After a 3am start and teary goodbyes at Calgary Airport, Martin and I started our journey for San Diego. No problem, I thought. A quick one hour flight to our stop over in Vancouver, how air-sick can a person get? The answer was – very! Needless to say I was pretty excited on landing in Vancouver with time to spare before our connecting flight to just sit for a while, head between knees.
In retrospect I am certain that had Martin and I not spent the entire day before packing and unpacking our suitcases in ridiculous attempts to make everything fit, as blood pressures rose and panic seared our minds, and had Martin not been sleep deprived from having not slept the night before, and had we not been up and about at the insane hour of 3am to ready ourselves for the day, and had I not found myself so air sick that I wanted to die, maybe, just maybe, one of us might have noticed that we were waiting at Gate 92 and not Gate 82 with the rest of our flight companions. We might also have noticed the time a little earlier than say – 8:10am, when our plane was scheduled to leave. Had none of these incidents actually occurred we may have actually made our flight without the vain Hollywood theatrics of running through the Airport, determined to make our flight. Then again…maybe we wouldn’t have.
Regardless, as we neared Gate 82 our hearts sank as Stern-Air-Canada-Guy crossed his arms and announced “You missed your flight”. Pleading came to no avail. Looking at the electronic board behind him I pointed out that as our flight was showing as being delayed for another 10 minutes couldn’t we just board? But alas, Stern-Air-Canada-Guy glared at us, told us it was delayed to retrieve our luggage, no we could not board the flight, we had cost the company money, and only after feeling sure that he had succeeded in letting us know we were idiots, (and believe me, we were already well aware), conceded to book us a flight to L.A., but from there, he made it known, we were on our own.
L.A. Not exactly San Diego. Martin muttered curses beside me as I silently said my own. Two hours later we once again boarded Air Canada, hoping in our minds that the Universe would repay us for the messy beginning to our adventure. And maybe the Universe did. I survived the 3 hour flight better than the previous one, Martin settled into his book, frustration largely forgotten, Donald Sutherland sat in Business Class and occupied my brain as I tried to remember the name of the last movie I had seen him in, and before we knew it we were landing in L.A.
Struggling, and I do mean struggling, with our luggage, we stumbled outside to meet the shuttle bus that was to take us to the rental car than Martin had secured for us to get us to San Diego. For a moment I caught a whiff of salt air. My head cleared. My heart leapt. “The sea!” my soul sung in recognition! Tall palm trees stood strong against the city backdrop and pristine blue skies, and I realized, my god, I was actually warm! Goodbye Canadian Winter!
Aboard the shuttle Martin immediately made friends with a Texan mother and daughter duo, whilst enthralling our captive audience with the details of the adventures we had planned for ourselves. His charisma switch was on, and he joked and laughed and reeled them in. The Texan cougars fawned and sang his praises to me, and I…well I marvelled at just how damn good I was feeling now we were off the plane and leaving the airport far behind us.
It was with justified nervousness that Martin took the keys of the silver rental beast Enterprise had laden us with. With the help of a chatty GPS system I had labelled “Muriel”, he traversed the scariness that is the L.A. Freeway. Thank god it was him driving, was all I could think as lanes spread out on either side of us for what felt like forever. Cars lurched from one lane to another, sign’s mocked us with the Imperial system, and Muriel chatted insistently. But Martin was a hero as he maneuvered the silver brick through the chaos and eventually found peace with its heavy-handedness. It looks like a brick and it drives like a brick, he commented to me. And so, with our minds already thinking ahead to the next days proposed adventure of Legoland it was without surprise that the cars’ name floated into our heads simultaneously. “It’s a six-brick; like a Lego block…” “Six-brick it is!” we chorused together, proud at having uncovered our side-kicks secret identity.
And so, with smiles plastered on our faces we relished the journey past palm trees tall and skinny and fat and hairy, desert looking landscapes with red brush, blonde beaches and the tempting sea. Past white domes springing from the landscape, so out-of-place that it was easy to discern they were really housing for alien pods the Government were experimenting on to learn how they utilised the magnetism of salt water to propel themselves through the air. Our theories were confirmed when we finally passed a Navy Base harbouring one of the large white domes. Of course the Navy would be in on it too!
Finally we arrived. San Diego. Home sweet home for the next four days. The Sofia Hotel stood proud. A monument to San Diego’s history with red brick walls and welcoming lobby. We stumbled and bungled our way to our room 627, with the ridiculously heavy baggage we’d laden ourselves with for the trip. The room was beautifully finished with amazing attention to detail. European traditional merged with Metropolitan contemporary. Dark wood built-ins, a queen bed, side tables, desk and amour all sat tight, but pretty, in a very, very petite room. Almost instantly our luggage threatened to take it over. Although redone, the hotel still retained some of its old-time charms. I had half expected and half hoped for a resident ghost, (as I often do in hotels), but instead I had to make do with a bathroom door that insisted on opening by itself.
Exhausted by a day that had felt like several, we summoned our last breath of energy and made our way to the hotel’s restaurant – Current Brasserie. With doors opening out onto Broadway Street, the warmth and aliveness of a night in downtown San Diego entered and happily hung in the air of the trendy, eclectic restaurant. The bar took its place as a centrepiece in the middle of the restaurant. Flat screen TV’s hung on the wall above bar tables with leather chairs; a modern interruption to the black and white checkered tile floor and heavy American farmhouse style chairs pushed up against wrought iron tables. Somehow it managed a perfect blend of European, American, Contemporary, and Traditional styles, perfect for both yuppie executives and retired Texan tourists, and well…perfect for us, who were by this time both tired and starving.
And so…after Martin devoured his delicious Braised Lamb Belly scrumptiousness, and I, my Pork /Fig/Date/Brussel Sprout combo of yumminess, there was little else to do but go to bed and dream of just what Day 2 might hold in store.