What could possibly go wrong with that rental car?

I know I said I’d be right back. Part of what happened since then was I broke up with my doddering old faithful PC (which I’d gone back to after a Windows 8 computer I’d bought for work reasons died) and got a Mac. 

Using the Mac is so easy, it’s hard. I’m not used to not wrestling with a computer, and I’m not naive enough to think Mac and I are gonna live happily ever after. My computer escapades are a story for another time.

Anyway, I’ve finally gotten the photo thing down enough to make a post.


We’re all guilty. In our haste to pick up that rental car and get going, we race through the motions. Extra coverage, roadside service. Blah, blah, blah, we think. Let’s move on.

Because it’s only a few days. What could possibly go wrong? That’s what I thought, too, even though I should have known better, having had a mishap in Europe. This time we were in L.A. for a funeral. We got there the night before and expected to just pick up the car at the airport and go.

Which we did. Declined the roadside service and the GPS because, hey, I used to live there. I knew where I was going, thank you very much.

So we’re tooling along on a street I remember was never a bargain. But I sure didn’t remember potholes like this. The Nissan Versa wasn’t meant to be an all-terrain vehicle. We were thumping along.

Total strangers were passing us and making faces and hand gestures. I first chalked it up to typical L.A. driving etiquette. Then I finally got it — everyone was trying to tell us we had a flat.

Luckily, this didn’t happen on the freeway, where we could be creamed trying to limp to the side of the road. Got the gimp off the regular street and into a strip mall.

We momentarily sweated the fact that we didn’t spring for any extra coverage with the rental. How much was our glibness (actually, my glibness) going to cost? Then common sense set in. We’d only had the car for half an hour. And the car looked and felt fine, at first.

The good news was, the rental car company took responsibility, as it should. It would dispatch a tow truck at no cost to us.

The bad news: It could take an hour, and we’d already spent all day flying cross-country and it’s starting to get late. That divine deli dinner we’d planned in mouthwatering anticipation would have to wait.

The good news: One of my very favorite hangouts — a dynamite Cuban restaurant from the old days — happened to be right across the street. I’d never been more happy to see it.

Versailles food

We’re just settling in with my old standby fare — half a roast chicken, the best rice and beans and fried plantains this side of Cuba when …

The tow truck guy shows up, way early.

Normally, that would be great. We shovel in a couple bites and frantically scoop the rest into take-out boxes. Not sure when we’d get back to it, but weren’t about to let it go to waste.

Tire change

The good news: The car has a new tire.

Bad news: It’s just a temporary that’s not sturdy enough to get us around for very long. We ultimately have to return to LAX to exchange cars. They also said they’d take $50 off the final bill for our trouble. Since this was a mere inconvenience and not a catastrophe, we said OK.

When all’s said and done, our trip to the hotel took almost as long as the flight from Philadelphia.

Lesson learned was: If you have a flat, no matter where on your trip, it’s up to the rental car company to come take care of it. At least that’s what the folks at National told me.

And BTW, I — ahem — didn’t know certain parts of LA as well as I thought I did, and needed a GPS after all. No problem. The one on Mitch’s Blackberry worked just fine.

So you don’t need to rent a GPS if your smartphone has one. Which they usually do.

It was nice to see family despite the unhappy circumstances. We did have a little time  to take in a couple of L.A.’s attributes along the way.


A bird’s-eye view of the Universal TV and movie studios from the top floor of our hotel in Universal City. There are neat tours if you have time. We didn’t.

Topanga Beach

It was worth the hour elbowing our way through freeway gridlock to get to the beach. Topanga State Beach, to be exact.

Feet in waterTo dip feet into the Pacific. That’s them, under there … Ahhhhh.

TropicalA far cry from the Jersey Shore.

best-dogAnd of course, time to paws. This guy was in a hip store on what’s been called the hippest street in the USA: Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, CA.

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