In a window seat over the wing on the A380 as it takes off is quite an amazing sight – those wings really do flap! After the standard running around doing EVERYTHING at the last minute (surprise, surprise) it was nice to sit back and watch the world go by. Was surprised that on-line checkin still doesn’t seem to have caught on with people – when I arrived there was 50 – 70 people lined up for about 7 desks, and 2 people in the on-line queue, so was through in under 5 minutes. Even with virtually no sleep and a couple of sparklings didn’t manage much sleep on the plane but did manage to crook my neck and doze on and off through several quality movies.
Actually arrived early into LA and had over 5 hours till the Sacramento flight so didn’t have to rush through customs – which was good because I somehow managed to end up at almost the very end of the queue. Check in with Southwest was very slick and didn’t even blink at the size of the ski bag – despite bags being free with this mob. Went for a walk outside for a while – lovely still sunny morning – before going through the second round of security screenings for the day.
The other novelty with Southwest is that they don’t do seat allocation – instead they assign a queue number – you queue in batches to go through the gate then once onboard you choose your own seat. Even through I was in the 50s I scored a window seat on the inland side and it was worth it – sensational views of the southern sierra and could even see El Capitan and Half Dome at Yosemite quite clearly.
Everything was moving way too smoothly and of course that had to change. Had booked an intermediate SUV through Dollar – the cheapest of the chains – but the car they initially gave me was NOT AWD. Now with the way these companies work you can’t guarantee what car you will get and with an SUV there’s no guarantee that it will be AWD / 4WD – even though that would be the reason most people rent them these days. I guess Ive been lucky in the past. Anyway, they offered a ‘real’ AWD but at first were talking $60 / day extra! Finally settled on $10 / day and while a bit of a pain is still cheaper than I would have got with the other companies (where I also may have still come across the same issue).
So at a bit after 2 was heading up I5 out of Sacramento. The Sacramento valley could compete with the San Joaquin valley as one of the least interesting places to travel through, but after a coffee stop in Willows got the first sight of Mt Shasta looming up in the north and the plains gave way to some rolling hills and it all got a bit more interesting – which was handy as I was almost having to slap myself to keep from falling asleep. Finally pulled in to Redding around 5 – by which time the sun had well and truly set. After checking in to the local Motel 6 proved further to myself that I really wasn’t with it by getting lost driving to and from the local supermarket and leaving half my shopping behind. I dont think I’ll have any trouble sleeping tonight.