Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hollywood Attractions and Scenic Californian Drives

We began our seventh day on a dreary California highway headed towards West Hollywood.  Despite the smoggy drive to our first destination, The Getty Center, the skies finally opened when we pulled into the museum parking lot.  One quick tram ride overlooking the busy Pacific Coast highway as well as the impressive California hills brought us to the Museum's central plaza.

The museum itself is a staggering work of art, and it took us the better part of an hour to wander through and investigate the blinding white concrete buildings and lush pink flowers bordering the premises.  Of course, in true Baltimore/Bill Decker fashion, we met a Baltimore native and his wife and son; we even ate lunch with them and exchanged life stories before we explored the galleries.  

Once sated and ready to enter the painting and portrait galleries, we started for the J.M.W. Turner exhibit.  I'm not exactly sure when I first discovered Turner's work, but I've been enamored with his seascapes for years (especially after I read Melville's Moby Dick and wrote a paper about Turner's influence on Melville and depictions of the sublime--don't you love this lit-nerd crap?).  Anyway, this is the first painting I saw in the room containing Romantic painters, and it's the first original Turner I've seen in a gallery.  I snapped a few pictures of my favorites from the day.  I made sure to turn off the flash feature on my camera too, so rest assured, I did not destroy the integrity of these paintings.  

J.M.W. Turner, Van Tromp Going About to Please His Masters - Ships at Sea Getting a Good Wetting (1844)

Claude Monet, Sunrise (1873)

Sebastiano Ricci, Perseus Confronting Phineus with the Head of Medusa (1705-1710)

I've seen this sculpture at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice too, but I forget the name :(

This was a bed!

We were officially tired after walking around for nearly three hours, so we called it a day and continued on to Hollywood.  Our hotel was within walking distance of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, so we made that our evening destination.  It seemed fitting to us that Marilyn Monroe's sultry smile routinely popped up along the walk to downtown Hollywood, for most associate the city where dreams and stars are made with glamour, charm, and fortune.  However, we were quickly dismayed; this side of Hollywood was by no means glamorous.  The Walk of Fame is teeming with star impersonators and young hustlers trying to make a quick buck, and they are often quite good at making you feel bad when you say, "No, I wouldn't want a picture with the real Michael Jackson" or "No, berating me with phrases like 'it's just music; it won't hurt you' will not encourage me to purchase your CD."  The night should have been a total flop, but we managed to salvage it with food and a couple good pictures.  

On the way to the Hollywood Mall.

This is for mom and Grandma Decker.  I'll never forget the day Grandma Decker used the phrase, "He can put his shoes under my bed anytime" after watching Kevin Costner in For the Love of the Game.  Amazing.

These are a couple of the theaters in the area. I believe the one on the left is a regular public theater and the one on the right is the world famous Chinese Theater.  

Just one of the many awesomely decorated parking garages in the area.

I met Sister Mary Clarence in our hotel lobby.  She wasn't very talkative, being a wax figure and all.  She was also incredibly creepy.  

Saturday, June 3rd

Early this morning, we drove to the Hollywood sign.  Unfortunately, the fog made it impossible to snap a clear picture.  That was a bit of a disappointment, but I'll always have the crystal clear picture of the equally impressive Hollywood sign resting just beyond the Hampton's pool. Win!

Today was a big driving day, but we made sure to stop by the LA Farmers Market for a quick breakfast before hitting the pavement.  Walking through the market with my dad as a kid on the weekends (probably with Jon or Steve in tow) solidified for me at an early age that markets are one of life's small treasures.  They must be respected and enjoyed.  

As soon as we arrived at the market, however, we quickly realized the shops were not due to open until 9 AM, but a couple breakfast stops were already busy with customers.  Almost unanimously, we made a beeline for Bob's Coffee and Donuts and ordered two twisty glaze donuts, hot tea with milk, and two more double-chocolate donuts for the road.  The twisty glaze was almost too good to be true, so we split another just to make sure the first taste of heaven wasn't a fluke.  

I'll be eating at this old-fashioned waffle stand someday.

This place has your name written all over it, Dug.  I'm so disappointed it wasn't open!

Reinvigorated by our respective sugar-highs, we jumped back in the Subaru, found California State Route 1 (a state highway that runs along the Pacific Coast), and continued maiming insect after insect on the road.  

We also stopped a handful of times to explore scenic detours as well as gaze at the water beneath us.  Strong winds, surprisingly chilly weather (today's average was around 70 degrees!), and lapping waves came together to forge brief but lovely respites from the claustrophobia of the drive.  In certain crazed moments--when I felt like I couldn't handle returning to the car again--I entertained descending the mountain walls flanking the beach with the hopes of escaping the relentless machine propelling us forward.  But I did not; I simply recovered on the precipice, watching the waves flow in and out.  

Somebody told us that the ride along the coast would probably take us three hours and certainly four if we enjoyed the ride.  I think you can probably estimate how long it took us to get to Monterey, California today.  This is probably the most beautiful ride I've experienced in my life--even rivaling what seemed like epic bike rides to nearby towns in Italy.  While it's a little unnerving to weave between the towering mountain on the right and the tremendous drop to the left, the view is enough to make near-death experiences worth it.  I hope you enjoy the pictures!  

We will be in San Francisco tomorrow morning.  

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