As the last few passengers stuffed their carry-on items into the overhead storage compartments, I rocked back and forth in my seat. The immense excitement growing inside of me as the plane inched closer to take-off was almost too great to bear. I had been waiting for this moment my entire 15 years in existence, and the time had finally arrived. Goodbye boring, bland Missouri; hello, sunny, southern California!
The descent into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was a magnificent sight in itself. Never before had I seen so many buildings crowded into one tiny area! I was already unbuckled and on the edge of my seat by the time the plane skidded to a halt and the pilot turned off the fasten seatbelt sign. Glancing over at my older sister’s face, I could see she was just as eager to exit the plane as I was.
“Oh my gosh, Krista!” she squealed through her grin spanning from ear to ear. “Can you believe this? We actually made it to California! You grab the bags; I will grab mom and dad. The beach is calling our names!”
Squeezing through the sea of travelers who consumed LAX, my family and I headed outside toward the shuttle bus stop, which would take us to pick up our rental car. After what seemed like an eternity, the green and black Enterprise bus pulled up to the curb. The crowd that had formed behind us followed as we climbed up the stairs and took our seats.
As the bus pulled out onto Sepulveda Boulevard, I was fascinated by the vast number of taxis, cars, and other shuttles that clogged up the flow of traffic. It was worse than rush hour in Kansas City, and this was only airport traffic at two o’clock on a weekday afternoon. When the bus finally began to move forward, my attention drifted to the beautiful palm trees lining the street. I counted each one as they passed by in a blur, and before I knew it we had arrived at the rental car company.
My parents had chosen to rent a convertible Sebring; the greatest way to travel in southern California. The following day, we drove with the top down along South Coast Highway. The smell of salty water enveloped us, as the cool ocean breeze blew our hair in every direction. Passing the “Welcome to Laguna Beach, California” sign, I took in the gorgeous scenery around me. Enormous houses lined the hills to the left, and the sparkling blue ocean was bordered by sandy, golden beaches to the right. Had I died and gone to Heaven?
After parking, we walked down to Oak Street Beach to soak up some Orange County rays. I spread out on my beach towel and stared along the glistening water. The lapping sound of the waves must have lulled me to sleep, but luckily I awoke just in time to see the black dolphins that had swam up close to the shore. I had never witnessed anything that amazing growing up in the Midwest.
The remainder of the trip passed in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it we were back at LAX. My heart sank at the thought of having to return to miserable Missouri, but I knew I would never forget this extraordinary trip. I vowed to myself that when I was older, southern California would be the place I called home. I took one final look out of the terminal’s window at the palm tree lined streets. Yes, I would definitely be back.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.