Visual diary: SJC –> LAX

We’re in Toronto now! Well, technically, the Greater Toronto Area, since we’re staying for the week with my mom’s old friends in the suburb of Mississauga. We arrived yesterday evening after a couple of uneventful flights. The first flight, from San Jose to Los Angeles, was in a little Q400 with only 76 seats. Erik and I were the very last row, and as we neared the end of the hourlong flight, I leaned over him to take photos.

Plane view

Mountains and clouds

Mountains and clouds

Above the clouds

Clouds over settlement

I thought about this journey we’re embarking upon, and tried to look exactly how I felt. Then I stretched out my arm and took a self-portrait. I think it captures my mood: a slightly tense, alert state in between excitement and apprehension; defensive, but ready to explore as soon as I feel safe.


As we got closer to LA and started to recognize familiar landmarks and geography, I was surprised how happy I was to return to the city — even if only for an hourlong stopover. This was my first time in years flying into LAX; after my first year or so in LA, I always flew from Burbank (north of LA, but closer to my apartment in Hollywood). Actually, when I stop to think, I realize LA is the place I’ve lived the longest as an adult; it beats out Berkeley by about six months. It’s the farthest I’ve ever lived from my family, and it’s the place where Erik and I started our married life. It’s no wonder I feel a strong connection to it — so what better place to serve as our last California and US stop before the trip?

Green mountains

Mountains and mesas (?)

I felt this huge thrill of reunion at seeing the view below: the Pacific Coast Highway, winding along the beaches of Malibu. We drove that stretch of highway when we took our road trip in 2008; we walked along those mountain trails more than once. I remember my delight when we reached one of the mountain ridges and saw the city and the Pacific stretched out below us; from the plane, I felt the same joy from even higher up.


When I realized I recognized the PCH, I started looking for another cherished landmark, and found it below: the Getty Center, one of my favorite places in LA (or anywhere). It’s the large pale cluster of buildings in the mountains near the top left. It was Erik who noticed the Miracle Mile in the same view: that serpentine of tall buildings slightly above and to the right of center. You can get a better view of it in the photo below this one.


Miracle Mile

As we descended toward the runway I was about to put away my camera, but a glint of gold caught my eye and I took one last shot. I’m not exactly sure where this one is, but I’m pretty sure that’s the LA river and one of the blander industrial parts of the metro area. Underneath the clouds and the grey-brown haze of smog, in the light of 8 AM on an April Tuesday, it makes me think of nothing so much as a circuit board, carrying all its little signals to and fro across connections unreadable by any but its own kind.

Aerial LA as circuit board