Leaving Costa Rica really felt like we were on our way home, but there was still time to fit in a couple stops on the way. We chose to stop in Los Angeles for a few days really just to break up the flight home, and now that we were at the end of the trip we could upsize our luggage allowance. Some retail therapy was called for.
To get to LA we needed to go via Dallas and clear immigration there. Dallas serves as a major hub into the US and local flights then leave from there. The queue for customs was very long (1 ½ hours) and we only just made our connecting flight. Upon arrival in LA we discovered one of our bags did in fact miss the flight. Modern technology soon confirmed that the bag was on a later flight so we had a two-hour wait at the airport for it to arrive. This made for a very very long day for the kids but they coped admirably.
We then headed to our rental car pick-up and quickly realized that booking a rental car direct with the company is an expensive mistake as they sting you for over-the-top insurances. We normally arrange our car hire through an intermediary like rentalcars.com or hotwire.com and have never had a problem. Anyway, car collected and about $200 out of pocket we were on our way north to Camarillo, the mecca of outlet store shopping.
Camarillo Premium Outlet is a monster. It boasts 160 stores and you could (well, Trina could) spend weeks there. Luckily for me, I had the boys as an excuse to limit the time to a mere two full days. After spending the past two months in Costa Rica and away from any form of retail therapy Trina was like a kid in a candy shop. The look on her face as we pulled into the carpark was one of sheer delight; mine was of dread and concern. The boys also knew what was coming and were not overly pleased. Two brand new suitcases later (completely chocker) and enough dollars spent to cover the Gross Domestic Product of a small third world country, we had to reward two very well behaved boys with a day at a theme park.
The drive from Camarillo to Anaheim allowed us to take the fantastic ocean road through Malibu and Santa Monica – it really is one of the worlds great drives. Not only for the ocean views but some of the houses are amazing.
As we had already been to Orlando and experienced the Disney and Universal theme parks there we opted for California Land, which is basically an extension of Disneyland just with different rides. The highlight of this park was Cars Land, which is an exact replica of the “Cars” movie town “Radiator Springs”. It really did feel like you were in the movie walking around it. The pick of the rides was the Cars Radiator Springs Racers but it was busy. At one stage we saw the wait time was 90 minutes (all for a five minute ride) – crazy! Luckily from our time in Orlando we were familiar with the “fastpass” system so our wait on this particular ride wasn’t too bad. We also enjoyed a ride called Soaring California, which is a simulated gliding ride over the highlights of the state. It was amazing and really showcased just what a diverse and fantastic holiday destination California is.
Our final day in LA involved a trip to see the Hollywood sign and lunch at Venice Beach. It was a shame that the view of the sign and the city was impaired by the infamous LA smog. The boys enjoyed seeing the posers at Muscle Beach but Venice Beach really is a dirty spot. The public toilets were a disgrace and the tacky souvenir shops coupled with plenty of “medicinal” weed shops all made for a pretty ordinary detour. It’s funny how your outlook can change as you get older. Trina and I were at Venice Beach 13-years ago and had a great day sitting at a beachside bar drinking beers and watching the world go by. Now with kids in tow, we couldn’t wait to leave.
A 5.30am wake-up call to catch our second to last flight and we said “later” to LA and “aloha” to Hawaii.