February 02, 2008
A City In Motion
The ultimate in fuel economy and "green"driving. A smart car! Gets 100 miles to the gallon but is a bit short on comfort, and forget about shopping trips. Bellflower CA
Written from the Peacock Suites
Feb 2 2008
I have not spoken of this trip I am making this week to any of my family or my blogs. It is complicated and I will share more as the week progresses. I have literally returned to the place of my birth, the hospital where I was born is only a block down the street. I sit and the lights of Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom flash in my window, the sounds of thousands of people break into my stillness. The worst is the roar of the traffic, the hum of the wheels of the greatest concentration of vehicles in the nation assaults my hearing
I have arrived back in the Southland, Southern California and was greeted by my usual welcoming committee of nausea due to the smell of burning jet fuel, and the incredible din of traffic.
We landed at LAX about 1630 on a Saturday. Should be the quietest time of day and really the non stop flight was fine half full. I didn’t have to share a seat, and Woody did what he often does, he found a friend in a crowd of strangers. As we sat in the airport a man approached Woody and the two of them were shaking hands and patting each other on the back .
Darryl had just come out to care for his very aged father, who passed away while he was here. Darryl is 67 so this man was quite old. He’d not been ill and I was told it was a peaceful end to a long and well lived life. Would that we all could say that . Woody has know this man most of his adult life and has worked with him on and off over a 30 year span, in the forklift parts and sales business. Darryl is a native son whose parents moved to California for work back in the 1940’s and when retirement came, his folks moved back to the old home place, a small frame house on a city lot in the old part of Lowell, the same city where I work. He and his brother intend to sell, and I am sure that it will.
Darryl was on his way back to LA, to his job and grandchildren. He provided Woody excellent company for the flight. I sat alone a few rows up, without a seatmate thank goodness. The woman assigned to sit with me gave me this look of loathing when she saw me. I hate it and yes I do take up more than my share of space but don’t punish me for it. That doesn’t normally happen, people have been very nice the past few trips we have taken. That is why we fly on Saturdays at off times.
The skies were clear and I had wonderful views of the desert landscape as we flew over route forty, crossing sinuous rivers, and checkerboard farmscapes. The piles of majestic Cumulous Nimbus we sailed though were amazing. Really I love flying, I just hate TSA, the strip searches, tiny seats, damaged and lost luggage and no service whatsoever. I read my devotional, and journaled about my expectations of the week, and tried to ignore the obnoxious brats in the seat behind me, and the nearly constant running to the back of the plane by one couple who were having bathroom issues I guess. I felt bad for them.
We disembark and are immediately reminded of a fact that I have been imbued with since childhood, you are nothing and nowhere in LA without a set of wheels, the chatter around me is “What kinda car are we getting Daddy?” My immediate concern is managing the jetway and did all of our bags make it on this flight.. I don’t want to come back here this week.
Getting off the plane and getting our gear together and getting to the rental car agency is quite an adventure. We are not ones to pack lightly. Travel confirms to Woody that I am a throwback to my great grandmother Georgianne, and her Victorian mode of travel which was to “pack it all and my little dog too…” We have two big cases, two travel bags for gate check, one for my pillow and night things and the other is for our shoes. We NEVER check a bag with shoes in it. That is the number one clothing item stolen by TSA. I wear a men’s 10 ½ . I had three pairs of expensive athletic shoes in there, I am not stupid. Woody wears an 8, a bit small but he has very expensive tastes in shoes. We figure we had at least 1000.00 replacement value in that bag. Why so picky about shoes. When you are big like we are, you need that support, and a poorly made shoe will breakdown quickly. Since my accident I have been living in Nike trainers and cant wear any of my dress shoes for much longer than a church service. Need the support and the protection from the cold as it makes my foot hurt like a burning cigarette is being applied to the break. Uggh
Unlike the children I know what kind of wheels we are getting. A 2008 Chrysler Grand Caravan touring model.I no longer care what the thing looks like I want to see what is going on around me and never so much as in “the devil take it, get out of my way!” driving arena that is the SoCal freeway system. Its comfortable, and holds all of our gear. My only regret is that it is a V-6 and is a slug when you stick your foot into it.
Woody and I load our stuff and set out like the Natives that we are. People drive like they are the only ones on the road and every savage for themselves is the rule of law. We were not out there on the Inglewood streets 10 minutes but we saw two police chases and said, we are getting on the freeway, even if we get stomped, we are getting out of this bad part of town. I am the Navigator and know most of LA county like I have a road map burned into my brain, I get us on the freeway… or as Woody said into the free for all, and we join in the mad dash for everywhere that most of the 2 million people seem to be making at any given place in the city at any given moment…
LA thrives on motion like no other place I have ever known. People drive for everything, you cant hardly walk to anyplace you need to be and the words “Public Transportation” spell LOSER, because you cant get to where you need to go on the dangerous dirty bus system, or the silly electric train that was obsolete before it was built and was only built because the money was earmarked by Congress. I have never worked a job where the hours were stable enough that I could carpool or take Public Transportation. On top of that the culture of the city demands immediate transport, and that means cars.
People in Arkansas laugh at Woody and I for eating out twice a day on the weekends. This might mean two trips into town, at 30 miles round trip. To us this is nothing even with three dollar a gallon gas. As we are driving this week we see why we feel this way. We have decided that to the Angeleno, one of the most personal expressions of freedom in this city is freedom of movement. We drive for sport, for pleasure, and for the thrill of driving itself. Driving and the cars we drive are a statement of who we are. I know so many people (Woody included) who “drive to impress” just as some “dress for success”. We treat our vehicles as extensions of our homes and equip them with state of the art audio/visual set ups. I see people here watching DVD’s in rush hour, let alone chatting on a cel phone. Putting on makeup and shaving is a matter of course as is eating and having that latte at 65 miles per hour. Life here moves at the speed of traffic, and that traffic is slowing down growing more congested and concentrated as the days go by. Yet more and more people find their way to LA and join in on this incredible parade. It is amazing.
We drove to Descanso Gardens
today, a 125 mile round trip from Orange County. The freeways are in our blood and with one of us driving and the other navagating we flew down Diamond/HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle or carpool) lanes and averted collision, sig-a-lert ( traffic incedent that takes 30 minutes or less to clear off the road)and worse incedents thanks to KNX 1070
, the combined knowledge of two people that have driven for a living in Metro LA. Woody was great, as he managed our lumbering van in and out of tight spots like he was wearing the thing.We spent a lovely few hours there then went back to Orange county to pick up my Aunt Jean and take her to the doctor. She is doing fine and is well
I am finishing this post at nearly midnight. The whining of radial tires on the Golden State Freeway just a block from the hotel is growing fainter and less frequent, traffic on Harbor Blvd has quieted at Disney land is closing at 7pm this week due to the wet cold weather. We have driven over 450 miles in time we have been here and expect to put 1000 miles on the van ... I love it. For us, as much as we love this City in Motion, and taking advantage of the opportunity to go and do this week in a place we both love but can live in anymore. We will be glad to get back on the plane at the end of the week and return to a quieter place that while it depends on the car just as much, it chooses to not make such a big deal about it.
Labels: Traveling, Woody