So I’ve been on a trip to the West Coast these past few days and it’s been fun and productive and all that yoda. Some brilliant back to back meetings, a conference panel session which was actually interesting and, well that’s enough talk about work.
What I do wanna scribe is some of the more unusual happenings, the peripheral jimjam that rounds out a mission like this, and makes it truly memorable.
I learned that Terminal 3 at Heathrow now has the world’s largest outdoor smoking enclosure, flying via Vancouver to San Francisco has its visual eye candy – you seemingly pass right over the top of the world, and… (boring alert), doing so means you have to gather and re-check your luggage in Vancouver, which is of course a pain in the backside.
I hooked up with my good friend Digby upon arrival Tuesday night in San Fran. Digby and I go back 20 years and is one of those reliable friends you can always… rely on, even if he did once spoil a beautifully planned, supersonic visit to surprise my (now) wife. He’s never heard the end of it.
Wednesday I found arguably the World’s best breakfast eatery – a super place called Dottie’s in San Francisco. I’d heard some hype about it and just as I was wondering how good pancakes could over another, I took a bite and was propelled to pancake pandora. If you ever visit San Francisco, run to Dottie’s on Jones. Just beware you may have to wait in line. There is literally a queue of people waiting to get in, and you should bring something to read as I did. Not dissimilar from the seemingly never ending queue all day long outside the Apple store in San Francisco with people lining up for the iPhone, which I can conveniently stalk from my hotel window.
After work I took advantage of my hotel’s handy location (nice hotel btw – the Palomar) to venture over to the nearby mall where I learned that escalators can go round corners. Never seen that before. Heading up the escalators in Nordstrom’s (a chi-chi department store) I actually got vertigo and I don’t even suffer from it. It’s a heck of a long way down.
I’d ventured to the mall to deal with a mistake which was thinking that California is actually hot in summer. I’d come here without a jacket, and it turns out that while, yes it is true California is hot for the most part. San Francisco is not. You can travel 20 miles south from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, or north even, and the temperature is 20 degrees hotter. Nuts.
Kitted out in a new jacket and with some little threads for my little boy, I got a craving for a burger ‘my way’ and plonked myself down in my grease of choice – Kurger Bing. It never ceases to amaze me that they actually have security guards packing heat in a (not so) fast food restaurant, but guns are a way of life here of course, and it’s hard to get the cat back in the bag.
Thursday I was down in Silicon Valley doing work stuff and passing through the famous places in the tech scene – Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park – I can’t help but get a thrill when I’m in this area. It’s awesome and inspiring…
Friday was my trip to LA, but not before an interesting discovery at the offices of Qik.com… a shrine to Yoda. In the video you can see a whole army of Yoda’s waiting for the call up from George Lucas – you’ve never seen anything like it. Respect to the man responsible and stay tuned for some rather interesting potential Yoda happenings coming down the line – on WorldTV a Yoda story you will see…
That done and feeling the force, I levitated my way to LAX where I exercised my now routine routine of renting A RIDICULOUS CAR (see video). Screw the environment!
Driving my silly car at ridiculously slow speed through awful LA traffic, I got my first taste of Sirius satellite radio. Forget AM, or FM, microwaves from 20,000 miles up are the ticket. The channels are genrefied with no advertisements and there’s a display of the name of the track you’re listening to. I scanned through looking to find some decent house music and failed, but was surprised to find BBC Radio 1 transmitting live on the service from the UK. (I wonder how they dealt with the music licensing issues on that one?)
In the evening I ventured to the beach and came across a fancy car dealership where the prices just blew me away. Having enjoyed my day in a Ford Mustang I found myself oogling a 2006 model (pictured) going for just $13,000 with 30,000 miles on the clock and a full Lexus dealer warranty. In UK digits that’s silly money and I’m now seriously considering shipping one to London if only to drive it for a few weeks then sell it.
A dinner meeting was in the offing and I found myself at a fabbo restaurant on top of the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica. The crowd was attractive, the food amazing, but what tickled me most was my discovery of arguably the ‘world’s best view from a public toilet’. Like most people I’ve been in a few stalls in my time, but never one like this. It was just as well I had a dinner companion otherwise I’d still be there… probably.
With the view of that beach still fresh in my mind I was on my way back to LAX for the return to San Francisco. The roads were frustratingly slow again, but 2 miles from the airport I found myself staring at a beguiling stretch of open road. It was time to flex the muscles on the ‘Stang and before long I found myself looking in the rear view mirror at some flashing blue lights. I was bemused to note a rather appropriate old school hip-hop track playing on my radio at the time. I decided to turn off the radio figuring the police might not like my particular choice of tune, pulled the car over and placed my hands on top of the windscreen. The officer who wanted to meet me was keen to see my licence which seemed like a reasonable request. It took him a second or two to take in the information, at which point he exclaimed – “Oh, you’re a Tourist?! What am I supposed to do with that?!” It was at this point I knew I was in the clear…
He asked me if I knew the speed limit, I said “No”. He asked me if I had seen the cop car in my mirror following me for the past mile and a half – I said “No”. He asked me if I knew I was averaging 70mph in a 40mph zone – I said “really?”. He told me there was bugger all he could do with my licence and started asking me about England instead. Being new best pals I couldn’t help but level with him… “Can I be totally honest?” I said. “I just arrived in LA today and I couldn’t believe I could rent a car like this for so little money”. “Yes it is a nice car” he affirmed. I told him I’d been frustrated with the traffic all day and he agreed that LA traffic was really bad. I said “I finally found this stretch of road and…” “You wanted to have a bit of fun right?”. “Exactly!” He smiled, nodded knowingly and wished me a nice flight. How good is that?!
So there you have it, a foreign driver’s licence can indeed be a get-out-of-jail-free-card’.
Just after all this I had a bit of a scare at the airport as I realized I’d got my flight totally WRONG. Technically it was due to leave as the LAPD officer and I were becoming new BF’s. Seemingly I had my pot of luck going… the flight was delayed and an electric go cart driver appeared out of nowhere offering to take me where I wanted to go. That’s never happened to me before, and after a mad dash through the airport on an electric cart, I made my flight with 30 seconds to spare.
That’s all folks – San Francisco, Silicon Valley and La La Land. I have a couple more days here and intend to relax a bit and catch up on some of the Olympics. Then a flying visit to Toronto for a day before heading back to London.
Take care people…. and remember… be nice to cops!