Wednesday, January 18, 2017

La La Land

I think my new blogging policy will be to update whenever I go on a trip. Not sure if I have any readers left here, but for my own sake, I do like having a record of things. And what else am I supposed to do with all the photos I take? It seems too late at this point to take up Instagram.

Anyway, this time our travels took us to sunny Southern California and the Los Angeles area. It seemed surprising that I had never been there after all these years, but then I so often focus my California travel up north. Sam also hadn't been back to LA since living there over a decade ago. It was fun to visit friends, see a new part of the state, and see a few of Sam's old spots. (We didn't make it to see his old place on Rodeo Drive, but we did see the Sears where he once bought a VCR in Santa Monica.)

The first day, our wonderful friend Ryan picked us up at the airport and took us to Santa Monica to stretch our legs and get burgers. We rewarded ourselves for the long walk on the beach by getting lots of cheesecake. We ended up getting five slices of cheesecake for four people because the flavors at this place Rocco's were so interesting. For example, he had a shitake caramel one, although we stuck to flavors like tiramisu and green tea.
Sam said people are always falling off these cliffs. 
The next day was sunny (but then isn't it always?), so we went for a hike in Griffith Park. We didn't make it up the Hollywood sign, but we got some nice views nonetheless. To rest our legs after the hike, we went to the Planetarium show at the Griffith Observatory and walked around the museum for a bit. We got to see a demonstration of the Tesla coil (although I didn't take any pictures of that for some reason).
With LA and the Griffith Observatory in the background. 
After the Observatory, we met some of Sam's old friends and another mutual friend from back in Astoria for a late brunch. Some of our group continued on to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits.

We didn't actually go in the LACMA, but I did want to see this sculpture out front. 
The tar pits were somewhat underwhelming because it had rained the week prior. The layer of water on top of the tar, made it hard to see the bubbling. We did get to see them the partially excavated hip bone of a giant sloth though!

Sunset reflecting off the tar.
 On Sunday, we decided to take a break from LA and go to parts north. The friends we were staying with live in the Valley and were keen to take us to an Italian pastry shop near Simi Valley. The pastry shop was indeed worth the drive and the drive itself was also very scenic. Since we were in Simi Valley, we decided to visit the Reagan Library. Having been to four presidential libraries now, it's always fun to see how they gloss over the less great stuff. There was an excellent portrait of Reagan made out of jelly bellies. Also, they let you go on Air Force One.

Air Force One, as it was back in the 80s. It didn't even have a shower yet. 
After the library, and having eaten our fill of lunch and pastries, we decided to go to the beach at Ventura, which has a nice pier to walk out on. There were a lot of surfers out, which was impressive, given that it wasn't super warm. We were told the sunsets at Ventura were particularly nice. It ended up clouding over before the sun completely set, but I still would say it wasn't too shabby.

Me with three LA transplants from Astoria in Ventura. 
On Monday, we met a friend for one last coffee in her neighborhood in LA. We had planned to do a little more in the city before heading to the airport, but after a busy couple of days, we decided to just relax and take it easy. It was a lovely time and so nice to see so many former Astorians loving the California life.
A parting shot from the boardwalk in Ventura.