A Travellerspoint blog

Day 12 and beyond: Leaving LA and heading home

Last ditch efforts and shaking the dust from our sandals


On Friday, our last day in LA, we had breakfast with former LA city council member and all-around super genius Mike Woo at Brite Spot diner in Echo Park. He helped us brainstorm ideas for the film going forward and see what contacts he might have to help us.


After that, we drove up to Chatsworth to talk to a psychic. (Things might have been getting desperate.) It seemed about as helpful as my later Zoltar reading from a gas station just before the CA/NV border. A stop in Pasadena to fill up on gas and California hippy snacks, we hit the road, ready to get the hell out of disappointing LA and get home.


That first night, we passed by Vegas, but weren't allowed to stop. Neither did we stop at any of the sights in Nevada, Arizona, Utah or Colorado. That's right, Colorado. We made it as far as De Beque, CO. You know where that is, dear readers? Neither do we. We just slept for a few hours on the side of the road and when the sun came up, we drove off. We don't WANT to know where that town is.


But the sunrise was sure pretty.


And today, Saturday, after a few roadside hours of sleep, we made it all the way out of Colorado, all the way across Nebraska, stopping once and once only to eat in Omaha, and all the way to Cedar Rapids, IA.


That's more than 1800 miles, and 29 hours of driving (+1 hour we sat on the 15 en route to Vegas in 129 degree heat because someone had to get themselves into a car crash.)


Tmrw, driving through the night, gets us back to DC. Work starts on Monday!

Posted by luckiestshauna 20:57 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas california arizona colorado iowa omaha nebraska rhonda cedar_rapids vanna lincoln_mkx de_beque roadtrips Comments (0)

Days 10 & 11: LA is sort of sucking it.

We had such high hopes.

sunny 78 °F

We rushed to get to LA because we had so many plans and such momentum coming in; big-ish people had agreed to meet with us, we had contacts at some of the major networks and among people at the Wheel of Fortune. We were flying high. And seemingly flying in New Vanna – man can that engine pull!

Then, literally as we were driving into the LA basin, things fell apart. People who were enthusiastic about the project suddenly had family emergencies and others who would talk with us for 45 minutes on the phone were too busy to meet with us on camera for ten.

We made call after call, sent email after email, followed up, went through channels, and drove around and around in crappy traffic – thank god for cool seats and double sunroofs. It become clear to TLS crew members that things were just not going to work out, no matter how much we worked at it. Which is terribly frustrating for people who don’t like to take no or give up.

So we did what we could do.

On Day 10, we went to the Paley Center for Media and watched some old Wheel of Fortune episodes from 1976 and 1978. Chuck was looking so handsome, and Susan, less so. But! We learned an important fact: WoF winners were invited back to the show, much like on Jeopardy today.

On one episode the winner was playing her 3rd game. So what do we take from that, dear readers? Shauna would have been on the show more than one day. Ups the chances of it a) being a big deal to her and her bragging to her friends about it and b) that she will be on some tape somewhere.

Then we went to USC, trying to find someone to talk to at the film school. No dice. We made a bunch more calls to private investigators and sent emails to former winners. No luck.

On Day 11, we rose early to go on a Sony studio tour. We got to see the set of WoF and Jeopardy, some huge sound stages, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Townsend_(actor) (< ERROR: the link title is too long!), and the Ghostbuster mobile.

After a deeelish In n’ Out burger lunch, we went over to Universal for a tour of its huge sets, thanks to TLS fan and supporter, Jason Coffey. Tourists on the studio tour tram kept snapping pics of us like we were some celebrities ourselves in our Desperate Housewives golf cart. We saw the sets of Back to the Future, War of the Worlds, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Psycho - complete with a creepy Norman Bates stand-in.


We also met up with TLS fans on the 16th floor roofdeck of Perch in LA. Thanks to all those who came out to support us! Thanks, too, the Gap and its Pico de Gap truck for providing two tacos made by Marcel Vigneron (from Top Chef!) and a drink for $1.69. Thanks to the lobster rollers and dosa wrappers and last, but not least, the bacon-wrapped hotdog makers for providing such delicious fare.

Heading home soon. It’s been real, LA!

Posted by luckiestshauna 18:29 Archived in USA Tagged california los_angeles documentary cross-country the_luckiest_shauna paley_center sony_studios studio_tours wheel_of_fortune Comments (0)

Day 9: Tucson, AZ - Phoenix, AZ - Los Angeles, CA

Hot! Hot! Hot!

sunny 115 °F

Slow day here on the TLS front. We basically just drove from Tucson to LA, all through the lonely desert. (Disclaimer: all photos on this post are from the inside of New Vanna.) We made quick stop in Phoenix to see a big fan of The Luckiest Shauna.

And from there, we just booked it to LA. New Vanna kept the crew nice and cool while temps outside soared; Vanna fought off 100+ degree sunrays for 6 soild hours.

The crew arrived in LA just in time for evening rush hour, so we got to spend some time catching up on our sitting in traffic time.

Some points of interest between Tucson and Los Angeles:

1. Lots of Desert

2. A semi hauling a wide load (not calling anyone fat) with some puppies and rainbows painted on the side.

3. An enormous windfarm. Blew our minds. The photos don't do it justice.

4. The closest thing we'd seen to a Best Buy in days.

Posted by luckiestshauna 11:24 Archived in USA Tagged desert california arizona mojave the_luckiest_shauna best_buy mojave_desert Comments (0)

Day 8: Tucson, AZ - San Carlos, Sonora, MEXICO - Tucson, AZ

That's right folks. In and out of Mexico in yet another long, hot day....

At the crack of dawn, while it was still a cool 82 degrees, we changed out New Vanna for a Nissan Versa that we dubbed Non-da, short for Non Rhonda, at the Tucson International Airport. Nonda is a lot like a new pet, gotten hastily after the previously-beloved family pet was suddenly put down. Not a replacement. Rather, more of a slap in the face, reminding you of how much you miss Fido, and thus a magnet for the anger emotions in the cycle of grief.


Anyway, we got the rental and the proper ‘driving in Mexico’ insurance which we did not need for Canada, (curiously, we also did not need to leave our car at the border to cross into Canada, so that’s two points Canada… and trust us, we do not just give points away to our northern neighbors.)

After a lap around southern Tucson, we finally pointed the car in the right direction and made our way to the border. The border crossing was quick and easy, though Mike had to explain his laundered passport to the tattooed lady border guard.


It was an uneventful 6-hour drive to San Carlos, with no radio or otherwise entertainment like New Vanna can offer. So, we were reduced to games like ‘spot the narco’ and ‘name that roadside saint.’


Mike met with Shauna’s mom AND (drumroll!) it turns out that Shauna was named after not one but TWO Wheel of Fortune contestants. Shauna was the winner, and Lea, the non-winner was the inspiration for her middle-name. Also, Shauna Lea was nameless for one to two days.

What does this all mean, you ask? Does the lucky of the winner Shauna get cancelled out by the unlucky of the loser Lea? When exactly did the show air and why did the kid go nameless for a few days? Does this mean we have to search for TWO people? And really, Shauna's parents?! Really? Had you really not thought of ANY names ahead of time?

Following the interview, Mike packed in some fresh ceviche and coconut water - not just good for a hangover – and made the long slog back to Tucson.

And here's a question for you, dear readers, what is it about border guards that makes them so humorless? Crossing the border wasn't unpleasant, but is it too much to ask for a "Welcome back?"

Three observances about Mexico:
1. Pemex, like Starbucks in America is literally on every block. Except when you need them, stuck behind a line of semis going 40 (that's km/h!) with the fuel light burning ever-brighter. Sort like slowly falling to sleep, walking in search of your daily caramel latte, to complete the metaphor.
2.Triple 'tope' threats sort of remind us of Total Recall. In either instance, slow down.
3. Chinese-Mexican Food is really everywhere. So is Chinese everything.

7 Reasons New Vanna (Old Rhonda) is better than Nonda:

1. Windshield wipers that don't turn themselves on when its raining (what? I'm supposed to do that?)
2. Headlights that don’t turn themselves on and off (I don't control the sun, why do I have to control the night?)
3. Cruise control that doesn’t slow itself automatically down when it senses another car because there is no cruise control (I might as well be riding a bike.)
4. No seat coolers. Come on, Nonda, this is Mexico. Not Canada. It’s hot here.
5. Roll down my window with a crank like a loser. (What is this, the 70s?)
6. Doors that don’t unlock themselves when I’m near. (Don't you know me by now? That hurts my feelings.)
7. No chrome. Anywhere....Seriously, it's undignified.

Thank you again, Ford, for giving us New Vanna/Rhonda.

Posted by luckiestshauna 09:53 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico canada lincoln ceviche rhonda nissan the_luckiest_shauna san_carlos vanna pemex chrome tope cocos_campechanas Comments (1)

Day 7: Borger, TX - Roswell, NM - Tucson, AZ

Three things that may exist: dust storms, aliens, and Mexican/Chinese restaurants.

sunny 102 °F

Leprechauns. Eskimos. Chupacabra. The Loch Ness monster. Wheel of Fortune Shauna. These are things that are rumored to exist.

So are dust storms, apparently. We only saw little devils, which, while cool, could not confirm or deny the existence of the real deal. Have you ever been in a dust storm? How do we know that they really exist? Are dust storms like Santa Claus, we’re just supposed to take your word for it, mom and dad?

Or what about your word, Yelp? We’re just gonna follow you to Margarita's, a “Mexican-Chinese” restaurant? Are we gonna actually believe that your tacos al pastor are the real deal? What are we supposed to think when the chips and salsa are next to soy sauce and chopsticks? Any rational person would’ve walked out there and gone straight to a Taco Bell; at least you know the poison you’ll be eating there.

And you, Roswell? Aliens? Really? Aliens serving me sno-cones or cold Coca-Colas? Let me ask you this – aliens come all these bazillions of miles to the Earth, to what, hang out in Roswell, eating chips and salsa with chopsticks!? Not likely.


But, while not likely, the Mexican food was fantastic. And the alien museum not only entertaining but slightly scientific and somewhat convincing. Dust storms? I suppose they put the signs up for something. Doubtful that New Mexico would spend that kind of money to play practical jokes on tourists.

So now you, Shauna? What do we take away from this? That you, too, exist? Because we’re starting to really wonder about you, not showing up and all in our movie….


We’re sorry Shauna, we know that you’re out there. Just like dust storms and Eskimos, we know you exist. And we’ll be seeing you soon.

Still, Wichita public schools, shame on you. Washington, DC, does not exist in Washington state.

New Vanna got a rest after this long day. She's filthy and we didn't want to take her into Mexico. We reached 3300 miles yesterday, visited the world's largest pistachio (heavy!) and saw some pretty sunset action. Southwest US is beautiful. And weird.

Posted by luckiestshauna 15:40 Archived in USA Tagged arizona aliens texas documentary new_mexico roswell cross-country usa! the_luckiest_shauna pistachio ufo_museum chinese_mexican_food Comments (1)

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