Saturday, July 28, 2012

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Let's call this Part 1 - The one with the freeway

Recently we spent three nights in Los Angeles and two nights in San Diego.  The plan was to drive back to LA on our last day for our return flight home.  That was the plan.

Plans change. 

On the day we drove to San Diego, some scheduling needs prompted a change in return flights.  Matt needed to spend two days on the East Coast, and he needed to be home by lunchtime on Friday so he could attend a previous engagement.  In order to make all of that happen, Matt had to change his itinerary and leave from San Diego.

He used all of his mad airline booking skills to find an itinerary our of LA that would fit his needs.  Unfortunately San Diego was his best bet.  On a side note, Matt should earn an award for booking awesome airline tickets.  He is all over different blogs and direct airline news to find deals.  He can smell a sale months away.  When asked, he is quite humble about his mad skills and doesn't see it as anything special.  If you ask how does he do it, he can't describe it.

Anyway back to our story....

Once he figured out his itinerary, he asked if I would have any issue driving from San Diego to LA by myself.  At first I thought he was joking.  But he wasn't.  Then I had a practical thought about California driving.  Many of the roads have rush hour all day, so getting where I need to go wouldn't be so bad since the slow traffic would give me time figure out where I was going.  Plus according to Matt it was only two roads - the 5 and the 405 to get off at Century Boulevard.

"No problem," I said.  Then in my head I told myself I was crazy.

Being the amazing traveler and caring guy he is, Matt made sure to point out major landmarks to me on our way to San Diego.  I often had to look out the rear window to see signs or landmarks as I would on my return trip in a few days.  My main landmark was the Laguna Hills Mall sign. 

"No problem," I said.  Then in my head I told myself I was crazy.

We enjoyed the San Diego sun until the very last minute.  Matt left me at our Gaslamp Quarter hotel around 11:00 for his trip to Boston via Houston.  Repeated the directions, but then added a few more.

"Take the 5 to the 405 to get off at Century Boulevard.  Then turn onto Aviation to return the car.  Stop at one of the stations to fill the tank before returning the car.  Then take the shuttle to airport."

"No problem," I said.  Then in my head I told myself I was crazy.

I did write the directions down just in case I lost my mind.  After he left I had another hour to kill.  I actually had a lot of time to kill because I wasn't scheduled for my return trip until 5:00.  The warning we heard over and over was that the drive between San Diego and LA can be two and a half hours or more.  We felt the just under two hour vibe, but instead of risking it on my own, I heeded the advice.

I was slightly disappointed that I was driving alone because the ride between these two cities is spectacular.  To see the ocean as you drive is truly far removed from the Midwest.  I drove past Camp Pendleton, saw campers & motor homes parked at campsites on the shoreline, and the Coaster commuter train speed by on its way to Oceanside.  Of course I only got short glimpses since I was driving a monsterous Chrysler 300.
This was taken when I was the passenger, not while operating a motor vehicle.  Promise. 
Driving the 5 to the 405 was a piece of cake.  Once I needed to get off at Century the real work began.  Matt forgot to tell me that we did not drive on this part of the 405.  When nothing looked familiar, I started to panic (that's not saying much about me BTW).  As I have learned in recent years, relax for a bit before making any drastic changes.  As assured by Matt, Century Boulevard appeared followed by Aviation.

The remainder of my drive was uneventful.  I made it in exactly two hours.  I did chuckle when someone asked me for directions to the 405 while at the gas station.  I'm glad they decided to ask the station attendant instead of relying on my iffy directions.  The flight home is a story for another day.

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