Trip Report – States….. Gimme States: SoCal Shenanigans

Friday 12th February 2016

After getting my nice shiny new Nissan Maxima and hitting the 405 north towards LAX I was starting to get hungry. I wanted to head to a place that had come recommended to me by a friend. It was an old school restaurant, with the old neon style signs. But it was also a replica of the restaurant that was used for Pulp Fiction. They had all the same booths etc from the old Hawthorne Grill which has since closed. I am not sure if they are the same or both owned by the same people at one time, but Pann’s was pretty amazing on the inside.

I had my breakfast (which was really my lunch) and then found out that a friend was stuck at LAX for several hours. By the time we finally connected, she couldn’t leave the terminal, but if only I had of known! After a tasty filling meal, I was ready to get into the sun and get some spotting done. I was just going to hit up Imperial Hill for a little while and get some photos before I had to head out to Ontario. It was fun texting back and forth with my friend who was on the opposite side of the airport, showing her the planes on my side. After getting heaps of photos of stuff I wanted, there was an o shit moment. My camera batteries started to die.

This was expected because I had two batteries that had been heavily abused lately, so I knew they would be ending soon enough. But with two others spare I didn’t want to charge the ones in the camera up. So I left the battery charger in Seattle thinking I wouldn’t need it. Sadly I did not check the spare batteries status as for some reason they were dead too. Sigh. So now I had 4 dead batteries and no charger. I through in the towel for the day and headed towards Ontario (with a brief stop for some fresh donuts… what don’t judge me!).

Traffic in LA is notoriously bad, and today was no different. I left the LAX area around 1pm ish and hit the freeway towards Ontario around 1:45pm. I managed to reach Ontario at 4:15pm, around 2.5 hours after I left… sigh! I don’t mind spending 2.5 hours driving somewhere, but not doing 5mph stuck in traffic like that. It was horrific! It was only 60 miles, how could it be so hard! Ugh! Either way by the time I got there I was spent! I decided I needed to catch up on a few things and just chill out for a while.

I looked around online for a good hotel deal when we were planning this trip and about the best deal I could find was for the Aloft Hotel Rancho Cucamonga, it wasn’t a bad hotel. Basic rooms, yet still nice and trendy. Not bad to be honest for the price compared to what the other hotels were asking. The room was large enough and looked clean. The hotel had a decent gym, a pool and free parking. About all you could ask for right? I had some stuff I needed to do online (which I did) and headed out to grab some food. I found a place that I heard on the radio earlier that day, and it fit the bill. I had my first visit to Souplantation. It wasn’t bad but a little confusing, but it was tasty!

I headed back briefly to the hotel with some supplies I had picked up to set up a little gift display for Heidi, and then headed off to get her dinner and pick her up. She asked me to get her a specific order and since it was around the corner from the airport, it was a given. It was ready right as she landed and then by the time I got to the airport, she was standing on the curb. Easy as pie and minutes later we were back at the hotel to sleep!

Saturday 13th February 2016

Today was not going to be a thoroughly eventful day. After a morning run, Heidi and I headed off to her friends place to hang out and chill for the day. Today wasn’t about doing anything other than relaxing and catching up. Heidi was excited to see her best friend and her two children. I was surprised when the oldest daughter actually didn’t try to hide from me so much and that was pretty good. At one point I was walking holding her hand, so that was pretty good!

We had to go to the mall to get some new swimwear (since I had left mine at home, again) and then we all came back to the hotel (well I had a nap before the others got there) and headed to the pool for a bit. By the time the sun went down and we hopped out, it was starting to get a bit chilly, so we warmed up and headed out for some all you can eat sushi!

The place was one that I found last time in Ontario and it was still there. It had a huge line and it was amazing! We may have waited a little while, but totally worth it! By the end of the day we were rested, relaxed and thoroughly full. Pretty awesome day if you ask me.

Sunday 14th February 2016

Waking up on my normal schedule this morning and off to the gym, then a quick breakfast before hitting the road with Heidi. We were off to Palm Desert today to catch up with Heidi’s grandparents who move down to the city for a couple of months a year during winter. It was my first time in the area and it was such a new experience for me. I was excited to go and visit the city that I had heard so much about, and finally give in to Heidi, who had wanted to go so much.

It is only about an hour or so drive out to Palm Desert and this was going to give us a good test of Russell, the Maxima (named of course after Russell Crowe’s character from Gladiator). The car handled it well, and easy as hell, comfortable drive! Pretty soon we were in Palm Desert meeting up with the Grandparents and getting shown around. We hit up the markets, Babes for some BBQ and then out to the Date Farm for a shake. We also got to see where the grandparents were staying, and if they stay there again next year, we might ourselves head down for a weekend to check it out!

We left Palm Desert mid afternoon, waving goodbye to the grandparents and still really relaxed. We headed back to Ontario to head to the movies on what was Valentine’s Day. We wanted to see Deadpool, since it’s a “Valentine’s Day movie”. HAH! Not really but it is a good justification right? Really loved the movie in a full theatre. Movie theatres in the USA feel so different. Way more people, more cinemas (this one had 22, the AMC next door had 30) and way crappier seats. Ehhh, whatever.

We finished off the night with some Sonic for dinner and some ice cream. Nice and relaxed!

Monday 15th February 2016

Today was the day Heidi was heading home and after another run and then packing everything up, we headed out to grab some breakfast. We went to a little dive place that had some good food, and it wasn’t far from the hotel. One thing I have a problem with though is choosing foods that I won’t be able to finish, like pancakes at dive places. I said I wanted a full stack, to which Heidi knowing something I didn’t somehow, asked me if i was sure. I said yes, but really I should have listened to the wife. They were HUGE!

I finished a good portion (with some help from Heidi) and took the rest with me. I dropped Heidi at the airport and soon had to head off towards Orange County. I wanted to get down there without hitting traffic. It was an easy drive following the freeways and I only had to leave the freeway once, but that was because the Sat Nav in the car locked up and I had to get off, park the car and turn it off. 3 minutes after leaving the freeway I was back on it. No big deal. Sadly though I was in Orange County super early without a camera to go spotting as originally planned. I headed to the hotel, but they didn’t have any rooms for me yet, so I just headed out to find something to do.

I did a dry run of dropping off the car so I knew what I was doing the next day, and then headed back to try and see if Best Buy had a charger. No dice on that, then I ended up heading out to have coffee with a friend from twitter. By the time I got back to the hotel, they had a room for me and I spent the afternoon doing some laundry and getting ready for my big road trip starting the next day!

I gassed the car up in the late afternoon when crowds would have died down at the local costco (just around the corner from the hotel) and then parked the car for the evening. Russell had been a good drive, good fuel economy, great looking, all the good bells and whistles. Heidi and I both agreed the car needed one or two things. 1. a Sunroof to really make it a good weather luxury car and 2. Memory Seat settings for the drivers. If only that could have worked, it would have been fantastic! But I was really happy with it either way!

I was planning on staying around the hotel that night for dinner, since It was going to be an early start for my morning flight to Dallas and on to Raleigh. The one kicker for flying east is you lose so much time that you just have to suck it up and take what you end up with. My 6:45am departure meant a 5pm arrival into Raleigh. Eh what can you do. That Hooters next door to the hotel looks ok enough, plus I haven’t eaten there in forever! Tomorrow the real adventure begins.

Current Location: La Quinta John Wayne Airport – Costa Mesa, CA.
States Visited: 1
Miles Driven: 424
Cheapest Gas – Costco Costa Mesa – $2.18pg