We awoke and took in the pretty amazing view from the window of the Hilton Los Angeles Airport. We could see the planes, descending into the airport, with the Hollywood Hills and Sign in the distance. Pretty nice start to the day. Time to take all our bags (all 7 of them) and head to the airport to collect our rental car. I felt like one of those Sherpas trying to ferry our bags around from the hotel room, to the lobby, put them down, ferry them to the awaiting shuttle to the airport, ferry them on to the shuttle, off the shuttle and then on to the rental car office.
It wasn’t always like this, we used to be mobile, we used to move like the wind, backpacks strapped on front and back, stairs were swept away under our feet, i sneered at uneven ground and kerbs. Now, a feeling of unease settles on me and and sweat drips down my face when i see those seemingly benign obstacles in front of me. Especially now with our little boy in a cast he needs to be carried everywhere so we are less mobile, but there is still bags to be carried. We’ll soldier on though, we always do.
We arrived at the car rental company (Alamo), and checked in, presenting my drivers licence to rent the car. This was a far cry from about two years earlier where standing in the same position i attempted to rent a car without a drivers licence. It was sitting in my car approximately 3000 miles away from my then location in florida. After a little research we found out that it is pretty much illegal to rent a car to a person not in possession of a driving licence. Nervously, I arranged my wife and son in as pathetic, dishevelled and sorrowful position nearby to aid my begging. Somehow, someway, the brilliant people at the Car Rental company (i would love to name them, but in case they get in trouble i won’t) agreed to rent me the car. Suffice to say, i wanted to kiss every staff member that evening. This was the start of that holiday, so apart from their kindness it would have been a disaster for us.
A lot has changed since the last time i rented a car. The suspense is now gone. Previously you would be given keys and out you would go to the car park to find the car, and be surprised to see your new car. Now you get to choose your car from an area of the car rental compound. Sadly, it is pretty much a car park full of identical cars, but perhaps in different colours. We ended up taking a Hyundai Sonata, which for us was a beast of a car. We fitted all our bags and the pram in the boot. I’m pretty sure 12 illegal immigrants could fit in that boot! I believe it even had its own micro climate! Oh, little big tip for those travelling with young children. When choosing the car, check and see if they can see out the rear windows. Unfortunately our little boy was too small to see out the windows easily, but due to the lack of car choice, we were stuck.
Driving in LA is an interesting experience. The freeways are huge, but very quickly turn to car parks. One of the first experiences that can be challenging on freeways is merging on to one. It really is important to get up to speed, but automatic cars don’t give the acceleration straight away, so can be a bit terrifying when you put the foot down to merge, and all you get is this big roar from the engine and a boost of speed of about 5 miles an hour, sounds great, but thats all. Once on them though, they are easy enough to navigate on.
It wasn’t long before we arrived at the Hilton Anaheim, near the Convention Center. We checked in, and rather than follow our original plan of hitting Newport Beach, we decided, wouldn’t it be a great idea to drive out to the Children’s Hospital in LA to get an appointment for Harry. So back in the car, back on the freeway, we eventually made our way to the hospital. We got as far as the reception desk, but could get no further, we were given a post it note with a phone number and name on it and told to ring that number. Wasted journey. It then took us 3 hours to drive 20 miles back to the hotel. It sure wasn’t the start to the trip we’d planned, tomorrow will be better…. i hope!