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ROD'S DIARY FEB 17 -- THE 48 HOUR BIRTHDAY
Today we embark on the final journey which includes a fuel stop. Five and a half hours to Anchorage, fuel stop, four and a half hours to LA. Estimated 11 hour journey. We shall see.
It's my birthday today and as we cross the international date line I will get a 48 hour one. However not being too partial to the aging process I tend to avoid birthdays and celebrated it prematurely with Kathy and the kids before we left. The kids got me a new i-pod engraved "to dad" and put on it a load of family photos to keep me company and proudly show to friends and also loaded on many of my favourite albums. Nice thought!!
So I didn't say a word about this and thankfully except for a couple of isolated comments (Nicko, cos he is glad I am catching up!!) I seemed to be getting away with it. On the first leg it was the usual, get the laptop out and take care of emails to outbox and diary of barrier reef including choosing the photos which was fun as loads of good fishy shots!
We got into Anchorage in the early hours PST and to the delight of many the bar in the terminal was open and so was a smoking area -- inside the airport! In America! We cleared customs and immigration here which meant taking all the bags off but no one had any problem with this as it was much easier/quicker here than LAX which can be a nightmare. And Alaskans are such a fun and friendly people. We were all back on the plane within the hour and ready to go.
The outside temperature was minus 5 deg C and snow and ice on the runway. The tractor that was to pull us onto the runway wouldn't move as the parts were frozen -- yes really though you would have thought they were used to this here! So that took a while and then the plane had to be de-iced of course. So by the time we got into LAX it was about 9.30 am and we were about two and a half hours later than planned. Over the leg from Anchorage I tried to catnap with little success.
The transfer from plane to cars was very smooth as of course we had cleared customs and immigration so the cars could come right up to the plane and the bags taken straight off the plane into the cars. We were at our Hotel in Santa Monica within an hour of landing which was pretty good.
I was already very tired and lagged having flown OZ to Tokyo just a couple of days ago then the long journey here so the last thing I needed was stomach problems. But life is that when you really don't want something you get it -- happy birthday!! By the time I got to the room I had liquid output problems both ends along with a healthy dose of stomach cramps and a general feeling of lousiness. Sat in the sun for an hour getting some fresh air then tried to sleep for a few hours from about 2. I had a sign on the door reading DO NOT DISTURB yet I was soon woken by a maid enquiring if I wanted maid service, despite the fact I had just checked in. I pointed to the sign on the door and she said she thought I may have forgotten to take it off. Smart or what!! Back to sleep, phone rings -- will Mr Wood (sic) be requiring maid service today -- I have just checked in and have a sign on the door you IDIOT. Back to sleep partially, and the bloody drinks wagon knocks to replenish the fridge despite the fact that I had just checked in and was unlikely to have emptied it by now and THAT I HAD A BLOODY SIGN ON THE DOOR SAYING DO NOT DISTURB. In America people sometimes try so hard to give good service and be polite they completely overdo it and really pisses people off and this is a good example of this. Also there is no hard line web connection just wireless and mine hasn't been working most of the time. As you can imagine not feeling at all well amplified these problems and what was said to the manager when I called him does not bear repeating here.
My partner Andy and his wife Liz are back out with us here as is Val. Liz is educated in homeopathic medicines and gave me some stuff and Andy convinced me that getting out of the room for an hour or so would help and we should go along to the famous English pub here the King's Head. It started as a bar on the corner and the restaurant now goes along the whole block -- and really good English food. Not that I was going to be eating, or even drinking. I used to go there occasionally for darts when l lived in LA in the eighties.
We arrived to see some of he band and crew who were also there for the eve.....and then it dawned on me ....yes, totally stitched up by my best mate... the band had thrown a surprise birthday party for me. And to think that I had thought I had got away with it. All the band and most of the crew (at least those who survived Dickie's leaving bash) were there along with a number of LA-based friends some of whom I hadn't seen for a while. Felt crap but put best face on and tried to drink a pint of Pride -- after an hour I was nearly there!! Must definitely be something wrong. It was a really good night and cakes had been arranged for both Andy, whose birthday it is next week, and myself. And there was loads of food like sausage rolls, potato skins, the sort of unhealthy stuff I like, but I just couldn't risk eating it. Have to see off the bug. After a couple of hours and sneaked off quietly asking Andy to thank everyone and apologise for my early exit. But they all would know if I was leaving a pub with free ale there must certainly be something amiss with me!
About a 20 min walk back to the hotel so got some fresh air and crashed out straight away and slept like a babe til about 9am.