After a fairly lengthy multiple stop flight that took us to LA via Detroit and a fairly bumpy landing into LAX we got to the hotel, collected our bags and headed straight to the first park on Santa Monica Pier. At this point a 24-hour day had become a 36 so we were all fairly tired.
This was the hotel, a stones throw from the pier as long as you've built up your arms on the nearby muscle beach before attempting the throw that is. The hotel, being in heart of Santa Monica was perfectly located for checking out the area, but at night-time meant you had the ambient sounds of club music, fighting and on our visit a man trying his best to throw up for 20 minutes at 5 in the morning.
There's the pier, which has been around for around 100 years and as well as being a popular movie/TV landmark is also a popular attraction for the locals who enjoy it's amusement park, food establishments and, for those who wish to get away from their wives, fishing opportunities off the back of the pier.
The pier is also one end of route-66, the famous road that is frequented by bikers who are interested in finding the quickest way of getting here from Chicago. Apparently Route-66 is the name of the road that leads to here. If you go the other way around you're on Route-69
The park is actually called Pacific Park on account of it being over the Pacific Ocean, albeit by a few hundred metres. We were here to ride it's West Coaster whilst trying to stay awake.
A tired group preparing to ride a rollercoaster. That's not it in the background, although if there was one shaped like that it would be much better than the one they have.
and there it is. It's a mid-sized coaster with one hill, and one big helix, and as such was the perfect park and coaster for people who just wanted to go to bed. It was popular with the locals and at least one other coaster group who were also there, albeit at the end of their trip rather than the beginning as we were on our's.
Around the helix section I recall there being a rather cool Flic-Flac ride there last time. This time there was some other kids ride and one of those 2-seater TopSpin rides that I first saw in Russia and never thought would come to the West. Times have changed indeed.
The coaster was actually alright, big roomy trains that are usually found on much bigger rides and a fairly pleasant-at-most ride. Done with that and not wishing to ride it again, completely blowing the financial decision of getting a wristband, I chose to have a quick walk around the pier before heading somewhere else.
A trapeze workshop had been set up on the pier. Quite cool, but as it was almost their closing, there was no opportunity to have a go.
Like terrorists at Guantanamo the pink monkey immigrants had been rounded up and kept in crammed conditions.
There's the helix, and this is as high as the coaster goes, not that thrilling at all, but if you're a 3ft tall kid, it's immense, or is the phrase "awesome"?
The big wheel is actually pretty impressive and has an excellent light arrangement on it, running all sorts of crazy patterns all night long. I was quite happy to hang back on the end of the pier and watch the light show, not Jean Michel Jarre admittedly but still cool.
The pier was the perfect introduction to a jet-lagged and tired group, and whilst some decided to remain at the park, others headed off elsewhere. In 2008 I introduced a friend Jeppe to Hooters and we both fell victim to the tomato salmonella outbreak that hit Texas that year. In an attempt to undo that bad experience we decided to give the one in Santa Monica a go and am pleased to say it went much better with no side-effects...its also worth mentioning that neither of us actually ordered anything that contained tomato. Clearly neither of us were prepared to risk a repeat at the start of this trip.