I’ve had some bad luck with Northwest Airlines. After some time spent on the de-icing pad at MSP International (it was 70 and sunny), a drunk-sounding head flight attendant, and a pilot who regaled us with fascinating details about turbulence, we made it to LAX pretty much on time. We hopped the shuttle to the rent-a-car place, where we found them out of the basic mid-size cars. We were excited about maybe getting a hot car in California. We were so wrong.
We ended up with a Chrysler 300, the pimpmobile for the geriatric set. My dad loves this car. Us, not so much. Before even leaving the lot, Stephanie declared her undying hatred for it. I hoped it had ‘I AM A RENTAL’ stickered all over the back so people wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking we owned it. We promptly named it ‘Dick’.
It was sunny but too windy and cold to head right to the beach per the original plan, so we decided to drive up the beach to Santa Barbara, one of my favorite sights on my west-coast roadtrip. We got lost on Sepulveda Boulevard (I preferred ‘Sepultura Boulevard’ instead, which meant that I had to mention the band every single time we saw that street after that, no less than 50 times). We finally found our way to Santa Monica, and from there, the PCH. I wanted to take that up the coast, since that was the only stretch I missed when I drove down from San Francisco.
We stopped for burritos at a little place on the side of the road in Malibu, and sat out on the patio in the sun with the too-stereotypical surfer kids. I was thrilled to be having my first perfect California moment of the trip. In Zuma Beach, we were slowed by a movie or TV show; cops were escorting a trailer up and down the highway past film crews in a parking lot. We stopped at Starbucks for iced coffee, and I knew I was in California because the soymilk was out on the counter. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. Also, I love all the crazy beach vehicles in SoCal. It sucks that dune buggies are so impractical in Minnesota.
After the beach towns and naval bases, highway 1 heads inland towards produce farms and industrial-looking towns. We stopped at a roadside stand for fresh strawberries, then drove like crazy to Santa Barbara. I was hoping to get to the beach there, but it was so windy it hurt, and the sun managed to go away the second we arrived. I still love Santa Barbara for the cute little downtown and tall, skinny palm trees lining the beach. Stephanie was unimpressed; we decided to head back to Santa Monica.
After our first run-in with the huge mess that is LA traffic, we made it to the 3rd Street Promenade. I had been there before and was kind of unimpressed with the shopping (although the crazy street-performers and people-watching and dinosaur topiaries make it worth the trip). However, I knew they now had a Kid Robot there, so I had to visit. Also, I really wanted a pretzel, and Wetzel was happy to sell me one.
We wandered for a while, but were tired from all the flying and driving, so we went to check into the hotel. Priceline had secured me a very swank room for a very very low price, right on Century Boulevard near the airport. After unpacking, we decided we needed pizza, but didn’t want to pay $11 to get the car out of the lot. Stephanie had seen a CPK sign nearby, so we set out wandering down Century to find it. We finally stopped into a hotel to ask, and were told it was actually their training center, not a restaurant. We went back to our hotel and ordered room service instead, delivered by a little guy named Pinkey. Then we crashed.