City of Angels

In which I tell you about our trip to Los Angeles.  We flew down two weeks ago to attend my grandmother’s memorial service and we tacked a few extra days on to the trip to hang out at the beach,  explore some of So Cal, and maybe even venture as far as Disneyland.   After hearing about some amazing hotel deals that our friends had scored on Priceline, we were tempted to give it a go ourselves.  Maybe we could stay in some crazy fancy hotel for cheap?  We read up on how to work the Priceline magic and whaddyaknow, it worked!  We scored a 5 star hotel in West Hollywood.

We were feeling pumped.  But when we mentioned to some friends where we’d be staying, they laughed in our faces.  “You’re staying THERE????  Oh my gosh, that place is INSANE.  Super  fancy.”

Psshhhh.  Come on.  How fancy-pants could it be?   I mean, really.

QUITE.  The answer is quite fancy, as it turns out.   I was ready, though.  I got the boys haircuts before we left, bought them both a new pair of Converse all-stars and only packed their un-stained t-shirts.   I picked out our coolest duds for the flight so we could arrive looking  Things might go south by the end of the week but by golly, we were going to arrive IN STYLE.

I forgot to calculate one crucial thing, however.  We couldn’t check-in to our hotel until 4pm.  We landed at 12:30.  With several hours to kill, we decided to head to nearby Venice Beach.

I was still feeling optimistic at this point. We could still arrive looking good after going to the beach, right?
The cool hair gel was long gone but we could still pull it off.
But then I looked away for TWO seconds and this happened.
Which I quickly remedied to THIS.
Jason decided to go for a swim after deck changing on the beach withOUT a towel. I’ll let you imagine that for a minute… or better yet, don’t.
And by the end, this was happening.

Sand EVERYWHERE.  The boys were covered in sand.  Jason was covered in sand.  And they were all soaked because we hadn’t brought any beach towels.   Excellent.  We drove for over an hour & a half in traffic before settling on a (terrible) restaurant for dinner and we finally rolled into the hotel lobby a half hour past the boys’ typical bedtime.   When the valet took the keys to our car, he handed us a receipt that informed us it would be $37 per NIGHT to park the car.

Naturally Jason started hyperventilating.  He then took one look at the fancy bell hops and whispered frantically, “Grab ALL the bags.”   I heard the desperation in his voice and I knew he was not to be crossed at this point.  I threw on the backpack, my purse, grabbed our snacks, the boys’s stupid  new shoes that take FOREVER to put on, Gryffin’s stuffed frog and one rolling suitcase.  Jason had the second backpack, the second rolling suitcase, his shoes and we walked in with two (three, really, let’s be honest) bathing suit-clad, sand-covered, barefoot boys and me, the sherpa.  All my best-laid plans! I wanted to roll in there looking swag, y’all.  So sleek, so pulled together.

When we walked up to the front desk, the guy gave us a shocked once over, took just  a split second too long to regain his composure before quickly saying, “Hello!  Welcome!  You must be our Priceline guests this evening.”

Nice.  Real nice.

But… yeah.  I mean, we looked like this.   Isaiah wasn’t even wearing underwear at this point.

This was in the elevator that came complete with a full-length mirror and a video playing on the wall behind us. Heaven forbid we get bored on our 13-second ride.

Jason vowed ALL THE WAY to the 9th floor that tomorrow night, come hell or high water, we’d find street parking.   But even he had to admit that our room looked pretty posh.  Hardwood floors, kind-sized bed for us, a huge couch for the boys to share, some incredible views and even a lovely piece of… lace?   Just for fun, apparently.

Gryffin dancing with the lace.
The view from one of our floor to ceiling windows
And…from the other floor to ceiling window
There were some interesting decorative choices. Like this… GINORMOUS orange-lighted mirror situation that was installed in the center of the room.
And this hand on the coffee table.
Isaiah slept with the hand the first night.

While the room was nice, the whole hotel was just… a bit much for us.  We didn’t see a single other child there during our 4 night stay, the pool area was WAY too fancy for canon balls, goggles and floaties, and the other guests were straight up intimidating.  EVERY morning in the lobby, we saw different versions of the same guy.  Super tan, 20-something with plaid shorts that seemed just a skosh too tight, colorful polo shirt and Sperry topsiders.  Basically, the whole hotel was full of bros.  Bros and the Rusts, apparently.    Oh, and on occasion, a woman dressed like this.


But let’s forget about the hotel for a couple minutes and talk instead about the TRAFFIC.   You know that scene in the Princess Bride where Count Rugen has Wesley hooked up to the machine with the suction cups?   And after using the machine on Wesley for the first time, he explains what the suction cups do.  He says in that creepy calm voice,  “Instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life.  I’ve just sucked one year of your life away.”

That is what LA traffic did to us.  It sucked our life away.  Every time we got in the car, it felt like part of my SOUL died.  City of Angels?  Please.   City of soul-sucking hours upon hours upon hours in the car.   Admittedly this was entirely our fault because instead of staying at a Best Western by the beach, we decided to stay at the hotel of extreme hip-ness up in Hollywood and so we were forced to drive our sorry selves back and forth and back again in the mind-numbing, life-stealing parking lot that is Los Angeles.

Despite all of this, we still managed to have a pretty nice time, all things considered.  The boys were incredibly cheerful all week, we were able to spend a day and a half with all of my cousins and their kids, plus my aunts and uncles, we had an incredible memorial service for my grandmother, and we managed to squeeze in as much beach time as humanly possible given our schedule.  Here’s a look at the rest of the trip in pictures…

We saw some CRAZY breakdancing in Venice Beach. Plus a couple old dudes walking around in tighty whiteys?
I only took pictures of the break dancers, though.  Serious skills!
At Tongva Park in Santa Monica



After AN HOUR in the car to drive 14 miles, we pulled off at a park in Beverly Hills to stretch our legs



A picture of my grandmother during the slide show at the memorial service
My uncle Bryant giving a portion of the eulogy.
A HUGE highlight for both me and Jason was getting to meet this man. Dr. John Perkins was a close friend of my grandmother’s and he flew in from across the country so that he could be part of the service. Jason and I have read his books and the two of us actually met at the Harambee Center, a non-profit that Dr. Perkins started in Pasadena alongside… my grandmother! It was a delight and a joy to get to chat with him after the service and hear more about his unlikely friendship with my grandma.
My dad and Isaiah getting some hang out time over dinner after the service.
Due to the aforementioned traffic situation, we opted out of Disneyland (relax, the boys don’t even know what Disneyland IS), and headed back to the beach and the Santa Monica pier.
Jason went on EVERY ride with the boys.
The boys didn’t have a clue that they were missing out on the happiest place on earth.
Isaiah was a HUGE fan of the roller coaster. Gryffin? Not so much. He was in tears when they got off but Isaiah and Jason went a second time.
Back at LAX. We were definitely ready to go home by this point.
The pilot let Isaiah touch about a BAZILLION buttons in the cockpit. I wasn’t entirely sure I felt safe on the plane afterwards.

We were so relieved to get back home.  We feel pretty foolish about our ridiculous hotel choice and have vowed that it’s Motel 6 from here on out.  Not to mention that Jason is still bitter he wasn’t able to find any street parking.   Ah well.  C’est la vie.  I didn’t break any toes, nobody was sprayed with pepper spray and noone got sick.  We’ll take it.

The boys on the ornamental swing in the hotel lobby.

One thought on “City of Angels

  1. wow, that pic of the boys when they first get to the beach… they totally look the part! nice work! and, i totally think isaiah should write a book. i think he has big things to say! sleeping with the hand is pretty deep and i’m sure is a metaphor for something.

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