down to arrivals and take the free shuttle to the Alamo rental car depot.

Once we got there all the messiness stopped. Now as a travel agent I am accustomed to dealing with numerous complaints regarding shifty workers at car hire places, so I was fully prepared for a fight. Alamo, however had self-collection kiosks, all you had to do was put in your name and credit card and it just did the rest for you. We even got to walk over to the mid-sized vehicles ourselves, and when we looked confused as to what we were supposed to do next, one of the Alamo guys came up to us and said, "Just pick one". We chose a brand new Chevy Cruise, which Darren attempted to get in the wrong side of. I laughed. "This is going to take a bit of getting used to" he said.

Darren got comfortable with everything, then we drove out, giving the guy at the window the piece of paper the machine spit out and he handed us our GPS. "Here I go! Driving on the wrong side of the road!" Darren said as we pulled out of Alamo. The whole process seemed so easy at Alamo that I remarked latter in the day, "I feel like we've stolen it."

We drove for a bit and then pulled over and set up our GPS for our first stop on our road trip, the Ghost Town of Calico. Darren was like a kid on Christmas, he was so happy to be back in a car and really excited about driving across America. He couldn't stop smiling. It was a bit scary driving on the wrong side of the road in the Los Angeles traffic and after about 25 minutes we decided we needed breakfast. We were going to pull off at Pasadena, of Big Bang Theory fame, but we missed the turn off. The next exit held something even better. SAN DIMAS! Just like in "Bill & Ted's Excellent

Adventure!" We pulled off there and what do you know, they even had a Denny's. We had a massive breakfast and then went on our way, although not before heaps of Bill and Ted jokes and me getting Darren to take my picture in front of the San Dimas sign playing the air guitar. It had to be done.

We drove for about 85 miles out into the desert and the middle of nowhere, until we saw a giant white "CALICO" sign in white in the mountain in front of us. We managed to get there and far from being a Ghost Town, Knotts Berry Farm had actually bought the place and turned it into a tourist attraction. I was mildly disappointed at the amount of Chinese tourists, but we still paid of $8 to go in.

Turns out it was just a photo stop for the bus load of Chinese and pretty soon the place emptied out and we had it to ourselves. It really is in the middle of nowhere and the view from the view point certainly illustrated that. Miles and miles of red rock as far as the eye could see, apart from Great Bear Lake in the distance.

Darren and I had fun taking lots of silly photos around the town, mainly not smiling like in the movie "100 ways to die in the west". We left Calico and got back on the I15 highway to begin our drive to Las Vegas! We drove for 170 miles through the Mojave Desert and through Death Valley. The altitude was quite high and in places the clouds seemed to touch the ground. The road went on forever and in one spot even went over the horizon and disappeared into some mountains.

We saw a few casino towns along the way and crossed the state line into Nevada at a place called Primm. Pretty soon the bright lights of Las Vegas started to appear on the horizon and when we turned onto Frank Sinatra Boulevard I was back. We had a cruise down Las Vegas Boulevard and I pointed out all the different hotels whose lights were all just starting to come on. The sun was setting and the Bellagio fountains were on just as we drove past.

We found the self-parking at the Luxor, and checked in, although not before being hassled as we walked through the Casino by touts trying to sell shows.

Our room is in the pyramid and the walls are slanted, Darren got quite a fright in the lift up as it shuddered and shook. I pointed out that the Luxor hotel has the only diagonal shaft elevator in the world. (Please don't ask me how I know that!)

We settled into our huge suite, which I think could fit every room we stayed in Japan into it and then went out for a bit of a walk. We walked all the way up to Planet Hollywood, Darren was most amused that they had an M&M's store and a giant Coke bottle building containing two floors of Coke merchandise. We ended up at Bubba Gump Shrimp for dinner, I had a huge seafood feast and Darren had the most amazing ribs.

We were a bit tired from our long day in the car, so we walked back to our pyramid to go off to bed in our Egyptian style room.

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