Saturday, February 16, 2008

Late Night at the Harriott

Hey, John,

You know how, before I left Tucson on this trip, you asked me repeatedly not to do anything stupid? Well, I've mostly managed that so far. The one exception you sort-of know about, and it's too interesting an anecdote not to share it with the world (or, at least, the tiny portion thereof that reads this blog). Don't worry: nothing actually bad happened. The car is fine, I am fine, and our finances are fine. So relax. This is just one of those Karen-tells-of-an-amusing-screwup stories, the kind that aggravate you only briefly.

As I admitted to you this morning, I neglected to print out the hotel confirmation email and bring it with me. I figured it would be easy to find the LAX Hilton. After all, LAX is easy to find, and I've been to the nearby Hilton before. Also I forgot.

So after a mostly-uneventful drive in (details of which will be revealed shortly), I found my way onto Century Blvd, drove past the Hilton, turned right and make my way into their rather alarming parking garage. I say this because it was steep and narrow and underground, with lots of hairpin turns marked out with metal ropes. I drove down to the fourth level near row B and parked as instructed on the signs. Made it!

I locked the car and took the elevator up to registration. The couple in front of me told the couple in front of them that they were from England, and I nodded knowingly, not that anyone noticed. Nor was I correct in my "knowing." I should have had an inkling when they said they were checking out, not checking in as I would have expected on the Friday of a Doctor Who convention.

When it was my turn, the hotel desk clerk could not find my registration. I could not understand why until she indicated that she was unfamiliar with this "Gallifrey" of which I spoke.

That's when I finally deduced the Awful Truth. The convention wasn't at the LAX Hilton. And I was so sure that it was! For one thing, there was a whole discussion online about the nearby Carl's Jr, and other places with off-airport addresses that were said to be close by. It was clearly an LAX hotel, then. But which one?

Too embarrassed to call and ask you to look it up, I did something reasonably clever instead. I went to the Carl's Jr., got lunch, and simply asked the first really obvious Doctor Who fans I saw which hotel the con was in. Two minutes later I knew it was at the LAX Marriott, in between the Hilton and that same Carl's Jr., on the same block. (Incidentally, nearly everyone in the place was a con-goer.) Somehow I read the word "Marriott" repeatedly, and my brain read it back to me as "Hilton." This was because this convention and possibly one of the Quantum Leap cons had been held at two airport Hiltons in the area, this one and the Burbank one. My brain's expectations led me astray. And by the way, I can name at least two occasions on which you, too, acted on what you expected to hear or see instead of what was actually there.

One of the traditional blurry con photos

Once I got to the right hotel, everything went great. The parking is on the surface and has a discounted convention rate. The hotel had my reservation, and the extra pillows (but not the free fridge, 'cause they're out of them). I've seen Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and our acquaintance Gary Russell on stage together, spoken briefly with my two favorite living Doctor Who screenwriters and two additional Who novelists, had dinner with three of the Phoenix fans, taken some traditionally distant and blurry con pictures, chatted about fudged accounting practices with an airline employee and told him my airplane joke, and successfully got online after the front desk said the network was down for the night. Ha! I win!

Oh, and I photographed a few rather clever entries from the second row at the Masque of Mandragora costume contest. The one above, in which Lady Cassandra's moisturizing "lovely boys" discover a marketing opportunity, was named Best in Show. Taking these pictures reminded me strongly of the great non-digital photos you took of fan costumes at that ST con in Baltimore (or was it the St. Louis one?) 22 years ago. I still have a mental image (and we still have the physical photo) of your dynamic shot of Batman, Catwoman and Robin.

As for the trip itself: the drive over started at 10:45 PM or so. The rented car has satellite radio, and I quickly found a Jack Benny marathon hosted by his daughter and stayed on that station all night. Listening to that made it much easier to cope when I was at a dead standstill for about 15 minutes at 1 AM in Phoenix due to a traffic accident up ahead, and when at least two I-10 rest areas in California were closed and I had to drive on. I sort of watched for Cabezon, but dinosaurs are hard to spot in the dark, and there are now several exits with that word in them.

Waking to windmills

Shortly after passing the second of these and thinking I'd missed the exit I wanted, I finally found an open rest area and stopped. It was 5 AM. I reclined the seat and slept until 11 AM. When I awoke, I saw I was parked almost adjacent to one of the hills full of windmills that we always see on the Northern Route. Once I got moving, I passed mountains with snow on them, which reminded my of your warning about snow on the Southern Route.

Snow near the Cabezon T. Rex

And then...and then...there was Cabezon after all! I parked by the dinosaurs and had breakfast at the Wheel Inn. Hooray! I can't quite decide whether I first visited the place with you in 1986, or with my mom in 1978 or so.

The really icky part of the drive was from there to LAX. Even at noon and early afternoon, the freeways were packed. Locals later told me it's always like this on Friday, and more so on a holiday weekend. D'oh! Can't be helped, though.

So now it's late night at the Hilt--I mean Marriott, and I think I'm finally ready to sleep. If the internet connection works tomorrow night, I'll be blogging as usual. Meanwhile, Johnny-me-love, I hope you'll forgive me for the hotel name gaffe. If it helps, I haven't bought anything in the dealer's room yet except a T-shirt. That will change, but no, I won't be spending a lot. Good night!


1 comment:

Becky said...

That Lady Cassandra was a fan created thing? Wow! They did an amazing job!