January 22, 2013

Monday in Los Angeles

We had a wonderful evening Sunday night with Doreen's friend Michael, his partner Jeff, and their son Patrick. They live up in the hills towards the north of town, in a spectacular home.

Monday morning, we got up again and had breakfast at the hotel.

Then we decided that we were going to rent a tandem bicycle and ride over to the Intellegentsia Coffee Shop in Venice Beach. They are quite famous (though their HQ is in Chicago) and I wanted to try their espresso.

So we wandered on over to the bike rental place, where I made an idiot of myself, and almost broke my nose.

We picked out a tandem, and I since I am pretty tall, I wanted to see how bad it would be to ride it. I tried to get on it like I do my regular bike. I put my left foot on the left pedal, get the bike gliding, and the swing my right  leg over the saddle. The first time I tried, my foot hit the back handlebar.

At that point, both Doreen and the rental guy said, "Stop, you can't do it that way"

But of course, I knew better. I just had to swing my leg higher. I tried again, and the next thing I knew, the concrete bike path was rapidly coming at my face. There was nothing I could do to stop it, so I broke my fall with my nose. It crunched.

It also bled, both inside and out. And I stubbed my toe, skinned both knees, and got road rash on my right hand.

It was painful, but I learned a valuable lesson. When Doreen tells me to do something, I have to do it immediately and without question.

Eventually, we did rent TWO bikes (easier) and made it up to Intelligentsia. The coffee was good, but I think mine is better. At least it tasted better with the residual taste of blood running down my throat.

We then drove to LAX

and flew home.

It was a nice trip:
except for the tandem.

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Los Angeles, Day Two Morning

We woke up the next morning late (for us, and for our time zone). It was easily 8:00 AM before we got down to breakfast.

The hotel looks like this from the beach:
From Los Angeles
The breakfast room is off to the right.

We had a busy day Sunday, and we got started right away.

The La Brea Tar Pits was our first stop. I have been reading about this since I was a kid. It was sort of odd to see in person:
From Los Angeles

There really is tar (asphalt, really, though my ChemE family members would have to say what the difference is) oozing out of the ground. Yipes!
From Los Angeles

They had a life size Giant Sloth. Doreen took my picture with the sloth. I am the one on the left:
From Los Angeles

The Tar Pits are right next to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

You might recall a year or so ago this big rock made news, as it was moved from Riverside to the museum:
From Los Angeles
From Los Angeles
From Los Angeles

From Los Angeles

It is called "Levitated Mass" and the artist is Michael Heizer
From Los Angeles

It was something to see.

Flying into Los Angeles

We spent last weekend, MLK weekend, in Los Angeles. Doreen had wanted to see a show of early medieval art and manuscripts (lots of Giotto) at the J. Paul Getty museum. So that was our excuse.

We flew over on a United Boeing 757. An old 757. But, it got us there just as quickly as a new 787 would have, with a lower potential for bursting into flame over Death Valley. Interestingly enough, this is probably our last flight as "Global Services" invitation only frequent flyers. As far as I know, it is the highest level on United - though there just may be a super-duper secret level that I am unaware of. They let you get on the plane first, but that is about it. Oh, well. The rest of this year I go back to a 1K (100,000 mile) level.

We found LA quite easy to navigate. Now, that does not mean that we did not see traffic. But Doreen
was a great navigator, and we got where we were going in every case.

The show at the museum (above) was pretty good. I am no medievalist, but Doreen (who is) seemed to enjoy it. The museum itself was probably worth the trip, just to see how over the top it is. There are hundreds of thousands of square feet of galleries, and the grounds are also amazing.

They don't charge you to get into the museum, but you have to pay $15 for parking. (15 minutes or 15 hours, it is still $15) Then you take a tram up to the museum. If you ever need to kill some time in LA, take The 405 up to the Getty. It is worth it. (and why do they say "THE" 405? we don't say The 610 here in Houston.)

After the museum we ran into a little traffic as we were getting back to our hotel (view from the bar, above) in Santa Monica. It is a cool building (see next post) and it used to be an old folks home. Beachfront was not valued in 1926 the way it is today (when you fly out of LAX if your flight path is right, you can see an oil refinery and a sewage treatment plant right on the beach. Oh boy!

We had dinner that night (our fanciest dinner) at Fig, quite a nice place.

We started off with Stuffed Honey Dates (stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts). We followed that with their Chicken Liver Parfait, a chopped salad, and finally the meat loaf.

We had a bottle of a nice Oregon Pinto Noir, and then walked home.

We walked past the Santa Monica Pier, which is the end of Route 66. We liked that (not the beginning?) but thought that few people younger than us would even know what Route 66 was.

Then we went to bed.

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Los Angeles Sunday Afternoon

From the Tar Pits, we went to pick up Doreen's friend Tim Naftali. Tim was, until recently, the Director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

I grew up politically under Nixon. I am not now, nor was I then, a Nixon fan (or Nixonian, as Tim calls them)

I will not dwell on the trials and tribulations of Tim's work at the museum (I am sure that there will be a memoir in there somewhere) but show some photos.

The museum was nice. Here is Tim and Doreen in front of the entrance.

Nixon wanted to show his interaction with international leaders, so they had theses life-size sculptures made, and put them all in a room. I will try and do this from memory: Zhou Enlai, Mao, Brezhnev, Kruschev, Sadat, Golda Meir, Churchill, de Gaulle, Adenauer, and Kijūrō Shidehara

They had a good sized moon rock:

and this, which is the most poignant:

Every Presidential library is allowed to re-create one room from the White House. Every other President chose the Oval Office. Nixon chose the Lincoln Study. He spent a lot of time here. Alone. During his re-election, he was getting updates on the election from his son-in-law while sitting in this room, alone.

Tim is responsible for all the Watergate exhibits. They are tremendously detailed, and you can listen to any of the tapes you want. Tim also interviewed many of the people who are still alive who were involved.

Nobody can come away from this very fair exhibit and believe that Nixon was innocent.

But, I am not a crook.

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