Matt and Jen, Jimmy and I ate pizza (YUM!) at Frizzi's, followed by a visit to Griffith Park Observatory. Since this is Christmas week, everywhere we go we encounter crowds and this was no exception. We had to park way down the hill and hike up... and Jen was the only one of us to be dressed properly - with a warm parka! The temp was in the 40's and we got cold! There was a long line outside to see thru the telescope (we didn't wait in the cold), so we toured the exhibits indoors and surely enjoyed that.
Thursday Matt, Jimmy and I drove to downtown LA to visit MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and to just generally gawk like tourists! On view at the MOCA Grand Ave was Gordon Matta-Clark's "You Are the Measure," and Murakami's works were on exhibit at the Geffen MOCA. Both exhibits were very interesting. In between, we ate Cuban sandwiches, with one eye on the parking meter. I was very impressed with the dynamics of downtown, and its sleek new skyscrapers and beautiful buildings, such as the new Disney Concert Hall (see photo). The whole area wasn't at all like I remembered it. Surely enjoyed our tour! From there, Matt drove us to Pasadena, and the Rose Bowl where we saw parade preparations underway. Pasadena is a lovely city, and it's also home to the second largest Whole Foods in the nation (upstairs/downstairs). I
loved shopping there, especially the shopping cart escalator!
loved shopping there, especially the shopping cart escalator!
What do people do the day after Christmas? Shop till they drop! And so we did. We went to two malls and bought each other clothes and shoes, and had a grand time. Around 5 pm, we drove to Burbank Airport and picked up Matt's girlfriend, Jen, returning from her trip to her parents in Sacramento. And then we ate dinner at El Coyote (a 74-year LA landmark), followed by a birthday ice cream for Jen! Great day!
Oh my gosh, what a place - modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country house in Herculaneum buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. J. Paul Getty purchased the sixty-four acre site in Malibu in 1945. In 1954, he opened the original J. Paul Getty Museum to exhibit his collection, of which Greek and Roman antiquities were an important element. In 1968, Mr. Getty decided to recreate a first century Roman country house on the property. The Getty Villa opened to the public in 1974 and closed for renovation in 1997, six months before the opening of the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Three years ago, Matt, Jimmy and I visited the Getty Center, and were just as awed by it as we are by this beautiful villa and its fabulous contents. As you can see by the photos, Nykvist's can clown around in the best of surroundings!
After cleaning up from our Runyon Canyon hike, we drove thru the Santa Monica mountains toward the ocean. Matt had tickets for the Getty Villa in Malibu. We really enjoyed our drive on such a clear day, tho we did see blackened areas from the earlier wildfires. We really enjoyed the drive on such a clear day.
Matt worked Saturday and when he got home, we went out to eat at Kojii's Shabu Shabu, a Japanese restaurant in Hollywood, not far from Mann's Chinese Theater - delicious food and a fun experience. He worked only part of Sunday, and we ate at home. On Monday we began our Christmas Eve day with a hike up Runyon Canyon, and warmed up quickly! We picked a clear day and "could see forever."
San Elijo State Park, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. The original plan had been to spend Fri/Sat birding at Salton Sea, but stiff north winds blowing dust and sand turned that into a nightmare. So, we ditched that idea. I called San Elijo, never really dreaming that we could get an ocean site for the night, with hookups, but - by gollies - they had spaces available! Talk about turning a lemon into lemonade!
We hiked miles along the strand into that same chilly north wind; the tide was out, and we explored tide pools. Watched the busy water birds. Listened to the waves... admired the hearty, wetsuit-clad surfers riding the waves. Walked and walked. Loved it.
Beautiful sunset. That night we snuggled under the covers (tho we could've used another blanket), lured to sleep by the pounding waves.
Another relatively short drive mostly thru the Arizona Sonora desert, a fascinating place of seemingly bald mountains and arid valleys of creosote and mesquite, saguaro and chollo cacti and the spiky ocotillo. We sailed on past Tucson and its hazy brown sky, past Casa Grande and Gila Bend, up and over boulder-strewn mountains the color of dark chocolate, and ended up in Yuma AZ. We had many huge RV parks from which to choose and arbitrarily picked one called Suni Sands, which was probably no different from any of the others. A place to park for the night... but we make the best of everything, and enjoyed our stay here. Especially the heated outdoor pool and hot tub, all sparkly aqua from underwater lighting, and surrounded by stately palm trees. Also appreciated their laundry facilities, and washed a couple loads of clothes. Got in a quick walk and caught a beautiful red/orange sunset, and then slept like contented babies for eight hours.
After two long driving days, we didn't want or need to go far today. We drove to Willcox, AZ, and ended up at Lifestyle RV Park, a ho-hum place for sure, after the two preceding great state parks...but, ours for the night. Then we discovered a heated indoor pool and jacuzzi - oh joy! Enjoyed that hot tub! The manager advised us the night might be "chilly," and we should leave our heater on and a faucet dripping, which we did, and were glad we did, as the chilly ended up being 17.8F - chilly indeed! We slept well and were ready to roll in the morning.
Don't often see a sign like this at a rest stop! This one was posted at Mohawk Valley rest stop in Arizona.
Made it out of Texas in two (long) days. We opted out of staying in El Paso and Las Cruces NM with their RV "cities," and picked Leasburg Dam State Park for the night, a quiet, serenely beautiful desert park 15 miles north of Las Cruces, elevation 4500'. We'd been told the low temp would be around 30F, but when Jimmy woke up shivering at 3 AM and looked at our outdoor gauge, it said 22F! We hadn't made icy weather preparations, either. He plugged in our little electric heater and hoped none of our plumbing would be damaged. At 6 AM, we got up. The gauge read 21F! Our drinking water hose had frozen, but thawed nicely in the sun, and we had no other ill effects. We donned cold weather clothes and walked out on a trail to admire the clear, crisp desert morning and the various cacti specimens, quail and other western high desert birds. The red water faucet in the photo still boasted an icicle beard! Wished we could stay longer, but the road calls....