Past Trips – California – Los Angeles Departing [6]

Once Mitch had returned from his run, freshened up and had his breakfast we were good to go.

LA Airport Road Congestion

LA Airport Road Tunnel Congestion
Leaving Los Angeles – Getting Past The Airport Area

Route Map California LA

First Stop – Existing LA we stopped at Venice Beach. This was not the nicest, a poor start as a puddle of urine musty smells greeted on getting out of the Jeep, but as places along the the LA coast this was probably the least up there, places to go.

Venice Beach LA USA

Venice Beach CA USA

Venice Beach Lifeguard Hut

Venice Beach CA Skate Board

Reaching the pacific
Feet into the Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean Waves CA

Venice Beach CA Shops

Venice Beach LA Road
Moving On

Second Stop – We stopped shortly after at Santa Monica Beach. Quite a bit more pleasant than Venice Beach, it was also just a passing stop off but with the on beach exercise areas, path ways and general way of the place it was very much nicer than Venice Beach.

CA Santa Monica Beach Life Guard Car

LA Santa Monica Beach Cyclists

CA Santa Monica Beach

LA Santa Monica Beach Segway

Santa Monica LA roller coaster

 Excercise CA Santa Monica Beach Fun Park


Past Trips – California – Los Angeles Departing [5]

The following morning started with breakfast, Mitch wasn’t about having gone out for a morning run, a compulsion which hasn’t managed to ensnare me as yet, nope i get to wake up gently and consider where to engage in some much needed sitting, hours will have past without sitting by then..

In unrelated news, not quite the slimness that i used to have..

The exact sequence of things is lost on me here, Mitch had left the room key under the back Tyre of the jeep, rather than take it along, while I’d woken up with renewed intent to get to grips with the theoretically simplistic dodgem driving that ought to have been, the automatic… It was time to try again, I’d put all the contribution of others to one side and reflected again on the simplicity of it all, one peddle made it go the other stopped it from going, there was no need for a second foot to get involved at any point, being as going and stopping at the same time is most seldomly required.
Before heading off on the road trip, with proper roads, real other driver traffic, with their wrong minded right hand side of the road driving (familiar from past trips in continental Europe), it was best to work out whether yesterdays fail was real or a matter of brain based befrazzlement now past.. i did feel a whole lot more present in the day this morning.

I took the keys and unwatched headed down to the car park to discover my answer. Taking my time i put my left foot to one side, reminded myself it was just a stop and go thing, not like real driving more like a toy or computer came…. summed up belief and put it into reverse, the camera came on, the accelerator went down and backward i went, slowly gradually, like a learner … i releases the accelerator and pushed down the brake and for the first time the car came to a gradual peaceful and comfortable stop. There was no emergency cheese cutting courtesy of the seat belts, no highly undesirable and notably unrequired emergency stop action, a pleasing and reassuring start.
Pushing the auto shifter forward i accelerated away, around the hotel i went a feat well beyond my talents yesterday. The main challenge arising when a lone individual found it necessary to take the car park … you go left-go right… there were no lines, it was a car park, i got out of the way, it seemed to be for the best. Went round a bit, like those electronic trikes and cars that you chuck a frank into (as a child) and then drive round and round in circles, used to rather look forward to those back in smaller younger days… Here and now, the circling of the hotel with ever increasing confidence didn’t quite hold the same allure or at least i felt that I’d answered my question and proved a point to myself.. With that achieved i put the jeep back where I’d found it, returned the room key to its location behind the wheel and headed back in, quite pleased, a bit relieved with how things had gone and maybe wondering abut quite how this had posed the insurmountable problem it had been yesterday.. Amazing how shit i can generally become when tired, its like the brain decided to recoil from all but the most rudimentary functions with quite unjustifiable zeal… like storing up fat or retracting blood from the extremities to keep the core nice and cozy .. quick stop his ability to drive and any other remotely advanced function …. retract retract … no none core functions shall remain in play, save the core …. lest he forget how to maintain basic bodily functions.

There is no justifiable need.

Speaking of which disposable crockery and cutlery – so it doesn’t need washing but in what other way is this an advantageous, i wasn’t on a picnic, there didnt seem any need for bendy resistance averse plastic knives and forks and what was with the paper bowls. The sight of this did not seem promising as i arrived on the ground floor for breakfast.

Breakfast disposable crockery

Despite appearances and in line with appearances the breakfast offering itself.

First the cereal stage and this, it was very much in line with appearances, pieces of unnaturally flavoured pieces of cardboard and plastic, i couldn’t quite work out what it was meant to be flavoured toward but whatever it was, it wasn’t or if by chance this was deliberate then why?

Kelloggs Crunchy Nut Box
The Cereal That There Wasn’t

Then the warm item stage, the despite appearances bit.. I’d never encountered a perfectly round scrambled egg, not almost round perfectly so, a scrambled egg wheel in almost exact same symmetrical proportions to what they were calling sausage but looked a whole lot more like a burger. Perhaps that’s what happened way back when on the boats.. over those first 200 miles of the crossing (and it must have been a long crossing back in the wind puffing power only days) all them Z’s started to sneaking into the words, cookoo z’s .. the decks of those ships must have been strewn with the colourful letters thrown from the comfort of the familiar nests of their family words.

Magnet Letters Colourful

Then on the last leg of the journey food stuff confusion broke out after weeks of sea sickness and diminished supplies of fresh water… This may well not be what happened – after all i rather thought burgers had originated from these parts, so what was it that made this a sausage?

I was surprised to find that something of such high spec symmetry should have such an acceptable taste to it. It was impressive stuff, geometrically speaking – toast, orange juice, an unlimited (within consumable reason) abundance of Tea, a reasonable way to prepare for the day.

Breakfast Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Orange Juice

Past Trips – California – First Night [4]

For reasons i cant entirely recall as evening came we choose Long Beach for our first excursion and night in California.

Road California - Driving

We parked up down by the coast, there was a harbor of sorts, lots of little boats. The temperature was comfortable as the sun set to falling, we wondered around and looked about, before heading into town.

Long Beach Boats

Marina Boats Long Beach California

Queen Mary Ship Long Beach

Long Beach Coast

Long Beach Map

The town was awash with activity, it seemed largely to based along a central road that ran up from the coast, though I’m sure had we had more time we’d have found more areas offshoots to the side. Restaurants and bars more than enough to choose from, too many perhaps, tired minds and choices, one is not so conducive to the other.

Long Beach LA

LA Long Beach Tram

Alegria Cocina Latina Long Beach

We wound up at the Alegria Cocina Latina – the dinner was pretty good, though i still had little control or capability going on in my thoughts, fatigue had the better of me and no doubt.

Here we made a mistake, not a significant one but a small one that probably came of being a bit new. The waiter was very friendly, enthusiastic, too much for me but Mitch is always more inclined toward engaging with the people and this was enough to support such instincts.
Everything we asked for was met with a swift, bouncing “y-o-u got(gaht) it” .. “anything i can do for you guys …” “Y-o-u gaht it…”

His expulsions about matters cause Mitch to take him up on his apparent desire to be helpful and ask about the area, about what were the more interesting and more frequented areas? that sort of thing. It swiftly transpired that taking his offers as literal was a mistake, he actually wasn’t from the area, hadn’t much in the way of thoughts or experience which he was able to share. It was perhaps a broad and generalised intention to offer up helpfulness rather then a realised, specific deliverable… like … i wish i could fly right up to the sky … quite right too, who wouldn’t like to do that .. or asking for ‘world peace’ like they do in miss congeniality.. it did sound more like an actual intention in this instance, but you know – early days.. confused, beleaguered mind… who really knew what was going on – Not me.

It was all of little matter anyhow as by the time dinner was done and the duskiness of before was night and neither of us had much regard for undertaking much more than heading back. There was just the smaller matter of bladder discomfort, which was realised belatedly, after the restaurant had been left. Back by the marina and near the car there were public toilets, some locked but not all, which initially seemed quite handy, that was until you entered.. So unpleasant, so very deeply, mightily unpleasant, really no need… NO need at all.

Long Beach Public Toilet Loveliness

Past Trips – California – Los Angeles Arrivial [3]

My bag arrived at the second time of asking and with that we were of to Alamo to pick up our car.

There was quite the queue and one of the attendants suggested we use the automated self service machines. It wanted to sell us add-ons, one of them seemed quite advisable, a Sat-Nav, it was tempting but cost a good half of the car rental which seemed a little unnecessary.

Eventually i’d prodded my way through the various pages, along with some forward a bit back a bit dithering eventually settling on not adding the Sat-Nav. Unlike anything we’d seen before, we were not allocated a car, instead we were just offered up a receipt and sent out, there was little more too it when we got outside, where we were pointed in the direction of the cars and told simply to pick our own from those available.

We’d selected sports utility with a view to a Toyota Rav4, as the example given on the websites.. There was a Rav4 but there were also others and among those other a big big old Jeep, very shinny and new looking. We loitered around it, sort of half selecting the Jeep before becoming uncertain, it was rather large pointed out Mitch, much larger than anything we were accustomed to, unnecessarily so… also maybe it was parked in the wrong location, it didnt look much like the other vehicles parked around it, looked like it belonged among the more premium options.

Eventually we did load up, it seemed wrong not to try it.. they could always turn us back on attempting to leave if we had picked up a vehicle to which we were not entitled. Mitch wanted to drive and i wanted to sleep, which worked out most well as i settled into the passenger seat and Mitch set to attempting operate the bulk of this thing.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Alamo

We’d inadvertently booked a hotel that it now turned out was on the same road as this car hire pick up place. The chap at Alamo had been quite friendly and although he didn’t know about our hotel was able to point us in the right direction. No one stopped us as we drove out, so that was us on our way, the Road trip would then be us and the Grand Cherokee, it had a large screen in the center which provided a rear view camera when reversing but now just displayed the radio station and song information. That was not all, there was a sound system management thing to balance out what levels of sound were to be emitted from where, seat and temperature control bits and … most handy … most most handy and fortunate – a Sat-Nav.. a built in, not additional accessory, Sat-Nav all of our own ..

The hotel proved almost as easy to find as a hotel that’s on the same road as your already on ought to be, only more road than expected, further, far enough to begin to sow the seed of ‘have we over shot things somehow’ doubts.

Springhill Suites Marriott Los Angeles

The hotel was not close to very much, there was some sort of Tram or Train depot visible from the window, there were roads and other hotels about the place. A convenient spot for the first day, after the airport wise but didn’t appear so central to anything interesting.
Had we been more familiar with the surrounds and more awash with energy, then in actuality we were only ten or fifteen minute drive from the some pretty nice coastal spots. But we were not so aware of the location of things or for that matter ourselves at this point and for me at any rate the energy rates were not really there for doing so very much.

I have little recollection of anything much filling the hours after arrival, i can only assume some rest and possibly studying of the tourist guide books or TV watching. Nothing due recollection.

I did attempt to drive the vehicle, an automatic, Mitch explained how it worked and i became confused by what had previously seemed an altogether simpler proposition. It did not go well, with my left foot choosing to get itself involved in proceedings, i never realised how specialised my right foots skill at operating a brake peddle was, it was not one it had cared to share with the left one. This was now eminently clear and the whole thing seemed deeply confounding, if this was how it went in the car park then that would really not work out well on the road.. Any driving, for now at least, would need to be left to Mitch, he had that level of familiarity with automatics through his parents actually owning one and had proven more than competent at getting us this far.

Past Trips – California – United and The Trip Out [2]

The queue at Chicago to get through Security was long and not swift too move, personal patrolled about barking instructions to what they clearly perceived to be the obdurate cattle stood all about them. The signs were poor and unsurprisingly some visitors had the air of the perplexed about them, though all were clearly equally welcome. The one with the dog was not small and found it objectionable that other people of slighter statue were queuing in their designated queuing location in such a way as to prevent the dog and her girth to pass with immediate ease. You get this at the smaller airports in Europe, were bored security officials congregate around the one flight of the afternoon too inspectionise most profusely the aliens who so clearly need to be most earnestly scowled at and probed. At the busy airports where the thousands visit, the attendants often seem either friendly or simply utterly detached, both are preferable.
If this approach has ever led to the successful singling out of a wrongen, then despite the apparent simplicity of many dedicated wrong doer, I would still be most surprised. With great power comes great responsibility … young apprentice … and these people had some responsibility too, you could tell, they had uniforms and an aggrieved tone.

By the time we reached the passport and documents inspection point we had gone past the boarding time of our connection, nervous energy about missing the flight past, that outcome seemed clear enough. To chap in the passport bit was actually friendly and we passed through to the bit where you pick up your luggage and get asked whether you’re a farmer … the man in front confessed to keeping some chickens but was none the less aloud to pass through this bit without additional review. Neither of us keep chickens and though I do have Cockatiels I don’t farm them in any way, it would be a niche industry. We were also allowed to pass on through. Directly afterwards we were asked to hand over our bags, two queues that we were told were to the same ends, transfer flights… perhaps we would somehow be catching our connection after all. Perhaps it was the flight and early start, it was not the question, we had both encountered inquiries about fruit and food matters on previous trips, what made it memorable here was the earnest divulging of chicken. With more clarity it’s a fair point, when on the spectrum of: occasionally encountering a pet, keeping ants, wondering through farmers fields because you live in a rural way, having a pet, keeping a number of beasties for a hobby, having a green house, seeking to become self sufficiency, production for sale, through to industrialised land based production.. where on this array of randomly selected milestones does one formally fall into the category of farming… this fellow for one was clearly unsure, best to ask.

Transferring across the terminals was easy at Chicago, a monorail that went from one to the next, until back through security we went and on to our gate. We were the last two I think, I still had my seat but Mitch had had has seat reallocated and they seemed to be engaged in some seat discovery at the desk. The flight to LA is not a short one, I was a little surprised to find this internal flight was being operated by an aircraft that might have been owned my Easyjet and Ryanair back before they both established themselves and opted to invest in an up to date fleet, the well aged 737, the Boeing of choice in the 90s and now largely found seeking refuge among charter airlines or developing nations. Not that unusual to be seen, just a bit unexpected on such a long flight for such a well established airline.

Jet airways had operated one of these out of Nepal but it was newer and came with cinema entertainment systems and was generally quite nice.. Jet Airways were really very good actually, the flight back to Italy from India while all but empty was also a very new, very comfortable flight, with totally functional entertainment system and assorted movies to choose from – Jet Airways, Big Tick.

You could pay for some films on the credit card swipe system but given everything I wasn’t inclined, it may have been a fine collection of silent movies with a couple of talkies thrown in …that wasn’t it, the movies were new enough, some of them had even been sufficiently well resources to warrant a full cinema release, like WIFI at a remotely decent hotel you expect it (there was free wifi at the basic hotel we occasionally stayed at in Kathmandu) and paying for it seems somehow wrong.

Beneath the sky was very clear, large green fields sprawled out beneath, I napped, when I woke the same shapes were still there in every visible direction, I woke again some time later and similar shapes had become browner. It was quite the expanse down there, an expanse filled with apparently very little, an occasional hut, shack or house seemed to be present, it was hard to tell from this distance, little more.

I had another friendly person alongside me on this leg of the trip, this time a middle aged chap who lived somewhere north of LA up along the coast, probably somewhere we’d be driving past. He had a thing about artichokes, apparently they were a big thing in the area, he told me about how farming was a massive thing for California and about the lack of rains and massive droughts that recent years had brought that was one thing, that and the artichokes, the ski resorts and traffic issues surrounding driving into down town LA, these were the main topics of recollection.

Beneath there was what looked like dessert, red, orange, brown, the dry ground with cuts carved into it. I couldn’t really tell what was caverns and depth and what was just lines forged in the landscape but it made for quite fascinating viewing, there was even an unexpected river and lake at one point amongst the long dry apparent nothingness.

Flight LA

Dessert View Flight To LA

Dessert River USA

We arrived, Mitch’s bag arrived, mine did not.
A particularly unhelpful baggage area attendant proved particularly unhelpful.
I headed to the United desk.. rifling about for signs of my baggage receipts, finding a bunch of stuff and handing it over..
They were quite helpful and told me my bag was following along and had been loaded on the next flight, rather tired by this point I inquired how one had made it and the other not, when they’d been handed over together, she didn’t know but took no offense, none had been intended. I couldn’t get it and somewhat bye the bye without hope that they could really explain had just shared my bemusement at what had occurred. In the scheme of things this was pretty good, an hour or so and the flight would arrive, meant not too long to wait until the bag would make its appearance in LA.

LA LAX International Airport

We set of in search some Tea, an effort which proved greater and a tea that proved more elusive than you might reasonably expect. Into terminals we went, questions were asked of people but no coffee shop was seen.. one chap thought there was a workers café down the drop off road a way and across, we never found it. It was hard to fathom, this was the USA home of commercialising things how were they not set up to cash in the captive airport audiences even in the departure areas… by now we’d gone upstairs away from arrivals, still nothing.
The Terminal we’d arrived at was the last, all in a long straight line it seemed, it was grotty, the most grotty of each that we visited but the whole place was rather tired looking and grim. Somewhere three or four terminals later we found it… a Starbucks – UK tax avoiders, specialists and chiefs along with Amazon – you may take our money but you will never contribute to our freedom, well being and education and thus our broader economic prosperity and happiness – thanks for that.
They do though have tea, not good tea, but actually it was alright and the chicken sandwich thing actually seemed to have whole juicy pieces of chicken in it, it was really pleasant surprise, really very nice … the tax avoiding bastards … very nice

As I write this I am sat in departures at Zurich airport – and someone is cycling across the tarmac out there, across from Terminal B to Terminal A – gently slowly peddling their way across .. the weirdest thing, well perhaps not but on the scale of thing unexpected things to see while looking out the giant windows of Zurich its on there.