My 94-year-old father-in-law, Henry, announced about six months ago that he’d like to see the Panama Canal or the Pacific Coast before he died. When you’re 94, you can say things like that, and the crass reality of the comment doesn’t offend people.

Being a dutiful daughter-in-law, I researched the matter. My first discovery was that the Panama Canal cruise is about ten days long. Far too long to be on a ship with Henry. (I said dutiful. I didn’t say dumb.)

My next bright idea was to take him along to the west coast to visit Benjamin, our youngest, who moved to San Francisco last December. A promising adventure formed in my mind. A flight to LA. A bus tour along the coast to San Francisco. And, a couple of extra days tacked on visiting Benjamin and my grand puppy girl, Roxy.

We invited Eric, Steve’s nephew, to join in the fun, giving Henry a roommate other than me for the trip. (See comment in parenthesis above.) Even though Henry is the sharpest old man I know, I still wouldn’t want him alone in a strange hotel room all night. Ninety four years old, and all of that.

Yesterday–thanks to the time change–we arrived at LAX late in the morning. Plenty of time to do something, so we took a city bus to Santa Monica Pier. The ride was educational, as city bus rides tend to be for outsiders. A local resident (of the street, I suspect) was kind enough to tell us where to get off . . . the bus, that is. The man was around 60. He had scraggly long white hair with a matching beard, multiple tattoos, and dangling rhinestone earrings. His weathered sandals revealed dirt encrusted feet and long thick yellow toenails. Eric started out sitting next to him but then moved upwind.

Oh, the pier. It’s a tourist trap with a beautiful beach and an entertaining boardwalk. We grabbed a cab back to the hotel. The hill up from the beach was much to high for Henry to trudge up.

Today included a stop at the Farmers’ Market, a pass through Rodeo Drive with appropriate commentary by our tour director, a stop at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and a drive up the coast. The highlight was Henry posing with Madonna outside the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. See the picture on the right.

More next week.