It is a four and a half hour drive from Kingman Arizona to Los Angeles. Lisa and I have become rather familiar with that drive as we have now traveled Interstate 40 and I-15 to the “city of angels” a half-dozen times. About all we know of Los Angeles is they sell a lot of stuff. I say that because all I have really seen of the place is the wholesale district. I am told that LA has a lot of other things like museums, sports teams, and other points of interest. But I cannot verify that. I can verify, without question, that if you don’t like shopping – stay the hell away from the wholesale district in LA.
Lisa and I match up pretty well. She is a shopping guru who could haggle over a piece of gum. I, on the other hand, hate to shop or haggle and have overspent on just about every purchase I ever made. We balance each other out fairly well. The LA wholesale district is all about haggling and buying and where it is Lisa’s heaven it is my tormenting hell.
Yesterday we journeyed back to that area to buy items for our son’s upcoming wedding. In particular, we were there to pick up twenty-two Manzanita trees (which I spoke of in our last post). In August we were there and discovered these decorative tree branches (painted in assorted colors) that Lisa thought would be a unique decoration for the wedding reception. We reserved twenty of the trees then and agreed to be pick them up yesterday. We arrived at the florist shop around 10:00 in the morning after leaving Kingman around 5:30AM. Many (if not most) of the merchants are foreign speaking and it was no different at the place selling these two foot high trees. Our first inquiry about our trees was met with a scowl and shrugged shoulders from one of the employees. Our fear all along was that they would lose our order and our four and half hour drive would be wasted. Fortunately, another worker arrived and told us our trees were the ones piled up along one of the walls – nearly to the ceiling. We began gathering all our trees at the front of the store along the sidewalk. What sat before us was this miniature forest of white tree branches that would have to (somehow) fit inside the backseat of our truck. My only thought was we would be forced to tie them into the back of our pick-up and secure with a tarp. In my mind I could see Manzanita branches flying all over I-15. This would not be easy.
The florist owner told us to leave the trees on the sidewalk and continue our shopping. He promised to make sure they would be there when we returned later in the day. In fact, he went a step further and told us he would put them in the back of his pick-up truck which was parked in front of his store just so no one would take them. I was very appreciative of him saying we could go shop some more – as if Lisa needed anymore encouragement. Thanks a lot!
So Lisa and I continued milling around the fabric, purses, jewelry, clothes, toys, food venders, perfume, rugs, hats, shoes, luggage, spandex leggings, – you name it – it was for sell. After walking around ten city blocks of merchandise – we decided to stop for lunch and have “MexiCali Dogs” (Hot dogs wrapped in bacon and cooked with onion and pico de gallo sauce). The smell of the cooking sausages was too tempting to pass up. For me, this is the best thing they sell in the entire place. But, because there was no place sit down to eat – we were forced to stand on one of the street corners and woof down our dogs while hundreds of people squeezed past – all looking for that magic purchase. While standing on the corner eating, I noticed a pick-up truck pass with a truck full of Manzanita trees. I looked at Lisa and said, “There goes our trees.” Sure enough, the owner must have needed to run an errand and he had no choice but to take our trees with him. We would have laughed harder at the ridiculousness of the moment except we both had mouthfuls of MexiCali dogs and I’m not sure anyone would have stopped shopping long enough to save us from choking to death.
From there we ventured into the famous, “Santee Alley”. I commented to Lisa after about a half mile down this narrow path lined with merchants yelling out their bargain prices that I had reached the seventh circle of Hell. Lisa pushed us through the crowd and I realized that not only was I in hell – I was shopping with Lucifer. When I said that to her she just laughed harder. Man, I hate when she does that.
By the end of the day Lisa had made purchases of clothing for the wedding, purses, jewelry and other items that filled two large trash bags and several smaller bags. At one point I sat down on the sidewalk with the bags all around me and would not have been surprised if people starting throwing money at me. While I strained carrying bags down sidewalk after sidewalk, Lisa continued to look for more bargains until we finally (mercifully) arrived back at our truck. Now we had a back seat full of purchases and still had to find room for twenty-two trees. Airplanes were flying non-stop out of LAX and as I gazed up at the planes coming and going – I wished I was on one. Take me somewhere – anywhere – just get me out of here!
We arrived back at the florist shop to pick up our trees in the mid-afternoon. Two of the trees were going to our friends, Martha and Marcello, and we still needed to take them to their home in Highland California as promised. When I told the florist shop worker we had to fit all the trees into the back seat of our truck – he looked at me like I was nuts. We began loading the trees and amazingly they all fit. From the floor board to the ceiling – our truck was (and is) a maze of white tree branches. I have my doubts that we can get them out of the truck – but.., As I write this the trees are still in our truck’s backseat and they will be there for the next four weeks until we are ready to come home. The things we do for our kids – right?
After stopping for supper with Martha and Marcello and dropping off their two trees – we headed back to Kingman. It was an exhausting day – but, I have to admit, another memorable one.
There is a possibility that Lisa will be contracted to return to Kingman in January. As I wrote earlier, if that happens we will leave our RV here and store it until we return. If that happens – we will have to find some way to get everything home in our truck – including twenty-one trees (we realized after we got home that they had loaded one too many). If that happens I will be looking to rent a U-Haul. If that happens I will need to purchase another truck hitch since I left my other one in Owensboro.
The truth is – we don’t know what will happen before our Arizona adventure is over. I can tell you that if Lisa decides we need to take another trip to the LA wholesale district – this little gray duck ain’t going. I’ll send her by herself and let her shop all she wants.
On second thought – maybe I should go with her.
Thanks for reading!
Love, Steve and Lisa