Sunday, January 02, 2022

More Southern California

Our main reason for going to Southern California was to visit Sun-Ling's niece who graduated from college in May 2021 and was working in El Segundo. The route to our hotel in Redondo Beach took us from Hollywood to the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital where my mother worked from 1953 to 1955, the Art Deco Griffith Observatory, and the Getty Center Art Museum (which was underwhelming).

Visiting Sun-Ling's niece Nicole was busy; hiking in the hills above Santa Monica, walking on the beach between Santa Monica and Venice, touring her work place, and eating in Little Ethiopia followed by a fire pit at her house. In between activities with Nicole, Sun-Ling and I made an excursion to check out the Art Deco architecture in San Pedro and its small town atmosphere, and the bustling port city of Long Beach and its Art Deco scene.

P.S. I can't just say the Cetty Center was underwhelming and not elaborate. 1) The Art Musuem collection was slightly above average - minus the Van Goghs it's average - and navigating through the separate 2-story buildings was tedious. 2) The Getty is on a hill and the views were good, but again navigating through the surrounding gardens was way too hard. 3) While the almost compulsery parking garage and funicular ride is necessary to transport large numbers of visitors up and down the hill, it's not very welcoming; more like entering a theme park.

Let's jump right to a photo of Sun-Ling and niece Nicole near Mesa Parker Overlook in the hills above Santa Monica. Parker Mesa Overlook Trail - Santa Monica, California

Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, where my mother worked as a nurse from 1953 to 1955, is now the West Coast HQ of the CHurch of Scientology. Oh My! Cedars of Lebanon Hospital - Los Angeles, California

Along with many other Los Angelites, we walked up to Geiffith Observatory from Fern Dell Drive. The observatory did not open until noon but we had a fun time getting our photo taken with the Hollywood sign behind us and watching the filming of a "dance number". Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California Ourselves + the Hollywood Sign - Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California

The Getty Center Museun was exhibiting "Irises" by Vincent Van Gogh. Irises - The Getty Center - Los Angeles, California

I liked "Christ's Entry into Brussels (in 1889). Christ's Entry into Brussels (in 1889) - The Getty Center - Los Angeles, California

The Cactus Garden at the Getty Center. The Getty Center - Los Angeles, California

Ourselves at the Getty Center. Ourselves - The Getty Center - Los Angeles, California

Santa Monica Pier and Beach. Santa Monica Pier - Santa Monica, California Santa Monica, California Santa Monica, California

Some of the downtown streets in San Pedro were closed in preparation for the annual Christmas parade later in the day. Nice. Let's walk down the middle of the street! There is some cool architecture here starting with the 100 y.o. First Baptist Church and its Corinthian pilasters. First Baptist Church of San Pedro - San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

Not to mention the former Kress Building, now Plaza Storage. Plaza Self Storage - 630 South Pacific Avenue, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

The historic Art Deco Warner Grand Theatre. Warner Grand Theatre - San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

And finally the historic Art Deco former San Pedro Municipal Ferry Building. Los Angeles Maritime Museum - San Pedro, Los Angeles, California

From San Pedro we drove on the 710 over the Vincent Thomas bridge with amazing views of first the Post of Los Angeles, then the Port of Long Beach. The scope of this huge port complex is impossible to capture in photos while driving over the bridge. But how often do you get to drive right down the middle of one of the world's largest ports? The 710 and Vincent Thomas Bridge - San Pedro, Los Angeles, California Long Beach, California

Long Beach was waking up slowly on this sunny Sunday afternoon day and we had fun plotting our way from one Art Deco building to another. But first, out to the Long Beach Convention Center for a look at the harbor and the smokestacks of the Queen Mary in the distance. Looking towards the Queen Mary - Long Beach, California

Long Beach is connected to downtown L.A. with the Metro Rail Blue Line. Metro Rail Station - Long Beach, California

Then on towards the historic Lafayette Condominiums (left). Looking to the historic Lafayette Condominiums (left) - Long Beach, California Long Beach, California

The mother of Art Deco in Long Beach is St. Mary Medical Center completed in 1937. St. Mary Medical Center - Long Beach, California

And a few more. The Merrill Building - Long Beach, California

The Carvery Restaurant - Long Beach, California

Dinner in Little Ethiopia. Little Ethiopia, Los Angeles, California

Monday, December 27, 2021

Out and About in Hollywood and L.A.

We left the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach feeling pretty darn good and proceeded south through Santa Barbara and eventual picked up the western end of Mulholland Drive in the hills above Encino. Cruising east towards Hollywood on Mulholland was very cool. We stopped at a few overlooks and then down by the Hollywood Bowl and to our hotel located right behind Grauman's Chinese Theater. We were in the heart of Hollywood.

After getting settled - most of the work of getting settled was parking the car - we walked the half-bock south to Hollywood Boulevard and the famous Walk of Fame. Hollywood was a bit jarring; a mix of tourists from all over the world, young folks having fun, street vendors, and assorted hustlers. Spotting The Beatles "star" on the WoF was cool.

The next morning we had an early breakfast at our hotel and rode the MetroRail Red Line south to its Union Station terminus. The train was modern, and sparsely filled with wary commuters, mentally ill shouters, trying-to-not-look-nervous tourists like us, and dozing possibly unsavory characters who would suddenly spring to life and exit the rattling car when we stopped at a station.

We were relieved to pop out of Union Station and start on our self-designed walking tour of Art Deco buildings in downtown L.A. which did not disappoint. However, after 15 minutes of walking along deserted streets and passing a rather large homeless encampment near the closed Los Angeles City Hall, Sun-Ling blurted out "dystopia" and I could hardly disagree. The contrast between the haves and havenots, the rich-and-famous and the down-and-out, the spiffy Metrorail and its mentaally ill riders, shouts DYSTOPIA!!!

The walking tour was awesome. The vacant circa 1926 L.A. Times Building was an unexpected gem. See photo below. And the Central library, a masterpiece. Tip: pick up a self-guided tour sheet of the Art and Architecture from the Information Desk. We walked as far as the amazing Eastern Columbia Building before heading back to The Broad museum - across the street from the world famous Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Hall - where we had an entrance reservation for 1:30 pm; "show your vaccination card and ID please".

The Broad, perhaps the best contemporary art museum we've ever visited, displayed works of Roy Lichtenstien, Jeff Koons, Kara Walker, Basquiat, Andy Worhal, and more. And not just a few items; more like an exhibition of each artist.

Then back on the Red Line heading north and west to Hollywood. We got off at the MacArthur Park Station to check out more Art Deco architecture. And back on the Red Line to the Hollywood and Vine Station, finally making it back to our hotel around sunset. Whew.

Looking towards Santa Barbara. near Santa Barbara, California

Looking north up Van Nuys Bouldevard from Mulholland Drive. Stone Canyon Overlook - Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, California

Universal City overlook. Universal City Overlook -  Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, California

Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave; the heart of Hollywood. Hollywood and Highland - Hollywood, California

The Walk of Fame. THE BEATLES Star - Hollywood Walk of Fame - Hollywood, California

MetroRail Red Line Staion To Union Station - Hollywood/Highland Red Line Metro Rail Station - Los Angeles, California

The Big Board at Union Station. Train Information (The Big Board) - Union Station - Los Angeles, California

The posh Waiting Hall at Union Station. Union Station - Los Angeles, California

One of the many homeless camps near L.A. City Hall. Main and Arcadia - Los Angeles, California

Los Angles City Hall. City Hall - Los Angeles, California

The beautiful and imposing LA Times Building. LA Times Building - Los Angeles, California

Looking southeast across Grand Park to City Hall through the morning mist. City Hall in a Morning Mist - Los Angeles, California

Walt Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry. Walt Disney Concert Hall - Designed by Frank Gehry - Los Angeles, California

The Central Library Rotunda. Decorating the Christmas Tree - Rotunda - Central Library Goodhue Building (1926) - Los Angeles, California

The top of the Eastern Columbia Building. Eastern Columbia Building - Los Angeles, California

The Tower Theatre is now an Apple Store. Tower Theatre - Los Angeles, California

"Tupils" by Jeff Koons at The Broad museum. Tulips by Jeff Koons - The Broad (/ b r oʊ d /) Contemporary Art Museum - Los Angeles, California

The Roy Lichtenstein exhibition was one of our favorites at The Broad. This one is titled "Femme d'Alger". "Femme d'Alger" by Roy Lichtenstein - The Broad (/ b r oʊ d /) Contemporary Art Museum - Los Angeles, California

The MacArthur building. The MacArthur - Los Angeles, California

The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Pantages Theatre - Hollywood,Los Angeles, California

In Hollywood we stayed at the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel. Hollywood Celebrity Hotel - Hollywood, California





Friday, December 17, 2021

SLO, Pismo, and Pinnacles in California

On our way down to Los Angeles to visit Sun-Ling's niece Nicole we stopped for a day of hiking in Pinnacles National Park which is home to 30 California Condors. Pinnacles is about 80 miles south-east of Saratoga and with a somewhat early start we were walking on the Condor Gulch Trail by 10:15 am. Yes it's called the "Condor Gulch Trail, but is it more than a name? [Regular readers will remember how excited we were in 2019 when we spotted a few Andean Condors in Peru.] Yes! We saw three condors (see pics below). Many thanks to the park ranger we met on the trail who explained how to distinguish a turkey vulture from a condor.

After completing the High Peaks Trail, we drove 2 hours south to SLO (San Luis Obispo) where we spent the night. SLO is more than a college town - Cal Poly. It has a functional, compact, downtown, complete with a county courthouse, art deco cinema, Spanish Mission, and a doctor's office designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention a Costco with a gas station on the way out of town.

Twenty minutes south of SLO is Pismo Beach and the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Park. SL's sister recommended we stop here and check out the butterflies. After seeing only a few monarchs in Santa Cruz we were mesmerized by the thousands of butterflies at Pismo Beach. Wow!

At the trailhead parking at Pinncles we first saw several acorn woodpeckers... Acorn Woodpecker - Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

... and then the acorns they stash in holes they dig out in pine trees. Acorn Woodpecker Activity - Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California Sun-Ling and I walk up into the Pinnacles (crazy rock spires) on the Condor Gulch Trail. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Ridgewalking on the High Peaks Trail. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Condor! California Condor - Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Condors! California Condors - Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

A couple of "strenuous" sections of the High Peaks Trail. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Sun-Ling is in fine form!
Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

What a view as we begin to head down to Bear Gulch Cave. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

The rock formations are golden in the late afternoon sun. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

Walking under boulders in Bear Gulch Cave. Pinnacles National Park - Salinas Valley, California

The Kundert Medical Clinic in San Luis Obispo was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Kundert Medical Clinic - San Luis Obispo, California The very cool Art Deco Fremont Theater is across the street from the SLO County Courthouse. Fremont Theater - San Luis Obispo, California County Courthouse - San Luis Obispo, California

We strolled by the Mission but did not go in. San Luis Obispo, California

The Monarch Butterfly Grove atPismo State Beach was amazing with 22445+ monarchs in the grove that day. Monarch Butterfly Grove - Pismo State Beach, California Monarch Butterfly Grove - Pismo State Beach, California Monarch Season Information - Monarch Butterfly Grove - Pismo State Beach, California

A short video of the monarchs flying around. Short Video - Monarch Butterfly Grove - Pismo State Beach, California

And if that video does not play, click here.

More Southern California

Our main reason for going to Southern California was to visit Sun-Ling's niece who graduated from college in May 2021 and was working in...