Got up early. Fortunately for the last frickin' time. We both took showers as long was could. Then raced down stairs to be told our taxi won't be here on time. We are not worried, we are convinced we will miss our last flight. As we finish checking out, our taxi magically appears. Right on. If we would have had to wait until 6am to leave we would have missed our plane. We checked in our flight right behind this band of about 8 members, all speaking spanish. They are non discript really and remind me of home more then anything. We get to the gate and 4 of them promptly light up cigs and start puffing right underneath large "No Smoking" signs. Jo complains when it gets too obnoxious and the attendant makes them put it out. The super efficient air conditioning must be turned off or on strike because the smoke lingers all the way down the plane deck.
The plane leaves on time and we begin our longest travel day of the whole trip. It will take us at least 17 hours to get home. We get to Stockholm with 35 minutes until our next flight which means it is boarding before we got off our first plane. We made it. This section of the journal is done while on that plane. We just ate our hot lunch and settled in for another 6 and half hours on our way to chicago.
I lied on my card you fill out for customs about the value of our gifts I hope they don't notice. I doubt they will, they have too much to care about. I guess I didn't lie enough. I answered truthfully about being on a farm and they caught us carrying meat because of it. No big deal for me but Brent and other meat eaters are never going to have the french deli meat we bought them. Busted. We wait in a hellishly long line to get our seat assignments for the next flight. It pays off, we get two seats together in the exit row. It is really hot and humid in chicago. It is a friday afternoon and everyone is traveling through. Millions of people trying to get anywhere but chicago. A total madhouse. I am with them, chicago airports are no fun. OUr plane boards a little late and it is really full. As we taxi out to the runway it starts to rain, then it starts to thunder, which means lightning. Which grounds the planes. We sit on the runway for about 2 hours before we are allowed to take off. The attendants pass out ice cream and ice water. So far I haven't slept and we have been traveling for 15 hours. It is taking it's toll. I can't concentrate, I feel a little confused. It sucks. The plane finally takes off. The flight is fine until about 2 and a half hours into it. Turbulence starts and it is bad. It only lasts a couple of minutes but we really rock. Jo just loves it, she was already feeling sick. Now she is looking pale and keeping her head down.
The fat women behind us are praying to Jesus, sweating tears. It must have worked because it stopped. The plane landed in LA two hours late. Dad was there to pick us up and we went straight to Mori's restaurant in Glendale. I am well into 25 hours awake. I am going down for the count. Fell asleep instantly.
Last two nights I slept horribly. I keep waking up early in the morning. I am home which is better but I have not yet recovered. Took a little nap.
Dad came by at 12:30. We drove to Union Station. The new extension to the Red Line opened up this weekend so all the rides to that spur are free. The parking gods smile upon us because we found a good spot quickly. The place is busy but not crazy. We hop on and take it into Hollywood. THe new stations are clean and there is plenty of helpful staff today. I gaurantee that it won't stay that way. The Hollywod and Vine station is the most decked out station. Film reels all over the tunnel ceilings, the pillars look like palm trees. Very good. We get off at Sunset and Vermont and walk up to 'Fred 62'. It is a great restaurant in Los Feliz. It is jumping but we find two seats at the counter. The Los Feliz ultra hip are out in force on this great day. We both order sandwiches, Dad's has meat and mine has roasted veggies. Dad paid (thanks) and we headed back to the station. Got back on the hottest subway trainever. Sauna and train ride in one. Dad tugs on a MTA attendants ear about it.
We got off at Pershing Square where Dad took me on a quick tour of Grand Central Market. It is a great market full of people (almost all Latino). Lots of produce, meat and other Latin specialties. On the other side is the Bradbury building. This is our main event for the day. It is the L.A. conservancy annual meeting and a mini talk with Michael Connolly, a mystery writer Dad and I are into. All inside the building is incredible. It is over 100 years old, architected by a person with no more training then that as a draftsman. He took the job after being told so by a ouji board. The building is still in use and is breathtaking. Full of wrought iron, marble and beautiful tile. The meeting is boring but very short. Then Connolly hits the podium and we start to pay attention. He reads from his new book which sounds great, another Bosch novel. The excerpt takes place in the building. He answers some questions. Comes off as a great guy. Dad tells him that he writes great books. Then we hit the road. Back on the train. Off at Union Station. We hop back in our car, remark on our good parking karma again and zip home.
We have been in the US since friday. But this last adventure really marks the end of our travels. It was in my hometown, was somewhere where I hadn't been and was as interesting as any part of europe I had been to.
Looking back now I can say two things about our trip to europe. One is that I will never make 12 plane trips in 3 weeks while Joanna is pregnant and has a broken wrist. THe second is that I would rather have no one else with me on a trip then Jo.