On Monday, October 14, we again took the Coaster to San Diego to tour the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier from 1945-1992 that now serves as a museum in the harbor. The ship was built to accommodate 3,500 sailors but sometimes had as many as 4,500. The mattresses on the triple bunks – and many bunks per room – seemed not much larger than crib mattresses. I can’t imagine living in that close of quarters with no privacy. We then took a bicycle taxi to Hard Rock Cafe where Laurel enjoyed looking at the memorabilia.
On Wednesday we took the Amtrak Surfliner to Van Nuys, just north of Los Angeles, and went to the Getty Center. We then spent the night at a nearby hotel and spent today, Thursday, wandering around the Hollywood Museum and Hollywood Boulevard. Although there is a local train system in Los Angeles, it doesn’t go anywhere that we needed it to go, so we had to take taxis. The train system looked so unhelpful when I was doing an Internet search before our trip that I thought I must be misinterpreting it, so I Googled something about it. What I found was a Los Angeles Times editorial from October 13 that I thought was pretty funny.
What do travelers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport want to see on their way to baggage claim? Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti said he knew: Disney characters. Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Goofy, maybe even Chip and Dale. Because they were created here. They are Los Angeles. They’d tell you that you had arrived. But let’s face it, that’s low on the list of priorities for most travelers. When a visitor arrives at LAX today, his or her first question is unlikely to be “Where are the people in the mouse and duck outfits?” but rather “Why is this city so dysfunctional?” Trying to find the subway into town, for instance, visitors may hear rumors of the Metro Green Line, which has a stop somewhere in the general neighborhood of, but most definitely not in, the airport. They may hear that it can take them by rail to the city center or to Hollywood. It’s out there. Somewhere. Now call me a cab.
We weren’t flying in to LAX, but Union Station also didn’t have any trains going to the Getty Center, thus the taxi from Van Nuys. The Getty Center is a free art museum high up on a hill and accessible only by hovercraft funicular (tram). It was completed in 1997 with funding of $1.3 billion from the Jean Paul Getty Trust after 13 years of designing and building. Getty made his money in oil and, according to his Wikipedia page, was a real piece o’ work. The grounds and buildings are beautiful and peaceful though. Charlie doesn’t complain about going to museums, but he clearly has no interest in any of them. At the Getty Center he mostly sat on benches in the middle of the rooms. At one point though he was up and leaning on the frame of a painting. The security guard rushed over; I scolded; Charlie returned to the bench. The thought of what could have happened…the frame falls off the wall; Charlie’s head goes through the painting…made me think of a movie clip of Bean that I’ve seen on YouTube. Mr. Bean accidentally damages a valuable painting and tries to fix it. It’s hysterical.
We enjoyed Hollywood today although there were hordes of tourists. (Darn those tourists!) Laurel was wondering what a summer weekend must be like if it’s this busy on a weekday in October. Cabs are hard to come by in Hollywood and when we finally got one, the driver said in his ten years as a taxi driver, he’d never heard of the Glendale Amtrak station where we needed to go. After searching the area and calling his dispatcher and making a Uturn, he got us there and apologized for the mishap. He said he’d driven by that train station many times but thought it was a hotel. It seems all roads lead to LAX or Union Station and the less-traveled stations are REALLY less traveled.