Monday, 17 September 2012

Day 19 - City of Angels

We spent an awesome 20 minutes talking to the owner of the Wigwam motel before leaving this morning.  He was telling us stories about the various trips he's done and gave us some advice about places to visit including the location of banana split epicness in Pasadena.  One thing became immediately apparent from his stories - route 66 is a party town on wheels.  Many of the characters we've met along the way are total party animals but we just didn't catch them at the right time of day to experience it.  Probably just as well since neither Rachael or I are big drinkers. He also got us to take a couple of mad photos as the people who just stand in front of the wigwams are boring.  So we hugged it and there was another one where we totally failed to jump in front of it.

Technically we think (well according to google / wikipedia) these should be called Teepee's because their shape is wrong for a wigwam.  But the motel is called Wigwam so we are going with that.
Hugging a concrete wigwam - as you do...
Setting off west from San Bernardino we started to experience end of trip anxiety.  Initially we had planned to end our R66 adventure today before spending a couple of days in LA and then heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, our final destination before flying home.  But somehow we didn't want R66 to end just yet.  Some friends we met along the way are finishing their journey on Tuesday and since thats the day we are due to leave LA we decided to try to meet up with them and complete it together.  So we got to Hollywood where our hotel is and just stopped.

Before that however, we passed through a number of LA adjacent towns and drove basically along one really long road from San Bernadino to Pasadena.

Apparently there used to be lots of these in California but this is the only one left.  Still not 100% sure what it is though.
California kicking arse on signage.
One of the only actual road name signs with Route 66 on we've seen along the whole trip.
Since it was lunchtime when we stopped in Pasadena, we tracked down the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, as recommended, for a sandwich and to share the banana split of epicdom.  Let's be clear though - there was one banana sliced lengthwise in this thing.  And about 4 pints of icecream, sauces, whipped cream and cherries.  We attacked it as best we could but definitely could have used a 3rd person in the team to really obliterate it.

The banana was pretty much an afterthought in this mountain of ice-cream .
Moving on we negotiated LA traffic and managed to find our hotel pretty easily. The Hollywood hotel is surprisingly great.  We got an amazing deal for it online at Expedia and it's one of the nicest hotel we've stayed in since Chicago.  We read the reviews before booking but sometimes other people's idea of great isn't the same as ours. We'd seen a few times that places get 5 star reviews when we might only give them 3.  But so far the Hollywood is all it promised and more.  Having checked in we headed straight out again because we wanted to fit in a sunset visit to the Griffith Observatory and it's closed on Mondays so we needed to go today.

The Griffith Observatory - yes this is where they shot one of the Charlie's Angels movies... 
Griffith was fantastic.  It felt smaller than the Adler in Chicago but we both felt it was a more satisfying experience and more focused on education than entertainment, especially for the planetarium show.  The one at Griffith was narrated live by a guy with an amazing movie announcer / actor voice (probably a resting actor) and it was far less contrived than the Chicago equivalent.

Observatories seem to be great places to take pictures of the cities than they are in/near because of the high view point.  I do think Chicago has LA beaten for the view though, as there was quite a haze over the sprawl of LA, and Chicago has the epic lakefront view of the city which really can't be beaten.

The Griffith is one of the best places to view the Hollywood sign - even though this was taken on full zoom!
Of course LA does have the Hollywood sign and I managed to capture a pretty good fried egg sunset from the observatory's cafe balcony.
Fried Egg Sunset
Another reason we loved the Griffith is that since the recentish refurb there is a Leonard Nimoy event theatre where they play a short film about the history of the place and the recent work.  Leonard himself does the narration and is hella cute doing it.  We wandered around for about 4 hours all told and then made our way back to our hotel.

Foucault Pendulum at the Griffith - unlike the one at Meramec caverns this one actually works.
View of downtown LA - lots of zoom to get this too.
Sponsors star for the Nimoys. <33333
Rachael consoles Pluto on it's demise as a planet.
A helpful sign in case we got lost on our visit.
Einstein looks bemused.  Rachael looks amused. I could barely hold the camera steady for laughing.
Tomorrow we have another easy day - Hollyweird sightseeing and dinner with fandom friends.  Looking forward to it. :D

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