Los Angeles Revisited in 2007
The year was 2003. Labor Day weekend 2003, that is.
I took a trip to Los Angeles in anticipation of attending an ER themed fan convention which fizzled out about a week or so before I set out on the trip. However, I had nonrefundable Southwest Airlines tickets that I had to use or else lose out on the money I spent. But I went anyway, convention or not.
However, I featured the Los Angeles trip from Labor Day 2003 here at EdwardRingwald.com and it became one of the most visited pages for years. Unfortunately, web space was a consideration and the Labor Day 2003 trip to Los Angeles had to be deleted to make room for more roadtrips.
Fast forward to Labor Day 2007, four years later.
I had to plan a trip over the Labor Day weekend because one of my Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards tickets was expiring soon. I had a choice - take a trip somewhere or spend $50 to extend the tickets. So, I decided to plan a trip and save that $50 towards a rental car or hotel room.
Now the next task was where to this Labor Day weekend? Originally I planned on flying to San Diego rather than Los Angeles but checking the Southwest Airlines schedule for service between Tampa and San Diego guided my decision: Yes there is through service from Tampa to San Diego on Southwest (meaning one stop somewhere on the way but I would stay on the plane throughout the trip) but on coming back to Tampa it involved changing planes somewhere on the way.
You know what having to change planes enroute involves: The possibility of a missed connection and the possibility that your baggage may not make it with you. So, I decided to check Southwest service from Tampa to Los Angeles and vice versa and - bingo - through service both ways.
So, I went along with the Los Angeles option in order to avoid changing planes somewhere. Accordingly, I planned the trip a couple of months in advance. I made use of not only my Southwest Rapid Rewards tickets but also a one night stay at the Hilton using HHonors points that I accumulated to try to hold down costs, as hotel prices in Los Angeles are somehow steep. Look at it this way: Is it better to pay the extra money to stay in a reputable hotel such as the Hilton or to stay at some other hotel in an unknown section of Los Angeles?
It was early morning as I packed up the trusty Saturn Aura XE for the short trip onto Interstate 275, which would take me across the Howard Frankland Bridge to Exit 39 (FL 60) and the entrance to the world's finest airport, Tampa International Airport. Being early Saturday morning traffic on Interstate 275 was light compared to your typical commuter traffic Monday through Friday.
Once at the airport I managed to use the long term parking garage and to find a convenient parking spot right next to the monorail that would take me to the Landside Terminal and the ticket counter for Southwest. Once at the ticket counter I handed my baggage to the friendly Southwest ticket agent who applied the tags for LAX onto my baggage. After that, I bid adieu to my baggage temporarily until I got to Los Angeles and my baggage was sent first to TSA security screening land for mandatory security screening and then on its way to the plane.
Next I proceeded to Airside C where I would pass through the rites of TSA passenger screening and eventually to my gate. As I was part of Boarding Group A and I arrived early I would have my first pick at a good seat on the plane all the way to Los Angeles. Almost not so. Just before my flight there was a gate change which put me a few people ahead of me in line for the A boarding group. Upon boarding I managed to get an excellent seat for the trip.
Upon takeoff we climbed out over northeast St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park which would take us west across the Gulf of Mexico on our way to Los Angeles. Midway we made a stop in Austin (Texas' equivalent of Tallahassee) so that we can discharge and take on passengers. Upon leaving Austin the landscape we Floridians are used to soon began to give way to the mountainous landscape which dominates the southwestern United States, including California.
After five and a half hours of cross country flight I landed in Los Angeles sometime after 12 Noon Pacific Time (that's 3 PM back home in St. Petersburg). I collected my baggage and proceeded to take the hotel shuttle that would take me to my temporary residence in Los Angeles for the next few days, the Hilton LAX Airport on Century Blvd. After I checked in and got into my room it was time for me to go to Alamo to pick up my rental car which would be my temporary mode of transportation for the next few days. As Alamo is you may pick the car you want in your class at most locations nowadays, they did not have any Saturns available but I chose a Chevrolet Cobalt, which was good as a Saturn. (After all, Chevrolet Cobalts are standard City of St. Petersburg issue motor vehicles among other things).
Hotel and rental car aside, it's time to go freeway exploring! I set out onto Interstate 405 north from Century Blvd. which would take me to US 101. Once there I headed east on US 101 which would evolve into CA 134 and made a stop in Burbank, where I stayed at a Hilton hotel there in 2003. Sadly, the Hilton hotel is no more, as far as the name is concerned - instead, the buildings are still there but sit has been replaced by a Marriott hotel (incidentally, The Daily Grill restaurant still stands today). I took a quick ride on the Metro to Hollywood so that I could walk Hollywood Blvd. and pass by the famous landmarks including the walk of fame that straddles Hollywood Blvd. on either side.
After exploring Hollywood I got back on the Metro as it was getting late and I don't want to be there at night for safety reasons. It was then back to the US 101 freeway taking a route onto Hollywood Way passing by the Warner Brothers studios (where ER and a host of other TV shows are produced). Once on US 101 I headed south to Interstate 110 where I headed south through downtown Los Angeles and past Interstate 10 (that's right, the one and same Interstate 10 that goes from CA 1 in Santa Monica to Interstate 95 in Jacksonville) to Interstate 105, then westward on Interstate 105 to Interstate 405 and Century Blvd. and back to the hotel for the evening.