Wednesday, October 17, 2012

L to the A

It was my first time to visit Los Angeles. Being in town for just one night, and accompanied by my teenage daughter with the stated purpose of visiting college campuses, my options were limited.

As we drove away in our rental car I noted the locations of a few gas stations so I could fill up on my way back. I reached an overpass, which I drove under, and not paying attention to signs (or the lack thereof) I thought it might be 405. I simply made a left from under the overpass to find that there was no entrance ramp, and this was not 405. No biggie, and besides, fate was rolling the dice.

I drove down a ways and turned right and as we neared 405, and rounded a bend, a huge donut loomed ahead. Randy’s Donut’s. This was my first movie moment, being that I have seen that huge donut in movies. We stopped for donuts, of course. It was 9:30 in the AM, after all. Cake-like donuts with loads of sugar.

We had no official appointment at UCLA, but we walked around the campus just to check it out. Pretty campus. I liked the big, tall trees. It was also hilly. A quiet Sunday morning. Driving back down 405 I decided we would head out to Venice Beach and have lunch.

This is when it became obvious that freeway ramps in LA are almost never setup like freeway ramps in Dallas. Except right in downtown Dallas there are feeder roads alongside freeways, with entrance/exit ramps. If you want to make what amounts to a left-turn from a street unto a freeway then about 95% of the time you do so from the left lane. But the norm in LA would seem to be from the right lane, with a clover-leaf ramp. Or even turn right and drive down a block to turn right twice more. Two rights really do make a left.

After finding myself on the wrong side of the street a few times I settled into the routine.

My second movie moment came when I saw exits for Olympic and Pico. Don’t ask me how my brain functions, but when I saw the names of these two streets the first Terminator movie popped into by head, as both streets get a mention.

Venice Beach was as expected; full of good people watching. We checked out a few shops and ate lunch at Danny’s, a tasty deli. I had the Cuban sandwich and my daughter had the pastrami. Very good chips. Walking along Venice Beach was a definite movie moment; how many movies have featured Venice Beach?

We drove by USC to get familiar with the area and then headed to the hotel, a Ramada near the convention center. Nap time.

On a recommendation we drove out to Tarzana for dinner. Sol y Luna. It is on Ventura Boulevard, so more a music moment than movie. Awesome guacamole, good Mexican food. Mmm, guacamole.

The following morning I searched for “breakfast in Los Angeles” and the third choice down, nearby and on the way to USC, was Jacks N Joe. I had buttermilk pancakes, and I tell ya, they might well have been the best pancakes I ever stuffed in my mouth. Daughter had the French toast, which also a got a thumbs up.

USC is great. I want to go to school there. Interesting that USC is flat, while UCLS is hilly. We were there for quite some time. Read the campus paper. Observed student traffic between classes.

We had plenty of time before out late afternoon flight and headed toward Santa Monica. My daughter was browsing lunch spot reviews and we opted for some deli-style place. To be honest, I forgot the name. We found it and parked across the street in a Von’s parking lot, with “you will be towed” signs all over. We headed into Von’s and bought a few snacks for the plane.

We had lunch at a place called Swingers (not our original destination). I had the pasta special and it was tasty. My daughter kept worrying about the car, thinking we would get towed. I tried to explain to her that the only way they would know to tow us is if we didn’t go into Von’s, and we went into Von’s and even bought something! But she just couldn’t get over it.

Then it was out the airport and a flight outta there.

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