Allyson Johnson

Pieces of my Mind

Archive for the tag “airports”

Hidden Treasures: Long Beach Harbor

P1020543docLong Beach Harbor is a treasure hiding in plain site.  I had done business in Long Beach, gone to its convention center, been through its airport and seen its container shipping port from above.  But who knew that beyond the commercial façade is a redeveloped harborside rivalling Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with a miles-long bike/pedestrian path rivalling that of Venice Beach?

We stayed at the harbor by accident.  We were on our way to Catalina and stopped over in Long Beach the night before.  My Personal Travel Agent had done his usual excellent research, and we ended up at the Hotel Maya (part of the xxx chain, but don’t let that put you off.)  The Maya is an unusual collection of buildings, creatively architected so as to faintly evoke Mayan pyramids, while offering each room a view of the harbor from its balcony.  It is a bit of a maze to negotiate, but the views are great.  If you don’t like your balcony, you can take your evening glass of wine down to the beach, where a staff member is charged with lighting the fire pits in the evening.

20150322_064723webThe restaurant at the Maya exceeds all expectations, with an outdoor deck looking out at that harbor view, and some of the best scallops we ate in a decadent week of eating scallops. P1020548web

A stroll along the beach front promenade gave us a good view of the parties going on – a wedding where the bride and her maids were flaunting shapely gams through slit skirts, a black and white ball where the person we mistook for the bride was most likely neither getting married nor even female, as  the ball was sponsored by the LBTG alliance.P1020550web

The next morning we ate a leisurely breakfast and headed over to take a look at the Queen Mary docked just down the beach.  This proud lady of the seas is now reduced to being a tourist museum featuring Princess Diana, but she still looks a lot more elegant with her rakishly slanted smokestacks than the clunky Carnival cruiser parked next to her, a floating hotel complete with water slide.20150322_101952_1cropweb

Our last look at Long Beach Harbor took us to the ferry boat dock past a shopping arcade arfully crafted to evoke an old-style Playland-at-the-Beach.  The ferris wheel was real, the roller coaster was really a pedestrian bridge leading into the arcade. Sadly, our ferry beckoned.  I can hardly wait to go back to Long Beach to find out what is at the other end of that roller coaster bridge.

To Russia with Mom – Day one (In flight SFO->Frankfurt)


Our flight is scheduled to depart at 1:56 PM.  I call Mom at 8:30 AM. She is up and dressed, but there are some things she can’t find.  I go through the hedge  Explanatory [Note: I live next door to my Mom] and find what needs finding, forget about the other items that won’t be needed on the trip. We empty the fridge of everything which won’t last two weeks.  I take milk, meat, cheese, fruit through the hedge to our fridge for my husband’s survival rations.

I call Mom again at 10:30 with a 15 minute warning.  She says “I’m ready to walk out the door.”

We bring the car around at 10:45.  The door is closed and locked.  We ring the bell. No response.  We ring the bell again.  Finally Mom opens the door.  She had fallen asleep.  Well, at least she is relaxed.

We load two incredibly heavy suitcases, a jam-packed rolling tote, and an equally crammed Land’s End Tote into the trunk of the car.  I hand Mom’s passport around her neck in a little ID pouch recycled from a trade show.  I have my passport, cash, airline itinerary in a passport wallet around my neck. We are off!

1PM – At the airport:  I have a Gold card for United thanks to my business excursions in Asia last year, so we get fast processing through check in;  my mother’s silver hair gets us waved into the Priority line at Security,  and we are quickly admitted to the Red Carpet Club, where we are informed of an hour’s delay of our flight.  We have a four hour window at Frankfurt, now cut to three.  No worries.  We settle in with trail mix, raw carrots, cheese and crackers;  Mom snoozes and reads; I read and write.

Two hours later: Our plane is undergoing “aircraft servicing” and the flight time has slipped from 1:55 PM to 3PM to 4PM. We still have a two hour window to make our St Petersburg flight, but  if it slips another hour we may not make our connection.  I talk with assorted other folks using Frankfurt as a connection point to Moscow, Florence, Copenhagen, and other exotic points – many with tighter connections and fewer options.  I’m glad we added a few days in front of our cruise date in St. Petersburg; I’m getting a little worried about the Saturday matinee ballet tickets my friend Maxas secured for us.

I get online and email my husband and Maxas, more to vent than to inform, at this point.

3:30 – Boarding announcement.  We gather our scattered  resources and head for Gate 95.  Again, Mom’s silver hair is even more effective than my gold card in getting us priority seating.

4:55: finally, three hours late, in flight.  Our Frankfurt transfer window is cut to one hour.  Will we and our luggage make it?

On board and ready to fly!

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