Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Los Angeles, an overrated city that we needed to see, but don't feel the need to return to. What I did on my summer vacation Part 7

When I was a child we drove through L.A. but my dad didn't stop. He wasn't into the hype and had no interest in sight seeing so I always wanted to return on my own so I could actually stop at all these cool places and spend a little time.

Our first stop was the La Brea Tar Pits. The Boy enjoyed the tar farts that came up every so often. And we all loved the abundant amounts of fast food containers and beer bottles that were hopelessly stuck in the tar, to be preserved for generations (I'm not sure if my sarcasm came through on that last sentence so I'll just spell it out here -- some people disgust me).

We toured the museum and posed for cheesy photos in front of their green screen. Jayme happened to be wearing a green shirt so he got lost in the background and it looks a little disturbing. This is one of the many reasons I shoot on white backgrounds when I want to extract. Anyway, let's all point and laugh at the silly photos.

Next we hit the Hollywood strip to see the stars. Only we didn't really see any stars in the living breathing celebrity sense (although Jayme swears he saw Jeff Daniels riding a bicycle through the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco). We made do with the stars on the sidewalk, and then the hands and footprints in front of the Chinese Theater. The girls had to find the Harry Potter stars and we took our cheesy photos, bought our cheap plastic souvenir crap (and Jayme did a little scoffing at the Scientology offices) and then we hit the beach.

We drove to Santa Monica Pier, but we took the long way down Sunset so we could see a bit of the city. L.A. is big. Really big. But it's also smoggy. I felt like a had a layer of film over my eyes the entire time I was there. Like I was seeing the world through a frosty glass. I'm not sure how people who live there can stand it. When we left the city it was like I could see clearly again. The clouds were lifted.

So we walked around the pier for a little while, got ice cream and then hit the overcrowded, polluted beach. It was a bit different than the beaches we're used to in Texas, but I would not say better. There were just too many people and too much trash. The coastline we saw along Oregon was the most beautiful, cleanest and most interesting. The image you see below of my daughter silhouetted against the beach is actually altered. I had to remove about a dozen people behind her in the water and along the sand.

We intended to hit the Griffith Observatory that evening, but the ride back to our hotel took twice as long as it should have. I mapped it out and it appeared that our hotel was about 14 miles away and GPS was estimating 35 minutes to get there. I scoffed because most of the way was an interstate and was sure we'd be there much sooner. Well, I had never experienced L.A. traffic. It actually took us about an hour and a half to go those 14 miles. Lovely. We decided to grab something to eat and hit the hay.

This ended our little excursion down the western coast. We caught a plane for home the next morning and were thrilled to return to the somewhat cleaner air of San Antonio.

I thought the trip was amazing. Sure the kids squabbled but I have the amazing gift most moms have to be able to tune it out. I just heard the sweet sounds of excitement coming from the backseat. Jayme tells me they bickered nonstop. He pulled me aside the evening after we returned home and said "no more road trips. Please." But I don't know. I kind of want to return to Yellowstone National Park next year. What do you think?

Lisa On Location Photography

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Great America Road Trip -- Route 1 California. What I did on my summer vacation Part 6

Leaving San Francisco, some of us were a little bit cranky. We were going on a solid week of togetherness, which we look back on and laugh now. But at the time, certain members of our family were about spent. We left SF early because we knew we had a long drive ahead of us down to L.A. Our first stop was at the Winchester Mystery House. I jumped out of the rental car to get our tickets and Jayme was supposed to follow me inside. Only he didn't. Our tour time came and went and he still wasn't in. I went out to find out what was holding him up and he was still in the car looking for the smart key. You know the kind that just has to be inside the car in order to work. The car would start, so we knew it was in there somewhere. But he couldn't find it. If we couldn't take it with us, anyone could come along and take our car, or my camera gear, which I couldn't lock up. We started taking every single bag out of the car and seeing if it would still start without that bag. We emptied out the entire car of every bag and cleaned all the crap out from under all the seats and it still started. They had valet parking at the hotel we left in S.F. so we called them to see if they could tell us where they put the stupid key. The attendants on the phone were confused by or call -- being that they spoke very little English. They kept putting us on hold so they could go find our car in the garage. Then it hit Jayme, where is a stereotypical stupid place to hide a key where every car thief in every movie always finds it. On top of the sun visor! So there it was!

Well that was a nice wasted hour on our long S.F. to L.A. road trip, but we did finally get into the mystery house. I was so disappointed that they wouldn't let you take photos on the tour. Darn it! But we did enjoy it very much. It's a crazy house, definitely worth a stop if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

After the Mystery House we hit the road again ready for a long haul along the coastline. It was a long winding road but the scenery was gorgeous around every turn. Surprisingly there aren't many stops along the old Highway 1. Towns were few and far between so we were a little worried when The Boy piped up "I have to use the potty" and there was absolutely nothing on the map for miles. Fortunately, it was only number 1 and he's a boy so that made it a little easier.

Here are just a few examples of the amazing scenery we found on this stretch of our trip.

We came across some areas that were inhabited by elephant seals. We pulled over to watch them for a while and were fascinated with their behavior. The males were trying to show dominance over each other. It reminded me of a few human men I've known in the past.

It took about 10 long hours but we finally made it to L.A. just after dark. We checked into our haunted hotel, the Historic Hollywood Hotel, which was actually very nice, and we hit the hay, ready for a long day of Hollywood site seeing. I'll tell you about that part next time.

Lisa On Location Photography