Cocktails in L.A.

We always take our vacations at Spring Break, because that’s when hotels are the most expensive and airlines are the most crowded. This year we picked Los Angeles as our destination, because Cheryl had never been there before. I have spent close to a year of my life there, if you add up all the trips for work, but clearly, that was not enough.

On March 12, the first day of our 2012 Spring Break trip, we visited the presidential library and final resting place of our favorite recent president, Ronald Reagan. The Reagan Library sits on a hilltop in Simi Valley, and they say on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean to the west, but it wasn’t, and we couldn’t. Apparently,  March 12 is also the day every grade-school in greater Los Angeles takes a field trip to the library. Buses full of kids arrived every few minutes, and it was often hard to move without stepping on one.

One of the most interesting things at the library is the Boeing 707 jetliner that had served as Air Force One for President Reagan. It is jam-packed with technology that was state-of-the-art in the 1980’s, but today it is so outdated that it felt like we were in a museum, which I suppose, in a sense, we were. While we were inside the plane, we overheard a tour guide explaining the purpose of a typewriter to a group of school children.

Cheryl in the Air Force One building at the Reagan Presidential Library.

More photos from the library grounds and AF1 building. Reagan’s grave is lower left.

After we left the Reagan Library, we stopped to eat at an In-N-Out Burger. We both agreed In-N-Out has one of the best hamburgers anywhere. We also agreed it is probably a good thing there are none close to home, since a double-double, fries and a Coke has about 1200 calories.  After lunch we headed up the coast to Santa Barbara. We drove around downtown for a few minutes, but Cheryl said she was not interested in shopping, so after I changed my pants, we went to Longboard’s Restaurant on the Santa Barbara Pier and had cocktails.

Here we go! Having a tasty rum concoction at Longboard’s on the Santa Barbara Pier.

On Tuesday, Cheryl wanted to go Malibu. I had told her repeatedly there is nothing to see in Malibu except houses built so close together you can’t even see the beach.  She considered this information, and then we went anyway. Fortunately, we discovered a nice place for lunch called the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. I can enthusiastically recommend the fish tacos. Cheryl would probably recommend The Perfect Day, a mixture of several rums and a couple of shots of fruit juice, which I think was only included to give the drink some respectability. We took a short stroll on the beach after lunch, and the cliffs were nice to look at, but it had clouded over and turned cool, so we went back to the car and drove south down the Pacific Coast Highway, and we stopped when we got to Santa Monica.

Toes in the sand at Malibu.

We ended up at the Santa Monica Pier. I wanted to show Cheryl the famous carousel, but it was closed on Tuesday, so we walked out to the end of the pier and watched some people fish for sea bass, or something, but that was about all there was to see, so we went in Mariasol’s Mexican Restaurant and had cocktails.

When we left Mariasol’s,  we were accosted by a young couple wearing Indiana University T-shirts, who demanded we take their picture. Seeing no clear way of escape on the narrow pier, I said okay. They seemed pleased with the result when I showed it to them in their camera, and then they insisted on taking our picture. We reluctantly agreed, believing it was the only way we would ever break free of them. The picture is posted below and it is not a very good one, but that has to be because Hoosiers, as a rule, are not skilled at photography. It was certainly not the fault of the subject matter.

Posing for Hoosiers on the Santa Monica Pier.

We left Santa Monica and went to the original Cheesecake Factory on Beverly Drive for cocktails…and dinner.

On Wednesday, we took a Starline Tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Twenty years ago I would have stabbed myself in the neck with a pencil before I did something like this, but now, I have to admit I enjoyed it and I think it was my favorite part of the trip. We boarded an open-top van behind Grauman’s Chinese Theater and it took us on a two hour tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Checking out the celebrity prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater before the Starline Tour. 

In addition to the houses pictured below, we saw the current or former homes of Jimmy Kimmel, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Jason Segel, Hallie Berry, Dr. Phil, Ozzie Osborne, Katy Perry, Larry King, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Danny Thomas, Frank Sinatra and Simon Cowell. We also saw Madonna’s mailbox, Tom Cruise’s chimney and Sandra Bullock’s garage door.

Lucille Ball’s house in Beverly Hills. “Lucy, I’m home.”Elvis Presley’s first Los Angeles home in Trousdale Estates, Beverly Hills. Lana Turner’s home. This is the site of the infamous Johnny Stompanato killing. Hollywood lore at its finest.

No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a photo with the Hollywood sign. Our tour driver promised us a good vantage point for pictures, but I have to say I was a little disappointed with his selection. I’m pretty sure we were closer when our plane flew by it on our approach to LAX.

Hooray for Hollywood.

The Starline van drove us down Rodeo Drive, and I was afraid someone famous would see me and think I was hanging out with a bunch of rubes. We didn’t see any celebrities, but we did see a $1,500,000 Bugatti parked in front of Bijan’s.  Cheryl and I decided that was too much money to spend on a car, even for someone who wouldn’t miss it. We agreed you should never spend more than a million.

Shots from Rodeo Drive

On the last day of our trip, we went to the horse races at Santa Anita in Arcadia. It’s a beautiful race track with palm trees, topiaries, magnificent animals, colorful characters and a spectacular view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Cheryl cashed tickets on six of eight races and she was quite pleased with herself, almost to the point of becoming obnoxious. My results are not worth mentioning. But it was a nice way to spend a day and, of course,  afterwards we had cocktails.

“Riders up!” Cheryl in front of the ring where the jockeys mount the horses at Santa Anita.

Shots from the racetrack. Seabiscuit’s statue is on the left.

On Friday, our Los Angeles vacation came to an end. It was fun, but when you get right down to it, L.A. is a lot of work, with the traffic and the time change and the millions of people everywhere. I went to bed exhausted every night. For our next trip, I think we will go back to Florida, where I can relax on the beach in a comfortable chair while someone brings me cocktails.


About Truman

I find myself on the downside of my sixtieth year, older but not old, wiser but not wise, and still wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
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