Los Angeles California
We had booked accommodation in every location, except Houston, which we changed en-route, before leaving Sydney and in every case the hotels had been well chosen.
So when we got to 'Beautiful Hollywood Apartments' in Los Angeles at ten o'clock in the evening, after a long day, driving, walking and flying, we expected to find a nice room waiting for us.
Instead we found a series of non-descript residential apartment buildings in an area where every second building seemed to be rundown or for sale. After walking from one to another Wendy discovered that the least attractive looking one, with steel cage doors across its entrance was the address on our booking form.
Very fortunately we'd decided at the last minute that if we were to do many of the things we'd planned we'd need a car in LA. So I'd booked one while leaving Las Vegas. We'd originally planned to catch a train to a nearby station, the reason for choosing this place, and walk up the hill to a 'beautiful apartment'.
So at least our bags were in the car and not on the street. But there was nowhere to park, except in driveways that were in occasional use. Eventually someone came out of the cage and Wendy was able to go in. "Yes," there was such an apartment. But no one had seen its owner for months. Certainly not today.
Wendy can be quite assertive in such situations. Craig and Sonia still retell a famous incident in South America: "I'll call the police!" "No I'll call the police," The young man at Agoda got the treatment. New accommodation was found, complete with free car parking, close to Hollywood and Vine.
In the meantime we needed to leave the other place. Someone was entering the driveway. Traffic was mounting behind her car. A remotely activated gate prevented me moving forward. To get out of the way I needed to get our car onto the footpath and then back onto the road. A car stopped to let me get out but another driver, angry at the extended delay decided to overtake. It was the nearest thing to a serious crash I've experienced in some time. Fortunately he was as quick on the brake as on the accelerator. He screeched to a stop about four inches from my door. A bit of adrenaline there for both of us. I was tired and hungry and it was all starting to feel like a bad dream.
To top it off, the new place was one of those low rise motels you see in movies, where you park your car facing your door. I was not impressed. The reception office was inside an armoured glass box with a two way speaker and one of those draws to pass a credit card one way and get the key and TV remote the other. Not encouraging. Haven't they seen 'No Country for Old Men? We had a single flimsy door between us and 'crime central'.
To reinforce this impression there was a strange pair sitting in a disreputable looking car out there. They hadn't moved. What were they up to? Should I mention them to Wendy?
I carried the bags in and put them well away from the door. I looked around. The chairs were too small to put under the handle. The chain would have to suffice.
Relief. The odd couple and their car had gone. We went out for a walk to get food and look around. I became less concerned. There were certainly quite a few odd people about but this is LA and most seemed to be well down the road, homeless and so relatively harmless. The room was large with a table and chairs. Maybe the food helped.
In the morning things seemed better.
The bed was large and comfortable. The shower was good; even the towels weren't too bad; and there was no trouble getting and extra one for Wendy's hair. Free parking for guests, in a town with little unpaid parking, meant we could come-and-go easily and walking to the nearby station was an option. I found a very nice restaurant within walking distance for our last night in America and I could even get Jeopardy! on TV.
I drove Wendy to where she wanted to go, on the other side of the city, and while she made her penultimate grandmotherly foray I went off to the Tar Pits, as annoyingly, the adjacent Los Angeles County Museum of Art was closed until tomorrow.
And the next day one of my favourite galleries, LACMA was open so Wendy in turn investigated the ancient sticky demise of unfortunate mega-fauna in the tar ponds next door while I revisited some old familiar works of art.
Later we drove down to Santa Monica.
LA was OK.
Then it was time for the marathon flight back to OZ. And even that was relatively pleasant because although we had no upgrade we had exit row seats and it was Qantas - much nicer than American Airlines. Unusually I was able to sleep.