Land of the Free, Part 1: City of Angels

America.

The land of the free. The home of the brave.

The last time I travelled to the US, I was unencumbered. I was free to go and get coffee, or go to the bathroom any time I wanted. I had a rather quiet trip over the Pacific.

This time, eight years and two pregnancies later, things were somewhat more complicated. It is only when you are confined to a single row of seats in a small hollow tube with two small children that you realize just how big the Pacific Ocean is. I did tell the children that if they didn’t do exactly as the flight crew or I told them, the hostesses would hit the button for the ejector seat and they would be launched out of the plane. I think they bought it. They were certainly well behaved for most of the flight. Mr 5 was amazing, he slept most of the way. Mr 7, well, he had his moments but was able to be entertained most of the way but the LCD screen in front of him, with as many games, tv shows and movies that he could watch.

After surviving the ordeal that was the trans-Pacific crossing, we arrived in the US. Standing in line, waiting to get through customs, S decided to vomit everywhere. All over her clothes. All over the floor. She managed to miss the customs officials, which was lucky. I didn’t fancy the prospect of another 12 hours back to Australia.

When we got out of the airport we quickly realized that we may not have packed properly. Los Angeles was all of 8 degrees, we were in shirts and shorts. The shuttle driver was short one seat in the van, so rather than dying of hypothermia, I decided to ride, literally, on the edge of my seat. Crammed like sardines in the back of the over-crowded van, S decided to vomit again. Thank God that Customs now make you pack all of your liquids in those plastic resealable bags. They came in very handy . Still, I triple-tipped the driver for making his van smell like S’s stomach contents. The hotel did manage to get us into the room earlier than the usual check in time, but I would have too if I’d had to watch S vomit another two times while in their lobby. I’m still not sure of the exact cause of her hyperemesis. Qantas service isn’t great but we did eat the same things and I was fine. Maybe America is nauseating, although we seemed to have adjusted. Maybe it was jet lag, although she had more sleep than I did.

Anyhow, the boys and I left S in bed, and headed to Hollywood! The day had warmed up remarkably – by that time it was a balmy 11 degrees, and the kids still were only wearing t-shirts and shorts. We found the closest vendor of tourist clothes and bought the warmest thing I could find them. Hence the “I (heart) LA” jumpers that they are now wearing everywhere, that you’ll see in all the photos. Cheesy, tacky, but warm nonetheless.

Once we found the nearest indoor restaurant and warmed up for 30 minutes, we braved the crowds of Hollywood Boulevard. The kids got to see Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and were accosted by several failed actors who roam the strip, hoping that discerning tourists will take pity on them and pose for photos, or that Chinese tourists will believe that they are the real thing and pay for their autograph. They also got to see the Hollywood sign when the fog finally cleared enough.

By about 1pm local time, the kids were wasted. It was about 5 am Brisbane time, and I’m surprised that they weren’t delirious. On the return trip back to the hotel, the cab driver appeared to be a Ukrainian immigrant with tuberculosis. And we stopped at a set of traffic lights where a clearly deranged woman was vigorously fondling her breasts and laughing with the voices in her head. American healthcare, the best in the world.

We got to the hotel about 3pm, and we slept. And slept. And slept.  At one point S woke me up, saying, “Its 7am. Gee I slept well.”
“Is it 7am, or 7pm?”  It was still half light outside, and I knew I’d slept well, but not for 15 hours straight. “What does the phone say?”
“Oh, 19:00. It is 7pm. Oh well, I’m still going to have a shower, then I’ll go back to bed.”
Goddamned jet-lag.

At one point around 2am, Mr 5 woke up, and promptly vomited all over the toilet floor.  America – nauseating.  Luckily I slept through that one, so poor S had to deal with that.  When we did all finally manage to surface about 8am local time, we certainly felt better.  The day outside was a beautiful one, clear sunny skies … and a freezing south-easterly wind, cyclonic at times, that even the locals were finding a bit too much to handle.  We donned whatever warm clothes we had again (cheesy, tacky “I (heart) LA” jumpers) and headed to Universal Studios.

Overall Universal was good. The kids loved the Animal Show.  Mr 7 had mini-meltdowns every time we went to a new show because “It might be scary”.  Honestly, what would give him that idea?  It certainly wouldn’t have been the fact that we took them on the tour first up, complete with the all-new “King-Kong in 4D” segment, which had us flailing around inside the carriage as it jolted and jerked us earthquake-style, while the screens either side had T-rexes and a giant ape attacking us.  Honestly, I don’t know why they would have been scared?  Ok, that part aside, they did enjoy the rest of the day, it just took them more to convince them they weren’t going to die each time we went to a new show.

We’re now on our way to Florida, where the temperature says that it is a tropical 32 degrees, so we can finally ditch the jumpers.  I will update after a few days at Disney, and add some more photos as well.  Till then, God Bless America!

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