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Have Potty, Will Travel

A Semi-Spontaneous Weekend Trip to California

sunny 70 °F

The only downside to doing European delivery of a car is waiting to pick it up. For the first few weeks, you can track the progress of the ship it's on. Once it reaches the port stateside, though, things get more mysterious. You can figure out when the ship has unloaded its cargo and learn when the car has cleared customs, but there is plenty of waiting in between. After customs, cars go to a processing center before getting placed on a truck to the dealership. The dealership can make educated guesses about which truck your car will be on, but they may not learn whose car is on the truck until that very day. In all, there is a fair amount of uncertainty in the timing of the car's arrival, and living 6 hours away from the dealership you're working with complicates the process more.

That brings us to last weekend. Earlier in the week, we had heard from the dealership that our car would likely be on Friday's truck if all went well. I made arrangements at work, and we made plans to go to LA and make a weekend out of picking up the car and visiting my sister. Everything was in place, except for the confirmation of the car's arrival. As Friday neared with still no news, we wavered about whether to go. Should we leave Friday morning and risk not being able to get the car? Do we take advantage of the weekend being one in which I could leave on Friday morning and one in which my sister, who travels a lot for work, is home and has no plans?

We decided that the answer to those questions was yes.

My daughter did really great on the trip out, especially considering that she only slept for 35 minutes in the car. Our mid-afternoon snack at a McDonalds with a play land helped her burn off some energy.

Alas, our car did not make it to the dealership Friday, and there are no deliveries on the weekends. We spent some time debating if my daughter and I should go home alone on Sunday, leaving my husband in LA until the car showed up. Ultimately we decided to return home together because there was no guarantee that the car would get there Monday and because an extra night of hotel and meals would cost about the same as a one-way ticket out there.

The upside to our situation was that it meant more time to spend with my sister. Our trip was more focused on catching up than hitting any tourist attractions. We spent some time at the park every day, which my daughter really enjoyed.


We also went for a walk along the Strand at Hermosa Beach, which my daughter did not enjoy so much. We cut that short, but it was nice to see the ocean.

One thing that has struck me is the difference between packing for a road trip and for a plane trip. When you have trunk space available for your whole trip, it's easier to toss things in. We even packed my daughter's potty just in case she needed to go when we were in the middle of the desert! Nevertheless, even with my take-it-along mentality, I still managed to forget 2 important things for my daughter: inflatable guardrails and overnight diapers. We made do using extra pillows in place of the guard rails. I still carry an emergency stash of pull-ups in my diaper bag, so we used those at night.

As for the potty, we ended up being glad that we packed it. There are some stretches on the I-10 where there really isn't anywhere to stop. We were diligent about making sure our daughter took advantage of available facilities when we stopped on the road (in other words, we bribed her with stickers). Even so, we heard a frantic "I go pee!" in the middle of the desert on the way home. The nearest town was 25 miles away, and we doubted she would be able to hang on that long. We pulled over to the side of the road, got the potty out of the trunk, and had a pit stop right then and there. I found out that open car doors provide some privacy in lieu of bathroom stalls. I guess you learn something new every day, right?

Of course, as luck would have it, my husband heard on Monday afternoon that the car had arrived. He headed out on a solo adventure today.

Where we stayed:

My sister and her boyfriend live in an apartment in Redondo Beach that is too small to comfortably accommodate 3 houseguests. We stayed nearby at the Spring Hill Suites LAX/Manhattan Beach. We were happy with our experience there, but we agree with some of the Trip Advisor reviews that the rooms did not use space very efficiently. The room overall had plenty of space, but it was used in an odd way. The entry hallway was very wide, but the kitchenette and work desk shared a small space. The closet was tucked in an unusual spot—in the side wall that separated the bed from the living area. Parents may want to be aware that this same side wall juts out only a few feet so that the living and bedroom areas aren’t fully separated: in other words, the suite is similar to a standard hotel room in that lights out for the kiddo pretty much means lights out for you as well. Despite the weird layout and early bedtimes for my husband and me, we were happy to be in a suite for the same price of some of the standard rooms in other area hotels. More hotel details are below.

Air conditioning: yes
Bathroom: shower/tub combo, with sink/vanity outside the door
Blow dryer: yes
Breakfast: included with the room. What we tried was fine. They had coffee, juice, cereal, pastries, fruit, yogurt, sausages, and 2 do-it-yourself waffle stations. They also had round patties of scrambled eggs so that people could make breakfast sandwiches out of their bagels. One of the ladies working breakfast was nice enough to get Corn Pops from the back just for my daughter.
Crib: the hotel offers them, but we didn’t use one this time. My daughter recently moved into a big-girl bed at home, so we decided to try putting her in the pull-out sofabed.
Elevator: yes
Internet: free in-room wired internet is available, but we didn’t have a chance to try it because we didn’t pack a laptop. The hotel advertised free wifi in the lobby, but they also had a sign in the room mentioning free in-room wifi. Maybe they need to work on expanding the signal. The in-room wifi was so slow that we eventually we didn’t bother with it and just used the 3G on our phones instead.
Nearest playground: the hotel staff referred us to Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach, which is about a 5-minute drive away. They have some nice play structures for the kids. My daughter enjoyed the lounger-type swings.


Pets: not allowed
Recommend to childless friends: sure

Recommend to friends with young kids: sure
Website: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/laxhw-springhill-suites-los-angeles-lax-manhattan-beach/

Posted by amikulski 20:48 Archived in USA Tagged beaches children parks california cars

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