First of all, let me just say that I hate typepad or the Internet or Hilton or whomever the hell just robbed me of the last 90 minutes of my sleep-deprived life by devouring this entire blog post mere milliseconds after I clicked "save". But it's my fault because failed to do my usual "Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C" trick before laying my beautifully composed message at the feet of the almost always hostile Internet Gods. And, if it gets me any extra sympathy, I'll also toss in that I'm typing this whole thing on a laptop computer with a keyboard that is totally foreign to me and requires that I backspace and correct one error for every ten keystrokes I manage to successfully pound out.
So I'm starting all over again :::groan:::. I promise I won't be nearly as clever or detailed or witty the 2nd time around and I fully understand that it's not much of a loss to you (my loyal reader) as it is to me since I like to imagine that I'll actually enjoy reading the stuff I write ten years from now. With that in mind, here we go .... again:
We drove to Los Angeles this weekend. We left at about 10:30 yesterday morning and arrived around 7:00 PM last night.
This time during the last two years, we packed for a 2 to 3 week adventure in China and always came home with one more person we started our trip with. It was hard not to pack with that in mind but exciting to be taking our first family vacation ever! The trip was comfortable and we made good time in spite of the frequent stops for food and drink and diaper changes. We tried to let the girls stretch their legs while we were stopped but quickly discovered that our fellow travelers with dogs (and, apparently, elephants) were of similar mind. After one too many attempts to remove a poop-covered sandal from the foot of a madly protesting 3 year old girl, we decided that these "exercise breaks" weren't exercising anyone other than exhausted, travel weary, parents. So our little darlings were stuck watching re-runs of Blues Clues movies on our minivans DVD player as the sole source of all of this day's excitement and entertainment.
As evening started to settle and Los Angeles came into view, our TomTom teased us with the prediction that we were less than 10 minutes from our destination. Then we saw the CHP cars and orange cones and learned that the last leg of our long journey -- the 105 freeway -- was closed in both directions due to the filming of a major motion picture. We can appreciate that shutting down a major freeway on Saturday in Los Angeles costs the production company beau coup bucks and is a major source of revenue for the City of Los Angeles but we can't appreciate much else about it especially since it took us one full hour to travel those "last" 10 minutes. But we finally arrived at the hotel and were immediately impressed by nearly everything about it. It's got great curb appeal, an attractive lobby, friendly staff and we have a nice room with a King bed and a large sitting area with a sofa, coffee table and desk/chair. We also have an adjoining room with two double beds (for the girls). There is a fridge and microwave and good storage space and nice bathrooms in each of the rooms, it's reasonably prices and it's non-smoking.
Although it's all quite nice, we're not really ready to stick our kids into double beds - in another room - in a strange hotel - in a crazy city like Los Angeles and just kiss them goodnight and crawl under our own crisp hotel linens for 8 hours. We planned ahead and already had a good (albeit, untested) trick up our sleeve: The "PeaPod Plus travel bed".
These are tent-like things that spring to life when you release them from the confines from their pink nylon carrying bag. They're oval shaped at the base but have loops where the four corners would be (if they had corners). The loops are intended to accommodate stakes that you'd pound into the ground if you needed to keep the PeaPod from slipping into a creek or rolling off a cliff when you used it for camping. We exploited this feature by using four bungee cords to attach those four loops to the four corners of the bed frame frame of each bed in our adjoining room. Then we added one girl (appropriately, born in the year of the Monkey) to test the strength of the design. The result was sweet success: We tucked them in at 8:30 last night and heard no pleas for parole until exactly 7:00 this morning!
After snuggles and cartoons, we ate breakfast at the hotel buffet (not recommended unless you're in dire need of convenience) and headed to the Getty Museum. It was Hot as Guangzhou* this time of year (really!) but incredibly gorgeous! I don't have my fancy-schmancy collage program so you'll have to settle for these plain old photos. I think they'll stand well on their own.
Afterward, we came back to the hotel for nap (only one hour but better than nothing) then we headed for Universal Studios City Walk. It was loud and flashy and packed with people but the kids loved every bit of it. Maddy did a pretty cool chair dance from the stroller as Gwen shrieked that she wanted to "Wah Wha Wha!" (which translates to Walk, Walk, Walk!). It was a bit overwhelming for us since we had to try to keep track of them in all that chaos and they tend to want to run in opposite directions most of the time. Not surprisingly, after only one hour, we headed back for the hotel where we spent the rest of the night playing with Mr and Mrs Potato Head and reading story books and watching Shrek on our DVD player (that we brought to the hotel).
*THis is not to imply that Guangzhou is "hot at hell" as it's actually quite heavenly even though it's really really hot in August/September!