It’s hard to wrap up a day like this. We did so much that I can hardly remember it all. Everything we did was full of fun, excitement and WTF. All this added up to a great day, and lasting impressions.
1) The highways
We left for LA early in the morning. The ride to LA was a mix of utter terror and delight, all at the same time. With my family in the car we were able to take the HOV lane all the way from Carlsbad. We never had to leave the lane. We didn’t have to worry too much about cars cutting us off, and with the HOV transitions and extra highway exchanges we could change highways without getting out of the HOV lane. The worst part of the drive was the actual HOV lanes – they are the scariest HOV Lanes I have ever seen, they were clearly an after thought. It’s like someone went “shoulders.. we don’t need no stinking shoulders, lets put another lane there”. The lane was almost full width but don’t fear there are signs that stick out into the lane and areas where you have inches not feet between you and highway divider. Maybe not a big deal in a prius, but in a Mega cab 3500… new shorts please.
2) Venice Beach
Interesting. I can’t decide what I liked better – the guy in front of us talking crazily about wanting to kill whoever he was talking to (no one was there, no ear piece, pretty sure he was talking to himself); the run down medical marijuana places; the “art” for sale on the sidewalks; or the other drug related activities. I knew it was … shall we say unique, but I wasn’t ready for what we saw. I did see a few other families there, but they turned around about 1/10th of the way down the board walk. I have to honestly say I had fun, Gail .. er not so much. It was a mix of shady as truck and not too bad. If all you do is walk, don’t enter the shops with your kids and buy some snacks and stay on the south beach which is nice. You are golden. I have a feeling it was clear we weren’t from around there.
3) Beverly Hills
I realize most people would live in LA because of Beverly Hills. To the have nots however it’s an opportunity to take a picture in front of the sign and look at trees and tinted windows. I’m sure the architecture, status, and opportunities there are amazing and that it’s well worth the money. It’s just not my boat. All my outside experience with Beverly Hills comes from this guy.
4) Famous Roads and Shops
We made it a point to drive Sunset Blvd and Rodeo Drive. Not because we are chasers of high end fashion but because it was fun watching other tourists take pictures on the drive. If you want people to think you are famous and have your picture taken walk out of a store on Rodeo Drive. I think there were far more tourists than shoppers. I don’t know that I saw but a couple of shoppers and a few poorly parked high end cars. We went to see it and say that we went but that’s about it.
5) Hollywood and the Chinese theater.
Parking here is fun. We were lucky to drive a few blocks past the Chinese Theater and find parking two blocks off the main street. Our primary destination was the Chinese Theater. We went to there and snapped pictures of a few footprints. We walked the stars and avoided most of the costumed scariness and the rather angry spider man and over agressive captian america.
6) The fake people
Obsession with fame is weird, but entertaining. I guess that’s the point. When the stars are hiding there are plenty of museums with star likeness to make up for it. (When we purchased our tickets for Legoland we upgraded to the Merlin Pass which gets us in all Lego attractions, all SeaLife Aquariums and Madam Tussaud’s wax museums.) There was a Madam Tussaud’s near the Chinese Theater so e stopped to check it out. Gail felt it was kinda cool, mostly creepy, and the admission is a bit steep when it is not included in some sort of pass you already have.
7) La Brea Tar Pits
This is an interesting destination – where else can you go to watch asphalt leak slowly out of the ground? All sarcasm aside, this unique landmark is educational, entertaining, and fun place to workout, walk your dog, or play. I suppose you get extra points for finding a tarpit opening while doing CrossFit in the grass, or when your dog gets glued to a cone. It also smells just like petroleum, a sickly sweet I guess. Makes running interesting and a bit effervescent.
8) Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood sign.
I don’t care what the movies show you, there is no going up to the sign as any paths that lead to it have been closed. Like any landmark though, there are several places to see it and places to take it’s picture. Just make sure you see it during the day. It’s not lit up at night. The problem we had was that it was dark once we left the tar pits. We decided to try and see what we could see.
With a special site punched in to the GPS we headed over – in rush hour traffic, in LA through unfamiliar streets in the dark…with tinted windows…in a giant truck. To make matters ..better.. we didn’t realize that our u-turns, skipping the highways and countless recalculations would put us driving through the (very!) narrow and steep streets of Hollywood Hills. Adventure! It’s hard to relay the stress of driving the a 23 foot pickup through streets lined with BMW’s and Range Rovers around corners that require 3 and 4 point turns and nearly 45 degree angle hills. The truck handled it like a champ. It was my 2nd pair of shorts for the day =) Good thing this was our last stop.
We arrived at our location and could faintly see the sign. We did our best to take a picture with our cell phone but it was to no good end. With disappointment we took in the other sites and packed back into the truck. As we were loading up I heard a faint whirring the distance. It was a helicopter and it was coming our direction. To Gails excitement as they passed overhead they kicked on their spotlight and lit up the sign just long enough to get a rare photo of the Hollywood sign at night. This picture was the perfect end to a perfect day! It may not look or sound like much but I doubt it could have been any better.