We just returned from California on Sunday. We spent a week with my dad visiting. We had a 2-1/2 week vacation just a month prior out west (Glacier, Yellowstone, Tetons) but I wanted to spend some quality time with Dad and stopping in while on vacation rushes things.
It was really nice just watching ballgames, going on some local sight-seeing drives and playing cards. Had I gone at Thanksgiving or Christmas there would have been too many people and too much going on to actually get a good visit in and there is the travel nightmare of it all.
We did let Dad have some alone time and went to the movies and drove to Calaveras Big Trees for a day trip. They never stop amazing me. How anyone could have cut down those amazing trees back over 100 years ago is beyond me. They were so taken with them that they took them. The huge ones that are left hopefully will live on. You can read about these trees and about organizations trying to save them but the best way to get that message across is for people to see them in person. They couldn't help but care about them if they see them. Pictures never do justice to the wonders in nature.
We did not get scanned or patted down while on our trip. We just walked through a metal detector both in Sacramento and Erie. In both airports they didn't even have scanners. I don't understand why they would only pat down if you set off the metal detector. The underwear bomber didn't set off any alarms did he? Anyway, I believe it is all for show. Someone will get something on that plane if they want to. Most likely it would be in some mail the plane carries or luggage. I accidentally brought my contact solution in a zipper bag in my carry-on backpack and didn't realize it until I got to California and took it out to use. It was a 4oz bottle, over their 3.4 fluid oz limit allowed. They didn't catch that. I just read that gel sole inserts are not allowed. I didn't know that and I'm glad I wore my newer shoes as my old ones does have them.
My luggage wasn't hand searched like it normally has been in previous trips. Everything was exactly as it was before. I had lots of electronics in my suitcase. They must just x-ray them and have some kind of explosive detector. I was glad they didn't search it because every time they do they break something or don't put the lid back on tight and things get broken and ruined. I've lost, due to breakage, my portable Water-Pik, hot rollers and a brand-new makeup mirror in the past couple of years. You pack it carefully and they unpack it and just throw everything back in your suitcase and you know what happens to the suitcases after that. I had all my rollers just dumped in my suitcase and the plastic lid cracked and pieces missing from it last year. I realize they are in a hurry but that just shows a lack of respect to the traveler.
Our flight was so miserable with the lack of leg room, dry air to breathe, no food (unless you pay $7 for a box lunch) and it is impossible to sleep on the planes with the constant announcements and bell dinging. We had to connect with planes on the opposite side of the airports in the middle of the night. It isn't fun anymore. You are herded like cattle and no one cares about your comfort like in the decades past. We made a decision to never fly again unless there is a family emergency. We love to drive and will just have to plan extra days to get there and back. We love to see America in the car, we can take what we want with us and stop anytime we want in the car. On the road, you are king.