July 31, 2004


Well, I'm here. I arrived, safe and sound and right on time (and with all of my luggage!) at LAX yesterday afternoon. Just like in L.A. Story, the weather in Los Angeles was sunny and 72.

Gas at the "expensive" gas station that we passed while driving home from the airport was selling for $2.23/gallon . . . or about 48.9 Euro cents per liter.

I'm wearing shorts -- and I'm not looking on that like it's a heavenly blessing that I'll be unlikely to repeat again for months.

I was gamely planning on staying up until an advanced hour, so that I could go to bed and get up the next morning instantly adjusted to California time -- but, like Shelby predicted, I laid down for a "nap" around 4 PM and slept for five hours or so. This morning, I woke up at six and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and set up the house for wireless Internet, using the shiny new Linksys router that the company had sent me (paired with a more hardcore Cisco hardware VPN "appliance" as part of their standard work-at-home setup). Now we can be on our computers without having to be in Shelby's dad's home office, and avoid wearing out our welcome here just that much longer ...

Back to my journey to LA: I'm a sucker for the airlines' dire warnings. I was sure to show up at the Hamburg airport at the crack of dawn -- just a little before 5 AM -- so that I could check in a full three hours ahead of time for my international flight, just like British Airways wanted me to! Naturally, it turned out that I could have slept in just a little longer, as BA's ticket counters didn't even open until two hours before my flight. I spent my extra hour waiting in front of the vacant ticket counter sleepily worrying about BA's numerous and complex signs regarding how much luggage, carry-on and checked, that you could take on the flight, how large it could be, and what dire penalties you were subject to if your luggage fell outside of their stringent limitations. Somebody working at BA had a great fetish for bureaucracy, luggage, and complicated diagrams involving a multitude of luggage combinations. I started to eye my four bags -- a backpack, a laptop bag, and two gigantic duffel bags, all stuffed to the gills -- more and more nervously.

It turned out that I beat the luggage rules very simply: the luggage belts at each check-in agent's desk were too narrow to hold my giant duffel bags. "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll need to take those bags to the Oversized Luggage belt ..." Max and Moritz over at the luggage belt were working for the airport, not any particular airline, and thus couldn't care less about anyone's luggage policies: they just hefted my bags onto the belt, stuck destination tags around the handles, and sent them on their way. Brilliant!

After that, the remainder of the trip was worry-free. My connection was through London Heathrow. This was the first time I'd experienced Heathrow's giant shopping-mall-in-an-airport; since I just wanted to curl up in a corner and go to sleep rather than purchase duty-free vodka, it was a bit much. (Even if you don't want to shop, you can't escape the shopping mall; it's all around you. Heathrow doesn't assign your gate until the very last minute; in the meantime, you're herded into a giant central seating area surrounded by shops and left to anxiously watch the gate-announcement monitors.) Maybe if I was in more of a "shopping" mood . . . or maybe if I liked vodka.

Posted by Kevin at July 31, 2004 10:41 AM