One thing I’ve learned about driving into the Los Angeles basin is to stop and go to the bathroom first. There is a Jack-In-the Box at Valencia that serves this purpose. The men’s restroom is in the process of being cleaned by one of the male staff. He works around me while I use the urinal, then continues to mop while I wash my hands. By the time I have turned my hands into red figs under the hot air dryer he has put up the mop bucket and moved back into the kitchen. I order a diet coke apiece, figuring it’s worth the price to use the bathrooms. Outside, I take the cups of coke and water the flowers along the walkway. The cook never washed his hands after cleaning the bathroom.
The sun has moved down to a comfortable position on the horizon as we pull off of the 210 Freeway, make a U-turn by some mimosa trees, and drive back west bound on Colorado Street in Pasadena. Pasadena still has a faint fragrance of charm from its early days. I turn across two lanes of traffic without anyone honking at me and careen into the parking lot of a Ramada Inn that is hidden behind a small shopping center. A breeze rustles some palm leaves overhead, bottle bushes are in bloom; the air smells reasonably smog-free, and there is no roar of traffic, I am content. The oriental manager speaks English, “praise be to Allah”. Our non-smoking room turns out to be small, but newly decorated and clean. The bed seems hard, but right now we are more interested in a hot shower and some supper. I find that the difference between the ecstasy setting and well done turkey on the shower lever is a matter of micro inches. Please don’t flush the toilet while I am in the shower.
Some people carry their own soap and shampoo. I hate to do this, as my ancient travel kit only has room for things like a toothbrush, deodorant, a miniaturized can of shaving foam; and my bottle of antacid pills, aspirin, preparations for relief in case of constipation and doses of the opposite sort. The only problem I have is that without my glasses I cannot read which is the bath gel and which is the shampoo. Both smell nice. I choose the green bottle. Lydia tell me later that the blue bottle is the shampoo. She mentioned that my chest hair seemed soft.
The manager seems reluctant to give us any recommendations on the local restaurants. He mentions a Chinese, a Thai, and a Denny’s. His description of the Chinese place is “nice, American style”, of Denny’s it is “good, plain food”, and his remarks on the Thai place include “unique, original, spicy”. I can sense he is afraid we will go to the Thai place.