Sunday, March 8, 2009

A sunny November day at LAX

In November 2008, on the way back from Hawaii, I accidentally had to waste a full Sunday, from sunrise to sunset, at LAX. The night before was spent in a plane, the next night, too. The original plan was to leave the airport and hang out in Malibu, but the threat of terrorism has quietly removed all luggage storing facilities from the globe and thus forced me to stay with my 20kg of useless crap. It was a wonderful day with cloudless sky and lots of degrees in air temperature.

The 9 terminals of LAX are neatly arranged in a horseshoe structure, roughly oriented with the open side to the East. On the northern leg are, from East to West, terminals 1 to 3, on the southern leg 8 to 4. On the closed side of the horseshoe is the new, big Tom Brady International Terminal. The horseshoe is not particularly big, the total way from terminal 1 to 8 is probably less than 2km. The terminals are accessed by a two-level, multi-lane highway (called 'World Way', fittingly) around the horseshoe. And by sidewalks, which is essential. Sidewalks are the most important thing in an airport.

My first step was to look for a place to sleep, but as exhaustively documented at SIA, LAX is very bad for sleeping. I did a cursory search for quiet, isolated benches at terminal 2, without any success, the same in terminal 3, which is next to the West. The interior of the TBI is big, clean, spacious, and filled with more than the usual amenities, but no sleeping places at daytime. At the lower level in front of the TBI, currently a site of some construction work, I found a number of wooden benches around what could be called a little park by someone with extreme imagination. The place is very dirty, semi-dark, and above all extremely loud, as the World Way passes just a few meters higher. Zillions of CO molecules sink dutifully from the high way down to my potential sleeping benches. Their duty is to kill sleeping people, but fortunately, the same cars that emit the CO will also keep an only moderately tired person reliably awake. I was not tired enough to die. But couldn't sleep either.

At this point I fortunately managed to check-in the main part of my luggage. This freed me for further exploring. I was particularly interested in the interior of the horseshoe, which is filled with a relatively ordered mix of parking garages, connecting streets, and other facilities. From terminal 2 an aisle leads to the upper levels of a huge parking deck (P-2), which turned out to be almost empty. This would be a hard, yet quiet sleeping place at night. I made a few laps around the roof, enjoyed the sunshine, contemplated the scenery, observed a variety of planes.

From here it is easy to cross over to the other side of the horseshoe. Going down, crossing a couple of streets, up to another huge roof (parking garage P-5), and then over to what must be terminal 5, which turned out to be boring, as it always seems to be the case with Delta terminals. Same with terminal 6, and I gave up on 7 and 8, the United terminals.

My new goal was to reach the space between the power station, always a pleasure to explore, and the flying saucer of the Theme Building. Again, this was surprisingly straightforward. Parking structure P-6 is easily reached by some upper level aisle. On the north-east corner of P-6 there is an exit, which leads directly to a quiet street (with sidewalks and even crosswalks). To the left the power station, which steamed heavily while fulfilling its certainly immensely important purpose. To the right the flying saucer, at the time a construction site. It was partly deconstructed and partly enshrouded by scaffolding. I was able to see the interior of the legs of the big alien spider. I am not allowed to talk about what I saw.

I spent some time at this interesting place, contemplating the best locations to put my little portable explosive device. I was practically alone, noone bothered me thinking about my imminent world tyranny, as the sunbeams played innocently with the flying saucer. Then I abandoned my vicious plan and went back up to P-2, to do some more sunbathing.

This was a long post, but it was a long day as well. There were still some hours to kill, up there on the empty, sunny parking deck. LAX can be quite enjoyable, after all.

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