Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Great Forty-Eight (Part 4 - Saturday and Home)

I'm still sick. Wretchedly, horribly sick. I've spent the majority of the past two days asleep, and yet, I feel like I could happily sleep for the next 18 hours or so. I'm planning on hitting the sack as soon as I finish this, as a matter of fact. So, before my eyelids droop some more, I'm going to wrap this sucker up.

Like I said, the Sasquatch already did a very nice job of telling the tale. But I suppose there's something to be gained from a slightly different perspective.

I felt horrible when we got back to the hotel Friday night. Being up for more than 24 hours (six of it on a plane and six of it on my feet) left me looking and feeling like hell. My feet were swollen and numb, and I have never seen deeper circles under my eyes. I set the hotel radio/alarm, my travel clock, and my cell phone for 8:30, so I would have enough time to slap the snooze once or twice, fall asleep in the shower, and attempt to look semi-human before meeting up with Javi for breakfast.

Javi is a friend I made via another friend's blog. I read a comment he wrote and thought, "Okay, this guy's funny - I have to check out his blog." At that point, I had no idea he was a hard-workin', uber-talented Hollywood scribe and producer - I just thought he seemed pretty dang cool. Turns out, he is pretty dang cool (even if he did give me nightmares with his writing once...)

See? Sometimes the Internet can be a tool of good rather than evil!

I was looking forward to meeting the fabulous Javi, even though I was moving like an old age home resident on lithium by Saturday morning. In comparison, the gentlemen were looking pretty spiffy and perky when I met them by the icy pool in the hotel courtyard. We motored over to King's Road Cafe (getting there a wee bit late, most likely because I was driving and I wasn't functioning on all cylinders.) I saw Javi waiting out front, and I ditched the guys to greet him while I found parking. I thought I was oh so smart and had found some parking on a residential side street. No such luck. No parking without permit on weekends. Drat.

I saw a metered spot across the street on Beverly, and, after waiting what felt like ages, managed to get through the strangely spaced traffic and snag a place.

Handy hint, visitors to Los Angeles and environs: meters are active on the weekend.


I had a huge bag of change, but I'd left it back in the hotel. My bad.

I hopped over to the cafe, got a warm hug from Javi, and then sent the poor Sasquatch forth to feed the meter. (He ended up having to repark the car - I can't remember why, poor guy.)

Long story short - that was a great breakfast. Yep, the food was tasty and the coffee was good, but the conversation was even better. I don't think I could do justice to the delightfully weird range of topics we covered, but it was fun. It's great to meet up with a friend for the first time and just feel very comfortable, very much at home, and laugh a whole lot. Thanks for everything, Javi! (Especially for the great advice on How to Annoy Rich People. That was beautiful.)

Javi, the Sasquatch, and me.
(Photo snarfed from the Sasquatch's blog.)

After saying farewell to Javi, we turned to leave. And that's when I had Bad Eye Contact with a b-list celebrity.

A few minutes before, Gonzomantis had quietly spotted said celebrity, Sara Gilbert, late of Roseanne and, more recently, ER. (Good eye, Gonzo!) She was with some other ladies and a cute little kidlet, who was burbling away happily. As I don't follow the life and times of Ms. Gilbert, I did not know that the kidlet was likely the son of her partner, who I guess was one of the other women at the table. I don't think any of us really gave the group of diners a second thought, as Javi was gathering some copies of his comic book The Middleman (gobuyitnow!) to give to the Sasquatch. (Which was very kind, indeed!)

But, as Javi drove off into the hazy day, the kidlet started to burble and laugh quite a bit.

Here's the deal: I'm a 40-year-old single woman. As curmudgeonly as I may be, I do react positively - and fairly instinctively - to the burbling and laughing of a cute kid. So, without even thinking, I turned and smiled. The kiddo was waving a hand, and without even thinking, I waved back, while quietly saying, "Cuuute kidlet!"

And that's when Sara Gilbert hit me with the Look of Death. The look that says, "You've just crapped in my omlette, and I know you're going to eat my child."

It was fairly harsh. It stopped my smiling at the kid, cold dead. Who knows - maybe Gilbert thought I was staring at her. Maybe she's just hideously protective. Maybe she thought I was going to snap their photo with my Nikon (which was in its case and slung over my back.) You got me there.

Hint to b-list celesbians out with their kids for breakfast: it is fairly common for other humans - especially middle-aged childless women - to smile, wave, and get stupidly oogly-woogly with cute kids. Smiling at your kid in a sidewalk cafe is not a crime. Get used to it.

Crank session over.

On to the La Brea Tar Pits!

Can I tell ya - we were really blessed with fantastic weather for this trip? Sure, So Cal has great weather anyway (except for those wildfires and mudslides and earthquakes), but for three Upper Midwesterners, January in Los Angeles is like paradise. Cool, dry, simply mahvelous!

And honestly, a stroll around the La Brea Tar Pits on a quiet Saturday afternoon in January is pretty damn pleasant. There are nice paths, good landscaping, and the occasional spot of tar bubbling through the grass (which, of course, idiots have to put their hands in and then wipe on the nearest tree.) There are also gorgeous flowering trees and plants that just jump out at you with their brilliance.

These two plant-tastic photos, by the way, I took after the Sasquatch showed me how to use the "macro" option on my camera. Fortunately, he has one of these in his office, so he knows all the cool stuff I haven't bothered to learn yet. (Eventually, I master that technology. Honest!)

After taking a gander at the big bubbling pool that faces Wilshire Boulevard (you know, the one with the statues of the critters stuck in the ooze), we decided to actually go visit the Page Museum and check out what goodies they actually have dug up from the pits over the years. It's a pretty nifty little museum. We got to play with the "leg in tar" hands-on exhibit, where you get to try to pull metal bars out of a pool of tar - first one approximating a human leg, and then one a mammoth leg. No mean feat. I had a hard enough time with the human leg bar. I believe I turned to my fellow travelers and just said, "Well, I'd be dead." (Yes, I am a font of positive thought!)

The guys attempt the amazing tar pull.

One of the coolest bits in the museum (at least from a design standpoint) is the big wall of Dire Wolf skulls they have on display. The skulls are backlit in orange, and they take up a whole wall. It's a pretty striking effect:

This is just a tiny sample of the Skull-a-rama on display. Neat, huh?

Gonzomantis was actually paying attention and saw where we needed to stroll outside to actually see some bubbling tar, so we took a wee stroll out of the museum building. I was walking with my cane this afternoon, so I was very, very happy that Squatchito suggested stopping briefly to rest tootsies and soak up some of that fanschmabulous So Cal sun:

The Sasquatch dozes on a tar-free hillside...

Like I said, it was a gorgeous day.

We saw bubbles...

We saw fossils...

Who could ask for anything more?

We should have gone straight from the tar pits to the beach, but we made another stop en route: the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

I'll admit it. I didn't get it. And three people I respect had recommended it to me. Yet, I just didn't get it. And I'm speaking as someone who willingly went to the Mütter Museum in Philly. When we departed, mostly puzzled, I admit that I said, "Well, that's five bucks and one hour I'm not getting back."

Maybe I needed more sleep and less irritated feet to appreciate it. I'll ponder that.

Next stop: the beach. We found a relatively empty stretch of beach in Venice - just a few locals out on the sand, a few hearty surfers catching some icy waves - and got a little ocean therapy. I find the ocean calming, and, had it not been quite so chilly, I could have gladly stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, my feet were still somewhat numb from the night before, so I took to the pier rather than attempt to trip myself in the sand. (Shame, too - I'd brought my swim shoes with me.)

Of course, while the guys strolled the beach, I met up with a freaky local on a $1K custom-made bicycle. I wish I'd taken this dude's photo - he looked like Slash: the later years. Of course, just my luck, he whips out a bottle of vodka and offers me a snootful. "No thanks," I say, starting to get the Massively Creepy Vibe from him. He's an artist, a scupltor, he tells me. And then, he goes off on a racist diatribe that I will refrain from sharing. I started wishing I was down on the beach with the guys.

This was just about when the batteries started to die in my camera, dammit. I had spares, but I left them in my hotel room. Just as well, really. I was taking awfully crappy photos this trip. Fortunately, Squatch-man and Gonzo were taking some good ones to make up for my lack of skill.

I wish it had been just a little warmer at this point. I genuinely feel healthier on the ocean. I love the water, and, in warmer climes, I can spend hours on end in the drink, especially if there's good snorkeling to be done. I have a prescription snorkeling mask, so I can actually see the fishies and other critters I'm swimming with. (Or, like on my trip to Mexico a couple of years ago - see the big, bad-ass ray that decided to swim up right underneath me. Eeek.) I was pretty impressed that the surfer dudes weren't shivering up a storm as they stripped out of their gear on the sand. (And when I say "strip" I really mean it - I saw a bit more of one of those guys than I intended to see. Perhaps nice under certain circumstances, but not when the strippin' surfer in question is the age of my sisters' kids. Yeesh.)

Hunger finally started to set in - we hadn't eaten since breakfast with Javi that morning. So, we made a command decision to take the One up to Sunset and trail back through the hills to Hollywood.

It was stunning.

I felt bad that the Sasquatch was driving at this point because everyone should have had an equal chance to soak up that outstanding sunset. If I lived there, it would be a nightly ritual for me to just enjoy that view. Too fantastic.

This simply doesn't do the sunset justice. God, it was beautiful.

We tried to grab dinner at El Coyote, recommended to me by my friend AJ (sorry we missed you out there, AJ!), but it was overloaded with people - people better dressed and likely less hungry than we were. We settled on a less hip, but damn tasty Mexican joint by our hotel, and we were plenty happy puppies.

We didn't eat there, but they have great neon!
(shot on the fly as we drove out of the lot...)

Our evening wrapped up with an attempt to visit Griffith Park, clueless that the observatory had been under repair for some ridiculously long time. We tried to find out what the scoop was from a rent-a-cop parked in the Los Feliz Hills, but he was more clueless than we were. Alas!

Next time.

It was a quiet end to our trip. We retired to our rooms, packed, and crashed out. We parted ways with Gonzo at LAX the next morning and the DC contingent continued on to Long Beach. All the way home we marveled that we'd done this insane thing.

48 hours in L.A.

And, far too soon, we were back in Surly-ville, dealing with cold, cranky people at Dulles. I asked our fellow passengers on the shuttlebus to the car if anyone would give up their seats for the elderly couple that had gotten on board. No one would.

I feel it's really important to note: I get verbally abused in DC all the time for being fat. Cruel, useless, stupid comments that serve no decent purpose (happened to me tonight, as a matter of fact when I crawled out of the sick bed to fill my gas tank and get a container of wonton soup.) But out in L.A.?

Not a single rude comment. Not a single incident of cruelty. Nothing untoward. (I'm discounting the evil eye from Sara Gilbert.)

That was nice. That was beautiful. I wish it were so here.

G'night everyone.

Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that I feel better in the morning...


Cyn said...

Man, it's been my lifelong ambition to get the evil eye from Sara Gilbert -- I am sooo jealous.

Sounds like a jam-packed-with-fun time -- although I'm still not clear on what the Jurassic Museum was all about (or not about...)

Hope you're feling better this AM.

Merujo said...

I'm waiting for my doctor to call in an Rx for me right now. Home sick from work, yet again.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, interestingly, is recommended on MP's website. Seriously, I did not dig it.

suze said...

wow. sounds fantastic :)

I'm hoping that you feel better soon.

Sasquatch said...

Is it me, or does my hand look absolutely huge in the "test the tar" photo?

Claire said...

FYI- Gilbert currently has a sitcom on the WB, Twins, so it's an even more up-to-date sighting.

Hope you're feeling better soon!

Merujo said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, folks! I have the amazing Zithromax Z-pack now, so I should be healthy again shortly! Whoo-hoo!

Suze - it was so much fun - can't wait to hear your report from the UK. :-)

Sasquatch - yes, your hand looks huge, Buckaroo. What have you been doing to it?!?

Claire - I didn't know she had a current show! D'oh! Thanks for the skinny!

PT - It was a great weekend, really. I wish all my trips went that well. :-)