Liz Tay­lor, an ice cream and me

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRIS CLARKE TARINGA, QUEENS­LAND

I had a flash­back the other night while watch­ing the movie Bur­ton and Tay­lor on the ABC. The year was 1986 and I had to get from Van­cou­ver to Los An­ge­les. I am an ar­chi­tect and was work­ing on World Expo 88 for Bris­bane and do­ing some re­search at Expo 86 in Van­cou­ver.

I took a tiny sea­plane to Seat­tle to pick up a rental car. The flight out of Van­cou­ver Har­bour was the most amaz­ing I have taken. There was a wooden pad­dle strapped to the floats and I felt like Har­ri­son Ford in an epic ad­ven­ture movie fly­ing only a few hun­dred me­tres above sea level for the 160km jour­ney.

The pro­posed drive was inspired by a movie I’d seen when liv­ing in Lon­don in the 70s, Five Easy Pieces, star­ring a young Jack Ni­chol­son and Karen Black. In it, they drive north to Ore­gon but I was do­ing the re­verse. They stayed in cheap mo­tels and so did I — from mem­ory, I paid about $US25 a night at my var­i­ous stopovers.

I took the coast road and saw forests of gi­ant red­woods and Sea Ranch, a won­der­ful sea­side re­sort and town­ship about 160km north of San Fran­cisco. It is one of the best ex­am­ples in the world of a sen­si­tive de­vel­op­ment in a windswept nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Af­ter that, I drove to Los An­ge­les in one day and stopped at a small shop­ping cen­tre in Mal­ibu for a quick break be­fore head­ing into LA. Guess who pulled up in the space next to me? It was El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor and Robert Wag­ner in a clas­sic BMW coupe. Wag­ner hopped out and went into the shops, soon re­turn­ing with an ice cream for Tay­lor.

He went back to the shops on another er­rand and there I was, ad­ja­cent to one of the most fa­mous stars in the world who was calmly eat­ing an ice cream. Her win­dow was open. I de­bated with my­self but de­cided to ask her how she was en­joy­ing the ice cream. I know it was a ba­nal thing to do but I had to say some­thing, didn’t I? She po­litely replied that it was OK and thanked me.

Maybe I got car­ried away but I’m sure I recog­nised sev­eral other movie peo­ple in that car park. Ah, Los An­ge­les, city of dreams.

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