Day 11: Los Angeles: The Long Ride Home
The great thing about having access to the VIP lounge at Hilton Hotels is that they always have a free breakfast. Sometimes it is cereal and pastry. Sometimes they even have things like scrambled eggs. Usually it’s pretty good, and with five people you save quite a bit of money.
After breakfast we went back to our wonderful connecting suites and packed for the last time. I carefully wrapped the dark chocolate bars I bought in Rome for the people at work in the various t-shirts I purchased along the way. I also tried to protect the fancy bag from the Annick Goutal boutique for my Mother.
Every day, Casey and I felt sicker than the last, and for that reason, I guess we were glad to be going home. Jane was starting to feel a bit scratchy herself.
We went downstairs and I checked out of the hotel. As a rule, I try to avoid airport Hiltons if I can, because often they are just dreary dungeons. Depending on their proximity to an airport to keep the rooms filled and making little to no effort. This Hilton at the Charles De Gaulle airport was an exception. It was by far the best hotel we stayed in, and the one that treated us with the most respect. I might consider on some future trip, just staying here and riding the RER into Paris for sight seeing during the day.
We boarded the free shuttle outside the hotel and took a short ride to terminal 2, and found the Air Tahiti Nui at the very end where they were last year.
Agents were working the line to check our ID and tickets. When we got to the front, Erin and Luis were pulled out for a random search, but it didn’t take long. They only searched one of them, and seemed to kind of forget what they were doing, so they just walked away with us when we were done at the ticket counter.
Last year, security took so long that we walked right on the plane with no waiting. I remember remarking to Jane that if anything had gone wrong, we might have missed the flight.
This time we ended up at the gate long before the flight was to leave. I went over to a duty free shop and found some Swiss Chocolate. One of the few things I would have done differently on this trip would have been to plan some time for Switzerland, it was such a wonderful part of our last trip.
Suffering from boredom, I took out the video camera and made the final video segment of the trip. Another “Lap Cam”. In it you could hear Casey coughing, and I sound sick and congested, and remark that Jane is also not feeling well.
The Airport (1 Min. 55 Sec.)
On board, we found the plane to not be as modern as the one we flew over on. The in-seat entertainment system didn’t have the touch screen, or the feature where you could play games with other passengers. My controller was broken, and I thought I was going to have to do the entire twelve hours with no movies. After fiddling with it for a while, I figured out that if I just left it in the armrest and pushed the buttons from there, it worked.
Air Tahiti Nui has 2-4-2 seating. On the way out four of us sat on the 2 person seats and Jane sat on across the aisle in the middle row. On the way home, three of us had to sit in the middle. Casey sat between Jane and me. Jane had a lady who sat next to her.
I packed plenty of both adult and children’s cough medicine in my carry on, because I knew we were going to need it. Not long after take off, Casey started coughing, and I got the bottle out and gave her a dose. It really didn’t seem to help much. I felt badly that we were exposing the other people on the flight to what we believed were bad colds.
During the flight, Casey and I got up numerous times and walked around the cabin. Air Tahiti Nui is great in that they feed you well, and have snacks, including sandwiches available in the front and rear of the cabin. We walked around a lot, and It seemed to help pass the time.
When we landed at LAX, we had been flying for twelve hours, but it was only three hours later than when we took off due to the nine-hour time difference.
We quickly cleared customs, and headed for the exit. Erin and Luis’s room mate, Kelly came in my Suburban to pick us up. She was waiting at the gate.
From the airport, we drove directly to Van Nuys because we were craving the official cuisine of Los Angeles: Mexican food. Erin and Luis have a favorite hole-in-the-wall joint known as “El Taco Llama”. They went inside to order us some authentic soft shell tacos. As Jane and I waited in the car we heard a loud crash. There was an accident in the intersection. I jumped out to see if I needed to use my cell phone to call an ambulance. Then I realized that my cell phone didn’t work, since my Sim card had been stolen with my travel phone. But, there was a police car sitting in the same parking lot we were in, and they went over to investigate. Welcome back to L.A.
Next…A very serious diagnosis for Casey and the rest of us sends us to quarantine!!
But first…The only picture of all five of us together on the trip. This was taken in Paris at Chez Ribe by the waiter: