a fond farewell to my little sister in los angeles

Sunday, January 12: After leaving Rosie’s house, I head to my sister’s house in Reseda, only about a half-hour drive.  I want to spend my last night with her, since we lost our first night together because of my missed flight connection in Denver on my way to L.A.  I had packed my schedule so tightly that I didn’t have nearly the time I wanted to spend with her.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Stephanie & me at P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Stephanie & me at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

We try to go back to our favorite sushi restaurant, but sadly we find it closed on this Sunday night.  Instead we go to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, where we share a fabulous meal of appetizers along with some beers.

We have such a fun night together, as always.  Stephanie used to work as the art director for Shape magazine, and most recently Fit Pregnancy magazine, but she lost her job recently due to a downsizing. She’s excited about forging a new life for herself, outside of the corporate world.  She’s so talented, she won’t have any problem making her dreams come true.  Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I even start to believe I can live the creative life as well.  My talents are so limited compared to hers, but at this point in January, I have hope that I can publish my book, do some travel writing and travel photography, and carve out a life for myself that will make me happy.

We go back to her house to watch the second episode of Downton Abbey and then go to sleep so I can get an early start to the airport tomorrow.

Monday, January 13: This morning, I take off early for the airport, taking some pictures of Stephanie’s house and her old Studebaker before I leave.

Steph's colorful house
Steph’s colorful house
Studebaker
Studebaker
Stephn's house
Steph’s house

Here’s the lovely Bob Hope Airport.  Waiting.

Burbank Airport
Bob Hope Airport
My plane
My plane

First stop, San Francisco International Airport.

San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport

And looking out the window at a piece of the American landscape.

Flying home
Flying home

I posted this before, but here is my sister’s rendition of my trip to California.

Stephanie's journal
Stephanie’s journal

My sister’s illustrations can be found here: KONSUMERISM.RUN.AMOK: the most random of desires.

Little do I know that this will be my only trip during the year, from when I returned home on July 25 of 2013.  Sigh….

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meeting rosie in los angeles & a walk to bob’s big boy

Friday, January 10:  After leaving Ventura, I head down the last bit of highway to Los Angeles, coming full circle on my journey.  I arrive in L.A. around 5:00, where I meet fellow blogger Rosie, of Wandering Rose fame.  I’ll be staying with her for the next two days and nights. We get acquainted and linger over a healthy & delicious dinner at her house with her husband. Later, we take Monty, who Rosie calls her “personal trainer,” out for a walk in her neighborhood.

Rosie mentions that Bob’s Big Boy of Burbank has a classic car show on Friday nights and that I might enjoy it.  So off we go to Bob’s, where we mingle with the classic cars and the car owners.

This Bob’s Big Boy was built in 1949 and is the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy in America. It was “designed by architect Wayne McAllister, incorporating the 1940s streamline modern style while anticipating the free-form 1950s coffee shop architecture.” The towering Bob’s sign is the building’s most prominent feature.

Bob's Big Boy
Bob’s Big Boy

The restaurant was honored in 1993, receiving the designation as a “State Point of Historical Interest” by the state of California. The current owner (the MacDonald family) acquired control of the restaurant in 1993 and began to restore it to its past glory.

classic car
classic car
classic cars at Bob's Big Boy
classic cars at Bob’s Big Boy
a classic drives by
a classic drives by
classic black car
classic black car

“Car Hop” service was re-introduced on Saturday and Sunday nights.  On Friday nights, the classic car show reverberates in the parking lot to the sound of classic rock.

Henry J Classic Car
Henry J Classic Car
Henry J
Henry J
Red classic car
Red classic car
love this car!
love this car!

After we walk back to Rosie’s house, I need to sleep.  I’m exhausted from my long day of travel and sightseeing.  Tomorrow we’re attending a Poets & Writers LIVE event, where we’re hoping to be filled to the brim with inspiration. 🙂

flying united to bob hope airport in burbank

Friday, January 3:  Thursday afternoon, January 2, marked the first time I’ve flown domestically in possibly 20 years.  Maybe more.  In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I flew somewhere within the U.S.A. as most trips I’ve taken within our borders have been by car.

I had no idea that airlines flying within the States have become such penny pinchers.  First, when I checked in with United Airlines at 3:00 p.m., I was surprised and annoyed to find I had to pay $25 for my FIRST (& only) checked bag.  I grudgingly paid it, but I wondered why the airline doesn’t just include your first piece of luggage in your ticket price.  I’ve been flying internationally for the last 3 years, on every conceivable airline, and NEVER have I had to pay for my first checked piece of luggage!

We get settled into the plane as the temperature outside drops and a light snow begins to fall.  Our plane is due to take off at 5:00, but at 5:30, we’re still attached to the airport by the boarding ramp.  I’m watching the time closely, because I have a 1 hour layover in Denver, connecting to Burbank, California, and already we’re a half-hour behind.  We’re told by the captain that we’re waiting for about 30 passengers from connecting flights.  We wait.  And we wait.  And finally, I guess the 30 have straggled in, because they detach the boarding ramp and we slowly pull onto the runway.

We don’t get far.  The captain announces that because of our delay, combined with the snow and the falling temperatures, our wings now need to be de-iced.  This process takes another 30 minutes plus some.  By this time, I can see that there is no way I’m going to make my connecting flight, as we’re already over an hour behind.  And I thought this was going to be easy, this flying over the land of the free.

Free is one thing it’s not, because in addition to paying for my one piece of checked luggage, I also have to pay for any food I consume.  The choices are slim: boxed snacks of crackers, cheese, hummus and apples.  All for just $10!

The flight is uneventful, but when we arrive in Denver, it is 8:05 and my flight to Burbank was due to take off at 7:56.  I think perchance the flight has waited for me, as we waited for all those connecting passengers in Washington, but by the time I run from one end of Denver airport to the other, it’s about 8:20 and I see my plane, still sitting on the tarmac in plain sight.  However, it’s already been detached from the ramp and the door is locked and there is not one United employee in sight.  I wave frantically out the window to no avail.  I head directly for customer service.

Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn

Lined up at Customer Service are all the people who have missed connecting flights this evening; there are plenty of US and only one of THEM (meaning United Customer Service).  I wait in line a full 1 1/2 hours before I get to talk to the one United employee manning the desk.  She tells me I’ll be staying overnight in the Holiday Inn Quebec Street and I can take an 11 a.m. plane to Burbank on Friday.  She then directs me to the hotel shuttle outdoors.  I ask if the airline will bear the cost for this unplanned layover and she tells me it depends on what our delay is coded.  Apparently if it was coded “delayed due to weather,” the airline would not have been responsible!  My flight must have been coded something else, because in fact, United did pay for my hotel room and gave me meal vouchers as well.  Ah, redemption.

When I get out to the shuttle, for some bizarre reason I tell the shuttle driver I’m looking for the Queen of Sheba Hotel.  They all look puzzled until I look at the voucher and find it’s instead the Holiday Inn!  Where on earth did I get that?

The Holiday Inn Quebec Street is actually quite expansive, modern and comfortable, even a little artsy, with a huge open lobby where you can look over the interior from the hallway/balcony outside each room. The breakfast buffet is delicious, especially the omelet with cheese, avocado and tomatillo sauce.

Atrium lobby of the Holiday Inn
Atrium lobby of the Holiday Inn

The shuttle deposits me back at the airport by 9:00, and our flight leaves right on time.

Waiting for my morning flight to Burbank in Denver
Waiting for my morning flight to Burbank in Denver

I’m excited during the flight to see the snow-covered Rocky Mountains down below; I wouldn’t have seen them if I had been on my night flight.

Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains

When I arrive in Burbank at 1:50 p.m., my suitcase is nowhere to be found.  Research shows it went to San Francisco, and a flight is expected later that afternoon which can reunite me with my bag.  I give my sister’s address, and head to the curbside where she picks me up in her nifty little Fiat.

Bob Hope Airport
Bob Hope Airport

We make a stop at her house, drop off my carry-on bag, meet her dogs, and then head out for sushi at Akari Sushi.

Akari Sushi
Akari Sushi
Akari Sushi
Akari Sushi

We share a Sunset Roll (sweet combination of shrimp tempura, freshwater eel, avocado, and crunchy powder drizzled with sweet sauce for perfection) and a Fire Dragon (tempura white fish & avocado with spicy tuna on top drizzled with a special sauce), accompanied by Sapporo and warm saké.

Sunset Roll
Sunset Roll
Fire dragon
Fire dragon

I’m of course worried that my bag won’t show up as promised, but I can’t sit around waiting at her house.  Stephanie wants to see The Invisible Woman, a film about a complex love affair between Charles Dickens and a young actress named Nelly.  We go downtown to the Sundance Sunset Cinema in West Hollywood.  Where better to see a movie than in the land where movies are made?  I find the movie ultimately unsatisfying, but our dinner of Japanese small dishes at Nanbankan on Santa Monica Boulevard more than makes up for it.  More Sapporo doesn’t hurt.

Here is my artistic sister’s homage to our day.  I adore her lists accompanied by paintings from her journals.

~ journal entry by Stephanie Birdsong, in homage to my visit :-)
~ journal entry by Stephanie Birdsong, in homage to my visit 🙂

My sister’s illustrations can be found here: KONSUMERISM.RUN.AMOK: the most random of desires.