Published: August 1st 2012
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Family at LegolandFamily at LegolandFamily at Legoland

Family at Legoland
Shitting our selves was a complete understatement as we picked up the hire car and successfully negotiated our way south on the Santa Ana Freeway South in peak hour traffic. I always get a sense of what is north and south whenever I am in a strange place and when I was navigating to the freeway entry it felt so wrong as it was going against what my sense of what south was. I kept thinking if we make one wrong turn or accidentally end up going on an off ramp then we are totally screwed as we were too tight to pay for a GPS. I only had a 20 year old basic old map of the entire cities showing only major highways, and google print outs of more detailed images of only the places we needed. It took me half an hour to stop hyperventilating. My knuckles were white and my palms very sweating, so I can not imagine what Brendan was going through. I drove in LA nearly 20 years ago, but there is no amount of money you could give me to convince it would be a good idea to do it again. After getting on the
LA Santa Ana FreewayLA Santa Ana FreewayLA Santa Ana Freeway

LA Santa Ana Freeway
freeway, there was about 6 lanes of traffic, 100 signs for a million different exits and all this other information I had to decipher whilst Brendan concentrated on the traffic and last minute lane changes if required. It was difficult to tell if we were still on the Santa Ana Freeway at times and the road quite regularly morphed into 10 lanes (all going the same way). There were no jams however, due to the early start no doubt). There concrete passovers and ramps everywhere, looking like a very futuristic city. After about half an hour the complications seem to ease off as we left the city limits. There weren’t as many exits and the lanes kept to a constant 4 lanes (which would’ve been like that all the way to the Mexican border – inconceivable as this is the equivalent of driving from Perth to Mandurah). I just had to be careful that we didn’t miss the turn off to Legoland. I could believe the 6 entry lanes to get into the place! This place sure was popular.

The kids loved Legoland. Lleyton was very quiet and by about 2pm we all started to fade with the jet lag. So by 3pm we decided that we just couldn’t go on much more and needed to find a grocery store and head to Hollywood to find our hotel. We missed the grocery store turn by half a block and ended up in a up market organic food store.. Nevermind. We were mind boggled for all the choice that was available for every product. None of this generic product and a couple of other brands business – a true free economy. I was disappointed they didn’t stock Goober Grape that I was keen for the kids to taste. We bought some interesting vegetable chips and I couldn’t wait to tuck into the vanilla, pecan granola that we got in bulk.

There were two accidents on the Santa Ana Freeway on way to Hollywood so it took forever to get to Hollywood due to the notorious LA traffic. As it turned out the sun was shining directly in our eyes when it became crucial in reading the signs for the right exits off the I5. It was also difficult for Brendan to make sure he was in the right lane due to bad cracks in the road looking like lane borders when they weren’t. I had the job of ensuring we made the transition from the Santa Ana Freeway to Hollywood Freeway was successful one and not to the Golden State Freeway where I’m afraid we would’ve found it easier just to drive straight through to San Francisco than to try and find our way back to Hollywood where our motel was. Unfortunately, the sun was right in my eyes as which made reading the road signs just about impossible. I risked permanently burning out my retinas lest we end up in San Fran. At the last minute I saw that we were in the wrong lane for the Hollywood Freeway. Fortunately, it was only a one lane change, but we almost didn’t make it and Brendan had to straddle the painted ramp lines. Now I had to keep my wits about me as I wasn’t totally sure what exit to make to get to our motel. I missed printing off that google map for some reason. I couldn’t see any Sunset Blvd exits as I was expecting, but luckily I recognised the road our motel was on was a fairly major one and happened to have its own exit. I had to be very sure in my convictions, to give Brendan the confidence to drive. The only thing we did wrong was that we missed the turn in to the motel, but we just did the block again.

Being dark at 8pm it wasn’t until late that we bought some dinner at a local supermarket, just a block away at 9pm. I couldn’t resist the butter pecan Haagen Daaz which is a lot cheaper than at home (everything is). Walking back to the motel, I noticed the homeless people were in bed (on the pavement) before us! We did check with the person on duty at the motel if it was safe to walk around as the area looked quite seedy. He assured us it was OK. It was OK but I couldn’t help my motherly instincts by pulling the kids in closely when ever we passed someone who looked suspicious. It was so late by the time we got to bed at about 11pm.


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