Continuing a theme from my last post, once again we have the last quarter moon hanging above a fairly well known landmark – the Griffith Observatory and Science Center overlooking Los Angeles. It was day two of a family vacation with a somewhat newer SLR film camera, early in the morning of November 11th, 1987.
As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂
Moments, in words and images, of our ~7000 mile, 11 day journey across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.
Missed the beginning? It starts with my 8/6/13 “…Prelude” post
Short on Time? Just visit the Photos
Thanks! And, comments are always appreciated
Approximate route covering the first 6 days
Exploring L.A. to Malibu on a 75 mile loop
Late night exit from L.A.: 180 miles to San Luis Obispo
Friday, Aug. 18, 1967 255 miles, about 19 hours
After a superb breakfast at nearby Uncle #2’s house, we thanked all for their extreme hospitality and left Van Nuys around 10 AM, PDT, well rested, eager to explore Los Angeles on our own, and swim in the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful warm day. Familiar California songs ran across our minds, if not on the radio: “California Sun,” the Rivieras; “77 Sunset Strip,” theme from the popular TV series. Our agenda was open and the day in Southern California was before us.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stop the car, run around with the tourists, and GO!
We would drive west along Hollywood Blvd., then two blocks south to Sunset Blvd. and it’s famous “Strip.” Historical Note:(See my post of 8/6/13: “…Prelude,”) A year ago to this date, the relatively unknown rock group “The Doors” were fired as the house band at the prestigious Sunset-Strip club Whiskee a’-go go as Jim Morrison became increasingly profane, thereby gaining popularity and eventually ascending from the fringes in the early rock culture.
Bill Cosby headlining the Whiskee a’ go go
We explored some of affluent Beverly Hills, crossing over the Santa Monica Mountains to the Ventura Freeway, now headed to the coast
Palm-tree lined streets in Beverly Hills
Land is at a premium in the canyons
Our road maps would take us back down through the mountains and canyons (Think: The Mammas and The Papas: Twelve-Thirty!) along Las Virgines Road to Malibu Canyon Road from which we would see the Pacific Ocean, each for our first time. It was 12:50 PM, with 3733 miles on the odometer. Shortly, we were on California 1, the Coastal Highway, and would park at Malibu Pier.
Eager to get in the Pacific Ocean
Tom and I walked a few hundred yards to the other side of the pier, changed, and were in the water in seconds. Then soaking up the sun up on a blanket, watching the surfers, and distracted by a California girl sitting near, alone “by the ocean floor,” as The Beach Boys “Surfer Girl” harmonized mentally within. We were close to the prime surfing spot, here in Southern California, on the beach, and it couldn’t get much better. Yes it could! Rent a surfboard for $4 an hour!
California Girls – Malibu
Neither Tom nor I had ever been on a surfboard. Our skills (or lack of) were obvious to the hard-core guys and girls out there a little to the right, where the waves were moderate but occasionally breaking nicely. After a while of paddling around, I got up the nerve to move closer to the action. Soon, THE wave approached. I started paddling feverishly, almost fell off before even trying to stand, regained control, and, being really psyched now, made my move to stand, and thinking: ….to the awe and reverence of those on the beach… Then: “DON”T DO IT! DON’T DO IT MAN!” came the commanding call from…where??? Behind. I dropped down before I even got up, wondering… WHAT? And two perfect guys with their perfect little dude surfer boards caught MY wave and perfectly (annoyingly!) surfed perfectly past me towards the beach.
I would try a few more times and actually manage to stand for… about 4 seconds. Dejected, I went back to the blanket, dragging the board behind, as next, Tom’s performance was (I thought,) only marginally better! Well, ok, better!
Kowabunga! Marty Surfin Malibu!
We actually savored our fortune to be enjoying this special place of lore, and would spend some three hours there relaxing and enjoying the scene. After each calling home, me dropping a fortune in quarters into a beach-side pay phone, (which sounded more like a slot machine,) we were back in the car headed down the coast, casually discussing where we might go next. It was about 4:00 PM
Historical Note: After passing Santa Monica Pier, actually the western terminus of Rt. 66, we would soon see Pacific Ocean Park, on its ocean-jutting pier, which was once envisioned to compete with Disneyland. (Re.: The Beach Boys again: “Lets Do Amusement Parks USA!”) But changing demographics and then urban revitalization projects were followed by significantly decreasing attendance which would result in the the park closing forever – which happened quietly about a month after we drove by.
Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica
With several options, we decided to return to Sunset Blvd. on this Friday night, although heavy traffic would make it a long ordeal. Once there, we cruised Sunset Strip for a few more hours with thousands of others, slowely driving one end to the other and back a number of times enjoying the energy, and eating at one of the many sidewalk cafe’s, intrigued and amused by the “hippie” sub-culture. Trying to tell male from female was a pastime, as we ate our cheeseburgers, clearly out of place in our casual but suburban NJ attire. (Historical Note: This was to become known as “The Summer of Love,” a legitimate and powerful cultural transformation gaining momentum and flourishing right here, and in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.)
Aside from the older tourists, it was different from New York’s Times Square, with which we were familiar. There was a genuine air of camaraderie here, a unification, easy purpose with a pervasive carefree attitude – undeniably fueled by seemingly restrained, almost passive authority… and drugs. For myself, I may have felt a little inwardly elitist, morally (perhaps) resisting the temptation of a different and intriguing lifestyle. But we were observers, not partakers, and despite the amusement and curiosity would soon jump back into the MGB (often and shamelessly by not using the doors…) and begin our exit out of Los Angeles.
There was one more stop, however, right there on The Strip across from the comparatively mundane (think: expensive, older, out of our priority) Los Angeles Playboy Club. There, …was the furskin-covered car, displaying the various fur skins and rugs of a self made hunter-enterpreneur (or so he implied!) Tom and I would dole out somewhat disproportionate funds to validate the feelings for our often thought of girlfriends back home.
Well patronized fur guy in gas station lot across from the Los Angeles Playboy Club
It was 11:15 PM, on Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, California, and $2.00 put 6.5 gallons (US) into the MGB’s tank (that’s $.31 per gallon.) We were tired, but cruised a bit more before leaving the city at a little after midnight. Tom was driving now, out Venture Freeway, California State 101 as I fell asleep. At about 2:30 AM with 4004 miles, we pulled off the side of the road for the night, just south of San Luis Obispo.
Just visit the photos, Thanks! and, comments are always appreciated
Approximate route of Day 5, 420 miles, about 12 hours
Thursday, Aug. 17, 1967 – Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Hoover Dam
Waking up around 8:00 in North Las Vegas, Nevada, the small motel gave us our first good night’s sleep since leaving New Jersey. Outside, the temperatures would be well over 100 today and after driving past Fremont Street and the strip again, we headed out on Rt 95/93 towards the Hoover Dam area, some 40 miles to the south-east.
Our well appreciated $8.00 motel in North Las Vegas
Hoover Dam (formerly Boulder Dam) was our destination, but a few miles before, we took a detour to a campground and swimming area on Lake Mead, the largest reservoir (by volume) in the United States, created about 32 years earlier when the dam was constructed on the Colorado River. It was refreshing to spend an hour there, our pace a bit more leisurely today.
Boulder Beach on Lake Mead – a moment to rest, swim and cool off
The world’s 7th largest kw capacity dam was not far, easy to find as high tension wires seemed to converge on that one point and dive into the base of the massive concrete structure. Spot parking allowed for rock climbing and pictures. (Historical Note: Today, (2013,) it is ranked number 60 in capacity – ref. Wikipedia)
Rt. 93 switch-backs down and over the dam to Arizona, with Lake Mead beyond
Note the transmission lines taking power out of the generators below
Walking across the dam afforded great views, but the best part was the many water fountains from which we drank plenty in the searing heat. (Historical Note: Narrow, twisty and fun Rt.93 was replaced in 2010 by a new through route, over a new bypass bridge.)
Not keen on waiting in one of several hot and sweaty tour lines, we hastened back to the hot and sweaty car, retreating towards Interstate 15, about 30 miles west, towards Los Angeles. The super-highway connects Las Vegas with Southern California for several hundred miles through the barren, alien Mojave Desert.
Still in Nevada, the Mojave Desert is sand, dry shrubs, Joshua trees and intense heat
The MGB, with about 25,000 miles on the odometer, had been running very well up to now, but this stretch would put it to the test. With a black-pavement road temperature well over 115 F (46.6 C,) the car’s water temperature was hugging the boiling point. Every slight rise would tax it to its limits, with down slopes giving a few degrees relief. It was a tense, tedious, and extremely hot several hour stretch in mid-afternoon, with over-heated cars all along the shoulders and rest areas. The admirable, little car persevered, as did Tom and I. At the California line, we dared not stop the engine after pulling over to savor the milestone. Both Tom and I were cooked by now, our canteens low and we gave-in to putting the top on for shade. (To increase open space in the car proper – behind the seats – we had been storing the normally folding top and frame in the trunk.)
The sign was like a checkered flag, as…we had arrived. California, here we are, 2:15 PM, PDT, about 3400 miles in 4 1/2 days.
At the small desert town of Baker, California, we spotted a soda machine in what appeared as an abandoned service station. It was not. Out of nowhere, a dusty, sort of ghostly-like older man, was …just there, by the old pumps, kinda shimmering in the heat! We did not need gas, and did not linger. Just got our cold sodas and…left. We do not have pictures! Baker’s average daytime high at this time of year is 110 F (43.3 C) and it’s all time record is 124 F (46 C) making this one of the hottest places on earth.
140 miles from Las Vegas, is Barstow, where we would meet Rt. 66 again, merging as part of I. 15. It is the first of any sizable towns along our desert route, but still an hour or so till the San Bernardino Mountains – and eventually, Interstate 10.
The sign (right, below) tells it, and about 35 miles later, we were in Los Angeles
We arrived into “The City of Angels” at 6:20 PM, 3645 trip miles, with the still relentless, but smog-paled sun, glaring right down in our faces as the freeway pierced the city. The L.A. City Hall Building was familiar to us as the iconic symbol of the popular TV police-series, Dragnet.
Soon we would meet and be welcomed with wonderful hospitality by two of Tom’s uncles, and their families in Van Nuys. After dinner and introducing us to lemon and orange trees by their backyard patio, Cousin Fred (and I believe his sister, and one of the uncles) would take us for a most impressive late evening tour of Hollywood, Century City and other highlights. It would be 1 or 2 AM before sleep, we the grateful guests in their home for the night.