L.A.

When asked about Los Angeles, Woody Allen once stated that the only cultural advantage of living in the city was the right to turn right on red. Given the experiences of the Bear Team on a recent trip to L.A., you can also turn left, go straight, make a u-turn, or do anything you want on red. At least, you can if you are in the immediate vicinity of my car.

We hadn’t been to Los Angeles in several months. Since San Diego is only 120 miles away from L.A., I sometimes end up asking myself why we don’t vist more often. After all, there is so much to see and do there. I ask myself that question, and as soon as we get within fifty miles of L.A., the question is answered. We don’t go more often because I don’t particulary enjoy narrowly averting death, which happens regularly when driving in the area.

I mentioned earlier that there is much to see and do in Los Angeles, and I wasn’t exaggerating. On an average trip to the “City of Angels” you can visit Hollywood, sit in traffic, dine at many unique resteraunts, sit in traffic, collide with fellow tourists who simply must get to the spot where you happen to be standing, go to Chinatown, sit in traffic, bump into famous people (literally), sit in traffic, inhale enough smog to reduce your lungs to blackened lumps of coal, listen to rollerblading guitar players at Venice Beach (also literally), cross the river into east L.A., and sit in traffic.

Our visit to La La Land began with, you guessed it, sitting in traffic. We’d made the mistake of taking the freeway, which in California is comparable to smearing fish oil all over your body and going for a swim in a shark tank. After three hours in the car, we somehow emerged alive and relatively unscathed on Wilshire Boulevard, where we met Dena’s cousin, Adam, for lunch at Marie Callender’s. http://www.mariecallenders.com/. After the horrors we experienced on the drive into town, I felt I deserved a little “comfort food.” I ordered the Frisco burger, which was very good. But the highlight of the meal was the big plate of cornbread with butter that our waiter brought out as an appetizer. Incredible!

After lunch, we visited the La Brea Tarpits http://www.tarpits.org/, where tar has seeped from below the earth’s surface for thousands of years. In prehistoric times, many animals were trapped in the tarpits. It is an important historical sight, and a great place to learn about geology, even though the main reason for our visit was the fact that it is located directly across the street from the restaurant.

Next up was a visit to the Silver Lake neighborhood, which we’d been told was a nice area. It may well be nice, though I don’t know for sure because we never actually located it. After crossing the L.A. River for the fourth time, we eventually gave up and went to Hollywood instead.

If there was an official dictionary entry for Hollywood, it would read something like this: “An affluent area of Los Angeles, California famous for its involvement in the film industry, where no one understands the concept of walking on the right side of the sidewalk, tourists attempt to photograph every single thing in sight, and bored actors in bad costumes lurch at you at every street corner.”

After somehow finding a parking space, we walked a couple of blocks to Grauman’s Chinese Theater http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/. The theater, which is the sight of many movie premieres, is also famous for its Hollywood Forecourt, where you can see the handprints and names of countless celebrities preserved in cement. Well, you can’t actually see them due to the hordes of people standing on them, but you can’t have everything.

We then headed to the corner of Hollwood and Highland, where, from an observation deck, you can view the iconic Hollwood sign; of course provided you are willing to elbow the other five thousand people who are also trying to view the sign out of the way. All jokes aside, there is nothing quite like seeing something in person that you’ve only seen before in movies and on television. Only New York and Los Angeles, and maybe Washington D.C., can offer this type of scene. I suppose that’s why these cities are so difficult to navigate. Maybe moments like this shouldn’t be easy to come by.

We ended our evening in Los Angeles with a trip to the legendary Sunset Strip. Perhaps no other place in the city captures the “anything goes” vibe like the strip. Many bands either played at clubs like the Whiskey or the Roxy, or got their start here; especially 80’s bands like Guns ‘N Roses. We ended up at Mel’s Diner http://www.melsdrive-in.com/hoursandlocations/westhollywood.html for a late night meal before heading back to San Diego. Nothing like mashed potatoes, turkey, and gravy fries to get you ready for a two hour drive.

After our L.A. trip on Friday, we decided to take it easy on Saturday. Well, that was the plan anyway. It didn’t quite work out that way. We were lounging on the couch, watching a movie, when all of a sudden the sound of spraying water filled the air! I leaped off of the sofa (which is a beautiful thing in and of itself) and ran to the bathroom. Water was shooting from the back of the toilet! I immediately hurried over and turned off the water. The floor was completely flooded. So much for downtime.

After our apartment maintenance man left, we were able to resume resting up for the week ahead. It would end up being a week of new challeges and great change, but we’ll cover that ground next time. For now, I hope everyone is well and that life goes on as usual. As always, thanks for reading. From all of us here at the Bear Team, have a great night!

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