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The Olympic Village

After the unfortunate first event results, the family was able to take Alex and enjoy some sight-seeing. They saw the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, saw the space shuttle Endeavor, and viewed an Imax show. I think everyone was happy when Ben and I arrived so we could also lend support and soothe frayed nerves.

I’m not much for flying and it was a long flight from Detroit to Los Angeles. We had booked transportation to and from the airport via Shuttle Service and I would use it again. We scheduled pick up and drop off times, entered our flight information, and got text confirmations as well as maps that showed where our shuttle bus was and how soon it would be coming to pick us up.

But immediately upon exiting the terminal at LAX, we could tell we were in the right place. 🙂

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Oh yeah!!

We witnessed a bit of rush hour traffic (no thank you!!) and after our hotel drop off we met up with the family to catch up on news and find some dinner. There were lots of places within easy walking distance of our hotel and although we never chose to eat outside (it was so hot the entire time we were there), I loved all the open dining options. We definitely would have done that had it been a bit cooler.

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Every restaurant was packed and service was very slow. We all ordered burgers and fries and somehow they lost Ben’s burger… but ended up with a couple free desserts including this delicious macadamia nut cheesecake:

009Dinner took almost 3 hours (yes! slow!) and by then we were all very tired and moseyed back to our hotel – stopping to admire the sights along the way:

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Can you tell my family was already in full Olympic cheering mode? There was incredible signage everywhere and I loved seeing all the Special Olympics coverage. It really felt like a special community just for us!010My family had a hotel a few blocks away and Ben and I were a bit closer to the Downtown LA Live area. Our hotel:

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The view from the 7th floor:

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The whole LA experience made me feel a bit like a small town girl being swallowed up by the big city. LA is so different from Green Bay that it’s almost like being in a foreign country. We said goodbye to Mom, Dad, and Matt and walked back to our hotel that first night and maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention but I JUMPED when a homeless person seemed to appear out of no where and reached out to me for spare money. I didn’t realize what was happening at first and it completely freaked me out. It really put me on edge every time we were walking at night after that.

Friday was our one free day to sightsee and view LA. We had planned to meet up after breakfast and do a self-guided bus tour of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood – all the big stuff. Just as we were getting ready to head out, we got a call from one of Alex’s coaches. Evidently the Olympic review committee had finally reviewed the footage from Sunday’s 10,000m run and determined that yes, Alex DID run an additional lap, and they would be awarding him the bronze medal that morning!

With all tourist plans on hold we hopped on the city bus and went back to USC to watch his medal ceremony. They were supposed to award him his medal at 10am but we sat and waited… and waited. The whole event was pretty disorganized (I could fill a week’s worth of blog posts just on those stories!) and it’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

The sun was just baking down on us but we discovered they had special buildings and areas designated for families and honored guests. At USC, this provided us much needed air conditioning, fruit and energy bars and most importantly, ice cold FREE beverages!!

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It was the perfect place just inside from the podium stand and ideal for resting weary feet and meeting families from all over the world!! You wouldn’t believe the amazing and inspirational stories we heard. Every athlete has overcome so much to be at these Games and the families are incredible. Everyone was so wonderful and we were showered with hugs and smiles as if we’d known each other for years. I loved it!

We alternated with sitting in the cool and venturing out to a little patio area where we could people watch.

(Little seating area for families – you can see the podium stand in the back)

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There aren’t many places where you can hear conversations in 5+ languages going on within ten feet of you at any given time. What a cultural melting pot! But the best part was catching up with our athlete and hearing all his stories and experiences so far.

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Why are we melting to death but Alex looks perfectly coiffed and not at all sweaty?? lol

At long last, Alex was announced on stage and we cheered and hollered while he was awarded his bronze medal. It was five days after his event but he was thrilled beyond words.

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Ugh, he’s so adorable I can’t stand it. I’m just too proud of him!!

After taking a zillion pictures, shedding a few tears, and passing hugs all around, we grabbed lunch and surveyed that we wouldn’t have time for the bus tour anymore. Instead, we decided to slowly wander around the village and look at the various booths.

There was a Coca-Cola booth where you could sample Coke from around the world. It’s crazy how different the formulas are! Some are clear, some taste more like Sprite, and some are thick and so syrupy that you can barely swallow them. Really fun.

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Plenty of interesting sponsor booths. We collected a lot of pins for our lanyards along the way.

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We even stopped to get a demo of an electronic muscle stimulation gadget that was wonderful for Ben’s back.

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We were all pretty hot and sweaty after this and we had to be careful about Matt because he can’t walk very far, so we ended up walking back to the buses and decided to head over to the LA Convention Center and check out some of the indoor sports.

Interesting trees along the way:

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Special Olympics all over!!

046There weren’t any fun booths at the convention center and there was considerably less hustle and bustle than at USC – but we were indoors and cool which was all we needed.

047It was getting late (and we weren’t yet adjusted to the time difference) so we parted ways with the family and headed back to our hotel for a little down time before dinner. What a long day! My pedometer was over 15,000 steps – a new record for me. Plus I think I drank my weight in water. 🙂

No touring but we all felt huge relief that we’d be walking away from the Games with some Olympic hardware. Many smiles all around!

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One Response

  1. Fun times in LA! Congratulations, Alex, on the Bronze medal win and award!!

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