Back just before President's day weekend (in mid-February), we drove down to Southern California to visit the kids. This was on just a few days' notice—our daughter usually goes out of town with friends over holiday weekends, but by Wednesday we'd confirmed both kids would be around, so we decided to go for it. This was during a week where I wrote an Idol entry and was reading other people's entries, and work was super-busy. On Thursday night, I was up until 2 a.m. booking hotels for Friday and Saturday night, because it took me more than two hours to find a hotel in L.A. for that first night. GAH.
I mean, it's always a pain for both L.A. and San Diego, but L.A. is so much worse. Our son is at UCLA, which is in an expensive area of the city, and there's this long stretch of 405 beforehand where there just aren't a lot of hotels at all, let alone decent and affordable ones. It's kind of a hotel dessert. We made this same weekend trip two years ago, and learned what happens when you arrive late at night in L.A. and need to park your car. So, in looking for something to the North that was less expensive than Brentwood/Westwood/Bel Air/Beverly Hills, I found myself backing up farther and farther along 405 and then eliminating one hotel after another on the basis of reported filth/grossness and bedbugs. Holy cow, HOW can it be so hard to find an L.A.-area hotel without bedbugs? Ugh.
We wound up at a Holiday Inn Express that I hadn't realized was right across the freeway from Magic Mountain. With the attendant early-morning Disneyland-like effect of children running up and down the hallways screaming. \o?
But we checked out and went to see our son, and spent the day at La Brea tar pits for reasons of GEEK! None of us had ever been there, and it was fascinating. The Boy and I went clear down to the bottom of the covered enclosure that exposes some of the fossils and liquid tar, and I watched the tar slo-o-owly form bubbles and *pop*. Also, there was a onsite kitty hanging out with some of the people who work in an outdoor tent cleaning and checking extracted fossils. :)
We had good time hanging-out with the Boy all day, plus dinner, and then we drove to our San Diego hotel. We met our daughter for brunch the next morning at the Shorehouse Kitchen, then walked to the beach after stopping along the way to look at a $3.5 million home that was holding an Open House. That home... it wasn't my style (too spare and modern), but it was impressive. The stove hood and other fixtures folded up into the kitchen ceiling, and a couple of rooms had sliding all-glass panels on two sides that you could open up to the outdoors. If your lifestyle were built around entertaining and impressing your friends, this would be the place for it!
After a brief beach visit, we went to our daughter's house (a rental she shares with 3 other people), then to Balboa Park to stroll through the artists' village and the botannical garden, and to watch a man make truly gigantic soap bubbles and set them free.
That was followed by a trip to the Winehouse in San Diego's Little Italy, where we had the cheese platter and some wine and played Scrabble in the upstairs room, and then we went to dinner at one of the Puesto locations. Shrimp tacos, mmmmm...
It was a busy, wonderful day, and after we said goodbye to our daughter we drove to Bakersfield and looked for a hotel. That had worked out before, but I didn't want to book ahead of time in case we either didn't make it that far or wanted to go further.
Throughout the trip, I spent part of the drive to L.A., then to San Diego, and then to Bakersfield reading a bunch of Idol entries I'd copied into giant Word docs. Then I'd post comments using the hotel Wifi and gather more stories to read for the next leg of the trip. I managed to get through them all and vote in both the main competition and Second Chance, which was pretty good. But by the time we got home Monday afternoon, I was pretty tired—and it was back to work again the next day. \o?
Still, what a great trip. It was totally worth it!