Los Angeles Vacation: The Traveling – Part 1

This past week, I went to Los Angeles to visit my real father and my sister, the latter whom I’ve never met as an adult. I decided to write about my experiences in a series of blog posts in approximately 3 to 5 parts as follows.

  1. The Traveling – I’ll be discussing my experiences in traveling to Los Angeles as well as traveling on the return trip. This will be a two parter.
  2. Uber – My experiences in my first Uber rides ever.
  3. My dad & sister – I’ll discuss meeting them. This post will probably be a two parter.
  4. My hiking – I hiked two difficult trails there. Probably a two parter as well.

Today, let’s talk about my experiences in traveling to Los Angeles and back. 

A few months ago, I was talking to my sister, who lives in California  after we found each other on Facebook. We got to talking. Then I brought up the idea of me going to visit her and my dad, also in California. They both liked the idea of me going to visit them. So I used my Triple A membership to book the flight out of American Airlines. I looked at my options. I only had 5 days of vacation. Which meant I needed to limit my traveling time so I can maximize my vacation time once on the ground, so long layovers were not an option.

The American Airlines flight was booked for July 17 out of Appleton at 5:15am and landing in Chicago O’Hare about an hour later. I then had an hour to get to the other side of the terminal to make my connecting flight to Los Angeles, due to take off at 7:22am CT and set to land in LA at around 10:00am PT.

The return flight was booked on July 20 to leave LAX at 1pm PT and land in Chicago at 7:25pm CT. Then I had an hour to get across the terminal for my 8:30pm flight back to Appleton.

Let’s talk about going to LA. I could have driven the 90 some miles to Appleton from my home in Menominee, MI at around midnight  the day of the flight since I’m a 3rd shift worker and my body is already on a 3rd shift schedule. But I thought to myself – what if something happens on the highway while traveling to the airport? What if my truck breaks down? What if there was an accident that I would get stuck behind? I decided to go to Appleton a day early and just stay in a hotel. I figure if something does happen while driving to Appleton, I still would have a day to deal with it and still make my flight.

Before I continue, I wanted to mention my job is an overnight manager on duty for a grocery store. One of my responsibilities involve receiving trucks that deliver to the store. Grocery, meat, produce, etc.  Because the store is closed overnight, pretty much all the drivers have my cell phone number so they can call or text me when they are on the way or already at the loading dock. I spent the last couple weeks before my vacation notifying the drivers of my vacation and to contact my coworker instead. Now back to the story.

Once at the hotel, I went to bed around 6pm and set my alarm for 1am so I can go to the airport at 2am to check in. Well, at 11pm, I was woken up by a text message via my smart watch that vibrates whenever I get a notification on my phone. Apparently one driver didn’t get the memo that I was gone. He texted to say that he was parked at the loading dock at the store that I worked at. Oh brother. So I texted my coworker to go unload the truck.

I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. So I was like, fuck it, let’s go to the airport early. I took a shower, got dressed, packed my bags, checked out and went to the airport, which is a small airport. I arrived at the airport a little after 1am and went to long term parking, where I parked my truck and made a mental note of its location. No activity at all in the airport. I was hoping the doors were open so I could at least go in inside and rest and they were. But the lights in the terminal were down, No one else were there other than a janitor, who paid me no mind. So I took a seat by the American Airlines counter and fired up my tablet to begin reading a book. I also used the opportunity to check out the American Airlines app on my phone for updates and make sure everything is on time. So far, so good. I also studied the map of the terminal at O’Hare so I can plan my route to my connecting flight.

Around 2:30am, the lights flickered on and employees began to arrive to the terminal. Other passengers soon arrived as well. At 3am, the counter was open to take check ins. I got my boarding pass and my suitcase was cleared for carry on. I didn’t have to check it. I was happy about that.

I went over to the security checkpoint, which was not quite open yet. I sat with the other passengers and waited.  Once security was ready to go, I let other passengers go first so I can observe what to do when going through the checkpoint since I’ve never flown under the new TSA rules. I made it clear to the agents that I’m deaf and needed to read lips and they were more than happy to oblige, showing me what I needed to do in order to pass inspection, which I did with no problem.

Once inside the terminal, I still had an hour or so to kill before boarding. The gate agent soon appeared about a half hour before boarding. I told the agent I was deaf and wouldn’t be able to hear my group number when called to board. She said, no problem. She would let me preboard. Which I did at boarding time.

The plane took off on time and in the blink of an eye, I was already on the ground in Chicago and it didn’t take long to disembark the plane since it was only a small regional jet with a few dozen passengers. Once off the plane, I still had 50 minutes to make my next connection. I walked briskly to the other end of the terminal. The walk took about 20 minutes and when I got to my gate, the monitor said it was still only 20 minutes to boarding time. Plenty of time for me to hit the head, which I did.

I returned to the gate and informed the agent that I was deaf and would not be able to hear my group number when called. This agent also agreed to let me preboard. I was thankful, but was peeved that American Airlines would not have the “Group Number Now Boarding” flashing on the monitor at the terminal like Delta Airlines does with theirs. But as long as I still got to preboard, I was ok with that.

I got on the plane. It took a while for the other passengers to load up as the plane was big enough to hold about 200 some passengers. But the plane still took off on time. It made good time across the country and landed in LA at 9:30am, a half hour early than scheduled.  I was out of the plane and outside the terminal by 10am, waiting for my dad, who got stuck in traffic on the LA freeway. 

While waiting outside the terminal, I saw a slick black Cadillac pull up. A driver got out, and went around to the right rear passenger side and opened the door., He then popped the trunk to get a suitcase. An older looking man got out wearing what appeared to be a two thousand dollar suit. The man looked to be in his late 60’s and looked very important. My first impression of the man was “mobster” – LOL. The driver told the man where to go check in, shook hands with the man, and the man walked away without saying thanks to the driver. I’m like,oookay.

A few minutes after that, my dad pulled up. I got in the car and we took off and he showed me a bit of Los Angeles, which I will write about in a future post.

I thought to myself, not bad for my first ever solo trip on an airplane. Everything went as planned other than be woken up early at the hotel in Appleton. But little did I know that the trip back home nearly wouldn’t go as planned. I’ll write about that in my next post.

Stay tuned 😉

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