Sunday, January 03, 2010

Coast to Coast and Back Again

Tonight, I walked into my house after 3.5 hours of sleep on a couch, 5 hours on a plane, and 2500 miles. I devoured dinner and collapsed on the couch until my family's excitement for the Jets roused me. After that, apparently there's nothing to do but blog.

On Monday I locked up my house and took my overpacked suitcase and traipsed by bus and subway and train to Connecticut where my friend D lives. On Tuesday we got up in the wee hours of the morning to drive to the airport where fifteen hours of travel and one surprisingly snowy layover in Salt Lake City later we arrived in Las Vegas. This was the farthest west I've ever been. The terrain was absolutely gorgeous, and Vegas itself was just so... sparkly.

D and I have traveled together before. We went to England and Edinburgh spring break last year. Sometimes we forget to add in time for jetlag and travel recovery. No matter we had been up since 4:30 am eastern time, we endure! We persevere! We oogled all the casinos. We walked up and down the strip in insensible shoes. We collectively lost $8, though I was winning money back on the quarter slots for a little while. We checked out a couple wedding chapels, but unfortunately no elopement is complete without a groom. And that would have been such a good story. We only made it until about 12:30, so I feel like we missed half of Vegas' night life, but by that time we had been up almost 24 hours.

Oh, Vegas. I will return. If only to see the MGM lions that apparently have a very early bedtime.

Some guy laughed as we snapped this. I bet he laughed more when I couldn't figure out how to play.

The next morning we woke up and jumped on the bed as I tend to do in hotels (oops), left the glamorous side of Vegas, and taxied down to the sketchy side of town where the Greyhound bus station is always located. We were not riding the Greyhound. We took an Amtrak bus. After almost being stranded in the Detroit bus station overnight because of Greyhound's sloppy management, I swore never to take them again, but apparently I can't evade them completely. After a delayed start and an exciting rest stop where two passengers had to chase the bus to get back on, we arrived in Los Angeles around 6 pm on what our friend A said was only the third rainy day since he'd moved there. Dude, all I have to say is that I have a new found respect for the covered wagon pioneers.

Oregon Trail was never so real.

So I mentioned earlier that this trip to LA would be like a little dry run. Would I like it enough to want to move there eventually? Would the rumored death-trap traffic daunt me? How would I restrain myself from getting into physical fights with the OSU fans in town for the Rose Bowl? (This I did not realize until we had gotten there and we saw lots of old people milling around with OSU gear. Why were the majority of the fans old? I don't know, but it was especially difficult not to mock the woman wearing the knitted OSU sweater vest. However, in the end we were all silenced because we weren't sure how we'd be able to answer their return mockery. Hey, we're proud, not in denial.) So what sort of impression did LA make on me?

I really liked it. It didn't exactly match my expectations, but mostly in good ways. Even during the holidays and non peak hours, the roads seemed manageable (people don't believe this, but Jersey driving prepares you for anything.), and the geography was more beautiful than I expected. I got to stick my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I took a stupid amount of pictures in Grauman's Chinese Theatre forecourt. We brought in the New Year with pancakes and mimosas and the news reruns of the New York ball drop (apparently LA doesn't have a news worthy New Year's Eve celebration?). I found out that Crumbs' cupcakes are beyond delicious and warrant a trip into the city to find the original bakery. D and A spotted Joshua Jackson, and I spotted the back of his head.

Sunset at Santa Monica. Also, my new camera is brilliant.

And then last night D and I packed up, showered, dressed in our travel clothes, and crashed on the couch to fall asleep to Pride and Prejudice. Because we were leaving for the airport at 3:30 in the morning, and there's absolutely no reason to let yourself get snuggled up and comfortable in bed if you won't be able to leave it when the time comes. I slept for a couple hours here and there, and then we left A's lovely apartment and drove through LA in the early hours to arrive at the airport and queue up before check in had even opened. Our 6:10 flight left before the sun had risen, which is mind boggling when you hadn't really gone to sleep the night before. The LA-NYC flight was rather speedy. I finally watched the Time Traveler's Wife, which I knew was a dangerous move in public since I tend to turn into a waterworks during movies. We touched down in JFK's only crappy terminal, we collected our luggage, and D and I parted ways.

A pretty good trip. It's nice to have finally traveled coast to coast. For all the traveling I've done in Europe, it seemed a bit sad to me that the farthest I remember traveling west was St. Louis (my sister told me we went to Montana or Colorado when I was little, but I don't remember). My pseudo-nap on the couch has me feeling better, despite having less than a quarter night's sleep last night, but I know better. I am grateful to have a job where I still have Christmas break, but school does start again tomorrow, and after Vegas and LA and two planes and a bus and 5000 miles I still have to find enough energy to match 23 second graders returning from their own breaks.

You say you can now get caffeine in pills? What about straight up IVs?

George Lucas has smaller feet than I imagined. Not that I imagined his feet at all.

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