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From the heartland to Hollywood

On the Oscar road: Tinsel Town at last

One of the citizens interviewed about Oscar preferences during the week's drive to Los Angeles -- a presumed interest in
One of the citizens interviewed about Oscar preferences during the week's drive to Los Angeles -- a presumed interest in "Moo-lin Rouge."  

By Kendis Gibson
CNN Headline News

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news around the world.

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- On the final day of our cross-country road trip, we had the earliest wake-up time in six days: Our daily 7:45 a.m. EST appearance on CNN Headline News came in at 4:45 a.m. PST -- meaning we had to be up and about by at least 3:30 a.m.

And we were: We did our live shot and then went right back to the hotel and right back to bed.

A few hours later, to the sounds of Sheryl Crow blasting on our CD player, we were indeed "Leaving Las Vegas." And despite working and staying at a major hotel-casino, none of us had spent a single minute in Las Vegas doing any gambling.

It took us four hours to complete the desert drive to Los Angeles.

Just about mid-afternoon the smoggy Los Angeles skyline became visible from behind the mountains. Task No. 1: Get our press passes for the Oscars.

Looking for a sign

  Day 1:  Crawfish, Mentos and best pics

  Day 2:  A stop in 'Spacek City'

  Day 3:  Talkies at the Tascosa

  Day 4:  Day 4: Dams and damsels

We rolled into Hollywood, first stopping at the hotel next to the new Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are being handed out Sunday. Three days before the awards, preparations were in full swing. Streets are already cordoned off and security is tight.

After getting our press passes, we were supposed to go right to CNN's Los Angeles bureau for a meeting. But after spending all this time driving to L.A. -- not always taking the most direct route along the way -- we decided to take one more detour: a quick dash along Mulholland Drive to admire the view of the "Hollywood" sign.

It was a nice end to our road trip, because we'd done what we set out to do: We drove cross-country. And more importantly, after spending all that time together, the three of us still like each other.

End of the road.
End of the road.  

Next it was off to that planning meeting. And while arriving in Los Angeles made us feel we've completed a long journey, this meeting made us realize that it's only the beginning.

CNN's televised coverage of the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday evening starts at 7 p.m. EST. And watch Kendis Gibson's entertainment reports, daily on CNN Headline News.



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