Saturday, March 30, 2013

From Santa Monica to Carpenteria

We were on the road again and whipping right along at 5 mph...

The Pacific Coast Highway at 3 PM on a Monday afternoon with the fog rolling in, the traffic at a near standstill and there I was, burning gas at the rate of $4.29 a gallon. If I had any thoughts of more sightseeing in LA this is where those thoughts went right out the window.

PCH hugs the coast as it goes north and I was hoping for some good ocean pictures along the way.  Alas,  the fog thwarted me...

However,  I was pretty pleased to actually get these two action photos.  The wind was blowing, the air was a very chilly 55-60 degrees but, as usually seen everywhere on the west coast, those inhuman creatures in their black rubber skin were out in droves.

An hour out of LA and the traffic eased up, the sun peeked out a bit, the wind died, and nostalgia took hold.

Living in the desert has been fun and interesting but I have sorely missed the calming ambiance of a sandy beach with its gleaming ocean and noisy seagulls.  The lazy walking along the shore line to scavenge for water-worn glass shards, peculiar shaped driftwood, and perfectly formed shells was an exercise I could indulge in for hours.

Pickle plant!

From the sign under that 250 year old tree--

As I reached the tiny beach town of Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara, I remembered the first time I walked here...

We had moved into a small motel on the beach--it was winter in 1969.  My husband and I were new owners of a restaurant in Santa Barbara; Tommy was only a year old. Life was grand.  We were going to live in the most beautiful spot on the west coast.  That is, until one week later, when the 'great Santa Barbara oil spill' hit this very beach!

My zoom lens was able to see one of those rigs.  They sit like waiting vultures,  just a few miles off the coast.

I remembered the cleaning stations that went up everywhere in a desperate effort to salvage some of the thousands of dying birds.  The stench of dead fish, dead birds and crude oil was overwhelming.  Cleaning the bottoms of our shoes and feet became a daily ritual.  The oil was everywhere and unavoidable,  carried by the willing workers out onto the sidewalks and roads.

At one point Lady Bird Johnson came to view the cleanup that was being loudly praised by the media and Union Oil Company.  For days in advance of her visit truck loads of new sand were brought in, dumped and spread along the beach so that it looked pristine and well-groomed--for a brief few hours.  The TV crews took their pictures,  Lady Bird gave her little speech, everyone left, then the tide rolled in--and uncovered the oil that lay under that layer of new sand.  That oil continued to plague the beaches from Santa Barbara to Ventura for the next twenty years.
And I became an environmentalist.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Getty Villa

It was 9 AM when we headed out of Santa Monica, with Santa Barbara as our next stop.  I was bemoaning the onslaught of noisy, smelly traffic all around me when I spied the 'other' Getty Museum on the Pacific Coast Highway--The Getty Villa.
Would they ask about the cat?...Would I tell the truth?...Who knows--they didn't ask.

I cheerfully paid the $15 parking fee, kissed Sigh Me on the top of the head and headed for the entrance.  BTW, there is no entrance fee except for parking.

Just a block off the highway and up the hill I discovered this quiet and peaceful oasis.

The architecture is quite beautiful and there are wonderful views of the ocean to the south and gardens all around.

Nary a sound of horns or sirens--only birds and fountains...

There was no objection to me taking pictures outside in the gardens but photography was not allowed inside.

I thought the outside was more interesting anyway....

Beautiful polished marble floors were everywhere, both inside and outside.  Getty built this place, not to live in but to display his artwork.

When I win the lottery I plan to build something similar to display my spectacular Pez collection and my extensive campaign button memorabilia.  Hmm, maybe I'll add a room for the kid's art when they were in grade school....

Meanwhile..Many of the statues  had arresting eyes constructed with a white granite-like stone and I thought those eyes distracted from the beauty of the statues...

And that cute little lady standing behind one of the statues thought the same thing.  We spent a 1/2 hour talking about Greek and Roman culture and fashions--she is a school teacher from Canada and she had some great suggestions for me when I get to Vancouver--then she went on her way. Alas, I did not learn her name or address but I certainly enjoyed our meeting.

Back to those ghastly eyes.  Why did the artists do of those statues in my yard would give me nightmares.

I did manage to steal a few inside photos but I turned off the flash so as not to alert the guards--

...or startle the Gods.

The Greek and Roman Garb of the day was so flowing, flattering and comfortable looking--how did we evolve to bras and girdles, stockings and stiletto shoes...
Tennis shoes and gym clothes may be comfortable but they aren't flattering for most of us.

There are so many nude Greek statues that I wonder if 1/2 the people didn't run around bare-bottomed.
Probably, just the good looking ones....  

Look! I found the ancestor of the Quartzsite bookseller!
It was time to get back on the road and into the traffic but this had been a good respite. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

L.A. and La Brea Tar Pits

Traveling north along the coast brought on a touch of melancholia.  Memories are powerful things and the California Coast will always produce some of my very favorites--memories of an adventurous and now departed husband,  of three kids when they were actually kids, and friends I've loved but let fade from my life.  So, to keep the memories at bay, I decided that stop number one was going to be some place I had never been in the past--The Getty Museum in the heart of 'La La Land'.

People kept warning me about the LA traffic, even on weekends, so I decided to outwit the traffic gods and travel at night.  I parked at 9 PM in the back of a hospital parking lot in one of those little beach towns south of LA and set the alarm for 4 AM.  It worked great!  Hardly any traffic at all.  At 6 AM I pulled into the Getty museum parking lot planning to sleep for another couple of hours then fix breakfast and be ready for the 10 AM opening.  Whoops!  A guard was on the gate and he did not think that was so good an idea.  He suggested I go back to Wilshire Ave. and find someplace to park there then come back at 10 AM.  So I did just that.  Wilshire Ave was  pretty quiet so I was able to park along the street and nap a bit.

Back at the Getty the same guard was ready to wave me in when he asked an innocent question,
'Any pets?...'
I told him Sigh Me never leaves the RV and would be just fine on such a cool day but that guy suddenly became sterner than a PETA appointed judge.
'You cannot come in--period!'

So--option two was the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd.  But when I reached the street a second time I found barricades everywhere and traffic being turned away--it was the Los Angeles Marathon! And I watched helplessly as thousands of runners came barreling down the street.   One nice policeman told me it would be 2 PM before the streets opened again.

Option three--I drove into this very posh Hollywood neighborhood, found a lovely neighborhood park, and decided to enjoy the quiet time until I could get to the Tar Pits.  The park was almost deserted....

There was only one lady walking her poofy poodle dog and she looked very disapprovingly at my 'less-than-adequate RV' before reaching for her cell phone.

I am now convinced she called 'Security' to chase me away.  Within minutes a local police vehicle came roaring up directly behind me in a very intimidating fashion, began talking on his radio and writing on a pad while looking me right in the eye from only a few feet away.

Oh boy, was I ready for war!  'Come on, Roust me from a public park!  I don't care how posh your neighborhood is I have every right to park here and you are going to be very sorry  if you try to move me out!  First you guys don't like my cat, and now you don't like me!  Bring it on!'  

Then the officer smiled at me, gave a little wave, and drove away.
At 2 PM I returned to Wilshire Ave. and successfully entered the La Brea Tar Pits Museum....

'In 1916 Captain G. Allan Hancock gave twenty-three acres of Rancho La Brea to the county of Los Angeles to be used as a park with the stipulation that the scientific features of the park be preserved and properly exhibited.'

At one time these 'tar seeps' covered thousands of acres of what is now the heart of Hollywood. Buildings and roads cover all but the smallest area that now comprises the park and museum.

'Western culture arrived in 1769 at what was to become Rancho La Brea when Gaspar de Portola, Governor of Lower California, and his expedition crossed the Los Angeles River and proceeded west along what is now Wilshire Blvd. He noted and wrote about the extensive swamps of asphalt..''They were boiling and bubbling...and there is such an abundance of it that it would serve to caulk many ships.''

Early scientists recovered over one million fossils from La Brea between 1906 and 1915.
Indians used the asphalt to waterproof their baskets or boats and early settlers used it to waterproof the roofing on their adobe houses.  In the early 1900s the discovery of oil led to the wealth of a number of the Rancho's owners and created more interest in the 'tar pits'.  The existence of bones in the asphalt had been known from the time of the earliest pioneers, but they were thought to be those of cattle and horses.  In 1905, scientists began looking more closely at these bones and discovered them to be part of one of the richest Ice Age fossil deposits in the world.  
Today the Rancho is completely engulfed by large commercial and residential areas, but the fossil deposits have been preserved for educational and scientific purposes.'

The extinct Ground Sloth
Stood over 6 ft. tall and weighed about 1500 pounds.  

 The Antique Bison
At least 159 of these animals have been retrieved from the tar pits.  This extinct bison is the predecessor of the modern buffalo.

Our volunteer tour guide clearly enjoyed her job.  Entrance and tours are free and the treasure of this museum was well worth the hassle to get here.

The Dire Wolf was the fore runner of the Timber wolf.

Several thousand Dire Wolves have been uncovered--this display showed only 400 of the skulls that were found.

More than 80 giant jaguars that were larger than African lions have been recovered.

There were camels and horses and all manner of bird skeletons but my favorites were the Columbian Mammoths and American Mastodons..

The American mastodon was the ancestor of the modern elephant. The more primitive mammoth was much larger at an average of 13' high and reigned during the Ice Age.

And finally, the boogie man of all the skeletons--and Sigh Me's favorite--the Saber toothed Tiger!
I find it very interesting that the tiger, the camel, the elephant and the horse were all in this hemisphere some 40,000 years ago, yet went extinct.  The horse was re-introduced by the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1500s and the camel had a brief return in the 1800s in Quartzsite.

By the end of this day I felt exhausted and was ready to settle down for the night.  Ron has a friend, Renee, who lives in Santa Monica,  and she offered to let me park outside her place for the night.  The street was quiet and level and offered no challenges. Sigh Me and I slept soundly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Balboa park

I have been trying to post this last bit from San Diego for over a week now but a few diversions got in the way...not the least of which is this computer that is working in only fits and starts after its cold water bath.  More about the other diversions later.

Before leaving this truly fair city I made one more trip to Balboa Park and spent the better part of the day wandering from museum to museum while enjoying the amazing weather.   

There were lots of walking paths to explore...

And the buildings were lovely....

I wanted to see the photography museum but was disappointed in it.  The photos they had were interesting but there was just not enough of them.

I really did like the old black and white photos--there is something very artsy about black and white and I don't exactly know why. Do they make one of these little digital cameras that only takes black and white photos...hmmm
And once again, no one would let me take a picture inside the museum. I suppose that taking pictures of pictures is a bit silly.   

A fu part of the park was the people watching.

and there was lots of music...

I searched for a Segway but never found one.  There were way too many people anyway.

These Moreton Bay fig trees were interesting...

And so was the architecture.

I did not realize that proselytizing had become a part of the park experience to the extent that it has at Balboa...

Just about every faith was present and enthusiastically seeking out converts ...and with some success.

Maybe it was the urgency in the messages on the signs....

or the exuberance that some of the participants displayed.

But this guy read the bible at the top of his voice, non-stop, for at least two hours.  All I could think was that he looked like a mad bomber and I wouldn't want to get on a plane with him and that duffel bag.

There were muslims and hindus and buddhists equipped with literature and music to help sell their messages but I thought the mormons were the most innovative.  Genealogy is a hot topic these days so it was hard to pass up their table.  But I managed.

And I found an alternative message in this museum.   Hmmm.

But this is the best part of the park and takes no hard sell to gain converts.

For all you who have been worrying about me--I am now traveling north and all is okay.  Only a few mishaps but I'll cover those as I get to those postings.