Friday, June 25, 2010

Phoenix 2 LAX--Road Trip Day 5--ex post facto

(published a week and half after the real day in question)
Phoenix, Arizona For the 5th day in a row, we will wake in one place, go to sleep in another 100s of miles away, I am grateful that we have chosen to do this for only a week, not the 3 weeks we originally painstakingly planned (although I also continue to grieve for the abandoned itinerary).

I set the alarm to get up and out of Phoenix before the heat. We are rushing to meet Bill's plane at LAX some 700 miles away. The drive is smooth and fun. You know, all the drives have been fun. The kids have mostly insisted on sitting in the backseats together (so they can talk and conspire against me). It's safer that way and actually seems to give me some measure of freedom up front, plus I can pile all my junk on the seat next to me and easily multitask on the road giving me one more reason to tell the kids to do as I say, not as I do.

On the road trips they read a lot (my mother bought me a Kindle for my birthday and we each have a book on it--like all electronic devices I purchase, they use it a lot more than I do), E plays long games of solitaire on her ipod. N is more likely to occasionally talk with me or initiate one of several games we rotate (the only car games that we or even Hoyles know of: Boticelli, Third of a Ghost, and Geography). We also play a card game called Rubberneckers where you draw cards that tell you what to look for on the road and you have to spot those things to accumulate points. Don't worry, the kids draw my cards for me and tell me what to look for.

The most fun part of Rubberneckers is when you have to make a gesture or something to another driver in another vehicle and get a reaction back. This is surprisingly difficult to effect. N has to make the "Junior birdman" eyeglasses at 10-15 drivers before they give a response other than a hostile glare (which doesn't count). E, as a younger-looking female, has better results than a 6' 3" 15 year old male--and it isn't cute at all but vaguely insane/obscene when I, while driving the car, have to make the airhorn pumping sign to truck drivers (this makes us engage in a lot of nervous speculation and laughter).

Miraculously on this drive without even stopping for lunch, we make it to LAX and Southwest airline's gate in 7 hours on the dot to pick Bill up just as he emerges (the only hitches being a) fitting him in the car and b) weathering a scolding from a belligerent airport security agent for picking him up on the wrong side of the lane. We peel out laughing, happy and, for my part, exhausted and make our way to the Ocean View Hotel in Santa Monica.

Upon arrival we voluntarily accept a steep discount to downgrade from an ocean view room with a balcony to a back-room with neither. With two double beds and a single futon on the floor we are cramped but happy. At the risk of offending millions, I feel a little like a happy immigrant family grateful to be out of the refugee camp and into our own space. Bill Yelps us to the Iterim Cafe, a vegan-friendly wheat free eatery on Wilshire a few blocks from the hotel. The food is fresh, imaginative and delicious (although the joint is clearly more of a happening business lunch spot than dinner, we are happy to have the place to ourselves). I stagger with exhaustion down the third street promenade and shortly thereafter collapse in the room while Bill takes the kids down to the pier for a turn on the ferris wheel.

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