The plane flies from SLC to LAX and arrives around 1pm on August 12. I get to the international terminal around 2pm. So far, so good. The kiosks reject my attempts to check in: they keep telling me to see my V Australia attendant, but the counters haven’t opened yet. So maybe that’s part of the problem. And maybe it’s eight hours before the flight leaves. Yeah, that might be part of it, too.
I sit in a waiting area, and before too long, one of my attendants comes and asks me if I’m flying to Sydney. I’ve been watching her and another person set up the queue corrals. My head stops mid-nod as she tells me the flight for tonight has been cancelled due to mechanical issues and is rescheduled for tomorrow morning. She tells me I can still check in, and they can put me up in a hotel for the night and give me a food voucher.
Checking in doesn’t take very long, and the girl in line ahead of me takes a change of clothes from her suitcase and stuffs them into her backpack. I do the same, and we don’t have to lug around our … luggage. The hotel shuttle drops us off at the airport Holiday Inn about 10 minutes away. The helpful hotel staff assign me a room and hand me a $25 voucher for dinner at their restaurant. Cool.
The room is pretty nice. Big TV, nice desk, coffee maker, king-size bed.
I make some coffee because I like the smell. I talk a little with friends and Mom.
The people I wanted to hang out with for the evening are unavailable in different ways. I know people, and I know people who know people here. They have parties to go to or are out of town or just won’t pick up the phone. The one day – the first day – I’m in Los Angeles as an adult, I get to spend on my own.
Dinner is salmon with salad and garlic mashed potatoes.
Then I ask the concierge how to get to the beach. He tells me to hop on the trolley bus, hands me a brochure, and says it costs $5 round trip, which is so much cheaper than taking a taxi.
He wasn’t lying.
The sky is overcast at Manhattan Beach and the sun starts to set. It’s fitting I find myself here. The air is chilly as I walk by the upscale shops toward the pier. People are still swimming. I stroll to the end of the pier and back as slowly as I can. I don’t want to go back to the hotel, so I take off my socks and shoes and roll up my jeans to the knees.
Soft, fine sand massage my feet as I approach the ocean. It still holds the day’s warmth. The water reflects the now-lit pier, and I’m taking pictures of everything, making sure to keep the camera strap around my neck.
The Pacific washes over my feet. The sea’s temperature doesn’t agree with the air’s, and it surprises and delights me. All of a sudden, I’m in love with Southern California’s beaches.
This isn’t a bad way to spend a delayed flight at all.