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As most of you know, we went to LA this past weekend for the wedding of a college friend, as the only representatives of the old gang who could make it. Something of a whirlwind visit, and the first time either of us has ever been to the city, it went like this....

Friday: Raining in Boston when we left at noon, started raining in Providence soon after our arrival there. The Providence airport isn't very large. We'd been careful to get there early, but there was no one at all in line at the Northwestern ticket counter. The attendant there was very nice; we decided that desperation to keep customers has been a boost to service. The flight to Detroit went without a hitch. For some reason, all of the signs there were in both English and Japanese. The flight from Detroit to LA suffered a 1-hour delay thanks to an electrical problem, but we made up some time on the way west. LAX is huge. It also has signs in Japanese, but that seemed more explicable than their presence in Detroit. Long shuttle ride to the rental car lot, then a wait in line. With so many cars away from their usual homes on one-way trips since 9/11, about all they had left was a blue Focus with squeaky brakes; I conceived an almost instant dislike for it. A little after 11 we were finally on the road in Los Angeles for the first time.

On LA roads: There are an obscene number of freeways in LA, huge incestuous tangles of over- and underpasses; most of them have at least eight lanes, and judging from our weekend's experience they are uniformly in horrible shape. This, in a place that doesn't have anything resembling winter; all I can imagine is that the sheer number of them and the sheer volume of traffic they carry must make it impossible to keep up. Traffic moves more slowly than expected; we were under 55 most of the time. Another odd thing about the place is the fact that every quarter mile or so the right-hand lane turns into an exit-only lane and then, of course, exits, so you keep finding yourself farther to the right than you really intend to be before a different lane can join the highway. They also don't have the concept of numbered exits in California, which we noticed in San Francisco last year but which still baffles me (maybe it's just that they would quickly reach triple digits). At any rate, we got through the weekend with only one moment of near-death in traffic, as I belatedly jumped for a left exit and spent a moment dueling for space on the off-ramp with an SUV (I decided to let him go first).

We got to the hotel around midnight (3 a.m. according to our internal clocks) and promptly went to sleep.

Saturday: Up at 8. Foggy and chilly outside; we felt profoundly cheated. On the other hand, there were palm trees everywhere, so that was different. We "enjoyed" an overpriced hotel breakfast and had plenty of time to get ready. Then a five-minute drive to the Queen Mary, where the wedding was to take place. Wandered around the boat, watched pelicans drift in an unearthly sky as the fog began lifting. The ceremony was lovely and the reception a lot of fun; in keeping with the setting and the wedding's theme, they played a lot of older music, so we actually got to put those dancing lessons to use. I got pointed out for the benefit of the crowd before the bouquet toss, because the bride actually did catch mine last year. By the time the reception was over it was quite a bit warmer out. With the afternoon ahead of us, we decided to drive around a bit, and headed far inland to pick up Santa Monica Blvd. We then drove along it toward the ocean, passing through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and many less attractive neighborhoods, admiring the dedication of the local graffiti artists, before arriving at the beach. Acres of fine, soft sand with children shrieking in and out of the water and building sand castles, adults getting ready to call it a day after just a couple more rays of sun. We walked along the waterline, dodged the Pacific's playful attempts to soak our shoes, had a good Japanese dinner, and rode the ferris wheel on the end of the pier. It was dark by then, and the view of the surf glittering on the beach and the moon over the city was the perfect cap to the day.

Sunday: Up at 4:20 (no, that's not a typo). Foggy and cool again. Returned the car, accidentally locked the keys inside but figured they must be used to that sort of thing, caught the shuttle to the Northwestern terminal, and spent a while in line there. Much busier than in Providence, but we were all set by 6:30 and had time for breakfast at Wolfgang Puck Express before our flight boarded (I found myself wondering if Mr. Puck even knew about the place, but it wasn't too bad). Another electrical problem delayed our takeoff for an hour again, so we are now determined to avoid DC-10s. The delay meant that we didn't have to kill any time in Detroit, but it also meant that we didn't have time to eat before boarding for the next leg of our journey. I finished Moby-Dick an hour into the flight. It was raining (again? still?) and cold in Providence when we landed. Visited the vending machines, caught the next bus up to Boston, arrived around 9:30, took a taxi home, and realized as a sort of coda for the journey that we had lost our keys at some point in the trip (I suspect it was while we were going through security at LAX). Fortunately, our landlords were home.

By Monday it already seemed like a strange dream.

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson