I went to California for my annual weekend with the girls over the MLK holiday.
I flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Friday, picked up the rental car at LAX, and drove out to Kim’s house near Chino. Traffic was unbelievable, even for LA. You need to know this: I learned to drive in California and spent nearly 10 years negotiating Bay Area traffic before leaving the state in the early 90s. And I’ve been living in Atlanta for over three years now. I am no stranger to backed-up freeways that move at a glacial pace for miles at a time. Usually these slowdowns ease off and speed up after a few miles, seven or eight at most; and even in the middle of it, you can usually count on moving along at 20 or 30 mph for a good distance before needing to slow back down to 10 mph or so.
But this was something else indeed.
When I picked up the rental car and plugged Kim’s address into the GPS on my phone, the navigation program told me the trip would take approximate 1 hr and 40 minutes. “Cool,” thought I, “I’ll get there right about dinner time as planned,” and I set out on my way. Got on the first freeway; it’s a little backed up, which I expected since it was so close to the airport. As I exited that freeway, I could see from my position on the elevated ramp that the second freeway was moving slower than the freeway I was leaving. Hm. Well, it was getting close to the 5 PM rush hour, but I should still be ahead of most of the traffic.
Then I hit the 91.
Oh. Dear. God. I had died and gone to Traffic Hell. Cars moved along at 10-15 mph when we were lucky; most of the time, it was 4 mph or a dead stop. For at least 20 miles. I kept looking at the estimated time of arrival on the navigator, and it kept getting pushed back further and further…
Three and a half hours after picking up the car, I arrived at Kim’s house. Even she was surprised at the travel time, and she lives there. We later decided the excessively heavy traffic volume was due to the Monday holiday, and people leaving work early to head for the mountains or the lake for a long weekend.
Curses be upon their heads.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early and headed west to spend some time in Corona del Mar and Newport Beach: a botanical garden, lunch, and a trip to Balboa Island.
I bought some pretty jewelry at the botanical gardens gift shop. The earrings are for me. The necklace will be a gift.
And I bought yarn Saturday.
“Wait a minute! I thought you said you weren’t going to buy new yarn!” I hear you exclaim.
Remember? I gave myself an out. If I went on a trip, I was allowed to purchase souvenir yarn. So after lunch, we found a nearby yarn store (thank you, Google) and I bought these pretty things:
Left to right, that’s one skein of MadTosh Twist Light, one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and one skein of MadTosh Merino Light. Both MadTosh skeins will be socks, eventually (I think), and the Smooshy is destined for a lacy shawlette.
My friends were rather impressed with the yarn store (Sheared Sheep in Newport Beach), and next year’s big adventure may involve me teaching them all to knit. Speaking of my friends, here we are at Sherman Gardens.
I love these women with all my heart. We’ve been friends since we were about 11 years old.
After yarn, we took the ferry to Balboa Island and had a nice walk. By then, it was late afternoon, so we ferried back and hurried over to the Newport Pier to watch the sunset.
Then we drove back to Kim’s house for dinner and the annual slide show of what we all did since our last get-together. Sunday morning, we had one last walk on the river trail near Kim’s house, and then I had to get to the airport to catch my plane. Thank goodness the traffic Sunday wasn’t anywhere nearly as awful as it had been Friday night, and I made it to the rental car return and subsequently to my departure gate at LAX with hours to spare.
But LAX has free wi-fi, so all was well.
The flight was fully booked. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like hearing the gate attendant announce the flight is “completely full” to engender gratitude for that splurge on a first-class seat. Those seats are soooo much more comfortable than steerage, I mean, economy.
So long, Los Angeles. See you next year, maybe, unless (a) we decide to go north to Michelle’s parents’ beach house in, um, Marin County, I think, or (b) they all come to my house in Atlanta. (Either option is fine with me, by the way.)