DAY 28 – JUNE 10
We left Oakland around 7:20am, and it was 55 degrees and arrived in Palm Springs just over 8 hours later and it was 95 degrees. We only stopped twice on our journey south on Route 5 up and down the mountains – again. It was a pretty drive though. But finally it was summer! For the first time since I left Memphis on May 14th, it was above 75 degrees. In fact, one day in Denver it was above 70 and one day in Seattle above 70, otherwise it was cold. Finally on June 10th, summer had arrived!
I loved Palm Springs! I loved the desert! I was seriously considering moving there. The weather is perfect – hot, but no humidity so it’s cool in the mornings and nights. It is a very dog-friendly town – even restaurants allow them. It’s not crowded, it’s clean and seems safe. Most of the buildings in downtown Palm Springs are very 1960s retro. Our hotel, A Place in the Sun garden hote,l is my new favorite hotel. It is named after one of my favorite movies, A Place in the Sun starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Shelley Winters. The production crew stayed here while they were filming. The hotel is a collection of bungalows situated in a rectangle surrounding the pool with palm trees and mountains in the background. It was gorgeous! It was built in the 1950s, so it was very retro, which I obviously love. There is even a walled in patio, so the dogs had a little space to go off leash. And to make it even better, they upgraded me to a one bedroom bungalow, which is basically like an apartment with a full kitchen, dining room table, 2 couches and tv in the living room, a king bed, closet, and tv in the bedroom. They even had a library of books and movies for me to enjoy. Elvis and Cilla really enjoyed having an apartment with a patio that they could run around in, rather than being in a small hotel room. Palm Springs was my favorite city I visited on my U2 360 tour across America. Please watch my video of Day 28.
DAY 29 – JUNE 11
After a great night’s sleep at my lovely bungalow at A Place in the Sun garden hotel, I left by 9am in search for Elvis – well his homes. My first stop was Elvis’ home on 845 W Chino Canyon, which he bought in 1970 and owned until he died in 1977. Luckily the owner, Reno, was leaving as I pulled up so we chatted for a bit. He couldn’t give me a tour of the house because June is the month he does maintenance. Unfortunately, not much in the house is original because it was broken into 4 days after Elvis died and then Graceland came and got everything. Reno has lived there for 7 years. There was a great metal Elvis sculpture on the front of the house that someone had put on before he moved there.
My next stop had nothing to do with Elvis, but when there is a casino I must play. I went to the Spa Resort Casino and quickly lost my money. It is a very small casino, which did not have my favorite slots. I had lunch at the Oasis Buffet, which was ok, but no Paula Deen’s.
Next was the favorite part of my day. I toured Elvis’ honeymoon hideway. Elvis leased this house at 1350 Ladero Circle for a year, and he and Priscilla spent their honeymoon here on May 1, 1967. I had the most wonderful tour of every inch of this gorgeous 1960s house. It was great to see the living room that I had seen in so many pictures. Maria was the best tour guide and as big an Elvis fan as I am. It was a real pleasure to hear her Elvis in Palm Springs stories that I knew nothing about. She told me about Elvis’ shopping trips to Rite Aid and what he ate at his favorite restaurant. A visit to this Elvis house if a must for any Elvis fan visiting Palm Springs.
My last stop of the day was the Rite Aid that Maria told me about. I needed to get some groceries anyway since I had a full kitchen, and I would in Anaheim as well. So I thought why not pick a few things up where Elvis shopped. And the next day I was going to have lunch at Elvis’ favorite restaurant in Palm Springs, Las Casuelas. Please watch my video of my day in Palm Springs with Elvis.
DAY 30 – JUNE 12
I was supposed to make the pilgrimage to THE Joshua Tree, the one U2 was photographed with for my favorite album The Joshua Tree, but I realized that it was almost five hours north of Palm Springs. I knew it was in the Mohave Desert near Death Valley and was not in Joshua Tree Park, but I thought it was on the way to JoshuaTree National Park. Since I couldn’t go to the real Joshua Tree, I went to Harmony Motel, only an hour away, where U2 was also photographed. U2 stayed at the Harmony Motel while making The Joshua Tree album. It was a very small, retro motel – a far cry from the five star resort hotels U2 stay at now. Even though I couldn’t see THE Joshua Tree, I could see many Joshua Trees at Joshua Tree National Park. It is the 75th anniversary of the park, which is located within 10 miles from the Harmony Motel. Please watch my video of my day at Harmony Motel and Joshua Tree.
After my U2 trip to Harmony Motel and Joshua Tree, I had lunch at Elvis’ favorite Palm Springs restaurant Las Casuelas. My friend Aaron from high school and his two friends, who were in Palm Springs for the weekend, met me there. We had great Mexican food and great conversation. It was a good time. I highly recommend the Enchiladas Rancheros. After lunch, I walked around downtown Palm Springs before returning to my wonderful A Place in the Sun garden hotel, where I would spend a relaxing evening on my patio and eating great New York style delivery pizza.
DAY 31 – JUNE 13
Day 31 of my U2 360 tour across America was an uneventful one, chores rather then sightseeing. We left the fabulous Palm Springs around 10:15am and were in Anaheim by noon. It was 89 degrees when we left Palm Srings and 73 degrees when we arrived in Anaheim. What a difference 90 miles makes. Please watch my short video of my drive from Palm Springs to Anaheim.
The hotels gods continued with me to Anaheim. I checked into the TownePlace Suites to find that the manager had upgraded me to a two bedroom suite. I was very happy because I was going to be there for 6 nights, so it will be much more comfortable having this apartment-like suite as opposed to a regular hotel room. This was the longest I would stay at anyone place along my trip. I had 3 flatscreen tvs, 2 bedrooms, a living room with a couch and coffee table, a dining table, bathroom and full kitchen. I was at the end of the hall on the first floor right by the door, which was really convenient for the dogs. It was like our own little apartment in Anaheim for 6 nights. Plus it was only a 10 minute walk to Angels Stadium for the U2 shows.
After unloading everything out of my car, I went to the grocery store, which was only a mile down the road. I got enough groceries to last the week as well as for my 3-day drive to Baltimore the following week. After grocery shopping, I did two loads of laundry because I had no clean clothes at all. Then I unpacked and organized the rest of my things and planned the rest of my week in Southern California.
DAY 32 – JUNE 14
Day 32 of my U2 360 tour across America was a great one spent on a bus sight seeing around downtown LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the original Farmer’s Market, Venice Beach and Marina Del Ray. When I arrived in Anaheim, I researched bus tours to Hollywood and found StarLine tours. They had a very comprehensive tour of LA and surrounding areas that picked me up at my hotel and brought me back after the tour. This tour was run by VIP tours. I was picked up at 9am and didn’t return until 6pm. It was a long, great day!
The first part of our bus trip, which was mostly folks from England and myself, took us to downtown Los Angeles. Our first stop was the LA Memorial Coliseum, the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and where the Dodgers used to play. We passed by USC on the way to the Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre. We drove through the financial district on our way to our next stop at Olvera Street, where there were streets vendors and LA’s oldest house built in 1818. On our way to Hollywood, we drove by the Capitol Records building. Then across from the Hollywood Bowl, I spotted Bret Michael’s tour bus parked with the shades closed. I found out that he was playing at the Hollywood Bowl that night. Please watch my video of LA.
We finally made it to Hollywood Boulevard and had about 45 minutes to walk around. I walked down the Walk of Stars and saw Mickey Mouse at his star and then came upon Olivia Newton-John’s star, which is the only thing I remember from our 1984 trip. I walked passed the historic Roosevelt Hotel to check out the footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The first I saw was for the movie Giant, which consisted of the footprints of Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. It should have also included James Dean, but he died, so instead director George Steven’s footprints were included. I came across the footprints of Natalie Wood, Bing Crosby, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward together, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, John Travolta, Nic Cage and finally Lana Turner. I searched everywhere for my favorite actress Lana Turner’s footprints and finally had to ask someone to consult the map.
I left the Chinese Theatre to find higher ground so I could see the Hollywood sign. On my way, I came across a lot of people camped out in line on Hollywood Boulevard. I asked why they were waiting out. As U2 fans had done in Denver and Seattle, these folks had also brought shoes to donate to Souls for Soul and were waiting for their free U2 tickets from the Hard Rock Cafe. I went into the Hard Rock to get my dad a pin, as he collects them, and was told that June 14, 2011 was the 40th anniversary of the Hard Rock – June 14this also my parents’ wedding anniversary. I finally made it up the Egyptian mall to see the Hollywood sign, but it was very hazy and far away – at least I saw it though.
We got back on the bus and headed through West Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, which is actually Route 66. We drove by the Chateau Marmont where John Belushi died and where Marilyn Monroe lived. We saw Mel’s Drive In, where the movie American Graffiti was filmed – the parking lot looks much larger in the movie. We also drove by the Viper Room and saw the corner where River Phoenix died and drove by the Whiskey and the Roxy. Please watch my video of Hollywood.
We then drove through Beverly Hills and saw the former homes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Dr. We drove down Rodeo Drive and saw the most expensive car ever – $2.2M, and we drove by the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Our next stop was lunch at the Farmer’s Market, which was the first farmer’s market in the US. I had lunch at Du-par’s, which has been there since 1938. I noticed Diane Ladd was having lunch a few tables away. I snuck a picture, but it was too dark. The farmer’s market is located next door to CBS Studios, so I stood by the gate for a bit to see if I could see Maura West leaving Young and the Restless, but I didn’t see anyone.
Next we were off to the beaches. We drove on Santa Monica Boulevard, which is route 10 – the longest freeway in the US from the west coast to Jacksonville, Florida. We didn’t stop in Santa Monica, but drove by the Santa Monica Pier. It was cloudy at the beach, but I could still see the pier – sort of. We then stopped at Venice Beach, and what a crazy place that was. It was a crowded cement boardwalk full of street vendors, dogs, bicycles, segweys, skateboarders and roller skaters. In a span of 45 minutes, I saw someone pass out and taken away by an ambulance, took part in a Lipton tea commercial, and smelled all sorts of marijuana. It was quite an eventful 45 minutes. Please watch my video of Venice Beach.
The last stop of our tour was at Fisherman’s Village in Marina Del Ray, which is the largest man-made marina in the world. It was nice to smell the salt air again. I had the best strawberry milkshake there. I really enjoyed my day touring around LA and was glad I took the bus tour because it made it stress free, but it was sort of a blur. I was so concerned with getting all the pictures and videos of every hot spot in the time allotted at each place.
DAYS 33&34 – JUNE 15&16
I didn’t sleep at all the night after my great tour of LA, so I decided to just stay in bed all day. I watched Country Strong on pay per view and napped. That night I had dinner with my cousin Cherie and her husband Mike, who only lived a few miles from my hotel. After our yummy Mexican dinner at Fresca’s and then went back to their house and hung out with their dogs.
They refer to the weather in June in Southern California ‘June Gloom’ and it certainly was. It was cloudy, cool and humid – yes humid. It was 68 degrees with 70% humidity. In the morning I took the Saturn to Hardin GMC for an oil change and make sure everything was ok for my long 3000 mile drive in 3-4 days to Baltimore.
In the afternoon, I went to Downtown Disney, which was basically an outside mall with lots of shops and restaurants including ESPNZone and House of Blues. I wanted to check it out since I was in Anaheim a few miles from Disneyland, but had no interest in actually going to Disneyland – too many kids and I didn’t want to ride the rides. So I walked around Downtown Disney and had lunch at La Brea Bakery Cafe – sat outside on the patio. I had a great caesar salad and cheese sliders – for once I didn’t get a tuna melt. I should really add caesar salad to my food tour along with tuna and pizza. After lunch I went into the huge World of Disney store and bought some souvenirs. I told myself I wouldn’t buy any tee shirts this summer while traveling across the US, but thus far I had bought four – one from Red Rocks, a Nirvana tee from Seattle, one from Joshua Tree and one from Disney. Please watch my video of my day in Downtown Disney.
It had been 10 days since the last U2 show. These next two shows in Anaheim were going to be fantastic – the second was to be my favorite of the tour.