As previously stated in the post from a week ago, The Long Unwinding Road, I am documenting my family’s recent vacation to Magic Mountain and Newport Beach in a multi-blog post, running journal format. Today’s entry is day two of our trip. For day one, please click on the above title. For day two, please read on.
5:30 a.m. – Ding, Ding. When we had checked into our rooms the night before, I had a faint premonition in the back of my brain that being placed in the two rooms closest to the elevator on our floor might be problematic. But I forgot about and chose to hope for the best. Until right at this moment. Though not overly loud, the chiming indicating the arrival of an elevator car was just loud enough to seep into my subconscious and rouse me from a surprisingly good night’s sleep. Oh well, how many people can possibly be staying at this crudhole of a hotel and how many of those people can actually be up at 5:30 in the morning?
5:32 a.m. – Ding, Ding.
5:34 a.m. – Ding, Ding.
5:37 a.m. – Ding, Ding.
5:40 a.m. – Ding, Ding.
Okay, now I’m really getting annoyed. Has someone let their four-year-old child loose on the floor or has some jackanus taken it upon himself to play the stupidest practical joke ever? I’m not sure, but my desire to pummel someone is rising quickly as any chance of going back to sleep has been lost in the early morning mists of Simi Valley.
5:54 a.m. – After about six more elevator runs, some bozo decides to stand outside the door to my room and start barking directions to some faceless peon, about when and where he needs the “female players.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but if we have accidently wandered into the middle of an all-girl soccer or softball tournament being played nearby I might as well get up now. I shift in my bed and reach for my phone to check my e-mails when both of my sons call over to me. It would seem I am not the only one suffering from insomnia at the hands of a satanic elevator.
7:20 a.m. – After showering and getting ready before my wife and oldest daughter (always a mistake I make on vacation) we decide the plan of attack should be for me to take the three middle children (Things 2-4) and go get some fruit and donuts from a grocery store. As we walk into the hallway outside our door, we see a piece of paper taped to the wall that says Miss Stevens, Make-up and Hair, Room 324 Underneath this bit of info is an arrow pointing beyond our doors to a location somewhere further on down the hall. Interesting. I have a growing suspicion that this might have something to do with the Grand Central Station feel of our hotel at 5:30. But what kind of soccer team needs hair and make-up? And who is this Miss Stevens that she needed that many people to do her hair and make-up? Staring at that sign, I was certain that these questions and more would haunt me for the rest of the day. We walk to the elevator and press the button. I grit my teeth when I hear the all too familiar Ding, Ding, but get on the elevator anyway. We reach the lobby and…
7:22 a.m. – …walk right into the middle of a movie set. There is equipment and lighting everywhere and I am suddenly very nervous that one of my children is going to be so distracted that they will walk into something that will have the potential of costing me thousands of dollars. I don’t know why the fact that someone shooting a movie in our hotel suddenly made our morning from Hades so much more palatable…but it did. I load Things 2-4 into the van (which still carries a hint of puke stench from the car seat) and we set off to look for a grocery store. Being from Arizona, we expect to find one without delay and soon be back at our hotel and then on about our business.
7:36 a.m. – Yeah right!!! What is it with California and their inability to place businesses in logical locations? We have passed just about every form of capitalistic commerce on this planet, but have yet to see even the remotest glimpse of a store selling, you know…food! I know everyone in California is obsessed with their appearance, but come on. People still gotta eat.
7:40 a.m. – I look at our gas gauge and decide we had better fill up. Besides, surely the gas station attendant will be able to point us in the right direction of a grocery store, or heck, even a farmer’s market. Right?
7:43 a.m. – I now quote directly from Hassan, the gas station attendant who appears to not understand any English word other than, “Gas.”
“Uhh…Groceree? No, no. No groceree here.” He gestures generally to express that it is his opinion that no grocery store exists for many miles in any direction.
7:49 a.m. – After starting down a different street that intersected with the one we were just on, we find…drum roll please…a GROCERY STORE! And by my calculation, it was possibly one hundred yards down, and across the road from the gas station where we just filled up. So in fact, Yes, yes. Yes groceree here.
Actually it might better be described as a Mercado, and maybe that was the problem preventing me and my new friend, Hassan, from communicating effectively. You see, it’s a grocery store, but it’s a Mexican grocery store. As in, everything is in Spanish, including all of the tabloid magazines at the checkout. However, despite some obvious communication problems that might occur, I would totally shop here if they opened a store in Thatcher. They have what I can only describe as a salsa bar with multiple large plastic display canisters full of different kinds of salsa. Also, their bakery is going at full steam making fresh tortillas. This place is awesome!!!
7:53 a.m. – We find the fruit (it was located next to the pinatas) and get some very good looking bananas and a couple of apples.
It was then that I spot something I have never seen before.As is becoming a trend in most stores, there are smaller stores located along the edges of the larger mercantile, much as you would expect to find in a Walmart. And just as you would expect, there is a hair dresser, a phone store and a…you guessed it, Immigration and Naturalization office. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not making fun or in any way trying to cast aspersions on anyone or anything. It’s just something that completely caught me off guard. But frankly, if being able to pick up some milk while extending a work visa works for this store’s core customer base, it works for me. And I say that with no malice or derisiveness intended.
8:04 a.m. – Since Mexican donuts are not quite the exploding sugar bombs my kids are expecting, we leave with the fruit, but head over to The Donut Café to get our pastries. With a name like Donut Café, I feel confident that the fried portions of early onset diabetes will be available here. I am not disappointed.
8:16 a.m. – With fruit, donuts and three children in tow, I arrive back at the Grand Vista Hotel. On our way to the front entrance, we are stopped outside by someone associated with the movie that was setting up when we left. It seems we have been gone just long enough for them to actually start shooting.
8:17 a.m. – Surprisingly, the woman who stops us, suddenly waves us forward. Out of the side of my mouth, I tell my kids to not look at anything or anyone and to stay right next to me.
8:18 a.m. – We make it back to the elevator without tripping or breaking anything. Awesome!!! That’s when I hear the director say, “Okay, great. I think we got it. Just in case, can we get that family back? They were great.” I look over at the one person associated with the filming crew who is still visible to us and ask, “Were they shooting?” He nods and mouths, “You did great.”
Well, there you go. The Rapiers may soon be headed to a theater near you.
Shannon asked later and found out the film being shot is an indie film entitled, Miss Stevens, and is about a grade school teacher who begins suffering from a sort of mid-life crisis. Sounds like the perfect Lifetime movie to me, but according to the person Shannon talked to, distribution rights have not been picked up yet. So, we’ll have to wait and see if it ever sees the light of day.
9:10 a.m. – Time to start loading up the van. I take the first load by myself and head for the elevator. As I step onto the elevator car, I am bombarded…nay, brutally accosted by the smell of acrid human gas. Before my mind can fully absorb what I’ve walked into, the doors closed and I am ensconced in my own personal gas chamber. I mean it is horrid. I don’t know what the person who rode this slow-moving trap of death before me had for breakfast or dinner, but what I do know is that death poured out of this person’s backside in great abundance mere seconds before I had the great misfortune of happening upon the aftermath. Like most hotel elevators, this car had advertisements for the hotel restaurants on the walls. The pictures of the food mixed with the vile stench combine and almost cause me to vomit. Furthermore, included on the posters is a picture of the chef. By the time I finally reach the lobby floor, I have come to hold that man personally responsible for my dilemma. (Yes, I now recognize the pure irrationality of my thinking, but you weren’t there so don’t judge.) In that moment, I hate him, I hate his food, and more than anything, I hate the Grand Vista Hotel. It’s time to go.
9:30 a.m. – So we leave. Unfortunately, I had read the opening times wrong for Magic Mountain, so while my family’s success in meeting my directive of leaving the hotel by 9:30 is truly admirable, it is also pretty much in vain as we will be arriving at Magic Mountain probably about 40 minutes early. Oh well, at least we won’t be spending another moment at the Grand Vista. You’ve got to take life’s blessings as they come.
***As this post is now over 1,800 words and we haven’t even arrived at Magic Mountain yet, I have decided to break this post into two and finish the rest of our day in a separate post. For those who care, I promise it won’t be as long of a break as it was between part 1 and part 2.