Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LA and Hollywood

Los Angeles: the city of angels and cars. We spent 5 beautiful days in this sunny Southern California metropolis. LA is really just a bunch of separate towns and cities which have sprawled together to form a large, intricately woven concrete jungle. There are highways and interstates spread over 2 whole pages of our large Rand McNally altas in order to cover LA. We got to experience this extremely car-centered city first hand. This was the traffic on a Sunday.

LA felt dramatically different from other West Coast cities we've visited, especially San Francisco, because there was, obviously, no good public transportation.

But not all cars are bad. We have become Farhrvergnugen fans, and Southern California is a Mecca for these fun vehicles. Here's a few of our Volkswagen favorites, the Bug and the Carmen Ghia (my favorite). Maybe George will rebuild one for me one day! That's our van in the background, with another one pulling in.

And here's a classic beauty.

Our first stop in Los Angeles was to visit one of the angels that lives there, Heather, my friend from Nepal. It was so fun to see her again after 15 years and to meet her beautiful family. After catching up and strolling down memory lane, we had a good time trying to track down other folks from our trip through the cyber web of Facebook. Here we are on her porch, and I still have my T-shirt from our trip to Nepal, which I now sleep in.

Like most folks these days, Heather and her family are busy people, so we spent a much needed respite from van life in their beautiful house while they were at work and school. We were able to catch up on some school & work of our own. Adalaya found a fluffy homework helper too.

We were, however, able to tear ourselves away from our studies to admire (and sample) their citrus trees. Here's an especially handsome cluster of lemons.

And our first-ever lemon picking is documented, and that lemon was so good! Thanks for everything Heather and Michael!

After spending a quiet day at Heather's home, we were ready to see this crazy city first-hand, but what to do in such a place with so much to do? We decided to go see a movie in Hollywood, of course! It was the week before Halloween, and The Nightmare Before Christmas was playing in 4D at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.

We were previously unaware of the existence of the 4D movie experience, but we became instant fans! The movie itself is in the new 3D format, with the funny over-sized glasses (have you ever tried looking at yourself in the mirror with those things on - it's pretty crazy!) But the 4th dimension takes the movie experience to a whole new level. To begin with, the whole theatre was decked out for Halloween with lights and jack-o-lanterns, and 5 different curtains opened (in various directions) to reveal the big-screen. Just below the screen was an LED sign, upon which directions for the audience would be written, such as "Bark with Zero". When Jack, the Pumpkin King, first goes to "Christmasland", the theatre emanated a gingerbread scent! When he was driving the sleigh, pretending to be "Sandy Claws", the fans in the theatre turned on, and we could feel the wind in our faces. Then we were instructed to "Jingle Bells", and about half of the viewers started jingling the bells they had brought along with Santa's reindeer. At one point, the room filled with fog from the fog-machine below the screen, and strobe lights flashed with the lightening in the movie. Another time, stage-lights spun snowflakes of light all over the theatre. Needless to say, we loved it. What a great way to experience Hollywood! Maybe the Yancey Theatre will go 4D in about 20 years.

We then took a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard to experience the craziness of Hollywood. We saw Michael Jackson, back from the grave and doing the moonwalk, and Captain America who bummed a cigarette off a passer-by. I guess times are tough for heroes too. We also saw some stars who have been immortalized forever (or until the next big earthquake) in the sidewalks of Hollywood. George's mom has her own star, although they did spell her name wrong. She's definitely a star in our eyes!

And, alas, we found a memorial to a hero for young and old.

Adalaya is a new Looney Tunes fan thanks to Damien who put the entire collection of Looney Tunes on our computer before we left. Great family entertainment!

The next day we continued our adventures in Hollywood as we went to visit some of George's cousins (they're everywhere, I tell you) that are script-writers and movie producers in Hollywood.

Ed and Jack showed us around their neat, old Hollywood home, then we walked to a great restaurant for some BBQ and half-chickens for lunch. As we walked, Ed and Jack pointed out Brad's and Angelina's cluster of houses. No sign of them home, but we did get a good view of this sign:

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