Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sept 29 – Oct 4 – Los Angeles area

We are home safe and sound, and far behind in our posts.  DETERMINED to complete them, the next chapter is now complete.

Returning to the Long Beach Port from our couple of days in Catalina and re-connecting with Stinky, we start the next leg of the trip by visiting Tom’s cousin, Paul, in beautiful Malibu.  We haven’t seen Paul in years, and it was wonderful to reconnect.  Malibu has THE MOST EXPENSIVE campground we have ever been to (or will go to), entirely because of its location.  The view out our bedroom window isn’t too shabby! 

Early in the morning, parking spaces open along the beachfront – it’s a fun place to hang out and read a good book.

Bright and early on Monday morning we delivered the RV to the manufacturer to tend to a few warranty items.  Since our house was in the hospital a few days, we arranged to stay in a very little apartment(VRBO) and use the opportunity to tour Los Angeles.  Were it not for the warranty work, we would not be in this omg BIG city.

Sites we saw in LA:

Getty Museum:

The Getty center opened in 1997 following a complex process that topped out at a cost of $1.3 Billion dollars.  
The art collection includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs.  The collection is not enormous, but it is very carefully curated and quite spectacular.  
A good case can be made that the building is as beautiful as the art. 
Due to a snafu with the parking lot attendant, and telling the truth about having an animal on board (won't do THAT again), we were not able to park the RV on the Getty grounds.  So Tom dropped Kris off at the museum, and he went off to hang out, read, watch football, and nap.  

This was the third time in as many days that our day had been turned upside down by what appeared to be relatively arbitrary rules.  Note to self ... over-regulation takes the humanity out of interactions.
Hollywood Forever cemetery

Founded in 1899, the cemetery was an integral part of early Hollywood and is the final resting place for more of Hollywood’s founders than anywhere else on earth and is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 

The office provides visitors with a map to locate the graves of the most notable residents.   Aside from that, touring through we see some beautiful monuments.  

There are many Armenians buried here.
Notable interments include Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Faribanks, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Rudolph Valentino.
An interesting note:  The cemetery was segregated until 1959, so when Hattie McDaniel (academy award winner for role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind) died in 1952, she was not allowed to be buried here.

La Brae Tar Pits

This fascinating natural history museum (first opened in 1977) is unlike any we’ve been to before.   

The tar pits are natural bubbling and gurgling pools of tar (natural asphalt) and crude oil that have occurred in this location for tens of thousands of years.  The tar is often covered with leaves, a thin layer of dirt, or water. They don't look like much of anything.

During the Pleistocene era (post dinosaur), animals would approach the pit for a drink of water and get stuck in the tar, sinking down to their ultimate demise.  While trapped, packs of wolves and other predators would be attracted to the trapped animal and they too would become stuck in the pit.  The animals sank into the asphalt, well preserving the piles and  tangles of bones.

Over 100 tar pits have been excavated.

Many large animals have been excavated such as the mastodon, short faced bears, saber-tooth tiger, dire wolves, american lion, bison, horses and giant ground sloths,  

The giant ground sloth stood 6 feet tall, weighed 1500 pounds, and had a face only a mother could love:

Also, many smaller remains including mollusks, seeds, snails, turtles, rodents, insects and plant remains have been identified.  

Only one human has been found.  She went into the pit about 10,000 years ago, was between 17-25 years old and found with a domestic dog.

Radiometric dating indicated the oldest material recovered is about 38,000 yrs. old.  Since 1906, more than one million bones have been recovered representing over 231 species of vertebrates, 159 species of plants and 234 species of invertebrates. 

It is estimated that the collections at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum contain about three million items. The current Project 23 excavation may, when completed, double that number.
The most frequent find is the dire wolf – 4000 specimens.

While the tar from the pits had been used by local native American residents for sealing the seams of boats, the first prehistoric bones were first identified in 1901 by a Union Oil geologist.  Formal excavation began in earnest in 1913  .(notice the oil rigs in the background ... in 'downtown' Los Angeles).

The excavations continue today.

There are crates of bone piles waiting to be dissected, and the lab is open and visible to museum guests.  We really enjoyed this site.

Walking tour of downtown LA

With Stinky safely tucked in at our little apartment, we set about to do a self-guided walking tour of downtown LA using the AAA book agenda and budgeting one full day. Fifteen thousand steps, two Uber rides and hundreds of pictures later … mission accomplished.  We now have a greater appreciation of LA. 

The tour started at the Riorden Central Library, in the heart of the business district.  Built in 1926, it is a hodgepodge of architectural styles, and the inside is slathered in glorious multicultural murals of California history. 
The downtown high-tech skyscrapers sprung up in a neighborhood (Bunker Hill) that was a ritzy neighborhood in the 1890’s, a decayed and seedy area in the 1930’s, and the target for urban renewal in the 1960’s.  Re-development started in the 1970’s and accelerated through the 1990’s. 

Don't you just love the Walt Disney Concert Hall building

Fortunately, many historic buildings and attractions have been retained.  There are also many sculptures planted along the route we walked. 

Even the greenery of the sidewalk has been turned into a sculpture

There are many eateries that cater to the business lunch crowd.  

Angels Flight, built in 1901, closed from 1960’s-1996, is open for the short ride, costing $1. 

The narrow gauge funicular railway may well be the shortest in the world, moving just 298 feet from top to bottom. 
We were happy to pay the $1 to get a ride UP the equivalent of 150 steep steps.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels serves the total Archdiocese of over 5 million Catholics.  Completed in 2002, this is the first Roman Catholic Cathedral to be completed in the Western United States in 30 years.

The Spanish architect designed this very contemporary church with nearly no right angles to contribute feelings of mystery and majesty.

The tapestries (above and left) are the largest collection hanging in a Catholic place of worship in the United States.

It was an interesting stop on our tour.

The Los Angeles City Hall, built in 1920, was the tallest building in LA for decades until the height restrictions (from which it had been exempted) were repealed.  
The building was immortalized as it served as The Daily Planet in “Superman”, as the police headquarters in the 1960’s TV show “Dragnet”, and was blown up in the 1953 movie “War of the Worlds”.

The building suffered nearly fatal damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.  Seven years and $300 million later, it has been fully restored and retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.

The old city Market reminded us of Lexington Market in Baltimore, but with more Mexican food, exotic spice, and less fresh seafood.

One of the oldest commercial buildings in LA, this Bradbury building has a striking 5 story atrium lined with open air walkways lined with florid wrought-iron balustrades, and cage elevators.

LA had over 1000 murals … this one – the “Pope of Broadway” – is Anthony Quinn.

The Los Angeles Times headquarters building houses classically stylized depression era murals in the lobby.

Leaving the contemporary business district, we slid over to “Little Tokyo”, a charming ethnic oasis.  Wish we photographed our most authentic Japanese (not Americanized Japanese) lunch.

Now fortified, we hoof over to the oldest part and the birthplace of LA.  

It is in this location that in 1791, a group of 11 families recruited by the Mexican governor were sent to establish a town, to be named El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles.

There is still a marketplace here occupying much of Olvera street, the oldest street in LA.  The oldest house in LA, Avila Adobe, was built by a former mayor around 1818, now restored to reflect the lifestyle of the 1840’s.  They were a wealthy family.

We ended the day eating an ice cream cone in a quiet corner of the historic Union Station waiting for our Uber ride back to the apartment.  We were done done DONE.

With one more day to play in town, the next morning we took in a few more classic sites, hoping NOT to walk 15,000 steps again.  Didn't really work out that way.  

TLC theater and walk of fame 

Sid Grauman opened this theater in 1927 with the premier of Cecil B. DeMille’s film “The King of Kings”.  It has been the home of many premiers, including the 1977 launch of “Star wars”.
The theater now is a custom IMAX theater seating 932 people and features one of the largest movie screens (46 x 90 FEET!) in North America.  There are many 'characters' around that are happy to have their picture taken with you ... for a fee.

The forecourt of the theater houses nearly 200 footprints and inscriptions in specially formulated extremely hard concrete.  This was especially fun to find the blocks of oldtimers and actors we grew up watching.

Embedded along both sides of 15 blocks of Hollywood Blvd.  The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry.

The walk was originally conceived to encourage redevelopment of Hollywood Blvd, but there was protracted decay of the area during the 1960’s and 1970’s.  There was a period of 8 years when no new stars were placed.   

The neighborhood began it’s recovery in the 1980’s and the walk of fame now attracts more than 10 million tourists a year.   There are more than 2600 stars planted.

Griffith observatory

The 3000 acres surrounding the observatory was donated to the city of Los Angeles to make astronomy accessible to the public. 

The rotunda ceiling mural depicts ancient myths using a parade of classical figures. 

This Tesla coil was built in 1910.  The Tesla coil was used to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, high frequency alternating current and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.  Commercially, they were used in radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920’s.

We walked downhill away from the observatory for quite a while before eventually calling Uber.  Passing through a couple fancy neighborhoods was nice.

One thing distressing about LA was the numbers of homeless people.  They are all over the place, pitching tents in city parks and highway overpasses, even building semi-permanent encampments.   It was very noticeable, and a large problem for the homeless, and for the city.


When the motorhome ‘mothership’ finished the warranty work on the RV, we picked her up and headed for the hills … literally, staying at Chino Hills State Park – way up into the brown hills outside LA.  We were the only people in the campground.  We were so far out, there were no city lights or sounds or cell service.  Perfect!

The coyotes barked, yipped and howled into the evening.  We didn’t let Stinky outside but for just a few minutes, and under very close supervision. 
Looking forward to getting out of Dodge, back onto back-road trails and small towns.
Sorry the LA post was so long.  Los Angeles is BIG.

Night Night

Next Post – Old Route 66, Sedona and moving Eastward