Saturday, August 24, 2013

Don't Eat Contaminated Fish And Other Tales Of The Last Day In LA

I made a few phone calls and then biked an hour down along Venice Beach to Marina del Rey where I found this sign that belied the healthy look of the water of Santa Monica Bay.

The fog had been pushed way out, but you could see it off in the distance.  (Not in this picture, but further out on the left.  

We did odds and ends for my mom, made more phone calls to clear up bills that we'd thought had been cleared up.  There's no end to having to check and double each statement.  We also managed to drive my mom to the cemetery - Monday is the anniversary of my brother's death.  He died in a work accident at age 23.  It's 38 years now.  My mom used to take flowers there every week for years and years, but now that she can't drive and getting in and out of the car is hard, it's not so often.   And then back home and then the caregiver dropped us off at the bus stop.  We had lots of time, but it was getting into rush hour.  The first bus was packed and I figured the next one would be emptier.  They wouldn't let us onto that one, too full.  But we had a good time talking to various folks waiting for the bus.  A guy from the music industry who'd gone to Hollywood to pick up his new $8,000 bike, but the bank didn't release the money, so he had to take the bus back home instead of his new bike - as in bicycle, not motorcycle.  And there was a fellow in a wheel chair who was a little pissed at not being let on the bus.  But before too long a relatively empty Rapid bus picked us up and we got to the airport in plenty of time.   On the bus we fell into a conversation with a guy who'd live on 30th and Spenard in the early 90's and it was clear he remembered Anchorage fondly. 

The sun was over the horizon as we took off.  In this picture I'm looking over the south beaches (the opposite of the previous picture.)

I don't recall ever flying so close to the Channel Islands off of Santa Barbara and Ventura.  You can see the fog bank just beyond the islands.
My travel preference from long ago is to go somewhere for a long time - say three months or better yet a year.  But with kids and mom scattered along the west coast, and mom needing more and more attention, we've racked up enough miles to be MVP (20,000 miles or more on Alaska Airlines) the last few years. 
That means when you book in advance, you have your choice of all the seats to choose from.  It also means two free check-in bags - though we usually just do carry on.  But with Alaska's 20 minute guarantee, we have checked them in sometimes.  Especially if we have a long layover somewhere and want to get out of the airport.  But we also get bumped up into First Class every now and then.  
The times we've been in first class, we've gotten a meal that I would call a nice snack.  Hot, nicely put on the plate, but not much food.  This time it was different.  We had a Niçoise Salad, a pasta dish, and Salted Caramel Budino.  (The ones I saw online seemed solid.  This one was a hot liquid.  I knew it was full of things I wouldn't normally eat.  Looking at the recipes was a mistake.  Impressive.  And then a little bowl of warm nuts.  

The Niçoise Salad
Maybe we got all this food because this was the non-stop flight - almost 5 hours.   Which also gave me lots of time to read my book for Monday's book club meeting - Erik Larson's In The Garden Of Beasts.  It's a fascinating non-fiction account of a history professor who gets appointed ambassador to Germany in 1933 when Roosevelt got turned down first by several more likely candidates.  It takes place in mostly Berlin, a place I first visited as a student the year I spent in Germany.  It's fascinating to see the conflict from the people who get around and know what's going on and the newcomers to Germany who see the surface and don't believe things are that bad. 

We'd been hearing that it's been raining while we were gone, but that it should be sunny Saturday.  The tarmac was wet when we landed.  And it's late August and by midnight it was actually dark.

Landing in Anchorage
But it wasn't raining and the air felt fresh and comfortable.  Nice to be home.  But these trips to visit Mom are going to be pretty regular.

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