Monday, May 19, 2008

Los Angeles

On Friday night, May 9, we drove into L.A. We were impressed at the endless miles and miles of suburbs. The traffic was frustrating, but because we were skirting north of the city, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We happened into a Trader Joe’s along the way and did some grocery shopping. All in all, it was a pretty uneventful trip.

We were staying in Sarah’s aunt and uncle’s townhouse northwest of L.A. Unfortunately, they’d had to leave town, so instead of getting to visit them, we’d really be housesitting. We met their neighbor, who gave us the keys and the tour of the house. He also explained how to feed the cat Jay. This was way more of a process than you’d expect. You put some cat food in his bowl and break up the chunks. Then you put some tuna on top and break up the chunks. Then you add a little bit of water and mix it all up into something like a gravy. Finally, you give him 20 small treats out of his treat bag, taking care to put the treat bag back on top of the refrigerator afterwards, lest Jay rip it open. Apparently this feeding method has been perfected over time because Jay’s a bit of a princess.

As it turned out, Jay was just as fussy as advertised. After we filled his bowl, he’d walk in and out of the kitchen multiple times before even approaching the bowl. Then he’d sniff at it cautiously for some time. Finally, if it met his high standards, he’d nibble at it a bit and then go away again. If he liked it, he’d come back later and nibble some more. By the next feeding time, if the chef did a good job preparing his dish, the food would be mostly gone. Then you put the rest down the garbage disposal and start all over again.

Thanks to the very detailed step-by-step instructions we were given, Jay was generally satisfied with our culinary creations, except for one time. That time, Brian thinks he added too much water to the mix, so it was a bit on the soupy side. Jay would have none of it – he didn’t eat a single bite and simply waited for his next meal, which Sarah prepared to his satisfaction.

We tell this story because it’s quirky and funny, not because Jay was a bad cat. On the contrary, once he got used to us, we were his best friends. He’d come near Brian, and Brian would smother him with pats, and before you knew it, Jay would have rolled over on his back to get his belly patted. As cats go, he was extremely friendly and quite fun to have around.

Well, aside from learning to feed Jay and taking much-needed showers, we didn’t really do much Friday night. Saturday, we drove south through the Santa Monica Mountains and headed to Venice Beach, where parked on the street, walked along Venice Boardwalk to the end, back to Santa Monica Pier, and then back to our car. Venice Boardwalk was full of bad art and cheesy T-shirts, although one vendor’s earrings made for a brightly colored mosaic:

After walking the boardwalk, we went out to the beach and walked along there for a while. L.A. police helicopters flew overhead every so often, keeping the peace. Venice seemed quite safe during the day, although we’d heard that we should stay away at night.

We sat on the beach for a while and enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing. A couple of sailboats passed in the distance. It was quite peaceful.

Then we noticed these funny little birds pecking at the sand. They’d inch closer and closer to the water, and then a big wave would come crashing on the shore, and they’d race away as fast as their tiny legs would carry them, which wasn’t really very fast at all. We decided they must be baby seagulls, and they were quite cute.

As we continued walking, we could see the brightly colored amusement park rides on Santa Monica Pier.

We walked out on the pier before heading back towards our car. On the way, we passed a bunch of circus apparatus. There was a tightrope, which a man was skillfully walking. There was a vertical pole, where another man held himself up sideways, perpendicular to the pole – quite a feat of strength. And there were also rings, where people would swing from one ring to the next, from one end to the other and back. A sign nearby indicated this was the original location of “Muscle Beach”.

As we neared the end of our walk, we took a last picture of what appeared to be the quintessential Southern California scene:

After our beach walk, we went to a coffeehouse called Urth to meet up with Sarah’s college friend Julia, who happens to be in business school at UCLA, which just happens to be right near Santa Monica. We had fun chatting with her and were excited to hear that she and her husband might be moving to Seattle in the near future.

Before going back to the townhouse, we made a stop at the Getty Center. J. Paul Getty, the multi-bazillionaire, was apparently a voracious art collector. The Getty Villa was opened in Malibu to house his art, but it just wasn’t big enough, so a new museum had to be built. Over a hundred acres and a billion dollars later (yes, a billion), the Getty Center was opened to the public, with free admission for all.

The Getty Center is a delight on multiple levels. You take a monorail from the parking area up to the museum, which is high on a hill. The first thing you notice is the architecture.

Inside the buildings are all different styles of art. We walked through a German photography exhibit, but that was just one of many different collections. It was getting late in the day, so we didn’t explore the others.

Surrounding the buildings are beautiful gardens, also in a variety of motifs. There’s a cactus garden:

Looking out over the cactus garden, you get a great view of downtown L.A.:

A gorgeous flower garden centered around hedges cut into a mazelike pattern:

We just took pictures of a couple of the flowers:

As we wandered the garden, a military plane flew overhead:

We must have visited the Getty Center for less than two hours and didn’t even scratch the surface. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and decided that if we lived in the area, we’d be frequent visitors.

Our next day in L.A. was pretty quiet. We watched The Kite Runner and caught up on some errands – laundry, grocery shopping, getting the oil changed, blogging, etc. Nothing too exciting, just the basic necessities that pile up while we’re out having fun in the wilderness.

Monday morning, we enjoyed our last showers for a while and then started out for the Channel Islands!

1 comment:

Gene and Janice Hein said...

Dear Sarah and Brian,
As the humans assigned to my care while my people were away, I must say that you did an adequate job. I read this posting and feel that you devoted the number of words to me that is only appropriate considering what a fine, handsome feline I am but that brings me to a question: How is it that you could waste all of that page space on mere scenery and not post one photo of me? How can your audience possibly appreciate my true magnificance without even one snapshot? I realize that this may have presented an intimidating challenge but you could have at least made an effort.
Yours in Fur and Catnip,