Thursday, August 28, 2014

You'd never know there was a drought here.

Tuesday morning, we went back to Joshua Tree National Park to see the actual Joshua trees.  They are often described as Seuss-like.  You can judge for yourself.

There are also crazy, weird rock formations that were formed by magma pushing up underneath the earth, then cracking, then being revealed by the erosion of the surface earth that previously covered them.

These remind me a lot of the boulders you have to mine in "Don't Starve," though I don't think you'd get a lot of gold nuggets out of these.

As you pass across the border into California, you will stop by an agricultural border inspection.  You will slow down, and a guy will wave you through.  I assume they only stop commercial trucks, but who knows.  You will also pass a sign that says something like, "State Prison Nearby," underneath which is another sign saying, "Don't Pick Up Hitchhikers."

The toll roads in California are legitimately nicer than the freeway; however, they just transitioned to paying tolls online (no cash booths), which means you have to remember to pay the toll within 48 hours (a serious challenge for people like me), and on top of that, you have to know your license plate number, where you entered, and where you exited.  Residents can get some kind of EZ Pass type thing so that it's automatic, but if you're just travelling through, you're not going to get one, and you're also much less likely to know any of those things.  (Rental car + GPS = I don't know anything.)  I find this highly annoying.  Assuming they enforce tolls by entering this information into their system anyway (rather than using the honor system), it seems much better to have the system populate that information automatically based on your license plate number and date of travel.  Although in their current scheme, if you don't know where you entered or exited, it will just charge you the maximum toll (~$10), so I guess they have an incentive to keep that.

Bikers are evidently encouraged to weave through traffic because this reduces congestion, which is a huge problem in L.A.  This means you will sometimes see a motorcyclist driving in between the double yellow lines separating the HOV lane from the rest of the highway.  This is crazy.  You will also notice that the roadside grass is being watered by automatic sprinklers at 1:30PM.  This is also crazy.  Is the state unaware of its own drought?  (Answer:  Yes.)

I dropped Didi off at our other friend's place, since this is where we part ways.  Her apartment is probably two to three times the size of mine, and she pays half has much rent.  This entire trip has just been an ongoing demonstration that New York is rude and expensive.

I got to the airport, dropped off the car, and my friend Josh picked me up, and brought me to his "bungalow."  I'll take a photo and post it later, but it is the cutest little residential area, with one-story townhouse-ish apartments with greenery and fountains in between the rows of bungalows.  There is nothing like this in New York.  The breeze here is also actually cool, and not just air that's moving, because of the ocean, so it feels really nice.  Megan, Josh's girlfriend, took me to Venice Beach, which was gorgeous, but also very grungey and probably full of drugs.  I feel like this is where the movie "Thirteen" takes place, although I don't remember.  The beach is very pretty though.

These little guys are all over the beach.  This is apparently a recent phenomenon.  They look like jellyfish but have this hard sail that allows the wind to carry them.  They are, in reality, a colony of organisms (or something... I should look that up).

Some creepy guy started talking to us after faking us out by asking for the time, and culminated this genius pickup strategy by asking for Megan's number.  This is after he asked who we were, whether we were roommates, and when Megan said we were heading "home," "Where's home?"  She is from the Midwest, so she declined very nicely.  Guys, you may think it is harmless to talk to strangers, and if they blow you off it's no big deal, but it is unacceptable to start following and talking to two women you don't know, especially after sunset and it's getting dark, and then to ask where they live.  I think there are generally a lot of things that guys do that they think is casual and harmless fun, but have never really thought to appreciate how creepy it is on the receiving end.

After the beach, we went to Wurstkuche for dinner, where we had German sausages and beer.  I got two: rabbit and rattlesnake, and duck and bacon, along with the Spaten Oktoberfest.  All were very good.  The place has a very brauhausy feel, and the servers are very diligent about clearing your trays.

Candide doesn't need to know that one of these has duck in it.
Yesterday, Josh took me to Hollywood Boulevard for a brief walk, and then we hiked up Griffith Park.  The last time I was at Hollywood Boulevard was at least ten years ago, and it was a complete shithole.  There was trash blowing around, it was pretty desolate, and it did not feel safe.  It is way, way nicer now.  There are touristy museums like Madame Tussaud's, Guinness world records, and Ripley's Believe It or Not.  There is also a Scientology center (but not the celebrity castle one).  The street's full of hawkers trying to give you their CDs, but then if you take one, they will hassle you for money.  Ignore them.  There are also other hawkers trying to sell you on their tours of Hollywood, none of which I imagine are any good.

Dolby theater, where the Oscars are held, surrounded by columns with each year's best film

Red carpets
It takes much longer to walk anywhere here, because jaywalking is enforced, and a ticket will cost you $300.  This is also highly annoying.  Parking rules can also be pretty complicated, but that's true in New York as well, and Louie (the TV show) has a great scene on that.

We had lunch at the 101 Coffee Shop, which was actually very good.  It has a weird smell when you first walk in, but you don't notice it after a while, and the food was excellent for diner food.

Smoked salmon scramble.  The hash browns (that blob on the right) were PERFECT.  Crispy on the outside, and moist and mushy (but not too mushy) on the inside.  I cannot emphasize enough how good these were.  The scramble was good, too, seasoned with herbs I cannot identify.
The hike up Griffith Hill is a little more strenuous than I expected, but the view from the top is not bad.  I think it would be better on a clear day, but that's more common in the winter here after the rains have taken the smog out.

After that, Josh went to work, and I later met up with another friend Christopher in downtown L.A.  Christopher just moved here, and I'm a tourist, so we just walked around Pershing Square and had dinner and drinks at places recommended by friends.  Dinner was at Bottega Louie's, which is a nice restaurant with a very clean aesthetic of white with gold accents.  Even the toilet pipe is gold.  The highlight of the meal was their portobello fries, which were amazing (unless, I suppose, you don't like mushrooms).  They are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and are dressed just right with garlic and cheese.  I highly recommend these.  The main courses, on the other hand, were good, but nothing special.  We got some macarons for dessert, which were good, but no comparison to La Duree.

We ended the night with a couple beers at Library Bar, which is right by the library, and has a bunch of well-stocked bookshelves.  They have pretty good beers on tap and none of the standard fare; you won't find Stella or Heineken or anything here.  The bar has a very relaxed atmosphere and $5 beers during happy hour, but later on in the night, they were playing very loud Mexican music, so I'm not sure what was going on there.  Certainly a nice setting to have a couple drinks with a friend, at least on a Wednesday night.

And now I am late for lunch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Truffula trees

We had lunch at Habit Burger with a college friend of mine, who now lives in Arizona and is a flight instructor (which I think is the coolest thing ever).  This chain was voted best fast food burger in the country somewhere.  I have had Shake Shack and In-N-Out, but I can see why this one stands out.  The burger itself is nice and juicy and all that, and I really enjoyed the ratio of tomatoes, but the star of the whole thing is actually the bread.  Coming from someone who thinks KFC's double down is a great idea, this means a lot.  It is, as the name "Charburger" suggests, charred just right so that it's kind of crunchy yet still fluffy.  It adds that perfect amount of texture that every other burger lacks.  The sweet potato fries were also good, and I was offered ranch dressing to go with them, which never would have occurred to me, but was excellent.

I learned that culture of the aviation industry is basically stuck in the 50s.  Male flight attendants, though now acceptable, are all gay, obviously, because a) they are doing a woman's job, and b) is there even a difference between women and gay men?  Women don't belong in the cockpit, as your FAA examiner and random passengers will inform you.  Male pilots (the only real kind of pilot, of course) can't be gay.  It's impossible.  Is this not the 50s?  Of course in the 50s, the aviation industry was in the 30s, so I guess time passes three times as slow when you're in the air.

Anyway, if my friend moves to New York, she's going to teach me to fly, and it's going to be amazing.  I have always wanted a pilot's license.  She told me if I had $10,000 and a month, I might be able to do it, and I was 3/4-tempted to cancel the rest of my bar trip right then and there.  Except I have to pay loans with that money, and I have a wedding I kind of have to attend.  Someday though, I will fly.

The highway around Phoenix is awesome at night, because it's four lanes wide, and is pretty empty.  During the day, it is a nightmare.  It is not empty, and people are switching lanes all willy-nilly with no regard for whether they should be faster or slower than the lanes to the right or left of them, and without turn signals.  I saw two cars very nearly merge right into each other before my very eyes.  I don't know how many times either we or another car have almost been seriously injured because some other driver does not understand the concept of a blind spot.  The best part is when they merge in front of you and then suddenly turn to their rear view mirror, startled to see you.

Tip:  When driving through the desert, use your daytime headlights.  When the road is straight and flat for miles and miles and miles, it is much easier to judge how far a car is when its lights are on, as well as to notice it at all.

You can always tell when you've left major cities and ventured into the desert, because there will only be 3-4 radio stations.  One is Christian rock, and one is country.  The other might be in Spanish, and the last is either pop music or talk radio.  Those are your only options.

That reminds me, there was an ad way back while we were driving through Maine for some jewelry store that deals in diamonds.  A guy is talking about how diamonds don't make any sense, and it's just a rock (true).  Then the mom says, "I'm proud of you son," to which he says, "Why?"  And then she says, completely non-responsively, "A diamond is a true symbol of love" (or something like that).  It's like they're just having two entirely separate conversations.  She then "proves" through nonsense questions that diamonds are the best way to express your feelings (false).  Don't get me wrong - they're pretty - but let's not pretend this convention isn't just DeBeers pulling off the world's most successful ad campaign ever.

The other radio ad that really bothers me is, I think, a PSA against drunk driving.  A guy is complaining about losing his car, license, money, and girlfriend due to his drunk driving history.  That premise is fine.  But when it comes to losing the girlfriend, the line is, "... my girlfriend, who you won't see anymore, because she decided a guy with no money and no car was no fun."  Um, how about YOU WERE DRUNK DRIVING so she dumped you?  Is that not a more compelling ad?  "My girlfriend dumped me, because I don't even try to avoid killing people.  My existence makes the world a worse place."

And lastly, any radio contest that tells you to text a word to a number should be illegal.  Seriously, how is that not already true?

A perk of driving several different rental cars is that you get a really good test driving experience.  So far, I've driven a Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 2, and a Kia Forte.  Thus far the Kia is my favorite.  Both the Hyundai and the Mazda are really bad at accelerating, and I find the brake pedal to be overly sensitive (even though I am somewhat used to this from my own Elantra that I drove in high school).  The Mazda steering column, when adjusted to the position I like it, blocks the meters that I need to read.  The thing that makes the gears shift up (transmission, maybe?) is also terrible. The rpm is often at 4,000 for no discernible reason, i.e. when other cars would not be.  The Kia doesn't have these problems, and it feels more solid at high speeds.  Also, you can adjust the height of the seat and not just the angle of reclining.  I would consider buying this car.

We arrived in Joshua Tree National Park, which is way bigger than I thought.  It takes quite some time just to drive through the park itself, and that's if you take the straightest path.  Joshua Tree is like a cartoonist's desert come to life. The vegetation here is nuts.  Everything about this environment just screams, "Get the fuck out, humans."  It is hot as balls, there is no water, and even the plants will hurt you.  Also, did we mention there are scorpions?  It is pretty incredible that anything adapted to live here at all, instead of everything just giving up and moving elsewhere.  If I were a cactus, I'd be like, "Dude, why even bother.  Let's just go be trees."  (Yeah, I know my evolutionary theory pretty well.)

We arrived a bit later in the day, so we're going back tomorrow to see the actual Joshua trees, which we only saw at dusk today.  We also tried to go stargazing, but it's too cloudy.  We saw a tiny patch in a break in the clouds, and they were insanely twinkly.  I really wish I had seen the entire sky like that, because it would have been awesome. We did, however, get photos of an incredible sunset.  I have a lot, but I'll just post a few along with other park photos here.

The "mountains" in Joshua Tree park all look like enormous piles of rocks.

Sorry, Cathy.

Motivational poster caption contest!  That's a "winding road ahead" sign, in case it's too dark.

Driving in the park after dark is kind of weird.  You get this sixth sense that the desert is coming alive, and the weird silhouettes of the strangely shaped trees and cacti against the sky look really bizarre.

In other news, I have officially been pricked by a cactus.  I assume this makes me some kind of honorary Southwestern person.

Tip:  Cactus spikes will get on your shoes, and then into your car, and then you will accidentally hurt yourself later.

We had a late dinner at the Joshua Tree Saloon, which really does kind of feel like a saloon somehow, but I can't really put my finger on it.  I just feel like someone could walk in, place their 10-gallon hat on the bar, and order a whiskey because their country gal just cheated on them.

Anyway, we ordered two different kinds of fish tacos: grilled mahi-mahi and battered Alaskan cod.  The battered tacos were better by far.  There were little green flakes all over both of them, but it either wasn't cilantro, or I have now discovered that a shit ton of raw onions will completely mask the flavor.  (I don't think that's been true in the past, so perhaps it just wasn't cilantro.)

When I paid with my credit card, our waiter asked me how you say my name.  So that means Chinese tourists have not yet discovered this area, or it is just too inconvenient to visit, because once you see a bunch of Chinese names, most people cease to care how they are pronounced.  You certainly wouldn't ask in the tone of genuine curiosity/borderline fascination that our waiter did.  We did see fewer than ten other cars the entire time we were there, so this checks out.  In fact, we didn't see any park employees either, because they also stop collecting the park entrance fee after business hours, which apparently end at 4 PM.

Perhaps relatedly, the owner of this establishment (High Desert Motel) seems to have a lot of super patriotic stickers in his office, and I wonder if it's to compensate for his apparent immigrant status (i.e., if that's necessary here).  Also, some reviews for this place are pretty bad, but it's perfectly fine, and he was very nice.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Parks and Rec / America, the Beautiful

See, I told you this hotel is a dick:

Why would you publish these rates?  Are you actually charging A THOUSAND dollars for  late check-outs?  This sign basically just reads, "We're dicks."
We left the terrible hotel and flew to Vegas, enjoying some Salt Lick barbecue breakfast tacos at the airport before our 7:00 AM flight.  They were ok, but nothing special.  Not surprising, since it's the airport.

Pulled pork and eggs
After arriving in Vegas and remembering that there are lines for everything when you exit the airport, including a shuttle to a seemingly faraway rental car center, we had lunch at the Heart Attack Grill.  I heard about this place I think as far back as high school, but I always thought it was in Arizona (which it was originally), so I had never thought to pursue eating there, even though I was in Vegas just this past June.

If there's one thing that can be said about this restaurant, it's that it's very on-theme.  The idea behind the Heart Attack Grill is that this food will send you to the hospital, so everything is fat/hospital-themed.  You are required to wear a hospital gown at all times.  Waitresses introduce themselves as your nurse.  You can order alcohol in an IV bag, a "syringe" (no needle, of course), or a pill bottle.  Anyone weighing over 350 pounds (prior to ordering) eats for free.  You can qualify by weighing yourself on a large scale with the weight displayed in scoreboard-sized numbers, for all to see. Anyone who doesn't finish the burger they order gets a paddling from their nurse at the paddling station, with an option to purchase the paddle.  That seems far too bizarre in words, so let's turn to the photos.

This was actually pretty good for a place that sells the experience more than the food.  There's cheese, chili, tomatoes, and bacon for an additional fee (which is very low).  You can get onions, too, but I don't like raw onions.  The fries (which are fried in lard) are not good.
They play 80s music along with the videos, which is interesting, since I had never seen the original "Electric Slide" video before.  A patient at the table next to us weighed in, and I could swear the nurse was mustering all her willpower to refrain from a disgusted eye roll at the whole weighing-and-applause-if-you-have-serious-health-problems scenario. The owner, in some articles, claims that he hopes his business will fail and that the idea is to bring attention to how unhealthy this kind of food is, but this place definitely comes off way more as glorifying obesity and the food that leads to it, and he makes a pretty penny, so you can draw your own conclusions as to the sincerity of those beliefs.

The waitress asked if she could take a photo of Candide, because she thought he was so cute.  (He is.)

The nurse/waitresses also remind you, even when you're only in Vegas for lunch, that Vegas is gross.  Objectification is so pervasive and accepted that normal people engage in behavior that is clearly unacceptable.  The last time I was there for Cathy's bachelorette party, I had to yell at a stranger to, "Get the fuck out of here," because he walked up to our group and started taking photos of us.  Not from afar.  From two feet away.  No greeting or attempt at conversation. Just walking up and taking pictures.  And the first time I said it, he goes, "Really, that's it?"  Uh, yeah, buddy.  "Get the fuck out" is pretty much "it."  This isn't a request that should require repetition.  Are you looking for an appeals process?  Because that begins with my heel going up your asshole.  Is there any other place in the world where someone could even consider this as a possible course of action?  (Ok, yes, Barcelona.  And Istanbul.  Based on personal experience, when Mediterranean men are creepy, they are extremely creepy.)

Relatedly, on the radio the other day in Austin, some host was comparing female celebrities' attractiveness and says something like, "except for Lorde - not that there's anything wrong with her, but she's 17!  I'll give her her love when it's due."  I absolutely do not understand how it is acceptable for any grown man to express this sentiment in public, much less broadcast it.  Besides, I don't think Lorde will appreciate the "love" that you apparently feel is "due."  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the thing Lorde least looks forward to about turning 18 is creepy guys thinking, "Finally!  She's legal!"  (Tip:  If that's a real concern for you, and you are not 18 or 19 yourself, you have a problem.)  Hint:  Lorde's age is not the thing preventing you from sleeping with her, I promise.  And if you're the "countdown" type, it's obviously not stopping you from being gross, so shut up about girls turning 18.  You're basically saying that you're keeping your lascivious thoughts in abeyance (yeah, right), but damn, once that chick turns 18, you are going to be all over that. HOW IS THAT LESS CREEPY?  Seriously, what the fuck.  I dream of a world where a girl can get to 15 (maybe someday 16!) without being catcalled or hit on by a grown man in the god damn street and where it is highly appalling to comment on someone becoming legal, because it is.  Come on, guys, that bar is pretty.  Freaking.  Low.

Anyway... we drove to Bryce Canyon, and Chinese tourists need to calm down.  In the middle of the desert, where everything is almost silent except the gravel and sand beneath your feet, the only other thing you can hear is your heartbeat AND THAT CHINESE TOURIST FAMILY.  Come on countrymen, shape up.  You're embarrassing our people as a whole, and that's a lot of people.  Also, don't wear a chiffon skirt and sequined flats to go hiking.  (Europeans, that goes for you, too.  Why do you look like you just stepped out of the Ralph Lauren Catalogue: Boating Edition?  Do you think boat shoes are for hiking?)  No one who's heard this phenomenon could possibly believe that Asians are meek and timid, though I'm not sure inconsiderate and obnoxious is an improvement.

Tip:  Bryce Canyon is very high up, and thus very cold.  It may be 113 in Austin, but it will be... 60s? (whatever 13 Celsius is) at Bryce.  It reminded me a lot of Kapadokya, Turkey, except better, if I'm being honest.

By the time we left Bryce, it was almost dark.  After it gets really dark, you can see the stars with amazing clarity. Not just stars, but the galaxy.  Whole swaths of star clusters that just look like strips of magical light.  It's awesome.  I would definitely go camping for these stars, and I hate camping.  (More accurately, I hate bugs.)

Then I got pulled over for speeding, even though I was only going 79.  (To be fair, the speed limit was 65, apparently.) The officers were really nice and seemed to be more concerned with whether or not we were drinking, so they let me go without a ticket, warning me that at that speed I would hit a deer.  Minutes later, I did actually see a deer on the side of the road.  But the thing I swerved three times to avoid (road was otherwise empty) was RABBITS.  There are rabbits everywhere.  And they come out of nowhere, and they're so little you can't see them from afar, even with your high beams on.  You'll see signs warning you about deer, elk, mountain lions, cattle, and also controlled fires, but beware of the rabbits.  I'm being serious.

We got to Page, which is where Antelope Canyon is.  Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land, so the national parks pass does not cover it, and you need a reservation with an authorized tour company to go.  We didn't decide to go until we were in Nashville, so we were lucky to find a company with three empty spots for the exact day we'd be passing through that area.  There are a few companies that do it, and tours seem to be around $37 (unless you want a special, longer photo tour) for early morning or late evening, and a little higher for the "peak" hours.  I'm assuming these are more popular because of how the light hits the canyon or something.  I have no basis for comparison, but we went with this company and were satisfied.

You are asked to arrive 15 minutes before the tour begins, at which time someone performs a hoop dance, which was kind of cool.

Tip:  Time zones are extremely confusing.  Arizona is an hour earlier than Utah until November.  Navajo time, according to the internet, is Utah time, but the tour companies follow Arizona time (as they are located in Page, AZ).  If you use your cell phone for timekeeping, it will flip out about 50 times along the Arizona/Utah border.  Also, get a watch, you barbarian.

We then went in to pay, but the tour was about to leave, so they told us to come back later.  After arriving back at the end, no one asked us to pay, so we very easily could have not paid, since they didn't take any credit card information when I reserved or anything.  Oh, this company is also one of few that takes credit cards and isn't cash only. (Obviously we did pay them.  I'm not about to sneak my way out of paying Native Americans.  I mean damn, that would be cold.)  I also answered my own question from an earlier post by purchasing a dreamcatcher.  But at least it is real leather and feathers, and I can tell myself it was really made by a Navajo and not in a humongous factory in China.  (A sign said all crafts were handmade by the tribe, and in other stores in Arizona, they label when things are "non-Native American made," so I get the sense they passed a law about this.)  But yeah, I guess I'm a 14-year-old girl.

After the hoop dance, they load you on to the back of these open air trucks to drive to the Canyon.  The seat belts are one per two people and are not very secure, but I didn't feel like I was going to die at any point.  There is a lot of freaking dust.  It will get everywhere.  Into your socks, somehow.  And ears.  And hair.  And mouth.  Just be forewarned.  But the drive is very pretty, as was the drive to Bryce and the drive to the Grand Canyon.  The entirety of Arizona between cities is basically one enormous, panoramic, scenic view.

There is so much sky in Arizona.  You can see sky for days.

Antelope Canyon is made of Navajo sandstone, and is shaped primarily by water through flash floods and bigger floods. The stone is 200 million years old.  And it is awesome.  100% would go again.  Like right now.

Disclaimer:  The color in my photos is actually more vibrant than the stone appears in real life.  I did not enhance them. My phone just does this on its own.  Generally, the orange/yellow is true to life, but the blue/purple is some kind of phone magic.

This color is pretty accurate, though this chamber was particularly dark.  Our guide said a few weeks ago, the sand (which gets brought in and taken out by floods) was low enough that they could walk under that little gap on the right.  Flash floods often result in the tours after noon being cancelled, so keep that in mind.
The rock to the right is "Abraham Lincoln."

Dragon's eye

This color is very accurate.
People for scale
The canyon is the same way out as in, and by the time we were leaving, there were a lot more people, so if you want a little more time for photos, but not a photo tour, I would suggest going early.  Again, I don't know what the light looks like if you go later, so it may be worthwhile, but I heard a lot of, "Ok, let's move on so this next group can come in," on the way out.

We realized, because the hotel is on Lake Powell Blvd, that there must be a Lake Powell nearby, so we decided to swing by it before heading to the Grand Canyon.  It's pretty cool, but it seems like it's only worth an extended stay if you have or plan to rent a boat.  You can camp there for up to 14 days.  I can't even imagine camping for 4 days.  Also, why are lakes "Lake X" but Canyons are "Y Canyon"?  Is one of them Romance and the other Germanic?  English is so weird.

For our lunch stop, we got Navajo tacos (although I think this one specifically was made by the Hopi), which is frybread (what it sounds like - fried dough) topped with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and a lot of cheese and beans.

It was enormous.  The three of us split one.
Just before the Grand Canyon, we passed a bunch of Native American shops that sell little trinkets like dreamcatchers, silver/turquoise jewelry, and small decorative things (like turtles) made out of wood.  The one shack we stopped at had two bumper stickers: "Homeland Security: fighting terrorism since 1492" and "This border is illegal" with a silhouette of the continental United States.

And now, the Grand Canyon.  I'd say words don't do it justice, but neither do photos.  The feeling you get is just that it is SO VAST.  I guess you also wonder if this whole area used to be an ocean, because it looks like the California riverbanks that are now running dry, except they keep going forever, and it's all you can see.

I will say this:  I feel like you only have to stop at half the overlooks on the Desert View Drive.  The first three (east to west) are very similar, unless I suppose you have a guide pointing out what you can only see from that vantage point. Otherwise, you kind of feel like you're just driving and stopping and looking out at the same thing.  I'd rather just stay longer at the same place rather than have an expectation of a different view and stopping and going for that purpose. Maybe it's a crowd control thing, I don't know.

This is what everything looks like through my sunglasses.
This guy was right next to our car.
Moral of the story:  America really is beautiful.