Well, my visions of watching with the kids as we sailed through Angel’s Gate did not come to fruition. By the time we returned to the buffet for breakfast, we were safely moored in the Port of Los Angeles. It was an overcast morning, the grey clouds hanging low over a forest of container cranes. Not far away, the Vincent Thomas bridge was visible, morning commuters traversing its span between Terminal Island with the mainland. Astern of The Coral Princess, a tugboat was pulling a heavily laden container ship. The first thing I really took in was the sheer scope of the place. There are a number of container terminals around the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, enough for their cranes to add to the cities’ respective skylines, but compared to the Port of Los Angeles, these cranes were a relative handful. It was a reminder that I was definitely not in Washington anymore.
After a rather lengthy unloading process, and trip to the rental car office, we were all piled into a minivan and navigating the L.A. freeways to Aunt Mabel and Uncle Louis’s house in Monrovia. Our plan was to then feed the kids and make our way to Griffith Park slowly enough to put the kids to sleep on the way. It worked, so much so that when we paid a visit to the street on which I had grown up, Harry slept through a lengthy conversation with my old neighbor, a really tough, biker-looking man with the nicest dispostion you could wish for.
Our next stop was Griffith Park. We’d been there in 2007, when 18 month-old Harry took his first pony ride. He liked the first one, but then decided he was done. He perferred the Griffith Park and Southern Railroad. On this day, it was Annie’s turn.
She even ventured out into the chutes.
Harry continued his love affair with the rails.
We then proceeded over to a great play area where I had visions of seeing friends in a kid friendly environment. I wasn’t expecting a huge turnout at 4 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon during the school year, but two of my friends,one life-long and one from elementary school with whom I’d reconnected over Facebook, did show up and we all had a fun mini reunion. It was a but surreal to be sitting in a quickly darkening Griffith Park watching my kids play with the kids of someone I hadn’t seen since her sixteenth birthday party…21 years earlier. You’ve got to love social media.
It was so good to see old friends in L.A., and the part that I had been looking forward to the most was upon me. After putting the kids to bed, I had arranged to meet with some of my closest friends in the world where I had spent many an evening nursing and iced tea and an appetizer. That’s right, I met the gang at Denny’s. They couldn’t all be there, but five were. It meant so much to just sit there with these people who are like family to me…I’m an only child, after all…and just talk. The conversations were different, but the people were the same. Sure, we’re all a bit older, and still seeing each other on a regular basis gives them more context than I have with them, but they’re still the people with whom I shared many, many adolescent and young adult adventures. And oddly enough we survived. I don’t even recall what we talked about, but we talked, and we laughed, and we reinforced our friendships once again.
The next morning, after bidding farewell to Aunt Mabel and Uncle Louis and thanking them for their generosity in bringing us on this cruise, we all piled into the minivan, my mom included, and we drove over to my alma mater, Occidental College. The bookstore is run by the mother of another life long friend. (He couldn’t be at Denny’s because he had a deadline for his web comic.) We stopped in to replenish the kids’s supply of Oxy wear. After some visiting with my friend’s mom and some exploring of the campus, we piled into the van once more for a late start on the first leg of our road trip home to Everett.