Long day & night
We woke to another cool but sunny morning. Does it ever rain here? We ate breakfast in a cafe a bit over a block from our hotel on 31 December in San Diego. When we returned I set off to walk around 700 metres to the hire car company to pick up our car whilst Darlene waited in our room. I drove the car back to the hotel and parked outside while we brought our cases down & checked out. Once we were loaded we set off for our leisurely drive to Los Angeles. It is a 2 hour drive and we had around 7 hours to fill in ahead of check in for the flight home.
We followed the #5 freeway north to LA and turned off on the #1 coastal highway when we reached the outskirts of LA. We stopped for lunch at a Laguna Beach upmarket mall where the car park was full of very expensive cars. We continued up the coast looking for a Walmart or similar to buy a lock for the new suitcase we were bringing home. With a Starbucks stop for wifi and coffee we found a mall and bought a lock at the Ross department store. We shared the driving with Darlene driving when I needed to navigate. Our little Mazda (pronounced "marsda") 2 got us around ok but we had to fold down the back seat to fit all our cases in.
After the mall we continued along towards the airport stopping at the beach at sunset to capture the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean. We struck some traffic and had a bit of a rush to get there at the right moment. I ended up parking across an apartment block driveway and running down to the beach to capture the shot . Darlene waited with the car in case we had to move it.
Then we continued on to the airport becoming increasingly anxious about the lack of petrol stations. We needed to return the car full. We eventually found one. They have a prepay system over there so I had to go inside first and put an amount on my card, then returned to the car and filled it, then they put through the actual cost for me removing the initial authorisation. Then on the the airport. It was dark by now. The signposting to the hire car depots is good but we still struggled to find the Hertz depot. A U turn was needed and some searching but we found it. We piled on to a bus with our cases for the short transfer to our terminal.
For the first time in 8 flights I had to remove my shoes at the security check in. We ate at the airport and went to our gate lounge to wait for the flight. Bronwyn & Brett arrived from Cancun and we were able to catch up briefly before we boarded. Their direct flight to Sydney was departing 15 minutes later than ours and their plane was parked next to ours. The 14 hour 30 minute flight departed just before 11 pm on 31 December and we arrived in Melbourne around 8.45 am on 2 January. Happy New Year everyone.