I took a break from working (though not technically) last weekend. There was a Tradeshow in San Diego that my boss was going to and we needed to transport a large piece of merchandise down there.
I'm not sure why it was determined that the thing should be driven down by one of us but when I heard about the opportunity, I volunteered. I hadn't been out of town since February and I hadn't been out of northern California since Christmas.
Not sitting in the office? I'm there!
So last Wednesday afternoon I went down to the plant to pick up the truck, which was being loaded with the merchandise. The size of the truck scared me a bit. I'm used to my little Toyota Echo and this wasn't an ordinary pick up this was a big honkin' Ford F150. It was filthy and beat up all to hell so at least that was something of a relief. I didn't have to worry about getting a scratch on it. Hell I could have taken a sledgehammer to the thing and no one would have been any the wiser.
The plan was to start out at 5am the next morning and get the drive over and done with asap. That is exactly what I did. I was out of the Bay Area before first light (and commuter traffic). The rest of the drive was fantastic! I usually dread the long hours of this all too familiar drive but I really enjoyed it.
Firstly I was in this monster of a truck which was a bit scary and smelly at first but you know when you are that imposing you don't feel at all intimidated to speed. I went the speed limit or about 5mph over and anyone who didn't like it could just go around me. Second I wasn't in the office doing the same damned thing I'm ALWAYS doing. And third, I was on the 101. We typically take the Interstate 5 down, which is SO UGLY but quicker and the only smart way to get to Lancaster
(Rick's parents). Since I was going to my Mom's (Oxnard) the 101 made better sense and it's interesting and beautiful. When the light started to grow orange at dawn that morning you could have cried it was so lovely.
Not only was it pretty but it had been so long since I had driven down that way it reminded me of the places Rick and I had been when we used to live up here when we went to college. Suddenly and for the first time in about a year I wasn't feeling so OLD anymore. I really needed this trip.
I arrived in Oxnard at my mom's at 11:30am. We went out to lunch, took in a panoramic view of Ventura, played cards, took a brief walk on the beach, and ate dinner in that evening. It was all very nice. The weather in Oxnard was beautiful,
warm, sunny and windy. Perfect.
The next morning (Friday) mom and I had a doughnut and then I was off to Vista, CA to drop off the merchandise. I got down to Vista in about three hours. Again, a very pleasant journey. I was already loving the truck at that point. I either sang along to whatever was on my iPod or giggled as I listened to Steve Martin's "Pure Drivel", a book on tape.
Once the stuff had been off loaded and I finally had the use of my rear-view window again I headed back up north to my sister's in Culver City
which took two hours. My iPod gave out after I had gotten off the freeway at her
off-ramp. Such perfect timing. Steph had taken a half day off so she was home when I got there. After settling in we took a walk/mini-hike around the wilds (and there are some) of Culver City, took in some marvelous views of Los Angeles and ended up at the market for provisions.
After we got back we readied ourselves for dinner (as the plan was to go out) and had some drinks while we waited for Doug to get home. By drinks I mean vodka (provisions) for myself and wine for Steph. We were pretty
well sloshed by the time Doug got home and we got to Gaby's. Gaby's is a restaurant which serves Armenian (wait, is it Armenian? Crap I can't remember.) food. Well, whatever it is it was really good. The service sucked eggs but the food was excellent. Savory meaty things, hummus and pita, what's not to like? Nummy!
Afterward we said goodbye to the friends of Steph & Doug's with whom we ate and went back to their place. We watched a few episodes of "Strangers with Candy" (funny) and konked out around midnight.
I woke up around 7am the next morning (I generally do for some reason) and layed in bed for about a 45 minutes watching the leaves on the tree outside turn different colors as the sun made it's ascent. I hadn't been so relaxed in a long time. I finally got up around 8 or so and showered. Mom stopped by and we ate breakfast and chatted for a while. Then mom went home and we went exploring Los Angeles.
We pretty much stuck to downtown LA. We took in the main public library. They were having a "Dia De Los Muertos" exhibit among other things. They also house our car for most of the day. Then we checked out an L.A. hotspot hotel (the name escapes me) which has this club like place on the roof with a pool and funky waterbed loungy things. I wouldn't be interested in it at night frankly (it's just not my scene) but during the day it had a great panoramic view of the city. Then we rode the elevators at the Bonaventure Hotel. If you don't know the Bonaventure (although you've
probably seen it in movies) the glass elevators are on the outside of the building. Steph declined. It's a groovy ride but the freakiest thing is when you are at the top and the doors open onto the corridor you can see down the crack between the elevator and the building. Freaky!
We then walked over to Disney Hall adjacent to the music center. It's an interesting building but in the incessant LA sunshine it's like being in a tanning booth!
Besides I was more interested in catching glimpses of the music center which I had been to many times during my "Phantom of the Opera" crazed teenage years. Yes while others were doing drugs and having sex I was obsessed with musical theatre and this mediocre show in particular. I never said I was interesting!
We went back to the Bonaventure for a bite to eat and then back to the library for the car.
We then headed off to the Music Box Steps famous for the filming of the Laurel & Hardy short "Music Box", where they have to transport a crated
piano up this well, look at the picture. If you don't know the short where the hell have you been? And if you don't "get" Laurel & Hardy shame on you! I loved those shorts. Anyway, it was interesting being there, some things have changed but the steps remain and they are marked by a sign and a plaque on one of the bottom steps. When we had gotten back to the bottom of the steps I rubbed Oliver Hardy's double chin for luck. I thought maybe I'd start a tradition. Maybe it will catch on! Ok, maybe not.
After that we went to another branch of the LA library because Doug was looking for something. It's there that I happened upon Wil Wheaton's book
"Just a Geek". I read a couple of pages and ended up taking it out. I'm just going to mail it back to them when I'm done (and I almost am now). I've already made my affection for Star Trek: The Next Generation
known. I was never a Westley fan, I don't imagine many were, and I unfairly transferred my annoyance with his character onto the actor himself. About a year ago one of my two incredibly cool sisters-in-law was talking about him. Apparently he had a blog
and was very funny and witty and she just loves him. It sounded like madness to me. I mean Wil "Westley Crusher" Wheaton? Gag!
Well I gladly report that I was an unfair jerk about him. It's not his fault they wrote such a dippy character and he is very funny. I'm almost finished with the book now. I never read books this quickly. It's very amusing.
After that we poked around some odd shops and then back to their place. I was exhausted. Doug and I watched a really ass-kicking episode of "Battlestar Gallactica" (which Doug had the foresight to tape the previous evening) while Steph cooked a really good meatloaf dinner. I hadn't had meatloaf since our mom cooked it for us (probably about 20 years ago) and it was pretty darned tasty!
After dinner we took a walk around Culver City
which is actually a really cool little town. There is a famous studio there (can't remember which) but main office to it is the building that served as Twelve Oaks in "Gone with the Wind". We took a look at that and the famous Hotel that housed the munchkins during the making of the Wizard of Oz and then was used during the filming of "Under the Rainbow" and apparently had some
famous owners as well over it's tumultuous history. Geeze, I hope I got all that right, I wasn't taking notes that night. Anyway, more poking around then back to their place for a card game, a disappointment that Hugh Laurie
wasn't going to be on Saturday Night Live until the following weekend, and finally bed.
Steph and Doug took off early the next morning for a bike riding route with their group. I went to Denny's and had a nice breakfast with Wil Wheaton (in paper form).
I left around noon for San Diego. I didn't hit a lick of traffic and made it there in two hours. I arrived at the Hotel Del Coronado where I was going to leave the truck with my boss (who hadn't arrived yet). So I found a place to park and walked around. This is the hotel used in the filming of "Some Like it Hot" (great movie!). It's a beautiful place but it was something of a let down. I find that when I've seen something in an old (especially black and white) movie I'm disappointed when I see it in
person. It was stylish and lush but too busy. There was a wedding going on and you couldn't be anywhere where there weren't 50 people in your immediate proximity. I was expecting a breezy, beautiful, quiet place. This was hot, beautiful and annoyingly bustling. Bubble burst. Oh well.
My boss arrived and I passed the truck off to him and made my way to the airport. The security lines were crazy long and I didn't know EVERYONE had to take their shoes off now. Ok. I hadn't been on a plane in 3 years, since I came back to Los Angeles from New York for the last time. I had a long wait in the lines and at the gate but Wil kept me company and I got a few looks when I laughed out loud a couple of times.
I was a little nervous for the flight, it had been a while after all. As the plane was taxiing on the runway, I was getting more and more nervous. Then we stopped the pilot said we were cleared for take off. The engines roared and a big smile crept accross my face. "Oh yeah, I remember this part. This is fun!" Nervousness gone like so much stage fright.
The rest of the trip was kind of a drag. On the plane I had a middle seat. After landing we had to wait 50 minutes before our flight's luggage came out of the shoot. The shuttle from the airport to Bart now charges a fee (it didn't when I lasted used it years ago). I had to wait 16 minutes for the next Bart train and the cab ride from Bart to my place was $16. All in all I could have driven home with less annoyance and in less time but oh well. I had a nice little mini-break.
End of story.