Not quite as expected…
After a leisurely hotel breakfast Operation Car Pick Up had to get under way. The baggage was lumbered back into a hotel courtesy bus to return to the airport where the driver, having dropped off all the other passengers at their appropriate terminals, did a detour to the lower street level to deliver the crew close to the car rental courtesy buses.
It’s a mile or so out from the airport to the rental car district. The bus was crammed with weary travellers – and of course there was another queue session ahead. While Boatwif sat with the baggage the Captain stood in line. He returned a while later, face long and shocked. The company agents had refused to acknowledge the pre-payment on the car booked from the UK weeks ago and had charged him nearly $2,000… Ahead then there was a battle to be fought, a dispute to be resolved…
In the meanwhile, even before 10 am, the sun was already scorching down and a car of the appropriate grade paid for (paid for twice now, it seemed) had to be selected. There was a choice of four. Conference time. “Not the dark blue, attracts the heat too much in this climate… not the Jeep – had one once, not very comfortable… not the white one, the back seat looks too cramped… better be the silver one then, more room for the Cal Clan…” So, nearer 11 am, bags loaded, car checked past the security guard, independent travel could begin.
The satnav slowly registered the car’s position. Keen not to repeat last year’s mistake by inadvertently turning left into a less than salubrious LA area, the Captain turned right. Within three streets there was the freeway entrance. Eight lanes of highway stretched ahead.
Just head south, head south – and don’t go onto a toll section, the Captain intoned to himself. How to pay a freeway toll when there are no toll kiosks remains a mystery…
The miles ticked past and the vast bowl of the Los Angeles conurbation was left behind. Familiar place names cropped up: Long Island, Anaheim, John Wayne Airport… The freeway passes close to modern high rise buildings at Irvine and then as yet untamed territory appears, dry brush on steep sided hills.
If you are unaware of your route first sightings of the Pacific Ocean may come as a surprise. The I-5 Freeway veers to the coast. On one small patch of the vast military training area that is Camp Pendleton two strange aircraft were in hover mode. They were V-22 Ospreys, designed to provide fast transport of troops over distance and directly onto a battlefield.
At Oceanside you need to change freeway, onto the I-78. Memories swam back: beware this spiral ramp, there’s an adverse camber, the ramp is steep, the traffic flow fast…
Safely on the I-78 it was a 12 mile drive east to Destination San Marcos and the customary broad overviews from high up at Double Peak Park.
“What do you think of our Trump election?” the hotel bus driver had asked earlier in the day. With no wish to get into conflict or to offend the Captain had replied: “So what did you think of our BREXIT…?” These opening gambits happened several times over the next few days. Folk are open to questions and will readily provide their own version of the causes of the election result. In the heat up at Double Peak Park four other sightseers described their own reactions and their own Election Night tales. Even youngsters have opinions. “Hillary lost,” said six year old Cal Guy Jnr, mournfully. “She’s old, like you…” (That came as an unexpected and unwanted vote of no confidence!) Still, a week later it seems strange to read in the press and to hear on TV the title President-elect Trump.
As ever when in the US there is the realisation that while the English language might be shared, experiences and culture differ.
“Your voice sounds funny!” a small boy in a playground announced. “It sounds like my Mom!”
“Really? So where did your Mom come from?” Boatwif felt compelled to ask.
“Chinatown,” came the reply.
“Where are you from?” is a frequent question – and folk will likely regale how their mother’s father’s aunt (or other relative) also came from England…
It was on Saturday while down in San Diego that Cal Gal (a serious book addict) mounted a campaign to find a book store. With only 70 pages left on her current read she feared a bookless weekend … Cal Son twiddled with his phone, located the nearest Barnes and Noble (a national book selling chain) – and drew up in front of a very unlikely building. A small sign on a side door said Barnes and Noble.
What a surprise. The ceiling was a breathtaking swirl of deeply coloured pattern. There were birds and there were flowers. The sky blue shade in the ceiling had been picked out and replicated in the book shelving and the handrails up the slopes. It was sheer visual delight and not at all like a regular Barnes and Noble store. The shelf signage reflects the building’s art deco style. What was once the Loma Movie Theater has apparently been a book shop since 1984. It was a chance finding of a building which has been perfectly re-purposed!
What else has been rather unexpected in these first few West Coast days?
Tsunami Evacuation signs at Oceanside
As for the $2,000 dollar car rental charge, the Captain’s complaint reached the highest levels of customer service operation at Net Flights – and by Monday morning a satisfyingly humble apology had been received from Dollar Rentals.
Next time: Reunions