Thursday, July 12, 2007

Novel California...

Well, we are back from the city of Angels. Los Angeles, California.

We left out on Thursday afternoon to the airport around 5pm after having the entire day off from work, (and the day before for the Fourth, but who’s counting?). I had checked us in the night before online so we went straight to the security checkpoint. Of course, I got pulled over so they could inspect both of my bags. Not me personally, just my bags, and yes, I was told I was a great packer!!!

I ended up in the very back row of the plane in the aisle seat… which apparently always gets hit with every cart or stewards that heads to the back galley. Thankfully I was sitting with two little teenagers who were busy playing cards so I could read 7 chapters in my book during the flight. Jerome was two rows up from me with a mom and her daughter. I didn’t hear any complaints.

We got into Cali around 9pm California time, 11pm Minnesota time. We didn’t check any bags on the way there so we headed out to feel the Cali air in the ground transportation area. We found the spot where we were suppose to stand to hail down our hotel shuttle which arrived about 5 minuets after we did. We hopped on and were on our way to the hotel… which was all of a hop, skip and a jump away from the airport. Seriously, like two minuets!

We checked in at the front desk and headed up to our room. Our king size bed awaited us along with our view of the airport and an office building. No biggie. We headed downstairs to check out the main floor of the hotel and decided to order a pizza for “dinner”. We got a BBQ Chicken pizza that was divine. It was cooked in a stone oven and the crust… oh the crust. Yum. The only request we could have made was more sauce, but I knew that was the Cali way of making pizza and informed Jerome.

We headed back upstairs and tried to go to sleep as we were picking up the other Thompson’s from the airport in the morning. Every time the a/c would kick in I would wake up. Every time I moved to get more comfortable something would bug me about the sheets. It was a rough night trying to sleep. I found out later that I wasn’t the only one having a tough time sleeping as Jerome complained as well once we awoke.

We got up and showered and ate a slice of pizza for breakfast. We jumped on the shuttle bus to the airport. We found our way around eventually and staked out a place to stand near the luggage belt. Jerome’s mom, dad, sister Jacqueline and niece Taylor showed up in no time. On the same flight were a few other relatives. We exchanged our hellos and hugs and then turned as the luggage belt started up.

We gathered all the luggage and headed out to the ground transportation spot again. We waited for the shuttle and eventually it arrived. Once we got to the hotel they other Thompson’s went to see if they could check in, but it was too early, which we already knew… so, we hauled their luggage to our room.

We got ready to go on a tour or explore the city. We headed down the elevator and talked with the concierge. He explained that the tour we had wanted to go on was fine, but that we would need to make arrangements on how to get to and from the pick up location of the tour. He stated that basically there was another tour that would pick us up and take us on a tour and return us to the hotel. We ended up going with convenience – the one to and from the hotel.

On the tour we started off and drove through Fisherman’s Village, basically a boat yard – seen one, seen them all, especially since there weren’t any “star” boats in the yard to see. Then we headed off to Venice Beach. This is a shot of the court from the movie White Man Can’t Jump. Jerome and I headed to the beach to stick our feet in the water to prove that we had made it all the way to the Westside of the U.S. (Mind you, we’ve already made it to the South and now just need to go East!) By the time we had dried off our feet it was time to head up the hill to catch the bus… it was only a 15 minuet stop there. The other Thompson’s had picked up something to eat, and we were hungry and ran in to grab a quick burger for the ride on the bus.

We ran to the bus, not wanting to be late or left behind only to find out that two people were missing from the bus… there’s 10 minuets down the drain!!!! We ate while we waited for them to arrive and then we were off to see Santa Monica Pier. We didn’t stop unfortunately. But Jerome and I knew that we both would like to come back and see more of Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier as soon as we were back on the bus… perhaps on Saturday we said to each other.

We drove around and around seeing the “Hotel California”, (which isn’t the real one…but hey, it was funny!), the UCLA campus, Boulmiche (the store that Julia Roberts went into and was turn away at in Pretty Woman), and eventually getting us to Rodeo Drive. We drove around much of Rodeo Drive and took pictures and then we were left out to walk around for 15 minuets… WHAT?!?!?! Why? We’re on the cheap tour, and like someone can shop and purchase something in 15 minuets, especially on Rodeo Drive. HELLO!??!?!?!

We packed back up into the tour bus and started driving again. We saw the “hot spots” for young Hollywood party goers (if you check your Star magazine these spots are mentioned) Spago, The Rainbow Club, and the Roxie. We only saw one plastic surgery place, but we weren’t really looking until this one was point out to us! And of course, we got a photo of the Beverly Hills sign.

We spotted the first house that Marilyn Monroe supposedly lived in Hollywood but I have yet to find a site that says so. We also saw the Laugh Factory, the church where Sister Act was filmed, and the place where Julia Roberts lived in Pretty Woman where Richard Ghere rides up on a horse.

We had another pit stop near the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater where we were able to take our only pictures of the Hollywood sign. I gotta say, I wasn’t to impress with the size of any of these places… they seemed “so big” in my mind… and then to see they’re just these rinky dink little places. This is the same area where the Roosevelt Hotel is. That’s where Marilyn Monroe’s ghost supposedly still haunts.

We boarded back on the bus and headed out after about 30 minuets. One place that I had wanted to stop at was Pink’s. It’s a local hot dog stand known for celebrity sightings… all I got was a picture of us driving by it on the way to the Farmer’s Market. While we were at the Farmer’s Market we picked up some fruit for the next few days for breakfast and some soda for mixing drinks later on. And back onto the bus we headed…

We went past the La Brea Tar Pits… nothing too much to see there and also the Staples Center. When all was said and done the driver forgot to drop us off at our hotel. What a jerk!

When we were back at the hotel we knew that we were cutting it short for the family reunion gathering that was suppose to happen that night. We thought that it was going to be held at the hotel, but none of the hotel staff knew anything about it. Ends up that the gathering was being held near Fisherman’s Village, where we had just come from! There were cabs taking people where they wanted to go – of course at a price. Jerome and I opted to skip out on the gathering part and let the other Thompson’s take the cab (car) to the gathering. We instead walked to the Marriott and had dinner – chicken wings and mini burgers with cheese fries. YUM!

Once we got back I slipped into my swimsuit and headed to the outdoor hot tub. I was only out for a bit before Jerome was too cold to be sitting out in the air and we had to go back to the room. Grrrrr.

The next day we got ready to go out on another tour or site seeing of the city. Jerome and I had eaten some of our fruit and breakfast bars and were ready to go. But, the other Thompson’s hadn’t had breakfast yet… so we walked “forever” to Denny’s. Then we turned around and walked all the way back. Ugh. I did get a little crabby I admit it. WHY DIDN’T WE RENT A CAR?

Then we decided to take the free trolley to Manhattan Beach. Not much there honestly. We walked the pier and at the end of it was an aquarium that made me think of Free Willy or that one zoo that Melba and I went to on spring break in Florida! It was bad. We walked back and Taylor stated she wanted to put her feet in the water. She couldn’t go by herself so Auntie Kim came to rescue and went with her. We hung out there for a good bit and then headed back to catch the trolley back to the hotel.

Once we got back we were told by some passersby that there was a fish fry going on at Mavis’s house. We ran upstairs to drop off some things and then off to Mavis’s we went in a 16 passenger van that someone had rented for the weekend. Once we were at Mavis’s I met a few other members of the family. There was Tammy and her daughter (didn’t catch her name but she’s cute as a button!), Fifi and Willie, and Tat. There were others there too but I don’t recall their names.

Anyways, Fifi came in the room where Jacqueline, Taylor, Jerome and I were sitting saying she was headed to the garment district and was wondering if we wanted to go. HECK YEAH! Jerome stayed behind while just “us girls” went shopping. He was in good hands and had a heck of a time with Tat explaining just who he was.

When we got down to the garment district Mavis told us that it was 20 blocks of shops. Whew! We picked a spot for where we should meet up at later and we were on our way. Pretty quickly Jacqueline, Taylor and I were separated from Tammy and Fifi. Then I was separated from Jacqueline and Taylor and was shopping by myself. I eventually caught up with Fifi for a bit and then lost her again. It was so much fun and I got myself a “couch” purse and wallet…. (Coach), another smaller purse that was a “no-name” and a shirt for Jerome.

We headed back over to Mavis’s house after cruising Crenshaw for kicks and giggles… I ducked over as we went through a bit per Mavis’s request for Fifi and me as we were both in red shirts! As we went down Crenshaw Mavis pointed out the church where Johnnie Cochran’s funeral was. When we got back the fish was fried and ready to eat. Boy was it good! After eating and chatting for a bit we got a ride back to the hotel.

Once we got there all Taylor could talk about was going swimming, so again she and I went at it. Jacqueline joined us out there until she was too cold and then we all went in. We had a few drinks and went on our way to bed. I packed up our bags as the next morning Jerome and I had to check out of the hotel.

The next day we brought our bags to the other Thompson’s room and checked out of our hotel. We called a taxi van to pick us up. We were headed back to the garment district, some for the first time, others that we veterans from the day before.

We picked a place again to meet up and a time. After everyone was there we called the same cab company back to pick us up… only they didn’t show up when they were suppose to. I called them back and was put on hold. I called another cab company and they said they would have someone out there in 15 minuets. As we were waiting and it was getting to be the time that the actual reunion was suppose to start a cab car stopped near us to let people out. I told the other Thompson’s to go back to the hotel, since they needed to change and that Jerome and I would go directly to the reunion in our own cab car. The left.

We called around and found a cab company that would take credit cards in the cab. Great since we had spent most of our cash at the garment district. They showed up and we let the cabbie know our destination. He plugged it into his navigation system and we were on our way. I told him that we were paying with credit and he got a bit of an attitude. Ughhhh. He ended up not taking us the way that I thought we should go, because he said that there wasn’t an entrance that way… bull-loney! He had slowed down as I yelled out the window to someone who was washing their car outside...yup, I was right. JERK! We went back the right way and entered the park. Not knowing how big or where the park was I told the cabbie to let us out since I didn’t want to pay him any more. I figured we could find where it was suppose to be since everyone was going to be in the same color shirts.

As I was paying the cabbie, Jerome went to talk to the park entrance people to find out where the reunion was going to be. A mile up the hill. Shoot. Oh well, I’m sure someone will notice us and bring us up… and just that happened! Mavis’s husband was heading out of the park and saw us walking. He whipped around his vehicle and took us up the hill. I don’t think we would have made it, or at least if we did we wouldn’t be happy once we arrived at the top! Whew!

There was singing and dancing and excellent BBQ. We had a great time and took lot of pictures. Remember the guy who was the police officer on CSI Miami that is Jerome’s cousin, well he was there and I was sure to get a photo with “my cousin”.

When it came to the time when the reunion was suppose to end we wondered how we were going to get back to the hotel. We ended up getting back into that 16 passenger van and heading back. Good thing too because Jerome and I were already looking at the time for when we needed to be at the airport to catch our red eye flight home.

We left around 10:15 pm Cali time and headed to the airport. Our flight was suppose to leave at 12:30 am. I had printed out our boarding passes ahead of time again but we needed to check some bags as we had accumulated some items on the trip J Then we went through the security screening and then sat our tushies down while we waited for the plane to arrive. I wasn’t looking forward to the flight since I was going to have the middle seat in the row, but the only comfort was that I would be next to Jerome. Before the flight took off I think I dosed off a bit, but I know once we were stable and in the air I was out like a light. Jerome says he was bumped by everyone walking by… I didn’t even notice.

We arrived back in Minnesota around 7 am and had our two bags by 7:30am. We took the light rail over to my job where we had parked a car to get home. Once we were home we both jumped back into bed for our first real sleep of the night, I mean day. Whew… what a trip.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a great time! Can't wait to see your pics!!