“You’re not going to believe it. Come sit and watch this.”

At first I don’t understand, not going to believe what? As he turned the TV volume up,  I noticed that CNN was reporting live from Bangkok’s international airport, Suvarnabhumi. Apparently the political unrest was getting worse and the protesters shut down the airport. SHIT. We’re supposed to fly there tomorrow morning. I felt my knees were weakened by the news, I plopped down to the bed. The camera then panned left and right to show people (visitors) who were sitting on the floor of the airport with their luggages on their side. Stranded. Couldn’t get in or out of the airport. I bet they felt like Viktor Navorski (played by Tom Hanks) in the movie ‘The Terminal’. I let out a long, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

“You know what this means, don’t you?”
“We have to cancel out trip tomorrow.”
“All of them?”

Then it’s the same nightmare all over again. Frantic calls to the airline people. Was put on hold for ages. Argumentation with the rep about getting some money back because this was not our fault. Adviced to file a ‘dispute’ which will take time to be resolved; in the mean time we just have to say goodbye to some thousand dollars (airline tickets, hotel reservation, tour groups, etc) and hopefully will get a little portion of it back. Long distance call to Indonesia to tell my mom and brother that the trip was cancelled. Again.

An emergency family meeting was called in. Hubby explained what happened to the kids, that we’re not going to Asia thus not able to see grandma Rose and uncle Putra. The kids were not too disappointed at this point. Probably due to the fact that they’re not at home in Iowa anymore, therefore having flew in an airplane twice yesterday and to be physically in a hotel in LA was already like ‘the’ vacation for them. Besides, my daughter was not feeling very well. She was too congested to process this information.

So now, the question was: should we go back home to Iowa like a bunch of losers just because our major trip just got cancelled? Or should we raise up and make the best of it like an adventurous family that we are? I was broken hearted for the second time, and hubby felt so bad about it. He was trying to make it out for me. Keep in mind, later on, with what’s going to happen even more, I wish he hadn’t.

Some options he gave us: (1) Fly back to Iowa the next morning for USD 1,600, (2) Stay for another 10 days in LA or around and then fly home to Iowa for only USD 600, or (3) rent a car and take a road trip from Los Angeles to Iowa; stopping at big cities or main tourist attraction such as national parks.

At first, the kids and I opted for option #2. We would like to go to Disneyland, but hubby didn’t. “Could you guys go some other time without me?” After further discussion, we all agreed to take option #3. After all, we’re an adventorous family *snicker; look where it got us now* Plus, we’ve never taken a road trip across USA as a family. My husband and I did it eight years ago, driving from Iowa to Colorado. But this time, it’ll be longer thus more places to see. We looked on the map and planned the route. From LA, we were going to drive to the state of Nevada to visit Las Vegas and check out Hoover Dam. From there, we’d hop to the state of Arizona to witness the awesomeness of Grand Canyon, then drive up north to Salt Lake City, UT. Working our way east,  we’d continue our road trip to the state of Wyoming to meet the Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. Continued to South Dakota state to be amazed by the Badlands National Park, then to good ol’ Iowa.

Of course, I have to be concern about a number of things for this road trip to success. Firstly, what kind of car should we rent that would fit into our budget yet will do the job? Dollar Rent A Car gave us a sweet deal. We originally purchased the package for the mid-size SUV which comes with Jeep Liberty. But when the agent realize we’d be travelling long distance with a possibility of driving up to the mountains/national parks, she told us to go to a certain part of the big the parking area where the rental cars were parked, and pick a better car. Besides, our luggage won’t fit in that card.

After circling the area around, we didn’t think that the other cars were better than Jeep Liberty. Then a big SUV approached, and a guy in a nice suit asked if we’d need a help. We explained what’s going on and he said, “Wait here, I’ll see what I can do.” Ten minutes after that, he came back driving a Chevy Aspen. “I think this is the best one for your trip. It’s new and was just under inspection recently.” I looked at the midnight blue-colored big ass SUV and I could’ve sworn I heard an angelic choir with a light shined through the cludy clouds. All four of us got in and instantly a unison “Whoaaaa…” was heard. It was like riding in a living room. Mind you, I drive a clown car, a Scion XA; while hubby drives a hybrid Toyota Highlander. As much as we hate to ride on this gigantic gas guzzler, it’s probably good for the safety. Thus, a trip to a nearby Walmart to purchase two car seat boosters.

I worry too much. After I worried about the type of car we should be driving, I also worry about what the kids are going to do in that long car ride. We didn’t bring a lot of books or games. Hubby came up with an idea to get them ‘the ultimate entertainment system’ for a long car ride. Books? Heck no!  Those are so yesterday, though I would personally like it. I’m talking about the portable game. We Google’d a nerby game store (thanks to the iPhone map system) and bought two Nintendo DS with the chargers and some used games. We got a, “Thanks, Mom and Dad! You guys are the best parents in the whole wide world!” from the kids. Even after we told them that it’s part of their Holiday present, they were still excited.

Then I got all fidgety about the fact that we’d be traveling north to a colder area, Salt Lake City. Since all I packed was short sleeve shirts, shorts, and sandals (well d’uh, I thought we were going to Thailand and Indonesia), with only a pair of jeans and sweater we were wearing when we left Iowa, I told hubby that we’d need to get more warmer clothes. But he said we should wait until we got to Las Vegas.

Done with the planning, we finally decide to relax and really act like we’re on vacation. We drove to the Hollywood Boulevard that second night (Nov 27th) we’re in Los Angeles. I’ve always thought that Hollywood Boulevard would be so extravagant and glamorousI was almost disappointed when I got there. Just a long road (boulevard) with pretty lights and neons on, with some cool buildings like the Mann’s Chinese Theatre. This place is well known for the hand/foot prints of big names in Hollywood. Along the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard, you could also see celebrities’ stars. I guess the Disney’s Studio Store and Soda Fountain was pretty neat as well. The ceiling of the Studio Store, the front area (above the ticket booth) was intricately red. We were ‘lured’ to go in to the Soda Fountain, to try the ice cream which recipe was dated back to 100 years ago. Sure was yummie!

We saw a lot of people in costumes. My daughter asked why those people were doing that, it’s not even Halloween. I told her that they’re dressing up as characters from Hollywood movies to attract people to take pictures with them, by paying a couple of bucks. We then went to see the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Guinness World Record Museum, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. The Wax Museum has a scarry section which I wouldn’t recommend for kids under 12 years old. I almost crapped my pants myself! Scarry displays from a various horror movies were shown, and also scarry characters from the horror movie. I like to watch horror and scarry movies, but not too fancy about getting to close to the wax version of Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) or Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th).

See more photos here.

Sure started to feel like a vacation. As I was starting to feel relax, hubby’s cold had turned into an upper respiratory infection. He started to complain his chest’s hurting. Is this s a sign for another vacation disaster? Find out in ‘Vacation Gone Wild part 4’, the final part.

… to be continued…