Los Angeles - How I got there - Sunday, August 25, 1996

The interesting thing about this flight to LA is that it is free, as part of the perks of my spending the last year in Saskatchewan, I accumulated enough airline points to come to LA, first class, free. I was also dismayed to learn (after I book my tickets of course) that I had enough points to also go to England. I consoled myself with the likelihood that the cost would probably be less to England.

I really do appreciate travelling first class, the larger seats are just so comfortable that you can just lay back and sleep, the reclining nature of the seats also make it a joy. OK, service is nice too. Well, so is the food. Oh, and so is the … you get the picture. The flight leaves Winnipeg and first stops in Calgary, much to my surprise (not the actual landing but hearing that we would be stopping there). Not enough time to leave the airplane so I whip out my computer and play a quick game with the stereo headphones on. The only thing that would be nice is a colour screen.

This silly laptop has been causing no ends of problems. I have had it in to get fixed but unfortunately the parts come from Toronto which does not seem to want to ship the parts so my computer has been sitting in the repair shop, untouched, for about 3 weeks. I demanded it back for this trip. Travelling, for me, without a laptop is like travelling without … clothes. I just could not do without (well, depends where you visit I suppose…l hear some places down south where…). I hope to also get local Internet access to be able to view my electronic mail from Winnipeg, though the local FreeNet does not seem to be conducive to this idea (it seems I will have to get an account – something I checked out the night, I mean morning, before the flight). Here's hoping that the hotel I get will have a telephone I can “tap” into. The last hotel I “tapped” into was last week, when I was in Edmonton, that “tap” involved the taking apart of an old cable and removing a few plates from the wall, I hope they don't notice.

Why the heck was I in Edmonton? Well, glad you asked (or maybe you didn't but you are not writing this, so there!). Every year, the community groups from around Canada meet to discuss issues of importance to the groups, things like funding issues, technology, volunteers, staff, etc. I talked work into paying for my trip as I said to them that there MAY be a job in it for them (or rather me, to them). The other thing I ended up doing was driving with one of my hardest working volunteers all the way, unfortunately he does not drive and it took about 15 hours to get there (through the night). Didn't quite make it to a few of the morning sessions… The nice thing was that my volunteer essentially got the trip for free (though he ended up making the difference with his purchases). The thing about the conference that really made me happy was that I got to speak at one of the sessions. It turns out that one of our people at Blue Sky, in Winnipeg, was supposed to speak but had some family emergency so could not attend. I was familiar with the subject as it had to do with the technical layout of Blue Sky so I offered to speak on the subject for the hour and a half the session lasted. I was quite nervous at first but just started going. It is very odd, I am so at ease in front of people some times but other times not, I think it has a lot to do with the subject. This subject I was VERY familiar with. It was a productive set of days and very enjoyable.

After Calgary, the plane next stopped in Vancouver for about 3 hours, not enough time to leave the airport but enough time to be bored. I was considering a trip to the Vancouver Chinatown but I realized I had more time on the way back to do that. The Vancouver airport, I understand has just been redesigned and it is certainly one of the best I have ever been in. Many places to eat and shop, lots to do. I was most impressed by this 3-4 ton carving, of West Coast Indian style in the airport food area. I believe it was carved from Jade, but I do not recall ever seeing a piece that big, whatever it is, it is impressive.

I had time to read the local paper (in excruciating detail) before the plane left for Los Angeles.

The annoying thing was that there was a teenager sitting in my seat that did not seem to understand that I wanted that particular seat. True, they did have first class tickets and they were offering me their seat elsewhere, I don't really like aisle seats. There was something else though, they seemed so … cocky. I just did not want to let them get away with it, they just seemed to ignore my standing there, unbelievable. The only way they finally moved is when one of the adults in their party stepped in. I don't know what it is but teenage boys I don't really seem to get along with I guess it is because I don't every recall being one. I don't remember being in any particular “group” or discussing what teenage boys seem to discuss. I seem to recall having a lot more on my mind, I was working at the time also. Mother has always been happy that she lead us to a good work ethic (though a pathological one, if I could suggest), the rest, it seems, was not quite so good (her thoughts, not mine). She does seem to be always evaluating herself along these lines, though it seems a bit late to do anything about it if you ask me…

It turns out that the person that sat beside me was from a place just north of LA and was up in northern British Columbia to do fishing. He was doing a good job so they sent him to a resort up there all expenses paid. I am DEFINITELY in the wrong area of work. On the way out of Vancouver it looked like there were either whales or seals (or both) feeding in the water, it was quite impressive. I will have to go back to visit Vancouver, it occurs to me that my visit some 10 years ago for the Expo that was held here did not do the city justice, besides I was quite young at the time.

As we approached LA I started getting into a conversation with this gentleman and I ended up telling him my work concerns and he ended up giving the advice that many have already given me and that is to make the leap, as I am still young. I don't really know if 26 is young or not, I kind of think 20 as being young. This seems to be the prevalent attitude.

I did not really prepare too much for the trip, yes, I booked a spot at the convention, I did also reserve a car, but the hotel was pretty much up in the air. After getting off the plane and taking the bus to the rental cars, I got my car and lugged my luggage over to the spot where it was supposed to be and saw a Lincoln Continental at that location. Now, I may seem wealthy to you but there are limits, it was not my car. So, I picked on an unsuspecting “car jockey” to drive me back to the rental agency for them to finally fix me up with a Ford Mustang (a name which I had trouble relaying to the hotel, I am not big on American cars).

I was quite nervous about the drive in LA as I was unsure of what to expect. I had heard stories about the amount of traffic and other nightmares so I expected the worse. I think that perhaps my driving in England last year, in Detroit, Toronto and other cities have assisted my ability to adapt and drive well because the freeways out of the airport turned out to be no problem. Yes, they are big but not to be scared of, well, it was late at night… I finally found Disneyland, which is close to the convention center which is where the convention is being held. I figured I would just get a hotel around there and save any significant amount of walking or transportation. The automobile club had supplied me with a guidebook listing hotels so I picked the cheapest hotel I could find, I star (which always reminds me of a quote from a movie – the name escapes me right now – “How bad is a one star hotel? Well, let me put it this way: there are no such things as a no star hotel.”) with the charming name of “Magic Carpet” (I am right across the street from Disneyland). The really neat thing is that the convention is just next door.

The thing that really miffed me about the convention this year is that they wanted more than $100 a night for a hotel. They are all booked at the Hilton and other, more expensive places. I could not believe it so I decided to find my own way (and my own “pay”)- The hotel is clean, as I would expect from the Automobile Association, but not that big a room, the television only has 5 channels but I don't really plan on being in the room all that often. I am hoping to take advantage of where I am and get out a fair amount and see what I can see.

⇒ Continue to Anaheim - Monday, August 26, 1996