Wednesday, October 3, 2007

In and above LA traffic

I've never minded Los Angeles traffic. When we lived in Long Beach and I was working in downtown L.A, I tried taking the light rail once or twice, but it wasn't any faster than driving and a much bigger pain at the beginning and ending points of the journey. So even though the 20 miles sometimes took an hour each way, I learned to Zen out, listen to the radio or a book on tape and just be one with the drive.

Besides, although they have a bad rap, Angelenos are good drivers. They go fast (when it's possible), they follow close, they dart aggressively in and out of lanes, but they pay attention and they know what they're doing. See an opening, take it. Give me that over Seattle's hyper polite "after you, no after you" school of merge-averse oldsters any day.

Also, I've got a good map of the metro LA region in my head; I feel like I know where I am and where I'm going and how to get there, and that helps. The other night I drove from our downtown hotel to the Hustler, a favorite poker haunt just off the 110 at Redondo Beach Boulevard, and the timing happened to be the evening rush hour, just as I might have been heading home from work and on the same route. It was a weirdly enjoyable memory rush.

Of course it's nice to get out of the traffic too. One of the best hidden treats of downtown is the network of courtyard plazas in and among the office buildings, many of them several floors above street level and some connected by skywalks. They have a nice park-like feel, with trees and fountains to further dampen the sound. I used to love to take my lunch or an afternoon coffee break in these places, mixing in among the downtown professionals with LA tans, personal-trainered bodies and perfectly fitting and stylish clothing.

Except for the tan, body and clothes I sort of felt like I belonged.

Here's one of those places, across Figueroa from our hotel. I'm heading over there right now for my morning coffee and a roll and the paper. I love the ficus trees.


Rita said...

Makes me want to hop a plane.

freda said...

hi there, it's me, finally surfacing after the worst travel experience of my entire life. I flew with Canada Air. I doubt I will ever do that again. I was waiting in gate C 9. They had on the board that my flight to Montreal was on time, and would leave at 5.00. They also indicated that the flight to Georgia was on time and would leave at 4.45. I didn't see how they could do that, and thought there had been a mistake. But they called both flights, and we went down the walkway, and then down a metal ladder to the concrete, and had to walk to the plane where we then had to climb another metal ladder. So much for my carry on bag on wheels, I had to carry it up and down the ladders. Are they living in the stone age? When I made it up the ladder hauling my bag, they told me I would have to take it back down because it was too big to stow on the plane. Not a chance, take it down yourself! We got to Montreal, and guess what, more ladders, more concrete, haul the bag up, haul the bag down, by this time my poor arthritic knees and hips were screaming as was my shoulder. Then a mile long hike to the terminal, then a huge long line to wait in to get checked out as a non terrorist, and I only had an hour before my next flight took off. There were no staff around, but finally I reached the guy checking me out and asked him if they really thought I could get my luggage and still make my plane to London which was due to leave in 15 minutes. He said "no, you go over there, see the sign for connections." It was clear across the other side of a space bigger than a dozen football fields. I could see there was a sign, but sure as hell couldn't read it. So I took off as fast as I could go, went through two more check points, and finally got on the plane with minutes to spare, and no chance to find a ladies room. Great. Oh, yes, more ladders. More hauling my carry on up and down. Then I sat in a seat which reclined all of half an inch. Sleep was out of the question but I couldn't see the movie because the bottom 2/3 of the screen was blocked by the seat in front. Never mind, it was spider man, I didn't like it the last time I flew to the UK, when they showed it. The food was awful. I had hoped that being Canadian and speaking French, the food might be good. Not! Plastic chicken in something resembling chili. a soggy bean and soggy rice. ick. a roll that resembled a rock and tasted like sawdust. No screaming children, lucked out on that one. The flight itself was not bad, but after telling us that we all had to complete a form before landing they never gave us one. Finally I rang my bell because I needed my form. Nothing, I asked the guy sitting next to me to ring his bell to see if that would get them. Again, nothing. Finally, I was able to snag one of the staff and request a form. We landed in Heathrow, and I don't believe it, another ladder, another walk over the airfield, another ladder up. By now my hip is shot. We walk miles to the holding room, thousands of us, waiting in a big long snake of a line to get our passports checked. It took 2 hours shuffling along in that line to finally get my passport checked. By this time I'm thinking, good grief my sister must have given up on me by now, we landed hours ago. I went to baggage collectio, there were dozens our carrosels full of bags, but no way to know which one my bags were on. I checked the screen but there was no flight from Montreal, because it had landed hours ago and been removed. Again, no staff, no help. Finally after wandering up and down, I got to carosell number 1, Air Canada. Rescued my bag, lucky it was still there, and staggered out to find my sister. I may never come here again. I have been coming in and out of London for many years, and never run into so many problems. Thank goodness for my sister, who rescued me and brought me home, were I collapsed in bed with a hot water bottle on my poor hip. I have been laying with that hot water bottle for a few days now, and the hip is easing up, so hopefully I won't spend the rest of my life as a cripple.

Well, that's the news here. Congratulations on your moderating stint, I just caught up on your blog. I will be here till the 17th when I take the train down to Wales to see David's play. ciao.

Mark said...

Wow, what a horrible experience. I'm so sorry, Freda. I'll never complain about a two-hour flight again.

I've forgotten your sister's name in London, but I liked her and her family. They were really generous hosts when we visited. Please tell them hi for me.

-- mm

Mark said...

And also David (and Ann?) in Wales.

freda said...

thanks Mark, I will tell Janet and Keith, and David and Ann. After Wales I will go visit Nesta and John in Surry. ciao

kateco said...

remeber when it used to be fun to fly? Poor Freda! Feel better!