Sat. Mar. 16, 2013:
I failed to wake up at my usual ungodly early time; I blame it on the lack o f sun. That is right, in California the sun was failing to creep through the blinds awaking me as it had last year in Arizona. Our second day in California was a cloudy day! Insert shocked face here. We walked half an hour to catch a bus, for a ride that would last 20 minutes. It was well worth the irony as we were heading to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Los Angeles County Art Museum (heretofore referred to as LACMA).
The tar pits were awesome, they actually bubbled! It did not look or smell as I had imagined. The pits really just look like a lake, at first we thought it was a lake- until we saw a giant black bubble pop- and then the faint smell hit us. As a child I had been terrified of tar pits- I was a huge fan of The Land Before Time. It was only recently that I became intrigued by the tar pits, after listening to a podcast about the fact that they have the largest collection of dire wolf skulls. I wanted to see just how many of these skulls they had (clearly I did not pay enough attention to the podcast). It was just as I had imagined! Rows and rows of skulls! It did not make dire wolves look too smart though, especially relative to other skeletons found in the tar pits. You can’t blame them though, the tar pits look like a lake and seeing a mammoth struggling to get out is just too much temptation. How bad could it be? Mammoths simply can’t swim. Have you seen how big a mammoth actually is? They are giant, epically giant.
Behind the Page Museum (that is what the place is actually called) they have a c urrent excavation site set up so that you can gaze in and see it in progress. It is not at all what I had pictured, they dig through solid layers. There is no mucking around in the tar pit itself, with all the bubbling and the slowly-sucking-you-down-to-your-demise-ness.
The LACMA was conveniently right next door. More importantly, they had a café- yet again I was in desperate need of my daily caffeine fix. At first the museum seemed giant, we wondered if we would get through it all in time. Those fears quickly dissipated, the west wing was closed for renovations and most of the size of the museum was due to it being spread out over a few buildings. We started off with the exhibit we were most excited about: the Stanley Kubrick display. It ranks near the top as one of the best exhibits I have ever been to and it further reaffirmed my love of his films. It was amazing; I got to see props from The Shining, including the typewriter and axe. It also provided more insight however, beside the display of the twin girls’ dresses, there was an explanation that he had been inspired by one of Diane Arbus’s photographs of creepy twins- I was now doubly freaked out by the twins. The exhibit also consisted of copies of the scripts with Kubrick’s notes. One of the pages from a notebook was just filled with variations of the title for what was in the end: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It was all the same words just rearranged. Easily one of the greatest items on display was the tiny bible and suicide pills from Dr. Strangelo ve. The tiny bible was just so cute. It was quite alarming to walk into an orange room and be face to face with the suit from A Clockwork Orange. Equally alarming was to see the star child from 2001: Space Odyssey just laying there on its side in a display case.
From there we took our usual route through the galleries, starting with the oldest stuff and working our way towards the contemporary galleries. There were lots more Jesus paintings to be seen, because we still have not seen enough paintings of the Madonna and Child. We did realize that you hardly ever see paintings of the Last Supper (as opposed to Jesus’ birth and death). This could not have all been because of Leonardo da Vinci painting it so beautifully and thus no one else even wanted to compete. Somewhere out there is an enormous collection of Last Supper paintings. I am sure of it.
In the contemporary gallery we encountered our favourite art piece: the polymer plank leaning against a wall by John McCracken. This wasn’t even the first time we had seen it that day. There was one in the Kubrick exhibit as well, which put it into context as possibly having inspired the obelisk in 2001: Space Odyssey. The version of it in the contemporary gallery was a bright pink, so at least the colour was new to us. As we went to the third floor in the contemporary gallery we could see the Hollywood sign off in the distance. Well, barely see, it was very smoggy then. Brent had read that there was an observation deck so we got in the elevator to go there. I pushed the button above 3, logically the roof button- it was the call button. We ran away. I was now even with Brent. I had laughed at him earlier when he set off an alarm, by going behind a wall to a darkened space. He thought there was a movie playing. No trip to an art gallery is complete without: Jesus paintings, the plank and much confusion about what is going on in the art world (a lot of: how can this be art?!). The last exhibit we saw was 2000 pieces of wood all over the floor. We had met all the requirements; we were done with the gallery.
We used the free wi-fi in the gallery to get directions to In N Out Burger. As it turns out, we had passed right by it on the next street over. I was hell-bent on ordering off the secret menu, nothing regular. I paired my burger with my fries, asking for both of them done animal style. For the fries this entails topping them with cheese, thousand islands dressing and fried chopped onions. As per the burger: extra sauce, pickles, chopped fried onions, and a mustard grilled bun. I was so embarrassed about asking for stickers that I forgot to say no tomatoes and no lettuce. I was stuck having to pick them out of my burger, my sad one patty burger. I do not know what I was thinking ordering a single. The only downside to the animal fries is that the toppings sit on top, so once you get about halfway down they are just regular fries. While at In N Out I saw some cheerleaders and it just reminded me of Bring It On, making me crave the movie for the rest of the day. Waiting for Brent on the patio I witnessed the cutest (and smartest) dog ever. His owner was eating a burger and he kept whining and begging. She ignored him. He put his paws on her lap and whined some more. She gave in and let him have a piece, just a piece, of an In N Out burger. That is just mean. The dog knew this, he begged a few times but to no avail, so he instead took to barking. When he saw that it was not working, he started going over to the next table. A smart dog with good taste.
We walked back to our hotel through the UCLA campus. It is a very nice campus, though they have a lot of fraternities and sororities. I lost count. There was on that had a spanking paddle holding the window open.
Back at the hotel I found out that there is a Starbucks not too far, I was saved from having to wait for my morning coffee! No more caffeine-crashes for me. The Starbucks just so happened to be located near a pharmacy called Brent-Air which I spent way too much time giggling about.
We took the free hotel shuttle to the Bel-Air hotel where we were having dinner at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. I was more excited about getting to see the fancy hotel (where celebrities stay when they are in town) than the restaurant. I can’t help it; Wolfgang Puck has so many restaurants (including one I saw in the airport when we flew in). We had been anticipating traffic so we left early for the hotel. Of course when we leave an extra buffer of time, there is no traffic at all. We slowly wandered around the hotel grounds gawking at all the fanciness. I was less than thrilled as I was in heels and a sleeveless shirt- it was surprisingly cold out. There was a pool shaped like an egg, seemingly just for the sake of it. In the small lake there was a swan and we wondered if it had clipped wings but we decided against running up and scaring it to see of it would fly away. During our second round through the hotel (we had a lot of time to kill) we encountered drunken newly-weds. I knew they were newly-weds because: they were intoxicated at 5 in the afternoon, they were all over each other, it was pretty clear that they had splurged on the hotel and were more than enjoying the time spent there. If they weren’t in gag-inducing country-club wear (think khakis and sweater wrapped around shoulders, knotted at base of neck) it would have been cute.
The restaurant was outdoors but with a tent-like covering and fancy heaters. I called dibs on sitting beside the heater. I would soon come to regret this decision as it got insanely warm. I went from being too cold to too hot without any of the good middle part. The amuse-bouche (or as they called it: amuse from the chef) was beets and pomegranates. I stared at it for a while, stared at the beets, the gross beets. As it turns out beets (at least when prepared with pomegranates and served in tiny quantities) are not all that bad. To start we split a bluefin tuna tartar wrapped in cucumbers. It was delicious, very light and not that heavy on the fish taste. As usual we swapped our main courses when we were halfway through. I traded in my enormous- really, it was bigger than my head- schnitzel for Brent’s braised beef short ribs. It was hilarious when our plates arrived. I was presented an enormous (but thin) slab of meat and Brent was given a small plate of potatoes and a pot of ribs in sauce, which the waiter poured over the potatoes. My giant plate of meat versus Brent’s small fancy dish, and somehow Brent won. Hands-down the ribs were much better than the schnitzel. This is not to say that it was awful, it was really good but no better than schnitzels I have had before. The ribs were saucy and succulent and they just fell off the bone. It is debatable if we had made a mistake in ordering an appetizer; we were too full for dessert. The appetizer was delicious and we did get a small mini-dessert with the bill (little puff pastries with cream).
Brent asked the concierge if he could call our hotel for the shuttle. She seemed a bit thrown off for a second; she had assumed we were staying there. We were told it would be about a 30 minute wait until the bellhop would arrive. We set off wandering around the hotel yet again. This time we found the swan nestled all cozy and snug by the lake- with another swan. Driving back we passed a few more mansions. All in all I thought I would see more and bigger mansions in Bel-Air, I also did not expect to see so many mansions being constructed. I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel- and it was barely even 9pm. I tried to decorate my notebook with my In N Out stickers… and I somehow managed to fail. It turns out that the back of the sticker sheet serves as a background to stick the characters on.
Day 2 celebrity sightings: zero, again.