This is a dual purpose trip – we are going to spend a couple of days with Noah and my sibs in LA before boarding the Regent Seven Seas Mariner for a nine-day cruise down the Western Mexican Coast. I guess the “Masquerade” name refers to the fact that we will be on board on Halloween.
countless trips using two carry-ons (that we check) and my small rolling
computer bag, I have, on the advice of my knowledgeable travel partner,
switched to a laptop backpack (which I ordered overnight from Amazon for this
trip). I was skeptical but everything
fit (all of the meds and critical items go into the backpack) and it wasn’t
overly heavy. I have never used a backpack – even in college – so I guess you
are never too old to learn something new.
23, 2022 – Travel Day
Because we wanted to get the most time with Noah, I set up
an early flight to LA – AA1037 departing ORD at 7:15 AM. This meant that we would need to be picked up
at 5:30 AM and working backward from that, we would have to get up crazy
early. We did get up crazy early and got
to the airport about 6:00 AM – about 45 minutes to boarding. Our plane, an A321, was already at gate H11
(having arrived in Chicago last night). It is still dark outside.
We are in Cabin Extra seats 9E and 9F (middle and
window). The plane was about two thirds
full and there were plenty of open seats in the special section. Ellen asked the flight attendant if she could
move to the bulkhead on the port side of the plane. She did and I stayed on the other side of the
plane and both of us had the whole row to ourselves. Super bonus. There weren't many masks on this flight but I did wear mine the whole flight (except when eating or drinking).
|Who was that Masked Man
The pilot told us that the flight would be smooth for first hour or so but then we run into moderate chop that would last until we were over Vegas. Something to look forward to. The plane pushed right on time and was in the air without delay. The climb out was smooth and the flight was smooth as the captain had indicated. Of course, we executed the "big bank" to reduce noise effects on the communities below.
Since we are in Cabin Extra Seats, we are entitled to drinks. Since it is early in the morning, the usual drinks are not really a good idea. However, getting a couple of Bailey's and putting one into my coffee milk was a good option. A spike mocha latte you might say. In any event, it was good and went along fine with the bagels and veggie cream cheese we brought along.
|Bailey's spiked Milk
I watched a promotional video on the AA entertainment
system and that earned me 30 minutes of internet time (I was actually able to
pick up another 30 minutes somehow). On
Flight Aware I could see the storms ahead of the plane and the vector taking us
right into the mess. The pilot has indicated
earlier that these storms started at 25000 feet and continued up to 45000 feet
so there was no place to go but through.
He could have flown around the storms but that would have delayed our
arrival in LA and messed up connections.
Because the skies were clear after getting through the weather, the view of the terrain was spectacular.
In the dessert - either Nevada or California, I could see a massive solar farm as well as solar reflectors - mirrors that concentrate the Sun's energy to heat water and produce energy. Not sure that's what they were but the mirrors were impressive.
Our approach to LAX was different this time as we did not pass close to the San Gabriel Mountains but were pretty far South. Visibility was great and I could see the SoFi Stadium and the city itself.
We arrived around 9:35 AM and our bags - that's our plane at the gate at LAX -
were in the
carousel pretty quickly. We went to the
purple sign for Rental Car pickup and the Fox Rental Van arrived within five
minutes (a new record). We rented a Hyundai
Elantra (bigger than the Rio or Mirage we booked but at the same price). It was a little scuffed and had almost 78,000
miles on it but it drove well.
We used GPS to get to Occidental College and Noah’s dorm
area. We found Noah and decided to get lunch
at a place he knew in Glendale – Cindy’s. The place was small and popular so it took a
little over 20 minutes to get seated.
Ellen and I shared a very interesting omelet – caramelized onions and
blue cheese in the omelet with parsley pesto on top. Honestly, I did not like the combination of flavors
and, while it did come with some kind of odd potato, it only showed up with a single slice of sourdough toast. You can see in the photo below that not all of the omelet was consumed. The place was packed so someone must like this
type of food. The service was a little slow but we were there to spend time
with Noah and so mission accomplished.
From the restaurant, we went to see Noah’s dorm room. He has a nice room with a window but the real
perk is the common area which has a terrific panoramic view. His friend, Kyle, was playing Sinatra and we
just hung out there a while. From there
we walked down to the Student Center to look for an Oxy cap for Ellen (no luck)
and check out the Coffee Shop. Noah had
a Chai Latte and I had an iced Mocha Latte.
Next, we drove to the Americana
Mall in Glendale – I parked the car for free at the Galleria parking lot
and we walked across the street to the Americana Mall. The place was solid people with only a scant
few wearing masks. Still, it was
outdoors so and probably safe. My leg
was bothering me so I hung out near the fountains while Ellen and Noah walked
and shopped the mall. It was quite cool
and much different than when we were last here in April.
In trying to figure out what to do for dinner, we opted to
go with Noah’s suggestion, which was California
Pizza Kitchen. We walked there
(maybe 10 or 15 minutes away). CPK was
in the same building as the Olive Garden.
Even though the restaurant was essentially half full, we had to wait at
least 20 minutes to get a seat where a server was available. We wound up sitting far away from the rest of
the customers. Noah ordered his
signature pizza and Ellen ordered a salmon dish – I had the fettucine with
mushrooms. It was a lot of food and we
ate quite a bit of it. There was an
issue with the Salmon – it was seasoned with something very spicy and too hot
to eat. The waitress was kind enough not
to charge us for the salmon. Ellen and I
shared the pasta dish.
We dropped Noah off at his dorm and drove to our first hotel,
the Best Western Plus on
Colorado. It looked like a dump but it
turned out to be OK – the room, while small, was comfortable and quiet
(relatively). What we didn’t like about
the hotel was that the doors to the rooms were on the outside of the hotel and
that we had to pay $9 a night to park our car.