Vaca to LA

Parker's Prose

After I started having nightmares about people sending things on Tuesday mornings that they wanted in that week’s paper, I decided it was finally time for a vacation. I hadn’t had one since one of my cousins in Texas got married back in the fall of 2017, so it was high time for another getaway. I decided to go visit my brother, Rob, and sister-in-law, Mindy, in Los Angeles since I hadn’t gone to see them there since they moved at the end of 2015. My mom, wanting to see them too and probably worried for me since I’d never flown alone before, decided to tag along. We decided on Memorial Day weekend so we could enjoy an extra day.

Our Sioux Falls flight was set to depart on Wednesday at 5 in the morning… Ugh, I am not a morning person. We stayed in the hotel connected to the airport Tuesday night, but had trouble sleeping. On top of that, Mom had us get up at 3 in case we ran into any problems boarding the plane, but we ended up standing around waiting for the security check to open at 4. We did find out that we had TSA pre-check on our tickets, so we got to skip some of the security hassle.

We had a layover in Minneapolis before taking the four-hour flight to LA. I tried to sleep on the plane, but since I didn’t know how to tilt the seat back, I couldn’t get comfortable enough. Thus, I opted to finally read the poetry book I’d bought, written by one of my college English professors. It’s titled “Keeping Them Alive” by Christine Stewart-Nuñez. If you’re into poetry, I highly recommend it. She was recently named the next South Dakota Poet Laureate, as well!

We landed in the bustling LAX airport. The first thing I noticed when getting off the plane was that a section of the wall didn’t appear completely painted! My brother later cleared that up by stating how LAX is a small airport, but they’re so busy that they can’t ever really finish the renovations that they start. We spent the rest of the day at Rob and Mindy’s flat since we were tired from our flight. It felt five hours later than it actually was with my lack of sleep and the change in time zones! 

Rob had asked me before we left what I like to eat, so he made sure to stock up on my very particular tastes! He and Mindy asked me every time they cooked if it tasted alright. Rob joked that I was like an alien that they offered food in the hope I wouldn’t kill them! “If we wrote a movie about you, everyone would say you weren’t a believable character.” I’ll take that as a compliment! 

While we were visiting, we also watched a few things Rob helped shoot: “Fastest Car” on Netflix (the second season is coming out soon, as well, for any car enthusiasts that are interested), “Santa Girl” and “The In-Between,” which Mindy directed, co-wrote, and starred in.

On Thursday, we went to the Griffith Observatory. On the way, I was surprised that the traffic didn’t seem much worse than in Sioux Falls. Rob had said when we landed that LA was just a downtown with sprawling suburbs. I didn’t believe him at the time when we were racing down the busy freeway, but it seemed he wasn’t completely wrong, though the parking is horrible almost everywhere you go. We managed to find a spot and began the long, mile trek up the steep hill. Mom had to stop to catch her breath, and said it made her realize she was getting old! We didn’t go inside the observatory, but Mom made sure to take pictures of the view. I wasn’t keen about posing for a picture with just a stomach-high railing preventing me from plummeting several yards. Mom and Rob took one look at the picture and said I looked like I was in pain!

After that, Mom and Rob went to John Wick 3, and I stayed behind and played games with Mindy. I absolutely dominated in Hangman, to the point you’d think I was reading her mind, but she turned the tables with Uno. I’d swear she had Draw Fours stuffed up her sleeves if she didn’t have them rolled up! We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.

Friday, I had plans to finally meet up at Little Tokyo with my online friend, Yoru, for the first time offline. Mom later said she nearly had a panic attack when she and Rob left me there. Rob told her I do have a phone if I’m in trouble, no matter how stupid my phone may be. (I’ve been very adverse to spending hundreds of dollars on a smart phone for features I’ll rarely use.) Yoru and I had a lot of fun checking out the shops. I didn’t end up blowing too much money and just walked away with some candy and comics.

I decided to be a little adventurous for once and try out some new food while we were there, which ended in disappointment. I wasn’t a big fan of beef curry; the ice cream inside mochi ice cream was good, but the mochi (pounded sticky rice) itself wasn’t; and I would’ve liked the potato croquette had they not ruined it by baking peas and carrots inside! After venturing to the Cold Stone ice cream parlor that I’d heard her praise so much online, Yoru and I had to say our goodbyes, and Rob and Mom picked me up. The first thing Mom asked when I got in the car is if we took a picture together. Whoops… Well, at least that gives me an excuse to visit again.

Afterwards, Mom, Rob, and I (power)walked to the theater that was about 10 blocks from where they lived to see the new Aladdin live-action movie. It was nice seeing Jasmine get more character development, but I feel they could’ve explained Jafar’s motivations further (why he wanted to start a war against other kingdoms), and the fact Iago wasn’t comical anymore was a bit of a let down. 

Saturday found us at Santa Monica boardwalk/beach. We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp, where I, of course, had a hamburger and fries. Rob and I happened upon both a Mario Kart and Luigi’s Mansion game in the boardwalk’s arcade, and we Nintendo nerds had a blast playing them! We went down to the beach to bag some sand a co-worker of Mom’s asked to bring back for her. There, I saw a seagull swoop down between too little girls and knock the hotdog right out of one of the girl’s hands! Gutsy little thief!

Sunday came, and we had lunch with Mindy’s side of the family at Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, where I ate the most tender steak I’ve ever had. Then, we spent the rest of the day playing board games and video games. I struggled with Mario Party (I’ve never been that great at luck-based games), but that’s okay because I got to stomp Rob in almost every other video game we played. 

With that day gone, it was already time for us to go. Rob dropped us off more than two hours early at the airport, because, again, Mom wanted to make sure we would still be on time if we ran into any difficulties. Granted, we did have a little. Mom got stopped in security because they thought she might be smuggling drugs; it was just her bag of sand. On a side note, to anyone like me without much flying experience, the snacks and non-alcoholic drinks they provide are complimentary (i.e. free), as is the TV, at least on the flights we went on. I didn’t know this going out there, but made sure to indulge on some cookies while watching “The Kid Who Would Be King” on the way back. The TV even lets you track where the plane is on a map. As we were flying over Sioux Falls, Mom texted Dad to tell him it’s too bad they couldn’t just drop us off there before continuing on to Minneapolis. Dad texted back to jump. That’s funny coming from the person I inherited my fear of heights from!

It was honestly a little distressing having to go back to work the next day, especially when I didn’t get home until 1:30 in the morning. I found myself already wondering when my next vacation would be. It goes to show that a couple days off a week is no substitute for an actual vacation, and I certainly won’t be waiting for over a year before taking another!

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