Los Angeles 2018 Day 15 – Citadel Premium Outlets and Home Sweet Home

This was the last day in the US and as usual we slept in late. I felt like going for a run as the weather was rather inviting and I haven’t been running for a while. The alarm clock woke me up and I walked to the window with the full view of the bay in front of me. It was tempting, seeing joggers going on the path alongside the beautiful bay but laziness got the better of me and I was back in bed.

View from our room

840 and I woke in horror to find yet again that we had to have breakfast in bed, courtesy of me collecting them from the breakfast area. I brushed my teeth quickly and went down to the breakfast area to get food. Approached the staff to asked for disposable plates but was given a tray instead and she affirmed that I could bring back the plates and the housekeeping staff would take care of it.

I went to get whatever the small tray could allow me to and brought back the usual stuff. Went back a second round to get more juice and coffee and went back to the room to eat first while mommy joined later. To wake K up, I turned on the TV and soon mommy was carrying him over to the living room.

Breakfast from the buffet table

We quickly packed while K ate his breakfast and before long, we were ready to leave. Called the valet to have my car ready by 1020am and after K was dressed, we brought everything down. Checked out was quick and we loaded up the luggage and was on our way to Fashion Valley to visit an Apple store.

Apple Store
Fashion Valley

12mins drive and we parked at a sheltered car park free of charge. Walked to Apple store and had the intention to get the iPad Pro. I was then introduced by the staff on its capabilities and was already convinced that I could use it for stuff other than social media, when we got all the accessories and iPad ready to be bought, the costs gave me a surprise. I had forgotten to add in the tax and after all the costs added up, it wasn’t that much different in price compared to what was available in Singapore. I apologized and we left.

Not all was lost as from the corner of my eye I caught a store having discounts and checked with mommy if she was interested to get jeans from 7 for all mankind. We walked in and with a 40% storewide discount, she got herself a pair of jeans. Not a wasted trip.

We hurried back to the car as we had overstayed the visit and proceeded to drive to Citadel premium outlets, skipping the Carlsbad premium outlet that we initially thought we would visit. Went through a toll road unknowingly and referring to the signboards, I could pay the one time toll online.

Citadel was a huge area designed like its name suggested. Parking was free too and we made a dash to the loo after the getting off. Had our lunch by getting some sandwiches from Pronto Cafe. We sat just outside to eat and while mommy finished her sandwich quickly and went ahead for her last minute shopping, I waited for K to finished his.

Arriving at Citadel
Citadel outlets
Quite crowded
…for lunch
Disturbing warnings found in Oakley

Brought k to go around and found that Citadel didn’t have as good a deal for some of the stores as in San Francisco, eventually I ended up only getting a pair of chinos from AX. K had a slight tummy ache and we used the family room that had a tiny toilet bowl for K, fitted nicely to his bum and his height.

Huge Xmas tree at Citadel
Family toilet with a cute kids size toilet bowl

We then got ourselves an ice cream from a store with the same name as the sandwich for about $3ish but was given almost 3 scoops which I thought was a good deal. We met mommy along the way who was buzzing around the shops and eventually we ended up in Disney as the last destination before popping back into the car at 430pm and driving towards Courtyard by Marriott for our Hotel by day booking, 45mins away.

It was not far by distance but the LA traffic was the main contributor to the extended time. Tried to take the carpool lane that helped in some cases getting away from jam but not others. Reached the hotel by 520pm. There was again valet parking only, $18. The valet was however kind enough not to charge after I explained that I wasn’t staying long, with the agreement to just leave the car close to the entrance.

Went to checked in and was given a room on the first level. It was good as K had already fallen asleep and mommy was carrying him. The room was within easy reach and soon K was on the bed snoozing while we repacked the bags, ensuring that we do not hit the 23kg per luggage weight limit. Had to throw away some of my old clothes including my jeans and shoes to make way for the new stuff.

Room in Marriott
Old making way for the new

Mommy bathed and I tried to find out where to return the car. Tried calling Enterprise and the automated system wasn’t leading me to the right people and when someone actually picked up, I didn’t think she answered my question and informed that I could drop my car at the airport itself.

After a small struggle to get the K into bath as he was woken up dazed, we rushed to get out of the room by 645pm. Spoke to the valet and was informed that the return for the car was indeed NOT at the airport but at Bellanca Ave, as per on its website and google maps. I quickly drove to location which was just 12mins away, after tipping him. The signs along the way indeed helped show the way, reaffirming the directions and following the “Others” and then “Enterprise” directions, we arrived on the return location.

The area was big but there was a staff there to direct me on where to drop the car and he proceeded with the checking. I got all my luggage off and he then proceeded with printing me the final receipt. Checked that the refueling charge was at a not-too-ridiculous price of $4/gallon, and that indeed there was no higher-than-usual drop off fees (as I was worried when at San Francisco), we headed for the shuttle bus together with the staff as he helped to bring the luggage for us to the bus stop steps away.

Enterprise at Bellanca Ave
Bus stop for shuttle to LAX

The bus was here within minutes and after lugging everything onboard, we sat on the bus on our way to LAX. It was then I realized that the flight was actually at 2225 instead of 2045, giving us another hour more of free time!

We arrived at LAX 10mins later and I asked the driver where we could get off for Terminal B. The reply was rather disappointing as she informed that she wasn’t told about Terminal B and would be easier for us to just alight and walked there. Without much of a choice we did that.

Rented a trolley for $5 (reaffirming that it was damn bloody expensive in LA) and slowly made our way to the international airport.

Not free
Walking towards International Terminal

Checked in at the SIA counters and all the luggage made the cut without issues. We proceeded to go through security which was on the 2nd floor and while there was a crowd, it wasn’t too long before we were at the main departure area.

DFS shopping for some Ghirardelli chocolates which was disappointingly higher priced than those we saw at Ralph’s but bought enough to get it at $6 per pack.

Walked to the central dining place to get some food. I ate Panda Express which was Teriyaki chicken with mixed veg and fried rice and a bottle of drink at a $15 and mommy got something similar. Shared the food with K and moved to the gates early. We didn’t get through the immigration counters and were worried that these were at the gates but upon reaching the gate we didn’t see any.

Shopping inside LAX
Panda Express
Fortune cookie
Walking towards the gates

I went to check with one of the staff and understood that this was no longer required! Something new. Tried to pay for my toll and found that online payment were only for new ones and not one that I already passed, so I had no choice but to wait for Enterprise to charge me (which they did, invoice of $11.71 came in an email 1 month later).

We spent the last hour waiting for boarding while mommy bought some nuts from the stores nearby. Then the call for business and PPS started. We didn’t hear the call for us to board but asked anyways and was surprised that we could already.

Getting into the seats, K started his game while I just chilled. The plane took off after a while and food came 2 hrs later. The rest of the flight was no drama, spent half of the time  in front of the screen and the other half sleeping. Since we would be arriving in the morning, we timed the sleep to be later so as to stay awake when we arrived in Singapore.


This was our long duration year end holidays and the decision for the location was driven by cheap launch prices for premium economy. The savings from the tickets were offset by the high costs of travel in California. The trip itself had a lot of driving that something took too much energy that left my physically drained at the end of the day. Coupled with constant carrying of K, I thought it wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped to be.

That said, there were still a lot of experiences that was new that I was happy to share with K. Other than seeing the wonderful Grand Canyon and Golden Gate Bridge, taking a helicopter and glamping under the stars, seeing Mars from a telescope, these were memories good enough for growing K.

The costly travel was contributed by transportation and food. For me, the most surprising part was that fuel wasn’t main bulk of costs of transportation, it was actually the parking.

Grand Canyon 2018 Day 6 – From Grand Canyon to Reno

Woke up at 8 plus to a very cold morning, in the desert where the temperature is known to be very harsh. Thankfully the bed was very warm and all of us had a really good sleep. I struggled to get out of bed, worried that I would freeze to death the moment my feet touch the floor. I wanted to generate heat and thus tried to get ready by moving quickly but the limbs froze much faster than being heated up. To prevent K from catching a cold, I dressed him under the thick quilt and kept him warm. When we were finally done, including brushing the teeth with cold water, we proceeded to the reception for breakfast.

Bed… after sleeping in it.
Chill corner…literally
Space within the tent. oven on the left
Shower and sink
Our tents…and luggage
Our neighbours

The warmth of the reception was welcoming and we got ourselves a simple breakfast of oat bar, muffins and banana with drinks choices of hot choco and coffee. We checked out at the same location after the breakfast and before leaving, we caught sight of a corgi wearing a vest, cuteness overload!

Breakfast at reception tent
Fireplace where we had mush mellows

The helpful staff had brought the luggage from outside our tents where we placed them to our vehicle while we were having breakfast. They continued to extend their help by loading them up into our vehicle and bade us goodbye. Then we were off to Grand Canyon once again. This was an impromptu trip and estimating the time to get back to Las Vegas for our flight, we needed to leave by 11. I wanted to save more time so I drove a little over the speed. Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a police car parked by the side of the road. I knew that was it as I tried to slow down immediately but hope turned to despair as the stationary vehicle got onto the road and followed behind. Once it was a close, the lights on the car turned on and I obediently turned to the side and stopped. As I have heard of ugly stories of encounters with the cops, I just stayed in the car, wind down the window and follow instructions. He asked for documents and my license and told me that I had travelled over the speed limit. Went back to his car for a pretty long time before returning to give me a warning letter only. I was thrilled for his magnanimity and apologised before driving to Grand Canyon within the speed limit.

Speeding ticket

Grand Canyon was huge and had many places that can be visited on foot or by vehicle. We didn’t have the luxury of time to do the whole circuit and so could only choose one place to drive to, Yavapai viewpoint. It was a good choice as it wasn’t too far from the main road. Parked at the parking and walked into the observatory post, an enclosed area that was isolated from the cold. We spend a good 10mins there, reading some of the geological data and admiring the view. As the time ran out, we then took some photos outside, use the toilet before hitting the road for the trip back to Las Vegas.

3D model of the place
The station had come a long way
Exhibits on display
View from Yavapai point

The drive back was just a drive, to say the least. K and mommy slept while I just drove. We arrived at Williams and I pumped $40 gas before continuing the journey. Then we arrived at Kingman and I paid another $15 for gas just so that I could return the car with the same level of gas.

View along the way
Getting close to Las Vegas

We finally arrived at the airport at around 230pm, there was a time difference between Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and going towards Las Vegas earned us an extra hour. I drove following the road signs that pointed to rental car return and there was a area for Enterprise cars. The staff came over almost immediately and the check was done very quickly, no issues. We had to do a little repacking of the luggage before proceeding to take the shuttle bus to the airport, which was around 10mins drive. I loaded all our luggage onto the storage onboard the bus but as it was relatively empty, the luggage moved a bit while the bus moved. Thankfully one kind passenger helped to hold onto K’s sports car luggage before it slipped off the shelf. Another also gave up his seat for me just so that I could sit together with K, we were thankful for all these kind gestures.

Rental car return entrance
Shuttle bus entrance

Once we disembarked the shuttle, we rushed to Allegiant counter to check in, which was located all the way at the end of the building. Unfortunately our luggage’s combined weight was over the limit by 17lbs which we had to pay $50 additionally. After dropping off the luggage, we completed the check in with our downloaded tix on the Allegiant app.

Allegiant counters

Before boarding, we wanted to get something to eat for lunch. We visited the Starbucks (where else right) at the main public areas but no sandwiches were available and the staff advised us to proceed through the gate to visit the branch inside. Then we went through the security checks which was quite strict as both of our carry-ons were requested to be opened for checks. After a quick toilet visit, we went to a Flatbreadz restaurant and we got ourselves ham and cheese and turkey bacon sandwiches to go, for about 21ish.


Walked to gate 18 and sat at the waiting area to have our sandwiches and as much as we tried to keep it tidy, it turned out quite messy as the sandwiches items fell out and everywhere. There were a bunch of slots machines nearby just out in the open catered for the last min gamblers and anyone could actually wandered into the area (K did and was asked keep out of the area by one of the staff). As we munched away, boarding was also started, it was all in a rush.

Slot machines in the public open spaces

Once onboard, it was a quick 1 hr flight to Reno and the plane had lots of empty seats. Once it was confirmed that there weren’t anybody taking those long legroom seats, people then took advantage of the situation by moving forward and occupying them for free. We kept to our seats, it was only an hour, and we spent our time finishing the sandwiches that we had started, while K ate his favorite biscuits.

We landed into Reno and proceeded to wait for our luggage at the luggage carousel and for some reason, it took quite a while before the luggage came out. While waiting, I managed to settle the car rental paperwork at Enterprise first, which was conveniently located near where the luggage carousel was. We retrieved the luggage when it finally came, used the restroom, then get across the street to rental car parking lots to retrieve the car. The staff from Enterprise was there to carry out the joint inspection before handing over a Ford Flex to me, something similar to the previous Ford Explorer in terms of size, but probably less advanced and lower in height. I enquired about how I was going to pay toll, hoping for something that was already inbuilt so that I just need to pay when I returned but was advised to pay by cash. The exact how was something that I needed to google for in the coming days for toll roads in San Francisco for example.

Rows of car rental companies next to luggage belt
Exit to rental car car park
Enterprise pick up point

We drove to Staybridge, our accommodation for the night, just some 11 mins away. After parking at the open air car park, we braved the cold with our luggage and checked in. This was a little apartment with a small kitchen under the IHG hotel brands and was both pretty homely and yet felt like a hotel. It wasn’t too expensive too! I would prefer these over Airbnb ones since the element of luxury and certain level of quality standards were still guaranteed by big hotel brands while Airbnb were more hit or miss.

Staybridge Suites Reno
Living Room

After our baths, we drove out for dinner to a place about 3mins where there was Smiths supermarket and a couple of restaurants. Decided to have Japanese food and thus walked over to Pisces Sushi, a small Japanese designed restaurant with not many diners. Ordered California roll, caterpillar, teriyaki salmon, tamago and Mickey Mouse, which didn’t looked like it but was delicious and paid $51 for the meal.

Inside Pieces Sushi
Salmon Teriyaki
Mickey Mouse?

We then proceeded for late night shopping at Smiths. There was a trolley with sports car cover and it was enough for K to be interested in going into the supermarket. Zooming down the walkways, we bought all the groceries and water that was needed for meals preparation for the next day.

Smith’s for shopping
Fresh fruits inside Smith’s

Drove back to hotel to find that there were no closer carpark slot to the entrance and had mommy and K alight first to avoid the cold while I parked further down. I had to get some hot water for milk and there was supposedly hot water available at the ground floor near the reception. But when I collected it from the flasks there, the water was only lukewarm, not hot enough to make milk. Ended up having to boil water using the pots since there no electric flask available.

The day finally ended after watching a few episodes of iPad video while using data due to location restriction, in order to satisfy the little K. Although there weren’t much activities, all that driving and transiting was physically draining. While Reno was known as the Biggest Little City in the World, or also known as small Las Vegas, we weren’t able to give it any attention regretfully, sleep was more important.