Time to Show Off LA
By the dawn’s early light (for one must reference the national anthem whenever possible), LA did look different, and a lot more positive. And not what I was expecting.
Green (no amber waves of grain here), quiet (yeah, go figure), houses that are generous within, but rubbing elbows with next door neighbours on either side, wide roads made narrow with loads of cars parked on-street… all served to provide a perfect blend of Canada and Britain as a backdrop for this adventure.
With all possible care to keep quiet, the boy and I explored the room we were sharing. Packed with toys, games, Lego figures, books and DVDs, it was next to impossible to be quiet… mainly because it’s an old house with creaky hardwood floors everywhere, and we kept knocking stuff onto said floors. At about 6am. Or earlier. (Did I mention that I don’t travel well? And that jet lag is a biotch?)
Trying to tidy up after the boy had knocked down a small paperback, I managed to knock over a large hardback book. Enough is enough. We stepped gingerly back, and eschewed tip-toeing our way downstairs; we had probably woken the whole house already, so we decided that breakfast was next on the list.
Have you ever tried to be quiet in the kitchen? It’s not easy. Everything is designed to clatter and echo, but in your own kitchen, you know where everything is, and you know how to fend for yourself. In someone else’s kitchen, just at half-past stupid in the morning, this task is bleeding impossible. Thankfully, my sister-in-law is (mostly) a morning person, extremely gracious, and all-round wonderful. She showed me the coffee (did I mention she is angelic? I should have) and provided toast for the picky eater masquerading as my son.
Eventually, everyone was up and ready to face the LA morning. Big brother took us to The Grove, a fairly hip interpretation of a Farmer’s Market, with food to satisfy any palate. (Except the boy, who defaulted to his favourite Starbucks brownie. Can’t get him to try much else.)
Because of its proximity to the CBS building, various stars of the small screen will frequent The Grove for breakfast. And I saw two! Of course, I can’t remember their names for the life of me, plus I got rid of the IMDB app from my iPad, so I can only identify them as the guy from ‘Mad About You’ who played a supporting role (not Ira), and one of the teachers from ‘Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide’. Yeah, I know… I suck at star-spotting. So sue me. (Oh wait, this is LA. That might actually happen. Please don’t sue me – I have nothing you want!)
I managed to orchestrate a detour into Barnes and Noble… wow. Haven’t seen a bookstore that large or busy in, well, forever. Half an hour later, 75 bucks lighter and four books heavier, I left quite happy and hoping for an hour or so to enjoy my new reading material. But big bro had another idea.
We headed to the infamous Hollywood hills, complete with sign, palm trees, and sun. Lots of sun. Up the hill, following the switchback road that changed the view with every turning, we got closer to the Griffin Observatory, an impressive Greek-inspired building perched on the edge of the hill. Barely noon, the observatory hadn’t opened yet, and already there were crowds of people milling about the entrance, waiting to be let in. The parking lot was full and more cars began to line both sides of the steep road to the top of the hill.
Suffice to say that I enjoyed wandering (and wondering) around this place; the Steampunk in me thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Tesla Coil fired up. The professor of the human condition enjoyed watching other people wander (and wonder) around. The only low point was when I discovered, to my complete horror, that I weighed more than big bro on the moon. Must work harder on the whole “losing weight” malarkey.
Back at the house, and the boy discovered the joys of a pool in the backyard, complete with playful dogs and an accommodating uncle. I, on the other hand, discovered the downside of spontaneity… in the form of a brightening red strip across the back of my son’s neck: his pure white, glowing British skin highlighted clearly his newfound, and accurately-named, redneck. Layers of 50SPF sunblock later, and the boy was released to sit in a sunny spot to read quietly. Only an hour later did the complaining, and layers of after-sun spray, begin.
But my greatest discovery during this first day in LA was the unmistakeable combination of dog slobber and pool water. Both dogs have a penchant for dunking their throwing ball in the pool. The resultant liquid smear discouraged any kind of traction or friction, unless you are in possession of a mouthful of canines. I think I may have discovered the perfect lubricant for a perpetual motion machine.
Now, I just need to invent the machine….