Friday, March 3, revisited, and Saturday, March 4, 2006 - LA to Knoxville

10:50 a.m. on March 3 we arrived in Los Angeles half an hour late after the flight from hell. You might note that it is March 3 again, just like it was yesterday. Due to crossing the International Date Line, we have arrived in LA well before we left Queenstown. So why do I feel so tired?

It was sloooow getting through immigration and took even longer to retrieve our luggage. Tom's backpack must have literally been the last bag to come down the carousel. At least customs was a breeze. No matter. We were just glad to be off the damned plane.

Tom's cousin J.J., thankfully, picked us up at LAX. We had a 13-hour layover before our 11:50 p.m. Delta flight to Cincinnati. All we needed was some tacos and a place to chill. J.J. took us by Del Taco and then to Uncle Joe and Aunt Alice's Hollywood pad. We told J.J. about our trip, she gave us public transportation information, and then she left us there to rest our weary bones.

We rested, but we didn't want to go to sleep because we had another overnight flight tonight, and if we can't sleep on the plane, what's to do? We checked our email and then for the first time in three weeks checked our phone messages. I guess that marks an official end to the vacation, even if we weren't quite home yet.


Lights of LA

7:30 p.m. It was an interesting half mile or so walk to the Metro Rail at Hollywood Boulevard and Highlands. We saw all the stars as we walked down Hollywood Boulevard, some that we recognized, some we hardly even heard of; people who worked and suffered and struggled for fame. (**Paraphrased from "Celluloid Heroes," written by Ray Davies.**) In order for a person to get a star on the Walk of Fame, he or she must be nominated to a selection committee, must agree to attend a presentation ceremony, and a $15,000 fee must be paid to the committee. What an honor. (<--sarcasm)


Celluloid hero

We passed by the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, then had to negotiate a complex set of pedestrian bypasses to reach the Metro Rail station. The regular walkway was blocked off near the station due to setup for the Academy Awards, a/k/a Festival of Narcissists, scheduled two days hence. Very Hollywood.

As always, there were interesting characters on the public transport. The most unusual I call "crazy bicycle guy," or "CBG." CBG was wearing shorts, knee-high rubber boots, several towels around his neck, a construction helmet, and ski goggles. He was also carrying the lid to a pizza box which he held above his head, you know, as if blocking the alien mind rays. CBG boarded the train, leaned his bicycle against the door, and stepped away from it. Not surprisingly, when the train moved, the bicycle fell over. He stood the bicycle back up, stepped away again, but this time he held his hands out toward it, using his psychokinetic powers to hold the bike in place. It worked!

Metro Rail to LAX took longer than we thought it would, but we still got there almost two hours before our plane was scheduled to leave. We ate at the airport McDonald's (oh joy) and went to the gate at boarding time, where we found out our plane had a hydraulic leak and our flight would probably be cancelled, but just hang tight in case they got it fixed. A few minutes after departure time came an announcement that they'd "found" an unused aircraft over at the next terminal we could use. Like, who "lost" the airplane in the first place? Anyway, they said it would be faster to bus us over to the next terminal than for all of us to walk, and after some more delay, the buses arrived and took all would-be passengers one terminal over, where no one seemed to be expecting us, so we all milled around like idiots until our gate crew finally arrived. They then had us board the aircraft in the most haphazard fashion I have ever seen, because the cleaning crew was still preparing the plane. It's air travel, things always go wrong, whatever. We eventually left an hour and a quarter late, around 1:15 a.m. March 4. Thank goodness March 3 was finally over. We'd had enough of that day, thank you.

In spite of the problems and delays on the last three flights, we still managed to catch our 8:50 a.m. flight from Cincinnati to Knoxville just fine. I was impressed by our commuter-flight flight attendant, who gave a manual safety briefing like a pro, unlike the high falootin' sky-waitresses on Air New Zealand working the big ole 747s. This last little flight was the only one to go without a hitch.

9:50 a.m. As Bart Simpson would say: Knoxville! Knoxville! Knoxville! Returning to our house, I was relieved to find that Carlos the Crazy Cat had hardly destroyed anything. We gave Tom's folks, Jack and Linda, a quick overview of our antics, then I was off to rescue Spike-Dog from camp. He was almost as glad to see me as I was to see him. THE END



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