The whole story

Spring break

Me and some of my high school friends wanted to take a trip down the coast to visit some friends that live in the Los Angeles area. So me, Conor, Kelly, Fernando and Will piled into a rented van and leave Redmond to visit Matt and Scott in Thousand Oaks.

Conor and Kelly had come up with an idea to steal a random garden gnome and take pictures of it in various places and then return the gnome with a photo album. We took a picture at the sign leaving Redmond that self proclaims we are the bicycle capitol of the world. We had planned to take a picture at the capitol in Olympia, but it was raining and we didn’t stop.

The drive down took 20 hours. Driving through the night we no sleep put our arival time at about 1pm in LA. We get to Matt and Scott’s place and spend the night. The next day we wanted to check out Hollywood. I’ve been to the LA area many times, but since I was always with my family I had never spent much time in the actual Hollywood area. So we load into the van, and of course we have the gnome in the back seat. Gotta take a picture with the Hollywood sign in the background, right?

As we pull off the freeway and turn onto Sunset Strip we pass by a gas station that has about 6 photographers taking pictures of a really nice Bentley. We circle around the block and park at the gas pump across from the car. Conor gets out in an attempt to “buy a candy bar” and see if there is a celebrity in the store. As he’s walking up, out walks Paris Hilton. After oh-my-goshing in the car for 5 minutes, we start to get out and take pictures with the rest of the paparazzi. Conor sneaks over and sets the gnome down on the ground near Paris’ car in the hopes it will make it in a few pictures. Then Conor has the guts to ask her to hold the gnome for a picture. As we are snapping away pictures, so is the paparazzi photographers.

The next 30 minutes are a blur of high pitched excitement, a million cell phone calls, me grumbling about being hungry, and the realization that about 500 pictures were just taken of our encounter.

So the rest of trip consists of an overnight trip to Las Vegas, a day a Six Flags, and eventually we make the 20 hour drive back with a stop in San Fransisco.

Magazine coverage

Due to the million phone calls we made to family and friends in the critical minutes after meeting Paris Hilton, most acquaintances of ours knew the story and had seen the picture of Conor and Paris online.

On the drive back, Conor’s mom calls to inform us that on page 8 of the current People magazine there was a picture of Paris and the gnome. We find a nearby shopping center and bought 5 copies. We tried to explain to our cashier that the heavy gnome sitting on the checkout counter was the same one as the picture in the magazine. She didn’t really get it. Also we were pretty out of breath from running between stores.

Local News

Back in Bellingham, I am forced to return to the regular routine of college. Two weeks go by when my cell phone rings during a work meeting. (First time that ever happened…) The mystery person that actually owned the gnome was interview on the 5 o’clock news by local ABC station KOMO 4 in Seattle. She was also on the 11 o’clock news on NBC station KING 5. Sweet. That was pretty exciting. I told the story to a few more people, trying to convince them that I was somehow involved.

Thursday morning as I am waking up I recieved a text message from my sister Melanie informing me that the clip had made ESPN’s SportCenter video of the week. I spent a few minutes before class searching the “Internet” for any more news articles. I notice one on msnbc that had a new video clip. It turns out the nice lady with the gnome had been live on NBC’s Today show.

OMG New York

//TODO: write this part tomorrow

Waiting for Billy Idol to play. Times Square in the background.

Kelly, Billie, Conor, Me

Diane Sawyer. I don’t appear to be looking at the camera.

Outside of ABC studios, on Times Square.

Met’s game. Cold.

Conor and I blatantly defying NYC street sign near the WTC site.

No joke.

Police presence.