Sunday, July 29, 2007

I heart LA

Every so often I have one of those days in LA that make me really love living here. I spent a gorgeous Sunday afternoon last December visiting the Getty Villa for the first time, seeing a fantastic Magritte exhibit at LACMA, and going to my first Laker game (awesome seats courtesy of my job, for Christmas). There have been other great experiences this summer, too: a night at the Hollywood Bowl, listening to John Williams conduct some of his best-known film scores (and watching a whole troupe of lightsabers wag along to anything from Star Wars); a pub crawl in Hermosa Beach; a bike ride along the beach to Marina Del Rey. Great experiences that I couldn't have had, had I lived anywhere else.

This weekend was one of those weekends, too. Saturday I biked the 20 blocks to the beach and met a coworker and his family there--I'd forgotten how much fun the beach could be. Grownups just have the wrong idea. Left to myself I lie as still as possible, listening to music on my iPod, and every so often I decide I've gotten hot enough that I need a dip in the ocean to cool off. So I tiptoe into the water, eventually get myself completely submerged, spend another minute or two out there (cuz it takes a lot of work to get in past your knees and not feel cold anymore), and come right back to my towel, where I lie down on my other side. Repeat.

But with kids, the ocean is an experience: not a single wave escapes your notice, because to people that are only two and a half feet tall, even the ones that barely hit my knees are a triumph for them to withstand. We go into the water, then back out, then back in again, and back out again. Finally we persuade them to come back to the towels, where everyone rests for maybe five minutes before someone has to go to the bathroom, which means a hike back across the sand to the bathrooms (ew) and, thankfully, the showers (yay!). Then back to the towels, where it's time to, obviously, build mountains out of piles of sand, name them, and then destroy them all. And then back into the water. I'd spent four hours at the beach, and my friends five, by the time we finally decided to head back up the cliffs to El Cholo for some mexican and margaritas (mmm, cheese enchiladas...). I can't remember the last time I was that tired, or had had such a satisfactory time getting that way. I tried to follow the day up with a trip to Hollywood Forever for a screening of His Girl Friday that night, but by the time I got there, they'd closed the parking lot and I had to just head back home. Probably just as well--I doubt I'd have been able to stay awake through the movie. I came home, watched Philadelphia Story (which I first saw at Hollywood Forever last summer), and was asleep by midnight.

Jump to today at 11:30 (yes, after eleven and a half glorious hours of sleep), when I realize that I'm too sunburnt to make good on the beach plans I'd made with another friend of mine and decided to cast around for other ideas of stuff we can do together. And hit upon the idea of going to the newly-reopened Griffith Observatory. I was able to get us reservations for today, so we drove over around 5 (I spent most of my afternoon doing stuff for work, trying to redeem it by accomplishing it on my laptop on the outdoor patio at Coffee Bean) and caught the shuttle up at 6. It was a great day for going up: not a cloud to be seen, warm, breezy. And the view up there is one of the most amazing in all of LA. We were too far inland and it was too hazy to see the ocean, but we had an unsurpassed view of the Hollywood sign and the hills around it, and all the way to downtown in the other direction. We wandered around the observatory and into one of the new exhibits, where we saw a film on the history of the observatory and learned that it was named after one Griffith J. Griffith (which my friend and I found to be unaccountably funny) and got more facts on its renovation, which was actually pretty impressive: all the underground exhition space is new and had to be dug out from under the existing structure, which necessitated them putting the entire foundation on hydraulic lifts and raising it so they could dig under. To look now, you can't tell such a thing ever even took place.

We came out of the history film to find the sun was in the middle of setting, which made waiting in line for the planetarium show a lot more enjoyable, as everyone was outside on the west side of the building. The planetarium show was really good as well, if a bit cheesy (there was a woman narrating it live who seemed to have an appreciation for the melodramatic). By the time we got out of that, it was dark, and the moon was rising--full moon, too. Our last stop there was the big telescope, where anyone can go in free of charge and have a look, which is pretty cool. It was trained on Jupiter and its moons, and one of the astronomers there was lecturing on the climates of the different moons, and space missions, and other related facts, and taking questions from the people waiting in line. Altogether a really cool experience--I recommend a trip up there to anyone.

And the icing on the cake: our night ended with burgers from In-N-Out.

I heart LA.

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