First things first -- I got a place lined up. Hooray! It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. Upper end of my price range, five miles from campus, but decent. Theoretically bikeable to UCLA (previous tennants have done it), so let's see how my ambitions hold up.
Which, of course, means I have successfully made it to LA. Hooray! I drove down to LA a few days ago, packing all (well, much of) my worldly belongings in a truck. Fortunately, my friends K & T had been planning a road trip to the LA area as well, so they joined up with me and I had some company on the way down. Pleasant enough trip for the most part; K & T are awesome folk, and it was great to not be alone the whole way (even if -- since we had to take two cars -- there were periods of solitude). We had only one real hitch, although it nearly proved disastrous.
This is T, fooling around before the true nature of our looming crisis was made evident.
We had just recently made a brief stop in Tracy, CA (note, if you will, the remaining distance of our route -- 352 miles! -- which is relevant) to pick up some gas. I filled up the truck and looked over at T, who had been driving my car and (what with its much smaller gas tank) should have been done with filling the tank well before me. For some reason, though, he was still at the pump. And, while T (witness picture above) clearly has issues figuring out how to use self-service gas pumps, it's not that hard. I walked over to see what was the matter and learned that the key wouldn't turn in the ignition and that the steering wheel was locked. I didn't trust him, of course, and tried to start the car myself. No dice. So, to be polite, we pushed the car out of the way (into a handicapped space -- the steering wheel was locked!) and proceeded to continue jiggling the key in the lock. For another 20 minutes.
Well, crap. We finally realize that, delay be damned, we were going to have to call a mechanic. Who told us to call a locksmith. I tried a couple locksmiths before finding one who did cars. Who told me that this was an occasional problem with my particular model of car, and that I would have to take it into the Toyota dealer. Yerk. I called the dealer who said, sure! they'd be happy to look at it, if I got it towed in to them and waited 'till Monday. This was on Saturday. Remember the 352 miles remaining in our trip? This would have meant having us all crowd into the truck (seats only two!) for the remainder of the trip, and then I would have had to somehow get all the way back up to Tracy to pick up my car and then drive back down. Adding an extra 700 miles to my trip (and taking at least a day out of my apartment hunt). Yuck!
But we had no choice, so I called up a towing service and told them our predicament. I told the driver what the problem was, and what does he do? He sits down in the driver's seat and starts trying to jiggle the key. T & I roll our eyes (K, smartly enough, is in the truck taking a nap at this point). Then he takes a Leatherman and starts beating on the key, which makes me ever-so-slightly nervous. Finally, he sprays some WD-40 in the lock, swabs out a bunch of grease with the key, and starts the car up with no problem. Apparently, one of the tumblers in the lock had gotten stuck and just needed to be cleaned out. Grateful, and now running three hours late (but, in a positive light, only three hours late), K, T, and I resumed our trip. And we never took the key out of the ignition for the rest of the trip.
Below: the three of us and K's friend (the rightmost), with whom we stayed the first evening, mere hours before the incident. Also, a picture of a wind farm that we passed on the way.