On Easter Sunday, 2007, I was eating dinner with my niece, Glenda and her family.   During the meal, college-aged-daughter Melanie, mentioned that she had always wanted to go to the game show, “The Price is Right,” in person.  Because Bob Barker was retiring, she had written for and received 4 tickets for one of his final tapings.  With a long face, Melanie said that she couldn’t find anyone to go with her.

I looked at her mother, who said, “I don’t want to go.”  I said, “How about if I take her?”

Glenda said, “You would do that?  That would be great; I would allow her to go with you.”

I can’t remember what I’ve already told you about my trip planning skills, but I love to plan trips and save LOTS of money.  I immediately began to watch for cheap airfare to LA.   When I found the best bargain a few days later,  I called Glenda to discuss.  It had occurred to me that Melanie might have more fun if some of her college friends went also.

Melanie told her friends that the first 2 people that came up with the money could go on the trip.  I made the plane reservations and began to plan the agenda.  We were going on Memorial Day weekend.   I was the only one who had ever been to Los Angeles.  Melanie’s friends had never been out of Kansas.

Glenda called me one evening and said, “This trip is sounding like too much fun to miss out on.  Can you make another plane reservation for me?”  No problem, and I was glad she had decided to go.

I bid on a rental car on Priceline.  Glenda advised that these girls would have lots of luggage, so we needed a mini-van.  I then began to bid on a hotel on Priceline.  My goal was to stay in a 4-star hotel in Beverly Hills.  I finally won the bid for $125 per night at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, right next to Beverly Hills, for 2 rooms.

When I picked everyone up on the morning of the trip, I handed all of the boarding passes and reservation confirmations to Glenda.  Driving to the airport, she noticed that some of the boarding passes were for different flights.   The flight for 4 of us had taken off 2 hours earlier.  I was embarrassed, since I had made the reservations, and had never made a mistake like that.

Glenda, a problem-solver like me, was convinced that she could fix it at the airport.  I discovered that her persuasive skills were very impressive, and she could cry on demand, if she needed to.

I dropped all of them off at the airport, with the luggage, and went to park my car in long-term parking.  By the time I got back to the airport, Glenda had 3 of us on the next flight out and the other 2 people following about an hour later.   No extra charges.  I was astonished!

I was on the first flight, since I was the driver (and the only one who knew L.A.).  Glenda traveled on the 2nd flight, so that there was one adult on each flight.

I discovered on that flight, sitting next to Melanie, that she was an artist.  She had brought a blank journal and a pouch of colored pencils.  She illustrated and wrote about every detail of that trip.  Priceless!  That journal, to this day, is bend-over hilarious!

I still laugh when thinking about renting that car.  All the girls heard was “we could pick out any car we wanted.”  (I knew that meant from the mini-van row.)  I went straight to the vans, while the girls were scoping out the convertibles and luxury cars.  I picked out the newest van, and motioned for them to get in.

They looked at me with horrified looks and actually said, “We can’t be seen riding in a mini-van in California.”  I said, “Jump in, unless you want to leave all of your luggage in this parking lot.”   That brought reality into focus, and they reluctantly got in – but they were not happy about it.

We went to eat lunch at a nearby beach so that we could easily pick up the other two when they arrived.  Glenda and girl #3 arrived on time, and we headed to the hotel.  Glenda had to utilize her bargaining skills again, because the front desk couldn’t believe that we had purchased 2 rooms for $125 per night each.  They said they would only give us one room (for 5 of us?!)  Glenda demanded to talk to a manager, and requested an upgrade because of the way we had been mistreated.  It took awhile, but we were given 2 corner suites!

Our adventure had begun!  I had planned an extensive itinerary to pack in as many famous places as possible.   The girls’ list included laying on the beach, laying on the beach again, laying on the beach some more, shopping, and seeing Bob Barker.  Because of my feet, I knew that I would not be accompanying them on every stop.  It worked out well for me to be the driver, have some time to myself, and pick them up at a specified time.

This story would be way too long if I told you all the details of this trip, so I’m just going to tell you a few highlights that I think are the funniest.

We spent most of our time in the Beverly Hills area, and frequently drove by a space-age-appearing gas station.  It looked like something that belonged on some other planet from a science fiction movie.  When we needed gas, I decided to go to that station.  I pulled up to a pump, and no one moved.  Glenda and I thought that one of the girls should pump the gas, but they refused to be seen disembarking from a mini-van.  Finally, Glenda got out and attempted to figure out how to get the gas into the van.  Her confusion drew the attention of the cutest hunk of a guy we saw the entire trip.  He came over and not only pumped our gas, but also told Glenda all about that station.  It was a BP station, and had been completely made of recycled materials.

BP Station Los Angeles

What was hilarious was that when the girls saw how cute he was, they wanted to be out there flirting with him – but they didn’t want him to know they were in a mini-van with their parents.  So they sat in the back seat and drooled.  Glenda could tell what was happening, so she layed it on pretty thick by flirting with him herself and prolonging the conversation as long as possible.

Melanie couldn’t take it anymore, so decided to forfeit her pride and talk to this guy.  When she started to slide the side van door open, Glenda and the guy saw that she was going to cause a problem with the hose pumping the gas so yelled, “Stop.”  That was that, but Glenda and I heard about “that guy” the rest of the trip.

By far, the most interesting part of this story, is the reason for the trip – Bob Barker.  Glenda and Melanie had had an ongoing argument about when they needed to go to the studio.   Melanie wanted to go early; Glenda didn’t think that was necessary since they had tickets. At dinner the night before, I suggested that they call a truce and offered to drive them by the studio to show them where the entrance was, etc.

As we drove up to the CBS studio at about 9 p.m., we began to see hundreds of people lined up around the block.  We all panicked.  I drove to the end of the line.  Melanie threw open the van door and jumped out with one friend.  Then I took Glenda and the other friend to the nearest K-Mart.  They grabbed 2 shopping carts to purchase whatever they needed to survive sleeping on the street.  (I was especially glad Glenda was there, since I did not want to sleep on the street and would not have wanted these girls to be by themselves.)

When we found our girls and unloaded all of the supplies, there were lots more people behind them.  It was a good thing we had left them as place holders.  I headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in a wonderful bed, and told them to call me from their cell phone when they were checked in, and I would meet them for breakfast and pick up all of the stuff.

The first call came around 3:30 a.m.  I was sound asleep, but heard a frantic voice saying, “We don’t have the tickets!  They won’t give us a number without the tickets.  We need them NOW!  You need to go to the girls’ room, get them and bring them to us.  Bring our t-shirts too.”  (Melanie had created attention-getting t-shirts for them all to wear.)

Thank goodness both rooms were in my name.  I went to the front desk and told them I had lost the key to my room.  Then I had to ransack through a ton of luggage to find the tickets.  I had called the valet to have the van at the front door, so jumped in and drove the tickets to my group.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had moved a long way closer to the entrance.

I drove back to the hotel and went back to bed, only to receive another call about 5:00 a.m.   This time, another panicky call from Glenda, “We can’t take our cell phones in with us, and we need to get rid of all this stuff we bought.  Come as quick as you can.”

I called the valet, threw on clothes, and headed their way.  They were standing in the street waiting for me, and tossed everything into the back of the van.  I told Glenda that I was going to go and park at the Farmer’s Market next door since they no longer had a cell phone to call me.  I had brought a book to read, so I think I had been parked approximately an hour when I saw Glenda sprinting across the parking lot toward me.  She jumped in and said, “When we hurtled everything into the van, the tickets were in my purse.  I have to find them and get right back over there.”  She was exhausted and sweating, so I drove her to join the girls.

She said they would borrow someone’s cell phone when they were ready to be picked up.  Back to bed for me.

They called several hours later, after the taping.  The stories they told me about sleeping on the street and auditioning for the show made me laugh so hard – but it would be hard for me to tell their stories adequately, since I wasn’t there.

It made their day, when they saw Paris Hilton at the Farmer’s Market, but they were upset that they didn’t have their phones to take a picture.  Oh well…

An eventful trip that none of us will ever forget (and we have Melanie’s journal to refresh our memories)…the girls only complaints – the mini-van and not enough beach time.

 

 

 

 

 

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