Hey there. This is an old post. There is newer, better-written stuff on this blog that may injure your eyeballs less.

If you still want to risk injury, continue below and enjoy!

I sat in seat 18F, watching in awe as she made her way down the aisle.

Black leather boots with 6-inch soles, full-length tailored black trench coat, short black hair, and reflective sunglasses — on a plane?

Down to the facial expression, it was Trinity from the Matrix movie. She looked about as friendly as a rattlesnake, so I didn’t dare say anything for fear of getting a spiked boot across my face at 07:00 in the morning. Moments later, an aging black man, shaved head, dressed in all black and wearing stylish, round sunglasses got on behind her. Morpheus?

You’ve got to be kidding.

The two acted like they weren’t together, but no doubt they were. And somewhere an “operator” was watching the entire scene unfold. I decided to behave and stuck my nose in my National Geographic for the duration of the flight.

The interesting thing was that these characters were all on their way home to LA. Brown mountains and hills dotted with very expensive houses came into view during our landing approach. I could literally see the haze of smog hanging over the skyline in the distance, and the blue sky soon turned a chemical white, just like in Beijing. This frightens me, given how much California has led emissions control efforts, etc.

When we walked out of the doors of LAX, 95 degrees Fahrenheit of glorious, radiant, burning sunshine washed over me. Just hours earlier, we had left a frosty 33F in Kentucky. Now I was staring down a row of palm trees and wishing I could swap my jeans for swim shorts without causing a scene. You’ve got to love that magic about travel.

We were collected by Alan, a cool Californian-type dude who is actually a very happy eastcoast transplant himself. With his faded jeans, stylish shirt, and sunglasses he could have been Anthony Bourdain’s brother. As we made our way to the freeway, we passed working oil wells situated in parking lots. Even McDonalds had an oil well dutifully pumping away at the blacktop! I’ve seen the little mini-wells dotted all over the prairies, but never a city — very interesting!

We fought our way down the clogged 405, and suddenly I knew why this was a hotspot for road rage. Allen bobbed and weaved in and out of lanes and zipped past traffic, unphased by the madness. A Cairo taxi driver would have even given a nod of approval to his cut-people-off-without-looking skills.

Thank God he was driving, so I alternated between helping navigate and slipping into a semi-conscious happy place mostly thanks to lack of sleep. The 14 lanes of chaos never affected me in the slightest after spending so much time in developing countries — at least here I probably didn’t have to worry about stubborn camels, roadside bandits, or landmines.

I like the vibe here already, despite encountering some “fruity” characters. There is a positive buzz of energy which one can feel. Maybe that’s why so many artists and creative people ended up here? Do they generate the buzz or was it why they came in the first place?

It also feels good to be blogging once again from a hotel room rather than trying to remember details after the fact, like my summary our Great American Roadtrip out West. Sorry no pictures yet, that should change soon.

For now, there are palm trees outside my window, I have a paid mission (photographing an equestrian event at Temecula) to be here, and there is free breakfast — life is good!