#NKinNA16: Part 5 – All Good Things

“Flames to dust, lovers to friends, why do all good things come to an end?”

Yaaassss Nelly Furtado, speak the truth.

Welcome back to #NKinNA16, and we’ve unfortunately reached the end of the tunnel. That’s right; my six week journey is winding down and reaching the end of the track, and I am not the slightest bit happy about it. But the show must go on, so let’s continue.

After leaving Kanab the place we do not speak of, we were headed to probably the pinnacle of this tour, especially for those who joined us in Chicago: Las Vegas, Nevada. Now, if you haven’t been to Sin City before, it might surprise you that Las Vegas – the world’s busiest 24/7 city – is literally just placed in the middle of a desert. You’ll be driving through sand and road, and you’ll sneeze and all of a sudden see all the bright lights of Vegas.

After all of the sightseeing, national parks, and unforgiven hotel room parties, the crew were excited to be in civilization again, let alone Sin City. It was a bittersweet moment forever: this was the stop everyone was waiting for, but it was also the last stop, but let’s not dwell on the latter just yet…

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We got to Harrah’s Las Vegas (our hotel for the next three nights), and after getting settled in our rooms, we got ready for our included dinner at Planet Hollywood. I’ve been here before and knew what was coming – a delicious blue alcoholic concoction served to you in a bloody fishbowl – but because the restaurant weren’t expecting so many fishbowl orders, they had run out of fishbowls. So we had two normally-huge-sized cocktail glasses full of this delicious blue drink, and here’s the picture to prove it.

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Afterwards, we were taken to the Grand Norther Contiki SURPRISE optional. Just in case anyone is reading this and is thinking of doing this tour, I won’t spoil it mention what the surprise is, but I will say that you will enjoy it.

What soon followed was a trip to the Old School Vegas, AKA Fremont Street, which featured a pretty awesome Imagine Dragons light show. I love my Imagine Dragons, so I really got into it. Oh, and Fremont Street also played host to some giant ass alcoholic slushies, so seeing the size of them, Jacko and I decided to share one. I still don’t know how we managed to finish it. It was neverending.

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Our first night out in Vegas soon followed, and we hit up a place called Ghost Bar. Now, I enjoy my nights out just like every other Joe Blow does, but what I really don’t like about partying in Vegas is the long, painful process to simply get into a nightclub. We had VIP treatment thanks to these two wanky douchebags who don’t look like they’ve done a proper day’s work in their life VIP club promoter guys, and we were still waiting in line for like half an hour. Also, the sexism in Vegas is so real.

After some dancing, drinks, and all around fun with the crew, I finished my night a bit early and returned back to the hotel. Not without some excitement and drama at 2am in a hotel corridor, but whatever.

The following day – after Kate and some others were denied entry to the Chainsmokers Pool Party because the tickets they rightfully purchased weren’t sent to them on time like it bloody should have – Kate and I decided to walk around Vegas and hit the Fashion Show mall. We also looked around the Strip to see what else it had to offer, which is pretty much everything.

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Dinner was fend-for-yourself, so Kate, Angela, Russell and I caught up with our Grand Canadian friends Courtney, Georgia and Ashley and had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. I stan portabello mushroom burgers so much, and boy do Hard Rock Cafe do a mean ass portabello mushroom burger.

My year-long goal was about to be accomplished, because JJ, Tarni, Veegz, Angela and I waltzed on over to the Excalibur where we would attend our first Thunder from Down Under show. If you have no idea what that is, just picture Magic Mike but with Aussie men (so basically sexier, less mannequiny looking men).

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It was definitely an experience to be had, and it was also marginally better than the traumatising experience I had in the Montreal strip club with the “shake shake shake” girl. The dancing wasn’t too crash hot – or maybe that’s because I have a dance background and am judgmental about it – but the guys were nice to look at… at least from afar. Once they got close and started gyrating their genitals in my face, my mind changed. And they took that as a challenge.

This picture accurately shows you what I saw…

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Anywho, after our successful second night out in Vegas, JJ and I played a couple of games downstairs in Harrah’s before calling it a night and heading to bed.

Our third day was full of shopping – like, full of it. Thinking I would be able to fend off everything and not spend a cent, I ended up leaving with MORE Harley Quinn merchandise, some clothes for my niece and nephew, and this wicked ass Jordan’s that I only really bought because Nikki Bella would wear them. They’re pretty cute, I guess.

As it was our last night together as a family, we went out to the XS Nightclub after an included limo ride down the strip with free terrible, terrible tasting champagne. XS Nightclub is a bit fancy… and by a bit, I mean a lot. It was a bit too uptight for my liking, so I didn’t last long there. (What’s with my hating the nightlife in Vegas?) I did befriend these really lovely Samoan gentlemen though. All around the world, right?

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Not wanting to end my last night in Vegas on a sour note, a few of us went back to the casino in Harrah’s and played some roulette and table blackjack. I’ve never played blackjack at a table before, so I’m glad I got to break that virginity in Sin City. Also, I lost all of the money I stole borrowed from Hayden and Big Red. Oops.

The following morning – after a stellar buffet breakfast in Harrah’s – we went back onto the coach for our last trip together forever. We farewelled Hayden and Shaun, who were staying in Vegas for the remainder of their trip, and boarded the coach to Los Angeles, California. Despite desperately needing sleep, I wasn’t going to sleep on our last journey ever.

The coach trip was spent sharing favourite memories, talking among our new family members, and all-around general banter. Near the end of our ride, we were allowed to dedicate songs to other people on tour, so of course I got up and dedicated All In My Head (Flex) by Fifth Harmony to Kate. She knows what’s up.

We arrived at our destination in LA – where we were surprised by four of our former Contiki friends – and the goodbyes soon followed. I cried. A lot. I loved my Contiki Grand Northern family so much. I couldn’t have asked for a better group… but I’m getting too ahead of myself. That’s what part five is for. I’m going to miss my banter with Philip as well; one of the few men who can call me a slut and live to tell the tale.

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After saying our goodbyes, Kate and I headed on over to Burbank (a cute suburb of LA) to join our Contiki tour manager from last year Serena, who hosted us for the last three nights of our American trip. After dinner and some quick grocery shopping, we settled for an innocent girl’s night with second-attempt popcorn, Harry Potter, and chats catching each other up over the last year.

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Our first proper day in LA was standard: we went to Disneyland! Serena, who wasn’t even “on duty” as they say, was the best tour guide around Disneyland, and told us where everything was, showed us where we could buy what, and made sure we went on every ride and show possible.

Story time: so I wanted to crack one of the Disney actors and make them break character, so my first target was Gaston. Serena asked him for a selfie, and in perfect Gaston character, he turned her down. After this, I asked him if he wanted to make out later, to which he swiftly replied “I’m taken!” Disney – 1, Nikki – 0. We went to go see the Princesses afterwards (Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel), and I tried each of them. Told Ariel I was going to dress up as Nicki Minaj for Halloween, to which she says “Is she a Princess?” Although when I said “Waddup Ariel”, she did reply “Waddup”, so that’s like half a point to me. Disney – 2, Nikki – 0.5. When Snow White asked what kind of pie she should make the dwarves, I said “Apple pie, although you don’t really have a good track record with apples, do you?” She giggled and shook her head, and suggested some other form of pie. Disney – 3, Nikki – 0.5. Said “Sup Cindy” to Cinderella, and she says in her sick, sweetly voice “Oh hello there!” Not only that, but when I mentioned the plane ride from hell from Australia, she said “Did you fly by pumpkin carriage?” Disney – 4, Nikki – 0.5. Winner: Disney.

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Anywho… the rides were great. Disneyland isn’t as great as Disneyworld in Orlando, but it did the job. Splash Mountain was my favourite, and not just because of Kate’s face in this mid-ride shot.

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Serena had to leave to go to a hockey game, so we met up with our Contiki friends who were also at Disneyland and spent the rest of the day with them, including a nice Italian dinner in Downtown Disney. Being drained from all of the walking around Disney that day, Kate and I were out like a light that evening.

The next day, we were fortunate enough to get a free walking tour around the Warner Bros lot thanks to Serena’s beautiful mother. We got to ride a broomstick from Harry Potter, see the Suicide Squad costumes up close in the WB Museum, sit on the sofa from Friends and pretend to drink some form of coffee, and I also got to walk around Rosewood from Pretty Little Liars. All in all, I’d say it was a great experience.

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Serena then took us to Hollywood Boulevard, to which she warned me to “lower my expectations”. I did, and luckily I did, because Hollywood Boulevard is kinda underwhelming. Besides the long ass Walk of Fame and some other little tidbits, it wasn’t great, so we left Hollywood and took a scenic drive through LA, including Mulholland Drive where we happened to run into my pole goddess Hayley and her husband. WHAT ARE THE ODDS, RIGHT?

We dropped Kate off at Russell and Ange’s hotel, and Serena and I took off to do our own thang, which included Girls Night Part Two. With more snacks and more Harry Potter to watch, I’d say I spent my last night in LA very well. Oh, and we also had facial masks and more hair dye, so for about ten minutes, I looked like this.

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My last day in LA was spent in Santa Monica with my favourite people. Serena and I went on a walk along the pier, went on the rollercoaster (which GTA replica’d to a damn tee), and sat down on a swing and watched a very muscular, shirtless, attractive man work out the scenery at Mini Muscle Beach. As we were saying our goodbyes, we ran into Kate and our other Contiki friends, so Serena and I bid farewell to each other and I re-joined Kate, all the while tugging my luggage behind me up and down Santa Monica.

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Now, I’d rather not talk about the goodbyes and the journey home, so let me just leave you with this group shot of us before Kate, Russell, Ange and I headed to the airport for our loooooong flight home.

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What made the wait at the airport bearable was that us four also ran into Bree and Sasha, so all six of us sat around eating Panda Express and sharing our favourite (and unfavourite) moments of Contiki.

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And thus ends my #NKinNA16 trip. Six weeks, two countries, too many cities to count, all the amazing friends one could ask for, and the best travelling partner I could have. America and Canada 2016, you were the best, and I can’t wait to travel you once again in the future.

You might think my #NKinNA16 travel blog finishes here, but I’m not done. Not just yet. I’ve reserved part six for the most important part of any travel blog: the shoutouts. Because this trip wouldn’t have been so amazing without the awesome people who made it. For me, it’s not about the sights or the journey or trip, it’s about the people. The people really make your trip, and my new family certainly did.

Until then…

– by Noah La’ulu

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