It’s after 10:00, and about 45 minutes since we called our driver. We’re wondering what happened to Sam’s promised 20-25 minute pick-up time. We’re not being prima donnas; we’re just tired, Becky doesn’t feel great, and we’re back on Hollywood Boulevard – and it is still going at full volume. During all of our wait outside of the barricades, this time by Madame Tussaud’s, one guy is constantly yelling about how everything in the $10 store behind us is on sale for $6.99. At least he’s mixing it up the yelling with singing, chanting, and rapping, but I’ll be dreaming about “$6.99” for weeks to come.
We camp out by the barricades, scanning the streets for our car service, and watching the activity in the Chinese Theatre courtyard. It turns out that they cleared everyone out just to begin taking down the decorations.
I finally call Sam a second time. He is very apologetic, but got caught behind a wreck that happened on the off-ramp to La Brea, too late for him to go an alternate way. He says he’s moving again and is about 10 minutes out. We arrange for him to meet us by Madame Tussaud’s.
Ten minutes later, he’s pulling up to the curb on Orange Drive. We climb in, more or less grateful for the experience, but happy to be done with it.
Sam heads up Orange Drive towards Franklin, at the base of the Hollywood Hills. He points out that we’re heading right towards the Magic Castle, which DisneyMom had mentioned was here. I love magic and have even done some amateur stuff myself, and I wouldn’t mind going here someday. But not now.
Sam asks us a curious question, whether we’d ever seen L.A. “all at once.” Well, no, I’ve just been to one part at a time. He says if we give him an extra fifteen seconds, he’ll show it to us all at once. Sure, why not.
With that, he turns off of Franklin and we start up a sloping drive that takes us back behind the Magic Castle. Ah, I get it now. I knew we were at the base of the Hollywood Hills, and Sam is using the “fifteen seconds” to take us up a bit to see the lights. My family used to have a similar show-off-the-city-lights drive we’d take out-of-town guests on when we lived in Denver, up Lookout Mountain.
The street is narrow and our driver seems proud of his ability to go as fast as possible up the twisting roadway without hitting anything. I’d be nervous except that it’s kind of fun. I could almost pretend I was on the Amazing Race dealing with an adventurous foreign cab driver.
We whip into what turns out to be the parking lot of a Japanese restaurant [Yamashiro] with a spectacular view –the lights of Los Angeles spreading out below us. Pretty cool.
Sam slings the car out of the lot and we careen back down the twisting mountain road. Okay, enough of this; let’s head for the hotel.
He’s still talkative, and I take on a discussion comparing traffic laws and court procedures in California and Texas. It’s a “work” related discussion for me as a municipal court prosecutor, but I don’t mind because it means we’re not being asked what we thought of the movie, and Becky doesn’t really look like she feels like talking at all.
In fact, suddenly Becky is frantically gesturing to me that she feels sick. Uh oh.