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April 5, 2002
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Walking In LA

11:04 pm: It's actually only 10 pm LA time, but it feels like 11. Jet's still up, though, and in fine form. This is the first time we've traveled while Jet can walk and it makes a huge difference. After dinner tonight we parked in the parking garage and John carried Jet to the hotel lobby, but once we were in the lobby we just set Jet down on the floor and he walked.

At first he just walked in every direction, at whatever caught his interest or eye. The wall that was entirely a mirror was really cool, he went up to it and banged hands with the baby in the mirror. He explored the pattern on the tile, and he went over to look at all the plants in the central atrium. He smiled at the people that came by and stopped foot traffic as two men said hello to him and commented about how hard it is to get kids that age to do what you tell them, though it's even harder when they're eighteen. That got a laugh.

Jet's been great.

He only got up twice last night, but the first time he had really bad gas, and John was up with him for half an hour then I was up with him for nearly another hour. Poor little guy. The second time was much easier on the gut, but his nose was bugging him mildly. Still, he did okay and was up in time for John to finish a lot of packing before I got up, had breakfast, nursed Jet, and then shaved my legs for the weekend before finishing the last bits of packing.

We were out the door by 8, at the airport by 9, and on the concourse by 10. I bought a strawberry smoothie that Jet consumed eagerly, and we were on the plane by 10:30 and in L.A before 1, our time.

Do not rent with Thrifty in LA. Ever. Hertz is good, Budget might be okay, National even made more rounds than Thrifty, who only had one bus in something like fifteen minutes of waiting out on the rental car shuttle station. Ugh. And the lines were awful, and Jet was not only bored but he wanted to run after the time on the plane. He was great on the plane, spent a lot of the time in his seat, but by the middle of the second hour he was antsy, but he walked around with John for a while and got that out of his system and actually nursed on the way down, with only mild protests about his ears on the way down.

All that with a cold, even.

But by the time we got to the car rental place, he wanted to pull up the plants, get into everyone else's luggage, and tackle the sleeping baby in an infant seat that he saw. Jet was rampaging everywhere, and when we could finally strap him into his car seat, he was looking kind of wrung out. Surprisingly, he didn't go to sleep at all on the way to the hotel. Instead, he watched everything out the windows of the car, and watched us as well.

The Kia was tiny. It was so small that Jet could put both is feet on the backs of our seats and push. The first time John pushed on the accelerator while we were getting onto the 105, he said, "The hamsters are screaming but we're still not going anywhere. Go, hamsters, go!!" Poor hamsters. They did okay on the freeway, but it was kind of like we were flogging the little rodents. Luckily, it was LA traffic and we were soon in stop and go and the little guys didn't have to do all that much.

If I *ever* complain about traffic in Denver, just remind me of eight lanes of traffic going just north on 105 or 101 or 110 in LA all just stop and go and rush and screech and remind me of just how good I have it. I remember laughing at the Coloradans complaining about their traffic and now I totally remember why. It was really nice not having to be anywhere and be stuck in it without having to worry about it at all. All the way into town, up to Hollywood, it was just stop and go. We finally got out at Rampart, went left at every light and right at every stop sign and ended up at Tommy's World Famous Burgers. Jet, at fourteen months, was about to give up his Tommy's virginity. With gusto.

A few years ago, I discovered that Tommy's had introduced french fries to their menu and ever since then I've regretted not getting their chili cheese fries. I did not let the opportunity go by this time. I got my usual double cheese extra chili, hold all the other condiments other than the tomato, and squeezed in an order for chili cheese fries as well between shots with the digital camera. The order taker laughed and said to Jet, "Say Double Cheese!"

Jet watched the makings very closely as we were at the outside booth, and he could see the line cooks flipping the burgers and slapping on the chili. We got some pops and went to the chest-high counters, and set him on one and let him pull the fork out of the chili cheese fries and poke and prod at the fries as he liked. He ate a few of them, clean of most of the chili. He also ate bits of burger, as he's been eating cheese burgers with Joan for a while. He liked a chunk of my burger that had most of the chili squeezed off. He didn't like the feel of the chili and would put anything down that was slimy with the stuff. But he did eat a bit of it with his burger bits.

The fries were really good with the chili and gooey with cheese. I really enjoyed them, and nearly inhaled the burger as I haven't had a good burger for a while. I don't eat them very often, but this was a very good and very special occasion. It was good to be in LA, as odd as it seems to be saying that.

It's oddly familiar and strange at the same time. I never would have thought of LA as *green* before Colorado. But both John and I were marveling at all the greenery and the humidity in the thick air. It was warm but not too warm, cooler than we remembered it, but then it's just spring, too. All the trees were in full leaf, and the streets in the older parts of town were beautiful with the green trees, the ranch houses, and the mountains and hills in all directions. The established trees, the green grasses, and the landscapes were more vibrant than Colorado. It was lovely and seemed so strange because we remembered it as so arid compared to Seattle.

We got to the hotel via the 101, and it was mostly slow and rush, not quite stops and not that much go. It was out towards Ventura and the Topanga Valley, at the north west corner and end of LA. About as far as possible from Long Beach, which is where Sharon was. I didn't even try to get into contact with her as we were on such short notice, all in all, and I didn't want to cram anything into our schedule. Which turned out to be very wise, as we checked into our hotel at 3, and promptly fell asleep, all three of us, until 6.

Yeah. A three hour nap. It was very, very good. We all caught up more on our sleep in the one afternoon than I think any of us had done during the week. I think Jet's fighting off the last of his nose cold, as he was having some problems breathing. He did manage to sleep anyway.

When we woke up and discovered the time I nursed Jet as he hadn't eaten since we'd landed. We then put ourselves together and went down to the lobby to ask about local restaurants. We really wanted to eat something that we couldn't get in Colorado, be it sushi, teriyaki, or California food in its freshest forms.

On the way down, we let Jet walk for himself. He went right out the door, down the corridor, and meandered happily about the elevator lobby while we waited for a car. I had to hold the door until he made up his mind to come into the elevator car. He got a puzzled look on his face as the elevator car dropped under his feet, and he spread his legs just a bit wider for a more steady stance. He really did well with the small shakes and rattles of the car as it speeded down. There was one extra stop for a guy that was also going down and he was very careful to give Jet plenty of space and gave a look as good as he got from Jet. That was cool.

Once we got downstairs we let the guy go first and then let Jet figure his own way out of the elevator car. He was great. He wandered around some, but we eventually picked him up and let him sit on the front desk while we got instructions and even a hand drawn map to a place called King's from a guy at the front desk. Another guest said that he'd eaten there last night and had really liked it.

We got there pretty quickly, and it was only a few miles from the hotel. It was on the corner of a really high end strip mall that had a grocery store, a Corner Bakery, and a Starbucks as well as a lot of other little shops. We went in and got seated immediately out on the patio and the hostess gave Jet crayons 'to eat', a coloring place mat, and came back with several packets of oyster crackers 'to throw'. She thought he was the cutest little guy and Jet gave her the full-on flirting smile with his chin tucked against his shoulder.

I think that, through the meal, two bus boys, four waiters/waitresses, and at least two entire tables' worth of people stopped to talk, play with, or compliment Jet. He took it all with aplomb and studied everyone that came and went through the door to the patio. He also ate a quarter of his crackers, flung the rest of them. He also ate the tips off three of his crayons, and then flung them. He ate bits of bread, three-quarters of a jar of baby food, and two of the macaroni off my macaroni and cheese side that came with my grilled yellowtail and lovely, lightly sauteed baby spinach that was just loaded with garlic. Yum. We also shared an appetizer of Korean BBQ short ribs. They're the short ribs I've been craving for nearly a year and cannot find in Boulder or Longmont. I should probably be looking for Korean BBQ instead of teriyaki as, in Redmond, I could get them at a particular Toshi's, but I think the owners of that Toshi's might have been Korean, not really Japanese.

What's special about the 'ribs' are threefold: 1) they're cross cut, i.e. very thinly (possibly an eighth of an inch thick) sliced across the bones 2) they're marinated in something salty, sweet, and savory and 3) they're grilled to smoky perfection with crisp edges and tender meat and even more juicy and tender meat around each of the thin disks of bone. I cannot find them in Colorado.

Then again, as John and I noted just by wandering towards Tommy's this afternoon, there is, possibly, more ethnic diversity in one city block in LA than there is in pretty much all of Boulder County. It's both good and bad, in some ways.

Still, I enjoyed my ribs while I could have them. Jet loved chewing on one of the meat fringed bones, but he threw it away when he was done, too. Jet wasn't at all noisy. He was very happy. Everyone that stopped to talk to him told him what a great kid he was He did, however, make a tremendous mess around his chair.

We tipped Big.

We didn't get back to the hotel until nearly 11, which is midnight Colorado time. Jet got changed into his stuff, and passed out while nursing, enough so that I could still do my bathroom stuff afterwards even with him in the same room. He was urgent enough about nursing that it would have been hard to do it before. We then al passed out after a good, long, full day

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