It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything so I just wanted to give a quick update about what I’ve been doing. About 2 weeks ago, I traveled to Long Beach, CA for some work-related business and it required that I stay over the weekend. Terri flew out and joined me for the weekend and we spent some time exploring the Los Angeles area. I had been to LA previously, but never got more than about a mile from the LAX airport. Terri hadn’t spent much time in the area, so there were a lot of things for us to see.
My hotel was located very close to the Queen Mary, the ship that brought my mother to the U.S. from England in 1953. It was retired about 40 years ago and parked in Long Beach as a hotel/tourist attraction. On Friday evening, we took a self-guided tour of the ship and then had dinner in its restaurant. The ship had her maiden voyage in 1936 and had a long life of sailing around the world, mostly from Europe to the U.S. under the Cunard Line and was retired in 1967. I can still recall an old suitcase of my mom’s with the Cunard Line stickers from her trip over on the Queen Mary. The suitcase and its contents were all she had when she arrived. The RMS Queen Mary has now spent more time as a tourist attraction that it did as a form of transportation. I guess that’s a fitting tribute since the whole cruise industry has become more about the tourism than it is about transportation. Airplanes are just too fast and convenient when compared with ships.
On Saturday we drove up to Santa Monica to walk along the pier and the beach and eventually ended up down in Venice beach which has a kind of carnival atmosphere. There are many T-shirts vendors, artists selling their work, fortune tellers, and performance artists. It makes the Boulder Pearl Street mall seem very tame by comparison. We resisted the temptation to get any tattoos or body piercings even though we felt quite out of place without them. We had beautiful sunny weather with a nice ocean breeze, enough that I got nasty bad sunburn which I’ll not soon forget.
After walking back to Santa Monica, we decided to drive over to Hollywood to see the Walk of Fame. It was very touristy, but since we had never been there, we figured we might as well do the touristy things, even if it included purchasing a ‘Map of Movie Star Homes (and Shocking Crime Scenes )’ We drove on Santa Monica Boulevard, then crossed over to Sunset Boulevard, and eventually got on to Hollywood Boulevard which is where we knew we had arrived at a tourist trap. I always wanted to see the ‘stars’ on Hollywood Boulevard and the handprints/footprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We even strolled by the Church of Scientology where they offered us ‘free stress test’ which involved being hooked up to E-Meters. That made us feel like real Hollywood celebrities. We were waiting for Tom Cruise or John Travolta to show up at any minute.
Later we used our ‘Map of the Stars Homes’ to get as close as we could to the Hollywood sign for a photo op and then cruised Mulholland Drive from the 101 to Laurel Canyon. We got back into Hollywood and headed west on Sunset through Bevery Hills, Westwood, Bel Air, Brentwood (right near where OJ used to live), Pacific Palisades, and eventually got to the coast. Then we went north to Malibu where we ate dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant. There was a major traffic jam on the Pacific Coast Highway southbound due to an accident so we decided to use the Malibu Canyon road to get back over to the 405. By the time we got back to Long Beach, it was nearly 11:00 p.m. We decided the next day we’d take it easier.
On Sunday we drove back up to Hollywood to check out the La Brea Tar Pits, another attraction that we noticed on our tourist map, and we were quite astonished at what we found. It was a genuine Tar Pit/museum right on Wilshire Blvd between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Imagine that! You’d figure that by now a tar pit on valuable real estate would have been sucked dry, turned into oil and paved over but there it was. It even had working archeologists in it, pulling prehistoric fossilized bones out of one of the pits. The museum was amazing, one of the best I’ve seen in terms of archeological treasures. I’d highly recommend that if you’re ever in Hollywood that you check out the La Brea Tar Pits.
Later we came back to the hotel and visited a Russian Scorpion submarine which was set along side the Queen Mary as a tourist attraction. It was a fascinating experience to think that it was operational until just a few years ago. Although it was built in 1972, the technology in it looked ancient, probably because that type of sub was designed in the 1950s. I had only been in one other sub before, and that was German U-boat in Chicago and that was also quite fascinating. It amazes me to think of the number of people that can live in these cramped quarters for months at a time.
So we got to see a lot of things in a short time, many of which were on my ‘list’ for whenever I got a chance to visit LA. We avoided the really touristy things like Disneyland and Universal Studios…maybe we’ll see those on a future visit.
I’ve stored some pictures of the trip here.