Day 7 of the Trip to Land of Free & Friendly

Helen told me to change the title as we got onto the plane to fly to LA today. The reason is that people are really friendly here – at least on the surface. The gate lady was incredibly friendly to us as we boarded the plane which prompted Helen to make the remark. Though it hasn’t been a once-off thing for us. Almost every day that Janet and I have walked to or from the exhibition we were greeted by people in the street. In England if you try make eye contact with anyone they very quickly look away and would most certainly not say hello to you in the morning. In America (or at least in both St Louis and Chicago) the people have always made eye contact and always greet you.

As I type this we are now in LA and it is 11:10pm here and my computer clock says it is 8:10am in SA. Just as I go to sleep, everyone in SA is starting to work (don’t think about calling me!). Yesterday I got a cellphone call at 4am in the morning – fortunately whoever it was never left a message and I also had my phone on silent so I never heard it until this morning. We arrived in LA at about 9:30pm after leaving St Louis at 7:30pm. The flight takes 4 hours and there is a 2 hour time change. Of course it feels like 1am for us at the moment and so I hope the kids have actually gone to sleep already. They have their own room again which gives Helen a separate room for ourselves after having to share with Chloe for the last 3 nights.

Today was the last day of ICRS for Janet and I. Our first appointment was at 9am and we had 5 during the morning. Most of them were catching up with people we usually do business with but the last one of the day was establishing some new contacts. The attendance had dwindled significantly in comparison to Days 1 & 2. We managed to knock off our meetings quite efficiently and we headed back to the hotel at around 2pm. By that stage Helen had checked out and packed up. I usually do the packing so this was a novelty for Helen which I am sure she enjoyed (I am not going to ask her I am just going to assume she enjoyed it so that I can get her to do it again). Everyone was crammed into Lynne & Jeff’s room (11 of us in total). St Louis is famous for its frozen custard and so the girls & Jeff (excluding Chloe) headed off to go to the famous frozen custard shop in town. It was actually flavoured frozen custard and they all had ‘mini’s’ (which in SA would be equivalent to a large) and everyone said it was quite rich (though I never heard that from Janet as they dropped her off at the train station on the way back so she could get to the airport for her 5:30pm flight to Orlando).

The family had in the morning gone to Union Station which is a fully restored old station. Helen said it was interesting even though Jeff had led them on the scenic route (by foot) to get there. It is probably a good thing because she worked off a few of the calories from the frozen custard she ate later. Another thing we have noticed (especially in St Louis) is the number of boarded up shops. I noticed it on the route to the exhibition each day and Helen says that it is noticeable in each of the malls she has visited and it was again noticeable at Union Station today as well. I guess places like St Louis are the hardest hit by the recession in America.

They got back from the frozen custard sortee at around 3:30pm and at 4:30pm we headed off the airport. Jeff very kindly took us which again saved us on cab fare. The check-in process was smooth and easy and we after going through the pedantic security check (sans shoes, belt, watch etc) we headed off to our gate. Helen wanted to check out the shops (what else is there to do in an airport) and I wanted some food as I hadn’t eaten much for either breakfast or lunch. After that was completed I noticed that the gate had changed for our flight and so we moved to the correct gate. A number of flights had been delayed particularly those to Texas due to the Hurricane. As we were heading West our flight was not affected at all and we boarded and left pretty much on time (I think we were 10 minutes late).

The flight was pretty non-eventful. Chloe, Michael & Helen managed to sleep almost the whole way while Stephen and I read. We are now staying at the Beverly Hilton on Wiltshire Blv in Beverly Hills. In SA we would call it a ‘larny’ hotel. When I booked it I got a great rate on the internet. The downside is that they charge for everything extra so (for instance) the internet costs extra and as I am internet dependent there is no choice but to pay the money for the connection. It gets expensive when Helen, Stephen & Michael also want to connect though! As we got out of the cab I told the kids to make sure they held onto their bags otherwise I would have to part with another few dollars to get the luggage to the room.

As we are all tired we will take it easy tomorrow and just spend the day wandering around Hollywood and Beverly Hills. There is quite a lot to see around here by simply walking there and that is what we will probably do.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Yours from the Friendly Temples

P, H, S, C, & M

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