Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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I had it all planned. I would do all my navigation with the laptop, the Garmin GPS and DeLorme Street Atlas. I would take lots of pictures and post daily updates via the roaming Internet access of my phone provider at home. And then it all went wrong.

I got to Luxembourg airport just on time. I had checked my luggage the night before, and was thinking that boarding would be very straightforward, as usual. Except that this time, when the carry-on luggage was checked, I had to show them my laptop. And turn it on. And of course, for the first time in its almost three-year life, it wouldn't do that.

I tried switching it on several times. Connected it to a power outlet. Tried again. Removed the battery. Nothing worked. Since they wouldn't let me carry it into a plane this way (and I might well have faced the same problem again in Amsterdam), I brought it back to my car, where it would stay for the remainder of my trip.

Of course that meant no GPS navigation, no route planning, no Internet access, and that I would be limited in the number of pictures I took by the amount of SmartMedia storage I carried.

The flight to Amsterdam was uneventful. In Amsterdam, I decided against purchasing a laptop - their prices were 1400 euros and up for a fairly low-specced Sony, and I neither wanted to rush a purchase nor put so much on my VISA.

The flight to Los Angeles went fairly well, even though I hadn't gotten an exit row seat (as I had been told when checking in the day before). In Los Angeles, there was quite a line for baggage claim and immigration. Seeing how this was my third time at LAX, finding the shuttle to the Avis parking lot was straightforward and had become a routine, even.

At the AVIS counter, I decided against upgrading to a convertible, and stayed with my choice of a compact, which turned out to be a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier.

I had been planning to drive to Carpinteria (where I had booked the first night's accommodation) via Mulholland Hwy, but decided that since I had to rely on a paper map and hadn't done any route planning whatsoever (relying on the Street Atlas to show me the way), I figured it would be less stressful (and not any less scenic) to just take Highway 1.

I took just a few pictures, very conscious that the 384 MB of storage space (at around 0.5 MB a picture) would need to last two weeks. It was only the next day that I would notice I had been shooting at ISO 200, which seems to be less than optimal on my Olympus.

At the end of a long and eventful day, I was glad to just check-in at Motel6 and enjoy a good night's rest.

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Motel6 (Carpinteria, CA): $42.06

Written on a cold, rainy day in Luxembourg (May 22 2003).