Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nothing Left to Do But Chill

Whew! After all the interior painting (thank-you Brian and Shalise), furniture and closet staging, front-yard planting, screen replacing, exterior painting, window washing, bathroom hardware updating (thank you Shalise), door staining, Goodwill running, and more - the house is as ready as it's going to be. 

This guy had the perfect set-up

Curb appeal in a drought

Dance of the ladders

Just a little face-lift

Shalise tackling more fun-work

It's always been a lovely home, but now that we're selling it, it's even nicer (funny how that happens). I could second-guess myself a dozen times about other upgrades we should do, other touch-ups and landscaping that might draw more prospective buyers, more creative staging ideas to make it stand out from the others.....but I know from experience that the person who ends up buying it is the one who just likes the house because it "grabs" them.
Buy me - I'm wonderful!

So other than keeping it neat and fresh looking, I'm going to relax and let the realtor do his thing. Really. Just chill. Read more Outlander. Drink tea. Take Tessa for walks. Really.
Just chill Mom
Yep, I'll get back to seeing the great sites in our local area, and I'll enjoy the cooler temps that are finally in the forecast. Head to the museums in L.A., see the La Brea Tar Pits, and visit the San Fernando Mission. It will be wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

I'll find us a short-term apartment in the right area, and check out RV financing. Pull out the Benchmarks and put together several routes and stops for our first few months on the road. That will all be fun to do. I'll have fun!

And then if there's no offer in the first few weeks........
I'm not planning for that!
See it  See it  See it  !!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

So Slow and Then Really, Really Fast!

Waiting for a very important milestone - like hitting the road full-time - makes the time seem like it is crawling by. Both Bill and I have several countdowns - from the number of Mondays he has left to work, to how many months until Richie graduates, to how long until we can buy the rig. Looking back, the time seems to be moving at a pretty good clip, but looking forward, the finish line has always seemed very far away.

Until now. 

Here we go!
With the loss of our potential buyer, selling the house becomes priority number one. Timing the sale to put us in the right position at the right time with the right price becomes "the great juggling act of 2014/15".  Buying the rig is dependent on the sale of the house, and the sale of the house must happen before Bill's retirement date. 

Also between now and then are the Holidays and Brian's wedding - all considerations when timing a move. If we sell early we will need to rent an apartment for 4-5 months, and if later, then the move will be directly to the motorhome. A few weeks in the rig with a 17 year-old boy seems reasonable - more than that seems like a recipe for homicide.

Do we want to spend our last big Christmas with the kids in an apartment? No. Do we want to risk not selling the house in the first quarter of the year? Bigger No.

So the realtor came over on Tuesday. Do they ever walk in and say "We should list it at thousands more than you were thinking."? Not in my experience :-(. I've been paying attention to the flat-line of housing prices since the big 20% jump last year, and to the increasing inventory of listings in our area - not a positive trend for sellers. That's the reason I wanted to know the status of our potential buyer now, rather than later.

Which is why we've decided to list the house in two weeks.

And why now things are moving really, really fast!

In addition to all the fixes and staging (so thankful we have purged all the extra stuff already!) that have to get done in two weeks, are all the "timing" scenarios running through my head. The earlier the sale, the less stress about all the other pieces for next year falling into place. I know all too well the misery of having a house on the market for an extended period of time.  But an early sale also means one additional move between the S&B and the rig, and celebrating Christmas in a very temporary place.

Of course the gods could be smiling on us and the early buyer will want a long escrow, or will want to do a rent-back, and then we'll have the perfect scenario. I've told the realtor to look for that buyer. He wrote it down.

The Home Depot and Honey-Do lists have begun. Small-job contractors have been contacted for estimates with quick-turn-arounds. The family has been assured that the "drill-sergeant-from-hell" will leave as soon as the projects are completed (no better incentive for quality work at a rapid pace), and that she still loves them :-).

After so many slow months, the next few are going to fly by. Here's hoping for a smooth flight, ending in the exact place we want to be, with a landing that we all survive.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Friends and a New Contender - Pomona RV Show

The annual RV show at the L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona is a great place to check out every kind of trailer, 5'er, motorhome, camper, van and assorted other recreational vehicles. Add all the memberships, gadgets, tours and vacation packages, and it's easy to see why this nine-day show draws a huge crowd. 

This was our second year and there were some similarities and, as expected, some differences in our experiences:

Last Year                                     This Year
failed to take a single picture                 failed to take a single picture

large selection                                      large selection

large variety                                         large variety

hot with little shade                               hot and smoggy with little shade

poor signage                                         poor signage and really bad maps

looked at two booths in tent                   looked at every booth in tent

bought nothing in tent                           bought nothing in tent

Bill's knees hurt all day                          Bill has new knees!

poor restroom placement                       poor restroom placement

clean, well-equipped restrooms              clean, well-equipped restrooms

t-shirt: spoke to no one                         Steelers jersey: everybody's best friend

long lines at food/drink trucks                moderate lines at food/drink trucks

pre-paid for entrance fee                       cash only at gate (WTH???)

poor experience w/Tiffin seminar            worse experience with Tiffin seminar

poorly trained Tiffin show-salesperson    poorly trained Tiffin show-salesperson

looked at three specific coaches             looked at one specific coach

absolutely buying the Allegro 33aa         might buy the Thor Tuscany XTE 34ST

bought no rig at the show                      bought no rig at the show

went by ourselves and came home         met and had dinner with new friends

Every thing considered, this year was a better experience than last, and we're very glad we went.

Although Tiffin customer service is probably the best in the industry, they have not figured out how to do trade shows. Both years we planned our arrival around the published seminar schedule - planning both years to start with Tiffin. Last year we went to see the seminar on the 33aa, but they covered the Allegro Bus instead. No explanation for the change, just did something different. This year we went to see Bob Tiffin's seminar on the Powerglide Chassis. Changed location at the time the seminar was supposed to start, then never did the seminar. Again, no explanation, just blew off those who came to see it.

If you're wearing a Tiffin shirt you should know more about your rig than I do - or at least as much as I do. Enough said.

Taking precious space from a small bathroom, and leaving no space to move between the wall and the bed, to add a pull-out pantry beside the refrigerator, was a bad design choice. And one that moves the 2015 Allegro 33aa off the top of our list.

On our way to check out the Thor Palazzo we stopped to enjoy the A/C in a Thor Tuscany. Great lay-out but it was a 36-footer and bigger than we want. I remembered that I liked their smaller model online, so after getting cooled-off we found the 34ST. And fell in love - again. Never made it to a Palazzo.

Probably the thing we least liked about the 33aa (before the new pantry fiasco) is the high price. So now we're looking at a rig that lists for more. We're so bad at this :-)

We continue to look at 2013-2014 33aa's, but the 34ST is definitely a contender. And yes, Bob Tiffin's "blow-off" is a contributing factor.

So we came away with a new rig on the top of the list - but better yet, we came away with two new friends! Rene of R&R On the Road and I are friends on RVillage and Facebook, and read each others blogs - but of course we'd never actually met each other! The other R is her husband Ron, and Rene and I made plans many weeks ago for the four of us to meet up at the RV show. We met to introduce ourselves in the middle of the day, and then continued our individual coverage of the show. They plan to buy a toy-hauler-5'er, and although they've decided on the Voltage 3600, there were lots of other models to check out. Knowing we would have lots in common, Rene had already found a great place to meet for dinner that evening.

Eureka! is a small, very popular, venue in the college town of Claremont. The food and craft beer were tasty, the service delightful, and, as expected, the company was great :-) We have more in common than just RVing, including their being high-school sweethearts as well! The conversation was only interrupted by laughter - and making our way through the great meal.

Thanks to Rene for making sure we got a pic!

All too soon it was time for us to head home, and them to return to their hotel, so we parted with hugs and handshakes and promises to stay in touch. And most definitely plans to meet up out on the road!

There are many reasons to attend an RV show, even if you are sure you know what rig you're going to buy. Whether you confirm that decision, or see something that changes your mind, it's worth the time to go. For us it was also a good opportunity to meet friends from out of town.

And, if you want every stranger at the show to say hey, and a dozen of them to stop and talk to you - wear a Steelers jersey :-)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

$100M Flowers, Rebar Forest and a Tiny Carved Ed Sullivan

Yes, we went to the Getty Center in Los Angeles!

Shalise (soon-to-be-daughter-in-law) has been there before, but this was my first time. We saw nearly all of it in the four hours we gave ourselves, and it did not disappoint.

The Getty has two campuses: the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. I'm looking forward to visiting the Villa as well, but today we were at the Center.  The property includes multi-level exhibit halls, an expansive research center, two incredible gardens, an auditorium, and courtyards - over 24 acres. It is surrounded by more than 700 acres, the majority of which will always be kept in a natural state.  Purchased in 1983 by the Getty Trust for the purpose of housing their expanding collection, the state-of-the-art location opened in 1997.

Home to over $1B in art and history

Considered one of the top museums in the world, admission is free and the doors are open six days a week. Located above Interstate 405, a free tram transports visitors from the bottom of the hill, where you can arrive via public transportation, or park a car for $15. 

Although four levels of parking were full when we arrived about 11:20 AM, the campus never felt crowded. After 1:30 we even had a couple exhibit halls to ourselves.

We started with the photography exhibit of Minor White.  It is the one area where taking pictures is not allowed.  All the pieces are from the 1960's and 1970's and all in black and white. While artistic and unique, after the first twenty or so they started looking pretty much the same. With limited recognizable subjects, they are just too abstract for my taste.

After that we were definitely ready for some color!  You can't go wrong with the Impressionists, and the Monets and Van Goghs are amazing. I can't believe I didn't get a photo of Monet's Rouen Cathedral which is my favorite in that gallery.  Valued at over $100M, Irises is considered the most expensive painting in the world. And there it was - on the wall like my pictures at home!  None of the paintings are "roped off", and you can stand with your nose an inch from the canvas. However, the wires above the pieces, and the placement of museum staff in every room, make it clear that security is high. I was never once tempted to touch a single item.

Very valuable flowers

 The gallery halls have a large variety of works by a large number of artists.
The Laundress, a whimsical favorite

Skin so real looking I wondered if they were cold
Some small pieces have a big impact

Something simple for the family room

Has the whole room to himself

The food options range from a full restaurant near the entrance to a small kiosk in the courtyard.  You can also bring your own and enjoy it at the many outdoor sitting areas.  Shalise and I were hungry about an hour after we arrived and took a break in the courtyard.  Our food from the kiosk was exceptional. Her root veggie and squash salad, and my quinoa and sweet potato wrap, were made of fresh ingredients and very tasty!  No pics - we just dug in :-)

In addition to paintings, there are multiple sculptures in stone, wood and metal. Like the paintings, there is no barrier between you and the art.

Recently acquired. Depicts man holding up the mountain with woman holding on to him (her head leans to the right)

John the Baptist, carved from one piece of wood
Dragons carved of lime wood and dog wood
The dragon piece is one of two, and more than a piece of art, they are very large candle sticks. The detail is exquisite.

Shalise and a towering candle stick

One exhibit hall features elaborate furniture and tapestries from the 1700s and 1800s. Inlaid exotic woods, gold and silver hardware, silks and brocades - beautiful work, but not likely to show up in an HGTV episode anytime soon.
Original gold leaf and silk

Tapestries 12 foot tall and 300 years old

If this piece is nearly 400 years old.....

.....then how did they get Ed Sullivan's face on it?
One of the exhibits I really enjoyed is in a much darker, much cooler, room. These pieces are sealed and individually lit.  The Getty acquired 144 illuminated medieval manuscripts in 1983 from the financially struggling Ludwig Collection in Aachen, Germany. The New York Times called the collection "One of the finest holdings of its kind ever assembled, it is quite certainly the most important that was in private hands."  As a lover of books, I found these old tomes fascinating. They are in remarkable condition given their age and the material used.  It is one of the areas I look forward to spending more time with when I return.

Family genealogy, completed 1626-1711
Medieval prayer book. About the size of two decks of cards - they must have had powerful spectacles to read their prayers

Vivid, long-lasting detail.......
.......created from items found in the wild.
In addition to the art indoors, the grounds include outdoor gardens.  Shalise and I enjoyed the main garden, walking the circular path surrounding a large pond. Although there are many flowers still in bloom, the azaleas that make up the maze within the water are not.  In addition to the central water feature and surrounding gardens, several "trees" made of rebar provide a sharp contrast to the large sloping hill of green grass that rises up to the base of the exhibit halls. Even in the nearly 90 degree temps, some visitors were stretched out on the grass, taking a nap in the sun. 
From the courtyard, across the garden to the research center
Maze of 400 azalea plants

Bougainvillea spills out of rebar trees

Lots of beauty in the garden

Water cascades to the pond behind indigenous plantings

"A sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art" - Robert Irwin, artist
Path through large green slopes

Capturing the L.A. skyline through the garden
The other garden is the South Promontory, a desert landscape which we only saw from above. It provides a sharp contrast to the urban sprawl below.
Century City skyline with South Promontory on the right
Circle of desert overlooking a hazy basin

It was a great day spent in and amongst amazing art and artifacts.  Not only is the place wonderful, but spending time with Shalise is a gift I rarely get to enjoy.
We were in the car by 3:00, off to pick Bill up from work.  I'll be back again :-)

Monday, October 6, 2014

How John Q Cured My Road Rage

Parked next to a large motorhome the other day, I was reminded of the responsibility one takes on when getting behind the wheel. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the responsibility. Cue scene from Spiderman....

Most of the time I'm looking forward to getting behind the wheel and driving our home down the road. I would look forward to it more if I thought we could be on the road by ourselves!  Still, I'm very glad I no longer carry around the road rage I once did - surely dangerous when combined with the power of a huge rig.
I learned to drive when I was 11. Four-speed stick-shift dune buggy. Dirt roads and desert washes. Mostly by myself, or with just my dad. It was fun and I was good at it. By the time I was 14 I was leading caravans of friends and relatives through the desert with Dad pulling tail-end-Charlie at the back.

With my learner's permit I drove our '56 Ford pickup on Interstate 10 through Los Angeles on a Friday night, and found Mom's apartment while Dad slept. Standard equipment included one tail light and no turn signals. I remember being a little rattled, but really proud of doing it myself. I really was a good driver. 

Moving to Fullerton, CA, for college gave me my first experience at consistent city driving. Every day. Commuting to work and school. Freeways and major roads. Lots of cars. With drivers who apparently got their licenses at night school, in one night. These were not good drivers. 

Not having fun

I quickly became intolerant of those I perceived to be idiot drivers. The occasional "hand gestures" turned into more aggressive responses. Tailgaters quickly got my brake lights in their face, causing them to slam on their brakes and swerve dangerously behind me. When someone cut in front of me I would take off after them so I could "repay" them by cutting them off as well. Try to pass me on the right? I'll speed up so you can't! Naturally I felt completely justified in my actions. I had been driving for years and these disrespectful imbeciles would learn from my great experience. Certainly they would never do such a thing again!

More frustrating were those times when I was "wronged" in my travels, and then denied the opportunity to teach the lesson! Unable to make eye contact, or unable to catch up with the violator, I was left to stew in my vehicle. Of course complaining to my coworkers when I got to work at least gave me the chance to vent (prolong) my misery. Sometimes I could hold on to it all day, and share it again when I got home. Good stuff!

After many years I learned that I was not alone in my reactions behind the wheel. Apparently "road rage" was fairly common. Now, to hear it described by others, it was pretty awful. Extreme. Scary and dangerous. 

I've been wronged!  You shall pay!
 But what about those drivers who were "causing it"? Certainly they couldn't be allowed to just get away with their henous acts of piracy on the road! Besides I would never take it too far. I wasn't the bad guy here. I was the good driver.

In 2002 a movie came out with Denzel Washington called "John Q". One of those gut-wrenching movies about a father trying to save his son from a medical emergency. Insurance company as villian, desperate parent, hostages, human empathy, life lessons, deep messages. Critics were not kind, claiming the script over-sold all of it.

It had a huge impact on me. But not from the intended message. After seeing the movie, I no longer raged at others on the road. The "ah-ha" for me came early in the movie - before the hospital and hostages.

As parents, we know the joy of cheering for our kids.  Whether it's an athletic competition, or an academic achievement, we are nervous for them, but love being there to encourage them!

That would all change in less than a second if our child were to suddenly drop to the ground unconscious. Our life would change forever, in an instant.

There would be nothing more important than saving them, getting them to medical aide immediately.

When this happens to John Q. Archibald's son in the movie, his priority is clear. Not willing to wait for anyone, he puts the boy in his pick-up and flies out of the parking lot. On the way to the hospital he cuts off several drivers, passes on the shoulder, fishtails around corners - terrifying pedestrians. He is beyond an idiot driver!

In that moment, with my single-mother-of-two-boys heart racing, I realized I don't know the story of those idiot drivers I rage against all the time. 

There could be any number of reasons why a person is driving erratically.  Maybe it is not about me.

I can't explain the powerful impact that scene had on me - it was about 2 minutes long - it was in a movie.

The next time someone raced up on me, speeding around to cut me off, I slowed down to let them pass. I thought about what might be so important to make them drive like that, and was grateful it wasn't happening to me.

And in that moment I realized how miserable I had been making myself all those years!  I saw that all those idiots I spent all those hours ranting and raging about didn't even know they had pissed me off. They didn't give me another thought. I had ruined my own damn day!  Many, many of them.

Now I give myself a point every time I let someone in front of me. Sometimes I get two if they didn't use their turn signal :-). 

What I earn for those points is peace of mind, happiness, and a relaxed drive.

Someone honking their horn, or swerving into my lane can still cause a knee-jerk hand signal. It startles me, and I react. And then I let it go.

Driving is a joy for me, but still a responsibility. I've driven vehicles from two-seat roadsters to small Class A motorhomes. Now that I'm preparing to drive a very long, very heavy, and very powerful motorhome, with a tow vehicle, I'm especially grateful that road rage is no longer part of my experience. 

I don't know what it was in that movie scene that cured my road rage. Maybe everyone who saw it was equally impacted.  Maybe it created a whole cadre of calmer, more relaxed drivers. 

Maybe I was just ready to be a happy driver as well as a good one.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Holding My Breath As the Wind Blows

Growing up in the desert of Southern California (age 5 - 17), I knew hostile weather as the norm. Winters were cold and short, and sometimes brought more than a few days of rain. Lots of dry. Spring and Fall were warm and windy. Lots of wind. Summers were long (May - October), and hot (90 - 120). Lots of hot. 

August and September sometimes brought more rain than we saw in January, when the Arizona monsoons ventured west with more than just lightning over the mountains.

I saw snow twice, and one of those times it stayed on the ground for a few hours. I saw frozen puddles and dog water bowls left outside overnight. I saw wind that blew over 50 gallon drums full of water. I saw dust storms with zero visibility, worse than any fog I've ever seen. I saw lizards that died on the road because it was so hot they were cooked before they could make it the full distance. I saw sky-to-ground storms travel across the valley, bringing the smell of rain, and the staccato of continuous lightning.

What I didn't see was fire. Hot, dry, windy - no fire. Lightning strikes hitting the brush-thick ground - no fire. Years of dry vegetation - no fire. We had seasons of a sort, but we didn't have fire season.

This is not to say that there is never fire in the desert. Arizona saw devastating fires in desert areas in 2012/2013, including the tragic Yarnell fire that took the lives of 19 young firefighters. But during my desert years there was no fire there.

I live in the suburbs now. Our lawns and trees are green. There's a lot of concrete and asphalt. Our streets have gutters and storm drains to manage rain water.

We are under red flag warning until 7 PM tomorrow. Until they extend it.

Surrounding this healthy suburbia are foothills, valleys, chaparral. Dry, brittle, dense. Lots and lots of it.

Although we enjoyed cooler temps last weekend, the thermometer has been moving up all week, and we are once again in the high 90's. It doesn't cool down much at night. Humidity is low - the air practically sparks from the static.

Today, the winds started. Not gale-force winds. No apparent gusts of tremendous speed.

But as soon as I saw the front yard bushes moving consistently for an hour I thought - uh oh. An hour later the red flag warning showed up on my weather feed. Uh- oh indeed :-(

Different areas in drought-stricken California have been on fire all summer. As early as May, multiple fires were burning in San Diego County. The King fire alone (near Lake Tahoe) has destroyed nearly 100,000 acres since September 13 and is just now 94% contained. As of yesterday 5,062 wildfires have burned at least 629,764 acres in California.

Of all those fires, only three were in Los Angeles County. Only the Colby Fire in June burned near a thousand acres. We have been very, very lucky.

The majority of California fires are started by arsonists and lightning strikes.

There are no storms in the area. No storms in the forecast. But the wind is blowing. Arsonists wait for the wind.

The combination of hot, dry and windy is now so different than the desert of my youth. And so much more critical after years of drought. Now it means use caution, pay attention, and pray for increased humidity, lower temperatures, and for the wind to go away.

It's sad really. I love the wind. The power of it, the energy. Without the hot and dry, without those who are waiting - it's wonderful!

But not today. Not now.

Now, I'm just holding my breath.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Now-Silent Singing Cowboys and Observing the Grand Observer

Living in SoCal, people always ask "Do you go to Disneyland all the time? You're at the beach every weekend, right? Don't you love going to the theatre, the concerts, the museums.......?" Hmmmmm. Nope! People come from other states to ride the coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It's two miles from our house. Lived here six years, haven't been once.

I love Disneyland and have been there about 30 times in my life. I'm probably good without another visit until there are grandkids to share it with. Since coasters now make me ill (sad because I was a huge fan), Magic Mountain won't be seeing me again. We see the beach a few times a year.

The rest of it? No excuse. None. I'm retired, I can go see stuff! Maybe it was the cooler temps last week, or school being back in, but I starting thinking about being a tourist in my own town (county, region, area). While I have seen much of what there is, there are some great places I haven't seen in decades or ever.

Tuesday was my first outing. Next to the L.A. Zoo, at the edge of Griffith Park, is the Autry National Center of the American West, also known as the Museum of the American West, OR the Western Heritage Museum. Geez - it's not that big!

A delightful museum of many names
I was last there in 1993 so it was sort of like going for the first time. Lately I'm finding more and more things that seem like the first time.... Anyway, it is a short drive, has lots of free parking, is a reasonable $10 admission (several discounts available), and is something I find interesting. 

Arriving just after opening at 10:30 I figured to have the place pretty much to myself, which I did. Except for the three Fourth Grade classes already in the downstairs gathering room :-( There was plenty for me to see upstairs, and they very quickly quieted down as they broke into small groups, each with their own docent. It was delightful to overhear their questions at different exhibits, and to see them mostly engaged in what they were being taught.

I thought this was a good place to start - lots of fun and unique information about the historic old highway
RVing in the 1960's - love the high chair and women in skirts!

From the television show "Route 66"

I spent nearly four hours, including a leisurely (and very good) lunch on the patio. All of the upstairs galleries are changed out twice a year, but I did recognize a few of the permanent exhibits downstairs. There is an extensive collection of western movie memorabilia from the 1940's and 1950's, including a large section on the singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and the museum's namesake, Gene Autry.

Chronology of western moviedom - Wild West Show to Brokeback Mountain

All of the information is very detailed, and offered in a variety of ways: signage, videos, audios, hands-on. There are at least three exhibits that kids can play dress-up, or sit on a "horse", or see themselves riding in a video with movie cowboys. Some of them are not restricted by size, so kids of any age can play :-)


The special exhibit of Native American beadwork is incredible.  The leather of these 150+ year old gloves was nearly worn through, but the beading was still perfect.

I was just as delighted to see that this beautiful tradition is being carried on today, in numerous tribes and traditions. This bag was completed by a young Cherokee woman.  It took her four months. The detail was exquisite.

Necklace of grizzly bear claws - a symbol of great bravery
Fully restored chuckwagon
Army rifle from Wounded Knee - carved with a half moon, the symbol of the warrior who killed the soldier
Large sculpture of Crazy Horse in the outdoor area
Intricate engraving, ivory carvings, detailed leather work - the firearms exhibit is an art gallery
Displays tell the story of the cowboy
Selfie in Chinese mask in one of many play areas

When I was five or six, and living in the desert, my mother drove me to 29 Palms every other Saturday for ballet lessons. On a narrow two-lane road that very few others traveled, we passed by small cabins with no electricity and no source of water. Many were abandoned even back then. Imagine my surprise to find a display about this unique area - and to learn that many have claimed the homesteads and are rebuilding the isolated community. There is one wall of cabin photos, and the new residents are pictured along the back wall. Kind of mixed feelings about finding places from my own past in a museum (already).

A small room detailing a place from my own history

 There were still a couple hours before I could pick Bill up from work (poor guy) so I headed for the Griffith Observatory on the other side of the park. Figured I could catch a quick tour, take some pictures of the L.A. Basin, and see more of Griffith Park. I guess one-out-of-three is better than none.

The drought damage is fairly extensive in this wilderness-inside-the-second-largest-city-in-the-country, known as Griffith Park. Still, it is a beautiful area with lots of trees and places to picnic, hike, bike and play with the kids and dogs. Lots of people were out - especially for a Tuesday afternoon at the end of September. And a whole bunch of them were at the observatory - like parked down the hill for a mile and walking up through the full parking lot to get there! It was crazy. I didn't see any sign of a special event, so maybe it is always that busy now.

I was really there!

So was everybody else!

The grand observer in the very dry hills

Los Angeles skyline through the haze

After catching a few pics from the car (to prove I really did observe it), I headed down the other side to complete the loop. It was a hazy day in the basin (some would say it always is, but I have seen the exceptions), and the downtown skyline looked a bit ghostly as I caught glimpses of it while I descended.

In addition to all of the attractions within the park, there are residences as well. Mostly built in the 1950's, the variety of architecture between the old growth trees adds another layer of visual delight for me. There is literally no street parking so it's a drive-through activity by necessity. I could spend hours driving the main, and side, streets just looking at the houses and landscaping. However I chose to avoid the private security being notified of a Jeep "casing the place", and being escorted back to the freeway :-) 

Hundreds of old-growth trees

Old California

So I didn't spend a lot of time enjoying that........which got me back to Burbank to pick up Bill a little early. It didn't seem to bother him :-) and it was a great end to a really great day.

If you're still in your sticks and bricks home, itching to get out there on the road and see all that wonderful stuff - I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the time you have left in your hometown, and go be a tourist!

Next up? The Getty Museum!