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LA LA Land

Tarmac glowing in flashing red lights, the Boeing 747 was surrounded by ambulances and firetrucks at 2:15am. We weren’t supposed to be in Central America let alone an airport yet. No more than ten minutes earlier, the 200+ nervous passengers were awoken by the Captain explaining, “we will be making an emergency landing in Panama due to smoke in the cockpit.” Sleepy mechanics sorted out the problem and four hours later (customs issues prevented us from leaving the aircraft) we embarked for Miami once more. Needless to say, Ash and I missed our connection to Los Angeles. Such is life flying with American Airlines. I digress.

Though our time in Los Angeles was short, we set ambitious goals: spend lots of time with friends, inhale Chipotle burritos, consume Budweisers from the can, enjoy fluffy pancakes, indulge in sushi, and experience IN-N-OUT Burger. We ended our thirty hour stint in Hollywood batting 0.833 (no sushi). Not bad!

Tired and smelling ripe, our dear friend Bill was kind enough to fetch us from LAX. I was expecting a witty comment from William about my modern hobo look of pajama pants with a torn crotch, flip flops, and greasy hair. Instead we were met with his smiling face and like that we were off to Chipotle. When living in Chicago, we ate there at least once a week. A three month hiatus was painful, but the reconciliation was monumental. Bill then whisked us to his seaside one bedroom apartment in Seal Beach where we took the necessary steps to feel welcome again in public places like laundry and showering.

Nice Mo!Rocking the Combover Mutt!

Then we shot over to our good friend Mark’s pad in Newport Beach for a BBQ and Budweiser from the can. The only can of Budweiser spotted in South America was in Paraguay. I love the stuff, but when a man wielding a wheelbarrow icechest offers you a can of beer with half the label rubbed off, I decline. So thank you Mark for procuring this delicacy. How did you find it? My aspiring musician/reality TV personality/anti-virus pioneer/linguist buddy Joe even made the one hour drive to catch up. Hanging out in a neighbors apartment, we traded stories from the last three months and watched Joe sing on YouTube. I think the comparisons of him to Tracy Chapman are a bit off. Voice comparisons that is, not talent. Patronizing some local beach bars was last on the agenda though gaining access to a couple with Ashley’s photocopied passport proved difficult.

An American breakfast was in order the following morning. Ashley had to have her pancakes. Mark had been raving about Mutt Lynch’s: filling breakfast and unique schooners. We knew the establishment wasn’t messing around after seeing the billboard that read “to beer or not to beer, Shakesbeer.” A slogan Herb (Father), Jeff (Brother), and I discovered in Western Europe in 1999. Ash had her pancakes while the men drank coffee and oversized goblets of PBR. Bill’s presence was required at work, so we said our “see you in a year” goodbyes. Not shopping while in LA would be like not eating Skyline in Cincinnati. So Ash found a darling bikini that came in a strange Chinese carryout package while Mark explained the art of surfboards in a suitable way to fit into my small brain. It was back to Newport Beach and the seemingly endless beach. All the concrete and congestion of downtown Los Angeles can be unnerving, but the beach communities seem to know how to live the high life. IN-N-OUT Burger was our last California institution where we met Ashley’s cousin, Jonathan. After chowing down on a entire day of calories, we thanked Mark for hosting us and it was back to LAX with Jonathan behind the wheel. Enjoy your impending travels to South America, Jon!

Coffee and PBR ComboSufing USA Trash Collecting

Many thanks to Bill, Mark, and Jonathan for chauffeuring us around Los Angeles. Bill, gracias for the clothes… my rotation of three shirts was wearing thin (clothing joke). Mark, we are reminded of you daily by the Saint Christopher surfer medallions (lots of compliments on these too).

As we waited for the lengthy flight to Vanuatu, Ash and I agreed that we should have scheduled a few more days in Los Angeles. Good friends, tasty food, and great times. And we prayed for a smooth flight not requiring any emergency landings… the Pacific Ocean is massive.

- Greg

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) When traveling without a mobile phone, don’t be afraid to approach a stranger, explain your situation, and ask to borrow their cell. It can be hard to find pay phones in airport terminals when you need to make an urgent phonecall. We met a nice gal who turned out to be from Cincinnati (my hometown) after needing to call Bill.
2) If an airline causes you to miss a connection for any reason, be sure to file a complaint. We were happy with American Airlines’ decision to land in Panama, but it did require new flight/ride arrangements. We each received 3,000 miles… better than nothing I presume.

  • Barb_S

    Wow, I'm glad the emergency landing went smoothly! It does suck that it messed up your travel plans though. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.

  • fofs

    Barb – In terms of emergency landings, this one was AOK. Traveling the world requires tons of patience and a willingness to take our lumps. Thanks for reading!

    - Ash and Greg

  • fofs

    Barb – In terms of emergency landings, this one was AOK. Traveling the world requires tons of patience and a willingness to take our lumps. Thanks for reading!

    - Ash and Greg

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