Well, there was still a bit more to go, even then.
I woke up extra early, keyed up and a little nervous. There were a lot of moving parts to the plan, so I wanted to be certain that my part was locked down. I got up and dressed, and packed the rest of my things. Got my bags airport-ready, which is such a pain in the ass. Helped clean up the house so that we'd be as likely as possible to get our cleaning deposit back. Tried to read, but it was difficult to concentrate. Once the guys were back (the groom and his dad) from their hot-air balloon ride, it was a little easier to relax, since that was one of the parts of the schedule that was more up in the air...so to speak. They had a great time, which was good to hear; they'd both been looking forward to it for a long time, but they two were really the only ones who would be likely to do such a thing, so it was perfect timing.
Once everyone was at the house, there were last-minute showers and a little more clean-up before we split everything into two cars, locked up, and took off. The bride and the groom's mother left first, and they pulled out onto the main road...to the right. We (the groom, his dad, and me in the back seat) pulled out after them...but to the left. The groom said, "My GPS has us going this way." I didn't question it.
I maybe should've questioned it.
This is the whole trip to LAX, the one that would have cost between $272 and $345 if I'd hired a car:
It's almost exactly 100 miles.
This is the most direct (i.e. shortest-distance) route between Temecula and Newport Beach, which is the way that the bride drove. You will notice that it goes essentially north, then west, then back south, skirting a mountainous area:
This is the route that we took, which I am calling "indirect":
As you can see, we went basically south, then west, then north again.
[For what it's worth, if I were ever to make this trip again and had the time to do so, I would ask to make this change:
...which cuts off the last segment of the I-5 and replaces it with a jaunt up California-1, which is the Pacific Coast Highway. I think it would be more of a sightseeing tour and probably very pretty under the right circumstances. Not that I am ever likely to be in this area again!]
The direct route is only a little shorter, about four miles, but the indirect route is around ten minutes longer, depending on traffic. (It was twelve minutes last night, right now it's closer to twenty.) That's enough of a difference that we seemed to be WAY behind, and it seemed to take FOREVER to get there. It seemed, honestly, like we were going to miss my connection with the shuttle service. We were driving so fast on CA-76, it was really very exciting/scary.
And then we made the turn, which is abrupt and has absolutely none of the fanfare that it ought to, considering, onto I-5, and the groom sort of yelled, "THERE'S THE OCEAN!"
|First view of the Pacific!|
|Also from the I-5|
Unfortunately, the day's schedule wasn't terribly cooperative, and the sky obviously wasn't optimal, and of course we couldn't exactly stop and take pictures, either. The location of Camp Pendleton right there, too, makes it all a little forbidding (and not too attractive, at least from the I-5). But I did get a couple of shots that weren't just of passing traffic, and where you can see that there's actually something...somewhat recognizable...that may be describable as an ocean-like blue stripe beneath a gray sky. That's something, right?
In what I'm starting to count on as standard California traffic, there was a construction/holiday/random traffic thing on the bridge near the Balboa Bay Beach Club, where I was meeting my shuttle. We were less than a mile from the destination for a good five minutes, and I was sweating it every time my phone would vibrate with another text from the driver, who had arrived early. However, we did get there on time (if he'd arrived at the designated time), and we double-parked behind the van so he couldn't leave without me. The groom and his dad hopped out for hugs, we verified that it was indeed my van, I hollered out instructions for good wishes for the bride and the groom's mom, and I hopped in. Onto the next phase of the adventure!
I understand the point in asking. There are probably people objecting like crazy all over the place, to a nearly six-dollar donut. But, seriously, don't charge six damn dollars if that's the case.
I was hungry, and I wanted caffeine, and I wasn't going to get out of the line and go stand in another line to wait another twenty minutes to be overcharged for something else. "It's fine." Goodbye, California!
My flight departed twenty minutes, late, thanks to a storm on the arrival end. My nearest seatmate was a mentally-challenged guy who asked me repeatedly throughout the flight, "Where are you going?"
"[the big city]"
"Oooh! So am I!"
Four hours later, I was back east...ish, getting obnoxious texts from Mumbles, who was waiting outside the airport for me, ready to go get a pizza and a six-pack and hear all about it. Good to be home.
[the title quotation is by Aleksandar Hemon, from The Lazarus Project]