There were a lot of songs in my head last weekend with lyrics mentioning Los Angeles, or L.A. as the cool kids call it. I even jotted down a few lines like “L.A. proved too much for the man,” and “I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.” Why, you ask? I know, I know – just pretend you asked. It was because Spouse and I did something I never imagined doing. We flew out to L.A. for the weekend. That’s a line in a country song, by the way.
We took this crazy trip so I could receive an award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists at their annual conference. The experience of meeting others in the field of column writing and connecting with some pretty heavy hitters in the business was like a dream. I even got to hang out with Dear Abby after she spoke at the conference. Yes, That Dear Abby.
Despite our extensive travels this past year, Spouse and I are not worldly travelers by any stretch of the imagination. We are closer to an east coast version of The Beverly Hillbillies. Our packing consisted of one large suitcase borrowed from Second Born (the only one with new luggage, of course) and a Wal-Mart carry-on. Our idea of traveling high-class is convincing the flight attendant to provide a second bag of pretzels.
For anyone foolish enough to seek advice from me about travel, here are a few tips I picked up on our L.A. trip.
1. Pretend to know your surroundings. Because of the three-hour time difference we arrived in L.A. before noon on the west coast. Deciding to venture out, we asked the hotel’s front desk clerk about nearby attractions. He called a taxi service to bring us to Westwood, home of UCLA and several shops and restaurants. A short while later the driver pulled into a small plaza and announced we were at our destination. As soon as I got out of the van I knew we were in Brentwood, not Westwood - I am that L.A. savvy. And there was a sign in the parking lot that read something about Brentwood Village.
This had to be the first time in history that a taxi driver gave his cab fare back to the passenger – at least until he got us to the right place where we paid close to double what it cost for the ride to Brentwood, which - by the way - also had several shops and restaurants. Why did we insist on Westwood again? Hmm.
2. It is not wise to use the facilities on an airplane as it is coming in for a landing. I did not experience this firsthand but the woman who decided to try her luck with the lavatory as we were beginning our final descent looked quite pale by the time she shoved her way back out of the stall while the plane was at a slant.
3) Nothing is louder than eating a potato chip around hungry people. We were famished after our six-hour flight, so Spouse and I had grabbed lunch to go before we boarded the shuttle from the airport to our hotel. Apparently, none of the other passengers on the shuttle thought to do so. Do you know what your tendency is when something you’re eating is noisy? It is to eat slower. Chips when eaten slowly emit a noise akin to an explosion in your mouth. Try it.
4) You can use jetlag as an excuse to nap. I’m not saying that I’m faking fatigue, but there’s more weight to it when you tell someone you flew to the other side of the country over a weekend.
We’ve been home for two days now and I think we’re getting past our weekend whirlwind adventure. It was an exciting trip and a tremendous honor to be recognized among my writing peers. Next year the conference will be on the east coast and that will make attending much easier.
It also means I have a year to come up with a new excuse for needing a nap.
Now here's a little L.A. quiz - see how many of these you're familiar with and let me know how you did:
(starting from the top of this blog post)
1) L.A. proved too much for the man.
2) I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
3) This ain't no disco. This ain't no country club either. This is L.A.
4) L.A. is a great big freeway... put a hundred down and buy a car.