Day 9 (April 6, 2018 – Los Angeles, California): “Catching Up”
I awoke to my alarm at 5:30am. When I awoke, I could hear lots of road work outside. These folks were definitely working real hard to get the UT9 ready for the Summer Peak Season, I guess, but it must have certainly made things hell for visitors and businesses trying to capitalize on the Spring Break period, which we were currently in.
Eventually, Julie got up and prepared breakfast while I was trying to be efficient and load up the car while all this was going on.
With the usual delays (mostly from Tahia dragging her feet eating her food then getting packed and ready as well as Julie taking her probiotics and other meds), it wouldn’t be until about 8:10am when we checked out of Cable Mountain Lodge and drove to La Quinta to meet up with my parents.
Five minutes later, they were near the lobby taking pictures as they were waiting for us since 8am. Then, after taking our family shots and using the restrooms before hitting the road, we finally were off at 8:25am.
As we were making our way towards Hurricane, then towards the St George vicinity as we hit the I-15, there was already lots of traffic on the UT9 then the I-15. The towns along the UT9 seemed to be a lot more developed than I remembered, and it just further illustrated how much busier and more populated everywhere seemed to be getting.
The drive towards Las Vegas was pretty uneventful as we were actually making pretty good time keeping with the flow of the traffic and doing my best to stay in the right lane whilst only using the left lane to pass. While there were plenty of people who weren’t doing that (i.e. clogging the left lane) on the way to Vegas, I knew from past experience that it’d get worse in the stretch from Las Vegas to Los Angeles – and hence one of the biggest contributors to the congestion on that I-15 corridor.
Since we gained back an hour when we left Utah and entered Arizona and then Nevada, we actually arrived at the Metro Diner in Las Vegas at around 10:15am. We had originally made this detour to meet up with Julie’s cousin Tony, who lived in Las Vegas.
The meeting time was originally 11am, but we moved it up to 10:30am, and we got to catch up with him at that time.
My parents along with Joshua and Sophia were also eating at the diner for an early breakfast (though it had already been about 4 hours since that time if we didn’t count the time zone change).
We learned about Tony and his intentions to move to Maui, which was a big deal. We also learned about the crime that was getting crazier in Las Vegas, which was something we can totally relate to back at home as our local city council seemed to be prioritizing monuments and statues over less glamorous things like safety and infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
We also talked a lot about health and how the foods and diet had a lot to do with it.
Speaking of the food, Tony recommended that I tried the Crab Cake Benedict, which was quite unexpectedly good. But being a fried chicken and waffles place, we let the kids have their chicken tenders (basically fried chicken strips) while trying to give them salad as well. Poor Julie didn’t have much gluten free options but did manage a salad.
It was good company and great to catch up with Tony. I know Tahia was really looking forward to seeing Tony’s kids, but her Spring Break didn’t sync up with theirs so they were in school. Like with Julie’s cousin Larry last year, Tahia couldn’t meet his daughter due to the Spring Break not jiving.
In any case, we spent nearly two hours chatting at the restaurant and I knew my parents along with niece and nephew were starting to get bored. So we ended our lunch and got into our cars at 12:10pm. We did make plans to hang out with Tony’s family before they make their big move.
Anyways, as anticipated the drive out of Las Vegas was busy but it wasn’t frustratingly snarled like it was on the Memorial Day Weekend last year.
We did have to give Julie a restroom stop near the agricultural inspection point in Barstow (which did cause some congestion), and that was when we experienced some fierce desert winds kicking up enough sand in the air to create sandstorms.
At 3pm, we did make another stop as we managed to find cheap gas at a Food 4 Less while every other gas stop was charging well over $4 per gallon.
Anyways, the rest of the drive back to LA was for the most part fluid until we got into the Wrightwood vicinity, where the I-15 was in another slow and go traffic jam. I guess we happened to time our return for the Friday afternoon rush hour to get home.
So the rest of that drive took some time, and we eventually decided to make an early dinner stop at Man Chan Restaurant in Rowland Heights. We knew that it was pretty clean food for Julie so she wouldn’t have to make dinner when we got home.
We got there at 4:45pm. The parents were already home by the time we got to the restaurant, and we decided not to have them come with us to this meal as I’m sure we subjected them to enough healthy foods that they weren’t used to all trip long. And they probably needed a splurge on their usual comfort foods.
At 5:30pm, we were finally done with dinner, which hit the spot, then we drove home. Apparently, on the drive home, I made a mistake in taking the freeway back instead of taking local.
It turned out that we wouldn’t get home until about 6:20pm. I wondered if I could have saved around 15 minutes or more had I taken local (even with all the traffic lights).
In any case, we then spent the rest of the evening getting unpacked, catching up on things we had not attended to when we left, and then dropped off the rental car (though we still had to return the keys tomorrow as the office had closed).
Thus ended this pretty fun trip, which was quite unlike any others Julie and I had done. And a week of this trip was pretty adequate. But going forward, I knew that the 6-week trip to Germany and Austria would be the big challenge, and it was necessarily just going to be the three of us on that one…