Anonymous in La-La Land: Parts I and II

Trip Start Sep 02, 2013
1
21
Trip End Sep 26, 2013


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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PART I

 Although it can be said that Vegas is in the desert--90% of the city's drinking water comes from a diversion aquifer at the Colorado River--it is no match for the real desert heat of Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in California.  While zooming across the empty, charred dunes and flats of the valley, we saw craters and fault lines, as well as temperatures in the 105 Fahrenheit or 42 Celsius range--slightly besting our previous highs in Chicago.  The area lived up to its reputation (somewhat) as the hottest location in North America.  But we had bigger fish to fry--LA...

The yellow-pink-orange haze of suburban LA suggests the most beautiful sunset anyone could imagine anywhere.  Of course, lurking in the mind of the viewer is the knowledge that what is being observed is the soft glow of smog at dusk.  The towers of downtown formed a focal point of Highway 110 as we dodged 8-lanes of speeding Angelenos.  The full hour it took us to traverse the city limits to Marina Del Rey was enough to land us at our hotel.  No dinner was necessary--only seep.

PART II

We awoke at 7:30 am in order to make our way down to breakfast.  The marina was clouded over, but still pleasant as we quickly shoveled eggs and oatmeal into our hungry bodies.  Immediately afterwards, it was off to Malibu for some beach driving.  Coastal Route 1 in California stretches from Los Angeles to San Francisco and is said to be among the most scenic drives in the country.  We took to the cliffs of Malibu, occasionally stopping to look over the bluffs onto the Pacific, or to catch a squadron of pelicans soaring to a fish feeding.  California's natural side is something exceptional, and should not be overshadowed by the often mediocre cityscapes--LA being chief among them.

Malibu was still fighting off the mid-morning clouds, so we opted for Santa Monica for a shot of the finish line of Route 66--the capstone of our voyage--and to stroll, eat, and swim.  A lunch on seafood at an oyster bar was the motivation to hit the beach.  Santa Monica is famed for surfing, skateboarding, and beach culture in general.  The giant stretches of sand did not disappoint.  We dove in and out of the waves, occasionally playing firsbee or watching pelicans dive-bomb their latest fish kill.  all in all, it was the flip of the switch to kick our final day of travel into gear.

Following the beach party, we inched through absolutely insane LA traffic for about one hour before reaching the Griffith Observatory in Beverly Hills.  The dedication to astronomy in a stately building overlooking the spread of a major metropolitan area was not unlike that of the Sacre Coeur, even if that site is less devoted to astrophysics and more to theology.  The hilltop perch and the ceaseless awe of the universe melded nicely and we stayed for a couple hours--taking in the sunset with hundreds of visitors while taking brief trips into the Leonard Nimoy museum on black holes and all things space.  As the light faded from orange to blue to black, our time seemed up.  Without much hesitation, we moved down into Santa Monica one last time for tapas at a Spanish bar and restaurant called Pintxo.  The Spanish tortilla and deserts were outstanding and sent us back to the hotel with total degustational satisfaction.  

While at the hotel, we ponitificated on the countless stops and diversions we had encountered over the previous three weeks.  The seemingly neverending miles in front of us while twisting through cornfields in Illinois, or searching for ideals without result, or even winning at the most famous roulette tables in the world, the whole thing was a bit big to consider just yet.  With a glass of celebratory cognac, we toasted our mutual sense of (mis)adventure, and turned in for the night--sure to make our trip to the airport to retire our faithful rental car and to dart to our respective positions on the globe.  English and adventure were the targets, and they were often hit; often not.  In the end, we both agree that our take-aways from such a trip will likely grow and change in the weeks to come.  So, without declaring any conclusions, we simply set our alarms like any other night, and prepared for the morning's journey.  Rest easy Los Angeles--you were a welcome final destination... 
 
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