Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Southward Bound

So on Tuesday I flew back to LA. I took the ever reliable Canada Line to Vancouver Airport (or YVR it's code and the name everyone calls it by) and found the Alaska airlines check in.

The thing with flying from Canada to the US is that you pass US immigration while still on the ground in Canada. In fact flights to the US get their own segregated area of the terminal. So after going through Canadian security and border control I was ushered to US immigration. This is where it all seemed to go wrong.

The US border security officer took my finger prints and photo then stamped my passport before deciding that there was actually something wrong with my fingerprints. "Just go through those doors there and they will help you" he said. Well they did, but not before I began to think I was an illegal alien or something. After waiting 10-15 minutes with some shifty looking people I was called up to the desk, a few questions asked, everything stamped and I was allowed to enter the US. I asked why I didn't need to submit my finger prints again, but didn't get a clear answer. I'm not one to complain.

As I had allowed time for stuffing around with customs, I still had nearly 2 hours until my flight. at 1pm. I decided to grab an early lunch and make use of the free WiFi. Still having some Canadian money in my wallet I raided the vending machines for some water and a packet of chips as well. All remaining Canadian penny's (and there were a lot of them) were thrown into a charity collection near the gate.

I was dismayed to see that the aircraft, to be used on my flight, a Boeing 737 400 similar to this one. How embarrassing. Walking down the aisle it became apparent that this aircraft had seen better days. Worn carpet and upholstery were the order of the day. It got worse when I went to sit down in my seat and the whole row moved like it wasn't bolted to the floor properly. Luckily however the flight was empty, so I had that row to myself. Alaska Airlines is very basic service wise, although at least you get a free drink. There is also no IFE so I had to make do with Good Game vodcasts on my iPod between just staring out the window at the scenery.

The flight was very uneventful. We took off out to sea and turned south, hitting land near Seattle and then taking the inland route across Washington, Oregon and California. I saw the snow capped volcano summits of Mount Ranier and Mount Shasta (we went straight over St Helens!), Lake Tahoe which also already had snow on the ski slopes surrounding the lake, and the snow capped Sierra Nevada stretching off majestically to the south east. We landed at LAX on schedule.

After collecting luggage and taking a shuttle (they love their shuttles, there is a shuttle for everything) I arrived at my hotel, the Radisson LAX, the closest hotel to the airport. I would have had a good view of the runways had the windows not been so dirty.

For the second time on my trip I took a fantastic hot bath. Both times the bathtubs were too small, but it had the right effect. I really think the Romans were on to something. Refreshed, I watched TV for a few hours.

That night I got the bus to a near by shopping mall, Westfield Culver City. I drooled over the prices of electrical goods in Best Buy, things are so cheap, coupled with a high Australian dollar meant I could have bought lots of stuff if I had the will to carry it home. Which brings me to the reason I was there, to buy a small bag to put some of my purchases in. While not heavy, mostly clothing for myself and family, they really bulked up my bag which looked like it would burst. I found a suitable bag in Target.

Back at the hotel I caught up with Jay Leno for one last time.

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