20 November 2008

Travel to Los Angeles - 20 Nov

The children and I slept at Melanie and Rachel's home on the night of the 19th. I have to interrupt our story by telling you that Melanie is a wonderful woman. She has helped our family each time a new baby was born, by caring for the older children while mom and dad went to the hospital. She's a wonderful friend and neighbor.

So Melanie housed us the last night we stayed in Madison. She woke me up at 5:30am. I showered, dressed and woke the kids at 5:50. The cab had been ordered for 6 am. Moments after I woke the kids, the cab arrived!

Everyone sprang into action. Melanie and Rachel began bringing bags out to the cab. We had 7 check bags in total - 1 for each of us plus the car seats and an "over flow" duffel bag. I helped children find shoes and socks and coats.

Finally we were all out and Melanie was loading suitcases into the back of her car. I was surprised by this as we had ordered the same minivan that had delivered our renters the previous night. In the end, it seemed best that the children and I ride in the cab and Melanie follow behind.

When we arrived in the airport, I ushered Zoe and Neo into the building and set them up with their crossiants and juice. Then I helped Clara and Tristan to bring in the other bags. We did a little more juggling to get everything arranged for the trip, then proceeded to the American Eagle check in.

I told them we were traveling international, and showed them our passports on request. They checked the itinerary and saw that we were spending several days in California. Because if that, the fee waiver on the luggage that Dave had enjoyed, did not apply. So we ended up paying $125 luggage fees. That's $15 per case for the first checked item plus $25 for the other 2. The fees paid and the boarding passes collected, we went through security. Everyone did quite well. Fortunately it happened at little Madison airport.

Then we went out for breakfast. On the way to our gate, Zoe started to complain about stomach ache and covering her mouth and screaming. The restrooms were being cleaned near our gate, but I took her in there anyway. Zoe seemed to recover without incident a short while later.

Neo and I were enjoying a book when the boarding call came. I think we left that book at the Madison airport! We had to gate check Clara's carryon bag and mine. Also the stroller was gate checked. I had decided to take Neo's car seat on the plane with me. Initially I didn't want it for the domestic flights. I think it helped contain him - and he needs that. But it was heavy and ackward plus I had the laptop, my purse and the diaper bag to carry and it was difficult to manuever down the narrow plane corridors. Neo wanted to be carried onto the plane and each time we boarded planes, he screamed and balked! Poor little guy!

Our flight to Chicago was delayed due to something going on in Chicago. Zoe didn't have any difficulty with her ears - a huge relief. She enjoyed the invisible ink book that her friend Erin had given her and used it most of the flight.

When we arrived in Chicago, Neo was looking like he was about to fall asleep. I wanted to avoid that so he would sleep on the plane to Los Angeles. We made our way to the connecting gate. It was about 10:30 so we decided to get an early lunch. Lunch woke Neo up completely. Soon it was boarding time.

Again Neo screamed as we made our way onto the plane. He was exhausted as well as wanting to be carried. I lugged the carseat, et al while Clara took my carryon and hers as well. Once on the plane, we got settled and Neo calmed down (much to the other passenger's relief, I'm sure). As in the previous flight, Tristan and Clara were seated in the row behind us.

The plane was full. There were several other families flying as well. The flight to LAX went well. Neo took a nap, and so did I. We bought a tin of potato chips. the older kids watched Wall E again until the battery on the computer gave out.

Thirty minutes before touch down, the cabin pressure changed, resulting in painful ear popping. Zoe began screaming. Even though I asked her to drink, yawn, swallow, blow, etc., nothing helped. Neo also was holding his ears and screaming (1 on either side of me!) Neo didn't understand to drink and refused. I decided to go for the EarPlanes that were in my carryon above us. They WORKED!!! It was amazing!! She stopped screaming. For Neo, I was able to distract him with a book.

We finally landed in LAX! Now for the luggage. We collected our luggage and were making plans for the next step when Zoe announced that she had to get to the bathroom urgently. Clara and Tristan kept Neo and the luggage while I rushed to the bathroom with Zoe. We arrived on time.

Back to organizing luggage again. We had 13 pieces - checked and carryon. Plus other bags had been pulled out but not readjusted. So I was in the process of putting jackets, and other items into bags while the children ran around a little - there was no one else in the baggage claim area where we were. When a wonderful woman came by with a Luggage Cart for us to use. We thanked her and stacked 3 of the big suitcases onto it. We stacked the carseat and 2 carryons onto the stroller. I carried the laptop, my purse and Neo, pushed the stroller and pulled another bag. Zoe pulled her carryon and Tristan's. Clara pushed the luggage cart. Tristan moved 2 large suitcases. We finally made it outside. There we found another luggage cart and hoisted 3 cases onto it.

We watched for the shuttle for our hotel, but didn't see anything. Finally, I called them and asked about the shuttle. It would be arriving in 15 minutes. I realized I wasn't standing in the right place, and we needed to get to the sidewalk island. We began our move as before but now Tristan has a luggage cart too. I couldn't quite carry Neo and pull the remaining bag. A Luggage Cart helper came and pulled that bag and helped Clara and Tristan across and up the sloped sidewalk and into position.

We stood there for another 10 minutes. When the van arrived, the driver was very welcoming and loaded all our suitcases into the van. He then unloaded them all and brought them to our room. In my mind, I heard Dave saying, tip him well. So I did! He offered to store our luggage - the items we don't need for these few days in CA - while we're in Legoland. So we'll take him up on that.

The hotel is WONDERFUL!!! I'm so glad I decided to stay here! It's every bit as nice as the pictures. We have a 2 room suite. There are Koi ponds, waterfalls, gardens in the atrium area inside the center of the hotel. It's lovely. The kids were overjoyed. We took a little swim in the beautiful pool. Then joined others at the Manager's receiption downstairs.

We ordered a couple of entre's from the restraunt. Then retired to our room.

Dave called just as the children were going to sleep. He had gotten up early on Friday in Australia. He took the train downtown. Went to our bank, but they would not allow him access to our account because I wasn't there. Fortunately, he had some US dollars that he was able to convert and he'll be OK until we get there.

I also found out today that OZForex did not wire all the funds that I had instructed them to send to purchase the car. So there could be a delay in that purchase. I called OzForex tonight and asked what was up with that. They agreed it was their error and will send the funds in 2 hours time. So hopefully things will still come together. If not on Saturday as planned, then on Monday or Tuesday.

I received an email from Grandma and Grandpa Smith today. It turns out they will be nearer to LAX then initially thought. They invited us to come visit. I would, except we have already purchased our hotel for Friday night in Carlsbad, CA - Legoland - and it's been charged to our account. I think I have to stick with the original plan....

It's very late (1am WI time and 11pm CA)! I need to get some rest!


TheHarriman Family said...

You are a saint! What an ordeal--I'll bet you are glad that that leg of the trip it over! Thank goodness that Clara and Tristan were able to be such good helpers. It sounds like you will have a relaxing rest while in California! I hope you enjoy Lego Land!

Catherine said...

Clara and Tristan were great helpers. The last several days here in California have given me a much needed breather to prepare for the big flight - which is what this was about.