Friday, October 16, 2009

Los Angeles ... my personal travelogue

Going to L.A. is an interesting experience. Having never been there I did not really know what to expect. My knowledge of the city and southern california in general came from television. Specifically, reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies. And as we all know, TV teaches you what it wants you to believe. So what did I learn in my 5 days in "tinsel town?" A lot! But here it is whittled down into it's easiest "must know" form. Throw away the AAA Southern California guide ... and trust me. :)

-What is Los Angeles about? Easy. CARS. 10,000,000 people live in the L.A. basin and I think each one owns 5 cars. And they are all running. That might be an exaggeration but it does not feel like it when it's 10:00PM and you are still sitting in rush hour traffic. The locals call I-405 "the 4 0 5." But they pronounce it "the 4 or 5." That is because you usually do 4 or 5 mph when you drive on it. They are not exaggerating.

-Though the cars are legion the drivers are surprisingly friendly. I could not believe this one but 5 days proved that the inital act of kindness we experienced was more than a one time anomaly. If you need to change lanes and you turn on your blinker .... lo and behold ... someone lets you in! Of course, it's made easier by the fact that everybody is cruising along at 4 or 5 mph. Still, in nice midwestern St. Louis attempting to change lanes in rush hour will get your rammed or shot.

-Smog. The locals call it haze. My response? HAHAHAHAHA! I know smog when I see and smell it. The city is virtually surrounded by mountains but you really wouldn't know it unless you actually went to the edge of the city and ran into one. That's because you can't see them. Why? Because there are 2,500,000 cars all idling on the expressways at once 24 hour a day.

Do you see downtown L.A. in this picture? Of course you do! That's it in the smog. Do you see the mountains behind the city? Of course you don't! But if you could they would look like this ...

Yeah. That's a hang-glider BELOW us. So the mountains are really mountains. Big enough to jump off of.

-It is possible to stand in your 3rd floor bathroom in a 5 story hotel and actually hear the traffic outside through the ceiling fan. No, this was not a Motel 6. This was a Springhill Suites. As in Marriott. Did I mention that there are a whole lot of cars out on the roads 24/7?

-You know that "HOLLYWOOD" sign you have heard about? Well, it really is big and it really is up there above Hollywood Hills. It isn't that easy to find. You can't just stand around LA and see it. You have to look for it. I gave up and googled it to find it's location and the best places to view it. There aren't that many. And if you want to climb to it .... uh uh. The first thing you will see up there is a police helicopter buzzing you telling you to climb down. The second thing you will see is a police car and a nice man with hand-cuffs offering you a stay in "Hotel California." Well, that's what you get if you survive the rattlesnakes. How do I know that there are rattlesnakes? Because I read the signs. This is what they said ...

-If you are not going to L.A. for the beaches ... don't go to L.A. Well, there is the sunshine. And the warmth. If those things count for you, hop a plane. Just remember ... the cars out number the planes and the beaches combined.

-As crowded as the expressways are in L.A. there are a few with virtually no cars on them. These are called "Tollways." Nobody drives on the tollways. Sometimes there aren't even people in the toll booths to collect your money. But if you drive through without paying they will take a picture of your license plate and send you a bill for $55.00 so I don't recommend this practice. How do you pay when there are no toll booth attendants? Easy. They have those machines like at a car wash where you feed your dollar bill in but instead of giving you tokens it lets you drive. God help you if your dollar bill is ripped or wrinkled and there is a car behind you. Please don't ask how I know.

-Would you like to see L.A. at night? Okie dokie. Here it is...

-Always remember that your trusty GPS might know the quickest or the closest route to your destination but it does not not not take into consideration the condition or safety of the roads along your route. This is a really important thing to remember. Again, don't ask how I know.

-The very best food item in all of L.A. is called the "Pazookie" and it is served at a place called "B.J's." A Pazookie alone is worth the price of your airline ticket. And it is almost worth the drive from the airport through the city to the restaurant. Almost. A Pazookie looks like this ...

-Flight time from St. Louis to Orange County is approximately 5 hours. Oddly enough that is not as long as it takes you to drive from the far southern L.A. suburbs (like San Clemente) to the far northern L.A. suburbs (like Simi Valley) and back again. Did I mention that there is a lot of traffic in this city?

Well, that's the skinny on L.A. There is, of course, a lot more to be said but this little blog is getting long and you need your rest. So I'll shut up now.

I'm done.

Why are you still reading.

Seriously. That's all.

Sheesh. You don't give up easily, do you?



Anonymous said...

So how was the traffic in LA...HEHEHE... I'm being stupid... Looked like you guys had a good time. I am happy.

Jeff your brother...