Monday, April 12, 2010

California Dreamin'

Been a while, hasn’t it?

My delay in posting hasn’t been because I was busy. Quite the opposite. Suzanne and I went on a much, much-needed, week-long vacation to California. Suzanne’s Dad has a brother in L.A. and one in Las Vegas and we all went out there for a bit of a family reunion and also to celebrate Suze’s and her sister’s birthdays. I didn’t mention it here because, as I’ve pointed out, it’s not wise to announce on the internet that you’re leaving your house unattended for a week. Actually, that wasn’t really the case this time as Mom and Dad watched the house and the cats for us so we could enjoy ourselves without worry.

We had an incredible time.

The plane ride over was surprisingly smooth. A brief layover in Dallas split the trip nicely in half. I hate, hate, hate flying in planes but I have to commend Continental for a very pleasant ride. Both legs. On the second half, they played a movie on those little drop-down screens. I didn't want to pay the 3 dollars for headphones so Suzanne suggested we try our iPhone earbuds and, what do you know! We each only got one channel but it was a nice distraction. Problem was, they showed a movie called HACHI, A DOG'S STORY and I really don't know what they were thinking. It's the biggest heart-wrenching tear-jerker since THE YEARLING. Suzanne and I were crying like babies and, as I checked around, so were a lot of other passengers. I was still sniffling when we got off the plane.

We enjoyed hanging out with Suze’s cousin Michelle (a member of the LAPD) and her partner Renee (who is currently one of my favorite people in the world) and their amazingly smart toddler for a couple of days. Then we moved in with Michelle’s poor sister Lisa, her husband John and their two adorable kids who had to put up with us for five days and nights.

We crammed in a lot during our week there including a pool party at Lisa and John’s (featuring Uncle Mo’s famous Mogaritas) and a trip to the beautiful Huntington Beach. We got to finally eat at In and Out Burger (a personal goal—hey, I’m easy.) We also spent two straight days at Disneyland (I’ve never been so tired in my life.) where I was cajoled by Michelle to ride my very first (and, coincidentally, last) rollercoaster ever, California Screamin’.

I’m petrified of heights and this was a nice refresher course on why that is so. There were a lot of great non-coaster rides at Disneyland (some we rode multiple times) and I had a much better time than I expected. I’d taken a paperback book in my coat pocket and never even looked at it.

It was really great seeing the three brothers get together. I'm very fond of my Father-In-Law. He doesn't get to see his brothers very often. They almost couldn't live farther apart and still be in the same country. So it was pretty touching. I admit to feeling a little envious and I missed Mike quite a lot on the trip. We gave Michelle a copy of TELLOS for Jake when he gets older and that made me feel good. Especially when she saw Mike's name on the cover and made the connection and we talked about him for a while.

But, for me, the best part of the trip was the last night there. Suzanne and I had given her West Coast posse a break and decided to spend the night at a hotel across from the airport as our flight left extremely early Saturday morning. On the way to return the rental car, Suzanne suggested, as an afterthought, that we check out the Santa Monica pier. I eagerly agreed, despite the traffic, because it was still early and I secretly had hopes of catching a glimpse of the parking lot where Jim Rockford’s trailer was on THE ROCKFORD FILES TV show. That didn’t happen but we did have fun checking out the pier. We spent about twenty minutes or so sitting at the very end of the pier just staring out at the ocean and feeling the wind in our hair. I was more relaxed and content than I have been in such a very long time. I didn’t want to leave. But it was getting dark and we had a lot to do to get ready for our trip home.

The flight back, unfortunately, wasn't nearly as pleasant as the trip over. This time, it was U.S. Airways and there were no free perks like meals or movies. The planes seemed more cramped and our layover was in Charlotte, N.C., so it meant a longer first leg. To make things worse, the air conditioning was much weaker so that, when the baby in the next row crapped his diaper, it was painfully apparent. I was really suffering but Suze didn't smell anything. I started to doubt myself until we both saw the mother pull back the kids pants and jerk her head back. She walked her two kids (the other being barely a toddler) up to the forward bathroom. A flight attendant was laughing with a passenger in first class and, as the woman passed with the baby, her head jerked up and she started fanning the air in front of her face. She looked like someone had just painted a mustache on her lip with Mr. Hanky. I called out "Aaiiieee! Un skunk de pew!" while miming fumes passing our noses and Suzanne and I broke up laughing for at least ten minutes. We were grateful when we landed in Richmond.

Well, I’ve got a rough week ahead so I don’t know if I’ll be able to post for a while. I hope everybody had a nice Easter holiday and enjoyed this great weather we’ve had. It’s long overdue, in my book.



Suzanne said...

Poor mom. A few years ago that was me with two small ones on a transatlantic flight. You know how smalll the bathrooms are? Imagine three people inside and one of them laying down for the diaper removal operation. Oh, and the aroma.

So glad you had a good time!

Warren said...

Sounds like you had a nice vacation! And yeah, U.S. Air is famous for unpleasant flights. But at least your trip out was nice.

California -- land of dreams...

Brian said...

Sounds great. Glad you guys had and enjoyed a much deserved break.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Sounds like you guys had a great trip-glad to hear it!

I'm not a big fan of flying either but it sure is a great time saver.