John A. Travels to California

Day 17 – September 24, 2007 – Hollywood

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Day 01- Leave Ontario
Day 02 - Chicago
Day 03 - Mt. Rushmore
Day 04 - Yellowstone
Day 05 - Yellowstone
Day 06 - Up to Alberta
Day 07 - Banff & Lake Louise
Day 08 - Whistler, BC
Day 09 - Vancouver & Seattle
Day 10 - Mt. St. Helens
Day 11 - Coastal Hwy 1
Day 12 - San Fransico
Day 13 - Yosemite Park
Day 14 - Giant Redwoods
Day 15 - Hearst Castle
Day 16 - Los Angelos & COD
Day 17 - Hollywood
Day 18 - Thru the Bible & Vegas
Day 19 - Death Valley
Day 20 - Hoover Dam & Skywalk
Day 21 - Caverns & Grand Canyon
Day 22 - Grand Canyon - Hike
Day 23 - Grand C. - Hermit's Rest
Day 24 - Petrified Forest
Day 25 - Meteor Crater
Day 26 - Carlsbad Caverns
Day 27 - Dallas, Texas
Day 28 - Mississippi River
Day 29 - St. Loius
Day 30 - Detroit
Day 31 - Home to Woodstock

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High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes were the ticket to sailing through LA
Santa Monica Pier - North Entrance
"Walk on LA" art tool sign
Sand printing roller
Boardwalk on top of Santa Monica Pier
Roller coaster on Santa Monica Pier
Condos are built right up to the beach
Surf's up! John tries to go snorkeling in the Pacific. Turned out the waves were too rough for an enjoyable swim.
Ronald at the end of the pier
Lots of fishermen at the fishing posts at the end of the pier
Looking north along Santa Monica beach. Lots of guard posts.
Looking towards shore from the resturant at the end of Santa Monica pier
John arrives in Hollywood. Shot taken from the promenade of the shopping mall.
The famous Hollywood sign on the hill side about a kilometer away.
Eygptian arch in the shopping mall
Dinasaur on the roof
Huge poster of TV show covers entire side of building
Red Skelton's star - Radio logo
Louis Armstrong's star - Record logo
Maps to the Star's homes for sale
Marilyn Monroe's star - Movie logo
Costumed pirate in front of theatre
Wonder Women asks for money for photo
American Cinematheque
Kodak Theatre - Lots of theatres in Hollywood
Hollywood Guiness World of Records
Roosevelt Hotel

Today was our time to explore the huge metropolitan area of Los Angeles.  The first thing on our agenda was to head south of the city to Hadington Beach and pick up some Stone Breaker Tea for Mom.  Mom has been having trouble with kidney stones, and this is the only distributor she was aware of, as they don’t sell it in Canada.  We sailed straight down to an industrial plaza, and were amazed that the freeways had us going at about 65 miles an hour the whole way.  I had been told about the terrible nightmarish traffic jams, but found that, apart from a few 10-minute delays, we were able to sail straight through most areas.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the office, we found that it was a one-man operation, and that he was away on business in Japan!  I left my card, and headed back up the road.  I guess Mom will have to contact him later and have it shipped to Canada.

Once again, we were able to jump on the expressway and sail at almost 70 miles an hour to LAX airport.  While we did experience a couple of slowdowns, we were able to ride in the HOV lane, and made very good time.  Most of the super highways around Los Angeles have the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on the left-hand side of the road which allow you to zoom past most of the other traffic.  The requirement is that you have two or more people in the vehicle.  I must say that I got a kick out of flying by the rest of the stop-and-go traffic!

My impression of Los Angeles is that it is one huge suburb.  There are very few areas with high-rise buildings, and it reminded me a lot of the Mississauga area in Ontario.  Most of the buildings are single detached homes, or small three-storey office buildings.  You drive along wide streets, passing one shopping mall or plaza after the next.  Everything is completely developed for as far as you can see.  The temperature is about 75 or 80° all the time. I loved seeing palm trees everywhere.  I think I could get used to living in this area.  I did notice, though, that people tend to toot their horns if you hesitate for a fraction of a second!

We headed straight for the Santa Monica Beach and parked for a $7.00 fee.  As it turned out, this was the beach that has the large pier going a quarter-mile out into the ocean. There is an amusement park and shops built on top of the pier.  This was almost a ritual for me, as I couldn’t stand having reached the West Coast and not swimming in the Pacific.  Since Ronald is a non-swimmer, I found him very indulging in letting me do my thing at the beach.

After I found a spot to change, I headed to the beach with my snorkel gear, intending to go snorkelling a fair distance out into the ocean.  I’m always curious to see what is below the surface in terms of marine life.  I got about waist deep, and found that the waves were crashing in.  The undertow coming back out prevented me from getting my flippers on.  I got back out of the water and put my flippers on and then waddled back in.

I’d have to say, this was the biggest surf I have ever tried to swim in!  I got about chest deep, when a huge wave hit me square in the face.  It knocked my mask halfway off, obscuring my vision, and tumbling me under the waves.  I regained my footing, secured my mask, and tried once more.  Again, I got hit in the face with a huge wave, and was sent sprawling.  I was just 12 inches under the water, and couldn’t see a thing for all the sand swirling around.  I was starting to get concerned, but tried one more time, and was again thrown violently back towards the shore.  My mask seemed to be leaking rather badly, and it wasn’t fun anymore.  So I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and went back to the beach.

I soon found out why my mask was leaking.  The force of the waves had actually knocked the glass out of the frame.  I have a very high-end set of snorkel gear, so it was possible to reassemble it. I spent the next 15 minutes sitting on the sand, getting the glass fitted back into place.  Interestingly enough, there were three Amish couples in their black clothes sitting on the beach next to me.

This time I headed back to the surf with just my mask.  I watched a couple of other fellows in the surf, and noticed that they turned around backwards when the big waves hit them.  I soon learned to turn around at the last second and give a bit of a jump to get over the worst of the waves.  But even then, the odd wave knocked me down and tore my mask half-way off.  I kept at it for about 15 minutes, and started to learn the rhythm of the waves.  This was nothing like the wave pool at Bingaman Park back in Kitchener!  I could also feel the odd bit of kelp hitting my legs as the water rushed back and forth.  As I stood stationary, the back-wash carved out the sand from below my feet, putting my feet into a shallow hole.  Generally the force of the waves kept pushing me back to shore.  I never was able to get out past the rolling breakers.  I figured the big waves had to be six or 8 feet tall.  While it was exhilarating, I can’t say it was exactly relaxing.  But now I had achieved my goal of swimming on the West Coast.

I went over to one of the guard towers and spoke with the guard.  He appeared to be about 30 years old and very professional.  He was in charge of about a ¾-mile section of beach.  He described the marine life as being rather sparse, and suggested that I go snorkelling on Catalina Island, 24 miles off the coast.  I didn’t have time for that type of boat ride, but thanked him anyway.  It was then time to meet Ronald, and so I went back to where my towel was.

Ronald had brought his camera, so we got a few photos of the rescue vehicle checking in at the guard’s tower.  There are several condominiums built right at the back of the beach.  We also noticed that every five minutes or so, a helicopter would fly the length of the beach.  Apparently this was the County Sheriff, the Federal police, and a few other agencies patrolling the area.  The guard said that this was his favourite time to be on the beach, as the summertime crowds were gone.  Up until Labour Day, you’d be hard pressed to find enough sand on this three-mile long beach to lay your towel down!

I headed up to the pier to have a shower, but it turned out only the bottom faucet worked as they were just for your feet.  And so I had to get dressed with the salt still in my hair.

We tried getting a hamburger at one of the stands, and waited ten minutes without getting served.  We went to the next hot dog stand, and experienced the same thing.  It seems they have a hard time getting enough help in this expensive area.  We finally went out to the posh restaurant at the end of the pier, and got good service with a wonderful view.  While waiting for the hamburger to arrive, we ate tacos, and gave a few to the pigeons near the table.

After lunch, we walked around the end of this pier and watched several people fishing off the edge.  There were no swimming areas out here past the surf.  Everything is built on top of huge metal pylons whose bases are totally encrusted with small clams.

We headed back to Hollywood.  This time we had to drive through the city itself, and it was a bit slower going.  Again we passed mile after mile of built-up area, but without the high-rises.  The GPS said we had arrived in Hollywood, but I couldn’t see anything that looked any different than downtown Toronto.  I pulled over at a gas station and asked the driver of a van for directions.  She was very helpful, and told me that we had to go to Highland & Hollywood Boulevard.

We arrived at a big shopping mall, and used the underground parking.  After we got up into the plaza, we found a causeway overlooking the hillside behind Hollywood.  I got a kick out of seeing that famous Hollywoodsign in big white letters!  Although I was about a kilometre away, I was able to zoom in with my camera and get some good shots.

Next I had to go shopping for a Hollywood souvenir for my daughter Rebekah.  I must say, I really hate shopping.  I went into a rather trendy looking store, and asked the attendant for assistance.  I’m sure Ronald and I stuck out like sore thumbs, but the clerk was very helpful.  I soon found a very nice pink-hooded sweater with Hollywood written all over the front.  The attendant also suggested a pair of really short shorts, but I told him, “Over my dead body.”  I took a picture of the sweater and emailed it by cell phone to Lori, my ex-wife.  I then called Lori on the cell phone and had her look at the photo.  She said it looked good, and so I bought it.  I do hope it lasts, because I paid way too much for it.

Next, I half-heartedly looked for a new golf shirt for myself.  I like having a small pocket on the front, but none appeared to be available.  Perhaps they have gone out of style.  We decided to go for a walk on Hollywood Boulevard.

The first thing I noticed as we came out the door was some people dressed up like Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash.  I raised my camera to shoot, and she pointed to a wad of money, and explained that we were only allowed to take photos for tips.  I asked, “Where’s your star here?”  When she said she couldn’t afford one, I said, “Well, that won’t work,” and walked away.

Just then, we noticed that there were indeed stars in the pavement, with the names of the stars in brass letters imbedded right into the sidewalk.  I took a picture of a few that I recognized.  It seemed everywhere we went along this street there were more and more stars.

Another thing I noticed was that there were quite a number of bums hanging around, asking for spare change.  We were also assaulted by numerous people trying to hand us pamphlets for tours of the stars.  There must have been 20 or more people offering a variety of different bus tours.  And then there were a few people performing music, and tourists all over the place taking pictures of everything in sight.  I have to say that the amount of hawking and begging that went on reminded me of the Island of Saint Lucia.  I guess the weird people are really in Hollywood, not San Francisco.

We went window shopping for about four blocks, and I ended up buying four shirts for $10.  They were the typical tourist type of T-shirt.  We noticed a few movie theatres, and one had a man in front dressed up as a pirate.  Overall, I got a kick out of seeing the sights, but I don’t think I would want to live around this area.

We headed back to the car, and were soon on our way back to the hotel we had booked while in Pasadena.  This time we ran into a bit more serious traffic, but once we were on the expressway, we jumped in the HOV Lanes and made good time.  As we had booked the hotel the previous day for forty dollars, we were a bit nervous that it might turn out to be a bit of a dive.  However, we found that it was a delightful older-style hotel with huge verandas situated across from Pasadena City College.  There were restaurants within walking distance, and the room was very comfortable.

We had supper about a block away in a Persian Restaurant, and tried their shish kabobs.  While they were quite good, I don’t think I’d make a steady diet of them.  Again, I noticed how comfortable the night air was.  Ronald turned in about 9:00, while I worked on this journal.

Tomorrow it is off to the head office of Thru the Bible, and then on to Death Valley.

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