I Think This Definitely Counts
Ah. How quickly can the winds of change arrive. One day, you're getting ready for a much anticipated and needed vacation to California with The Daughter. Then, the day before you leave, your boss calls you into his office for a "meeting" and you find yourself laid off. A Seldon Crisis of major proportions, to be sure! So the good news is I don't have to use up vacation leave for my trip; but the bad news is I "lose" a week of looking for a new job. Oh well, I refuse to let this little setback spoil our trip out West.
Our flight leaves bright (well, actually dark) and extremely early at 7am Saturday morning, which means trying to drag The Daughter from her deep slumber at 4am. We arrive at BWI, only to be greeted by a cheerful United employee who promptly tells us that our flight has been delayed for three hours. Woo hoo. The Daughter is not amused. Neither is The Father, for that matter. And just an FYI: airport terminal chairs are not known for their high comfort level. I do, however, manage to read over half of The Da Vinci Code whilest I wait. Quite a good read. Pure fiction, of course, but a good thriller nonetheless. Looking forward to the movie.
Finally, our flight departs. We find out that our delay is due to our pilot being forced to meet his mandatory required amount of sleep before flying. Three cheers for the FAA. At least we have a direct flight to LAX. And a well-rested pilot. The Daughter magically turns fifteen three weeks ahead of schedule while we check in, so that we can both sit in an exit row. The onboard movie is Nanny McPhee, which is mildly entertaining and completely predictable. We arrive, pick up our rental car, and drive over to the house of my Best Friend (where we will be staying, for free!!) As we are famished, we hit the mall for some much needed California cuisine. Struggling with jet lag, we are conned into watching a truly horrible "film" on DVD entitled Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. (Its tagline was "The Power of Christ Impales You!!") We gave it the MST3K treatment, which made it barely watchable. Barely.
California is known for its most excellent weather. Rain is an uncommon occurance, especially after the first of April. So, of course, the weather forecast for the entire week is rain, rain, and more rain. Kind of puts a damper on our plans for Six Flags and Disneyland. We cross our fingers and hope for the best. Sunday we putz around in Long Beach, and hit a large flea market on the way back. The evening is spent watching the movie V for Vendetta at the local cineplex. Gotta love those west coast ticket prices. The movie was enjoyed by all. Natalie Portman can indeed act, when not in a film by George Lucas, that is.
Monday, the Best Friend was off to work, so the day was spent hitting every clothing and shoe store in L.A. with The Daughter. She had a great time. My wallet did not.
Tuesday, we decided to brave the elements and give Six Flags Magic Mountain a try. As it turns out, the looming storm clouds probably kept the typical larger crowds away. The lines were short, and the coasters were plentiful. And the parking was fifteen bucks. The Daughter even braved a coaster that Yours Truly wouldn't even attempt - the standup coaster Riddler's Revenge. We were all extremely miffed that the new coaster, Tsatu, was not yet operational. It looked awesome. High point of the day was me dropping my ATM card into the men's toilet. Yes, after I had just used it. And not yet flushed.
Because the Best Friend needed to leave early Wednesday morning for work, I decided to park the rental car on the street instead of blocking him in his driveway. Of course, when The Daughter and I finally leave (for more shopping) around 11:30am, we see absolutely no other cars on our side of the road. We also see a yellow slip of paper on our car. Yep. Wednesday is street sweeper day from ten to noon. I begrudgingly contribute forty bucks to the City of Lawndale. We spend part of the day checking out the OTIS fashion college, as The Daughter has expressed interest in attending there upon her graduation.
Another quirk of California that took a while getting used to was the concept of "lane splitting". Here I would be, driving down a two lane road with a car on my right, when a motorcycle would suddenly appear between both of us. Very insane technique if you ask me.
On our last day, we took it easy. We watched Ice Age: The Meltdown, and took The Daughter to get a haircut and "lowlights", whatever they may be. Knowledge of the near infinite number of various female hair treatments is truly beyond this straight American male. One might think that "lowlights" would mean a "low" price (as compared to "highlights"), but one would be mistaken. We closed our trip with dinner at - where else? - California Pizza Kitchen. A day out West wouldn't be complete without its own mishap, but this time it hit The Daughter instead of me. Her mouth appliance broke right after dinner, so we had to perform some emergency dental repair with a pair of pliers donated by the Best Friend. Who says dentistry is hard?
Thankfully, the rain that had been promised all week (but did not appear) finally hit as we were leaving for home. Our return flight movie is that Steve Martin classic Cheaper By the Dozen 2, which I easily avoid watching. We finally touchdown, arrive home, and I bask in the pleasure of sleeping on my own bed again. I do not set the alarm. For two more days, I decide I will remain on vacation. Monday will come soon enough, and the job hunting will start with a vengeance. But for now, it will be just like it was in California. Except there is no ocean nearby. And no lane splitting.