08-Oct-2006 -- I got the chance to step onto American soil [for the first time] in more than a decade when I was able to make use of a particularly long Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving day) holiday week for visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles. First half of the trip was dedicated to roaming around San Francisco alone, but for the second half, my friend Andy Carney from Nevada brought his car all the way to Los Angeles so we could go around places together.
On the last day of the entire trip, I needed to take a plane from Los Angeles to San Francisco on 11AM, then from there, to Seoul slightly more than an hour and half after arriving. Considering that you need to come in more than an hour early before an international flight, I would miss my flight home if I got late for the first flight and took a subsequent one.
But when I packed my bags and checked out from the hotel, it was slightly after 8AM and so there was basically two hours' worth of free time. It seemed awfully bad to waste this, but tourist attractions don't normally open until around 10AM. So I thought of doing a confluence point visit and scraped together a plan with Andy in about 15 minutes using various maps, including a huge map in the hotel lobby, Google Maps and MapQuest (Picture 6). The entire distance from the hotel to the confluence point, then to the airport seemed to be barely manageable in a 2-hour timeframe, so we decided to give it a go.
Of course, any single mistake or bad traffic jam would completely ruin the chance for a visit and/or my flight home. As such, we had decided that we'd turn back around 9:10AM at the latest regardless of reaching the point or not and head to the airport. We left the hotel around 8:30AM and after a quick fill-up at a gas station, we were on our way.
Luckily enough, the directions to the confluence point were relatively simple due to the fact that the hotel was near West 3rd Street. If we just moved eastward along this street, the maps showed, we would eventually get really close to the confluence point after the street changed its name a few times (W 3rd -> E 3rd -> E 4th -> E 3rd -> take the right-hand fork to E Beverly Blvd. -> Beverly Blvd. -> Turnbull Canyon Rd.).
Early on, there were some road constructions that made us make a detour, but once we were back on 3rd Street we were able to make a smooth ride. The GPS receiver, meanwhile, decided to go on a strike for about fifteen minutes and I was worried that I couldn't get the coordinates even if we went to the confluence point (Picture 7). Fortunately, it got around to working again about halfway through, so that was a big relief.
The destination was a tad farther away than we anticipated, however. As we were on Beverly Boulevard it was already 9:10AM. We were getting so close, though, so we decided to push our luck and keep going. A while later we entered Rose Hills Memorial Park area, where Beverly Boulevard became Turnbull Canyon Road and it got all swervy because it was built along the hillside. A tricky situation, for we didn't have much time to waste yet the deep curves made it impossible to get the car up to speed (Picture 8).
Eventually a small street (Skyline Drive) was intersecting the curvy road, and the GPS told us that we should go into it. After driving through even more winding roads there, we finally came to be within 100m of the confluence point (Picture 1, looking eastward). This was at East Oak Cyn Drive and South Athel Drive (Picture 2, looking northward) and the street sign was apparently positioned around 70m from the actual confluence point. There was even a house nearby (Picture 3, looking westward). Since we were already running quite late, we parked the car (Picture 4, looking southward) and quickly took the photos of ourselves (Picture 5).
After briefly tasting the sweet success, we hurried into the car. It was already past 9:30AM and we were driving in the exact opposite direction of the airport. Andy's quick thinking got us into a major highway nearby after exiting the area. The traffic wasn't heavy so he pressed on the gas pedal liberally. In a nearly improbable feat, I was able to make it to the airport by 10:30AM (Picture 9). Automatic ticketing had just ended for the flight, so I asked an airline employee to manually issue my boarding pass. After going through the security check and running to the boarding gate, I managed to get on the flight to San Francisco moments before closing. I eventually returned home on schedule.