California 2021:
Day 11 - Los Angeles, CA


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California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Wednesday, November 10, 2021: We slept in. We weren't in a big hurry to leave the hotel this morning because we didn't want to add more cars to the rush hour traffic in LA.
It looked like it was going to be a great day, with clear skies and not too hot.
We headed north and west, around Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Bel Air, past the Getty Museum, ...
... to Randy's Donuts in Inglewood. This landmark building with its famous gigantic donut-shaped sign has been here since 1953 and has been featured in many films and TV shows.
We didn't realize there was a drive-thru until we'd already parked and got in line. That gave us more time to look at the menu, ...
... and for Debbie to notice this sign promoting the movie, "Clifford the Big Red Dog." It says that Randy's will be giving away a free Clifford Big Red Donut on November 10th starting at 8 AM, while supplies last. It was November 10th, and when we got our donuts and opened the box in the car, ...
... sure enough, there was a Clifford Big Red Donut in our box along with the items we ordered. Hooray!
We drove from Randy's to Hawthorne, California, ...
... past the Hawthorne Airport, ...
... to Rocket Road, home of SpaceX headquarters.
The sign outside the building shows that another of Elon Musk's companies, the Boring Company, is right across the street.
But we're not here for that. We're here to see as much SpaceX stuff as we can while driving around the block.
First up is the Falcon 9 rocket at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Jack Northrop Avenue.
This is booster B1019, the first Falcon 9 that SpaceX successfully landed. This is the first orbital class rocket ever successfully recovered after flight. They refurbished it, repainted it, and put this monumental achivement in spaceflight on display here outside their headquarters.
As we drove down Northrup Avenue, we were surprised to see a giant steel tube running along the south side of the road.
It was a Hyperloop Pod Competition test track, ...
... that ran the entire length of the road. The Hyperloop Pod Competition was an annual competition held here from 2015 to 2019, in which teams competed to design and build a subscale prototype transport vehicle compatible with the Hyperloop, a proposed high-speed transportation system for both passengers and cargo.
We continued around the complex, noting that Tesla has at least one building here as well. It must be convenient for Elon to have all of his companies within this one area.
If your employees don't have time to go to the dentist, bring the dentist to your employees. That must be a huge advantage since LA traffic probably prevents people from going anywhere during the work day.
Debbie spotted this Dragon logo. This is likely where all Dragon spacecraft are built.
Oooh. What is a SpaceX Black Permit, and how do we get one?
There was also a sign for the Starlink factory. Everything SpaceX does has a footprint here.
Driving back around the complex to head to our next destination, we saw a sign for the Beach Boy Historic Landmark and decided to follow it. Yes, that's Beach Boy (singular). It turned out to be the childhood home of the Beach Boys (plural), ...
... which was described on this official state of California historic marker.
We headed back north into Los Angeles, ...
... to the California Science Center.
We parked right next to an A-12/SR-71 Blackbird, the first airplane made mostly from titanium.
This cool thing was in the breezeway between the main building and the IMAX building.
We bought two tickets, showed proof of our COVID-19 vaccinations at the entrance, and just like that we were inside, staring at the undersides of an F-20 Tigershark and a T-38 Talon which were hanging from the ceiling of the entryway. They look similar because they are both derived from the Northrop F-5.
As cool as those were, we are really here for the Space Shuttle Endeavour exhibit. There was an exhibit on the second floor, named "Endeavour Together," relating the space shuttle program to California, where the shuttles were originally built. 
Items in the exhibit included Endeavour's landing gear wheel assemblies, ...
... a nose cone vent assembly, which vented gaseous oxygen from the external tank during the countdown process, ...
... a fuel cell from Endeavour, which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce both electricity for the shuttle and drinking water for the astronauts, ...
... and a space toilet! Definitely more complicated than you would think is necessary, but we both loved the privacy curtain and all of the various handholds and restraints to help keep you on it.
This is the galley from Endeavour, used to heat and rehydrate food on orbit. Water for rehydration comes from the fuel cells, which we saw above.
This interesting display was some of the personal items that astronaut Garrett Reisman took with him on his two space flights, one which was STS-123 on Endeavour. Our favorite was the tins of Russian-supplied food that was eaten aboard the ISS which translate as "appetizing appetizer."
There was a huge display that was a replica of Rocketdyne Operations Support Center. Rocketdyne was the company that produced the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), also known as the RS-25. There was an audio track that reproduced a shuttle countdown and launch, and the screens replicated what would have been seen on the Rocketdyne consoles during the climb to orbit.
A multipanel exhibit showed the path of external tank 94 being sent from the manufacturing facility at Michoud, Louisiana, through the Panama Canal to the port of Los Angeles, and then the path through the city streets to its new home at the Science Center.
Around the corner was a large room showing a movie titled "Mission 26: The Big Endeavour." This movie was shot while Endeavour was transported from Kennedy Space Center through the Los Angeles city streets until it reached its new hangar here.
The movie covers the 68 hours it took to transport Endeavour the twelve miles from the Los Angeles International Airport, ...
... through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood, ...
... to the Samuel Oschin Pavilion. She arrived here in 2012, and is shown still connected to her processing cradle (the big yellow bars under the shuttle). Endeavour was supposed to be mated to external tank 94 (ET-94) and two solid rocket boosters then displayed in launch configuration, but the building necessary to display her that way has not yet been built. She is still mighty impressive displayed horizontally.
All of the tiles have individual serial numbers, and some are newer than others, having been replaced at various times over her 25 trips to space.
There were just a couple of people in the exhibit, and Tom took his time looking her over. This is the fourth space shuttle we've visited, and they are always bigger and more impressive than we expect.
One of the exhibits in the Endeavour hall was Spacehab, a research module designed to fit in the space shuttle cargo bay and connect to the orbiter via the airlock. Spacehab flew 18 times, and its first and last missions were both on Endeavour.
There were six space shuttles built, of which Endeavour was the sixth and last, built after Challenger was destroyed. This display shows the current locations of all six.
The flag on the starboard side of the orbiter looks backward with the shuttle oriented horizontally, but it is painted this way so that it looks correct when the shuttle is upright in launch configuration, with the blue star field in the upper left corner.
Along the walls of pavillion are displays showing every space shuttle mission, with the mission number, ship's name, and date of launch in orange, a summary and images from the mission on a blue background, ...
... two with black backgrounds for orbiters that were lost, ...
... and a yellow title highlight for missions flown by Endeavour. Tom, being a huge space nerd, walked around and read them all, remembering some detail from almost every mission.
The engines and elevon loomed over us as we walked around, ...
... eventually making it all the way back to the nose on the port side.
We checked out the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) on display. Each orbiter has three SSMEs installed, generating 1.5 million pounds of thrust during the launch and climb to orbit. A total of 51 SSMEs were built between 1972 and the end of the shuttle program in 2011, and 35 of them flew on Endeavour.
We bought a t-shirt for Tom and a space shuttle rubber duck for the grandkids in the gift shop, ...
... then headed outside to check out the giant orange external tank.
Known as ET-94, this external tank was the last one built using the lightweight tank design (the second of three during the shuttle's lifetime) and was never used. After the Columbia disaster, every time a shuttle was launched, NASA had another orbiter ready to be launched as a rescue mission, and this external tank was the one that would have been used for that rescue mission. A sign nearby named it the "last external tank on Earth," since all of the others were launched into space and burned up on re-entry.
We went inside to the Kelp exhibit, where you can see the giant kelp that is common along the coast of California. They had an acrylic tunnel to walk through to see ...
... colorful fish, ...
... sharks, ...
... humongous fish, ...
... and an eel hiding in the background.
After the tunnel was a large room with floor-to-ceiling glass providing a better view of the entire kelp enclosure.
We went back upstairs to check out the other spacecraft on display, including Mercury spacecraft number 5 that flew Ham the chimpanzee into space on January 31, 1961 on the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission.
This is the Gemini 11 capsule used by Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon from September 12 to September 15, 1966. This capsule holds the record for highest altitude Earth orbit with a crewed spacecraft (853 miles) that still stands to this day.
This Apollo Command Module is from the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the world's first international manned space mission. This capsule took three American astronauts into orbit in 1975 to rendezvous with two Soviet cosmonauts orbiting in their Soyuz capsule. This was the last American spaceflight before the first shuttle launch in April, 1981.
Hanging above the three capsules was a mock-up of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, which was launched on a mission to study Saturn in 1997. Tom spent many hours building a paper model of this spacecraft and was excited to see it hanging here.
While Tom was admiring the other satellites hanging between the first and second floors, Debbie purchased tickets for the Art of the Brick exhibit, which was on the third floor. We had first seen a sign for this exhibit when we were in Cape Town in 2014, but hadn't been able to see it then. We were very excited to get to finally see it here.
The exhibit features the art work of Nathan Sawaya, a former lawyer who quit his job in 2004 to become a full-time LEGO artist.
The gallery featured replicas of famous artwork recreated in LEGO, including ...
... Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, ...
... The Scream by Edvard Munch, ...
... the Venus de Milo, Augustus of Prima Porta, and Michelango's David, ...
... a replica Moai from Easter Island, ...
... a self portrait entitled "Facemask," made from 10,770 bricks, ...
... these figures with heads of cube, pyramid, and sphere, ...
... and this green figure reclining against and partially encased in a wall.
There were lots of interesting human form sculptures including this green one of a torso holding its own head above its neck.
This dinosaur sculpture had its own room and was very large. It required wires from the ceiling to keep it upright.
There were these four skulls in primary colors, ...
... and a sculpture of a man holding his own chest open with bricks spilling out. This is the sculpture that is used on the Art of the Brick posters to advertise the exhibit.
The last part of the exhibit was a hall featuring various animals, including ...
... a cheetah and a giraffe, ...
... a Malayan tiger, ...
... and a humpback whale. The exhibit was very interesting and was a fantastic example of how amazing LEGO can be.
Leaving the Science Center, we were surprised to realize that we were on the site of the 1984 Summer Olympics, right outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
We made a quick stop at a nearby Jack in the Box for lunch, ...
... before heading onto the highways ...
... and byways of Los Angeles. Debbie got this great shot of three (of four) tunnels on our way ...
... toward Hollywood, and more specifically, ...
... to the Griffith Observatory, which is on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.
One of the first things we noticed was a series of plaques on the ground, denoting the orbits of Pluto, ...
... Uranus, ...
... and the inner planets of Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury. The scale model solar system was laid out with one foot equal to roughly 20 million miles.
The building itself was closed, but it looked fantastic, with its gleaming white walls and ornate copper and glass doors.
We walked around the western end, admiring the observatory dome and walkways, ...
... and looking at the seven stone and bronze lines on the ground that mark a point on the western horizon where a notable sunset or moonset would take place.
The western terrace had only a handful of people, which was good with us and our travel motto of "go where the people aren't."
There were great views of the Los Angeles basin, ...
... including the Barnsdall Art Park and the Hollyhock House, which was our next stop.
On the lawn in front of the observatory was a sundial, ...
... which was only off by a few minutes, after taking into account that the sundial doesn't know that Daylight Saving Time just ended.
The Astronomers Monument display representations of the six greatest astronomers of all time: Hipparchus, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Herschel.
On the east terrace, Debbie used the coin-operated binoculars to take a look at the surrounding area.
We headed back down the hillside, passing the Greek Theatre, ...
... and making our way to Barnsdall Park to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.
On our way up the hill, we passed the guest house, also designed by FLW, which is undergoing restoration.
We had a great view of the Griffith Observatory, looking majestic on the hills above.
We were very pleased to see actual hollyhocks blooming near the entrance to Hollyhock House.
The Hollyhock House was currently closed to tours due to the pandemic, so we just walked around and admired the house from the outside.
The house was built between 1919 and 1921 for Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress, and features abstract hollyhock blossoms on the fa├žade, giving the building its name.
This courtyard features a terraced set of steps around a pool with a bronze statue. The pool was originally intended as part of a water course that flowed from the pool, through a tunnel, to an inside moat, and then back out again to a fountain.
Here's another shot of the pool showing the interior courtyard and part of the house. There are steps leading up to a rooftop terrace visible in the right rear of the courtyard.
The art glass looked to be in very good shape, featuring the stylized hollyhock blossom as part of the design.
Here's a view from the southeast looking back up the hill toward the house. The curved wall contains a terraced lawn.
We walked back along the entrance, ...
... and around the grounds, ...
... to the western side of the house. It was absolutely gorgeous, and we wondered if the inside was as spectacular as the outside.
We drove away from the Hollyhock House, making our way through Hollywood to do some sightseeing before our next stop. This is the Pantages Theater, which would be presenting "Hamilton" later that evening.
On the sidewalk in front, we glimpsed stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, ...
... including this close-up Debbie was able to get as we drove past. Some photo manipulation revealed that this particular star belonged to Laura Hope Crews, best known for playing Aunt Pittypat in "Gone With The Wind."
At the corner of Hollywood and Vine, we noticed a searchlight aimed at the building across the street.
Debbie was trying to get a photo of another searchlight across the street (at the intersection on the left), and accidentally got a shot of the iconic Capitol Records building, not realizing it until later to her great joy.
Here's the now-closed Vine Theater, ...

... and yet another Scientology building.

There's so much in this picture - the Hollywood Theater on the left, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum on the right, and the Stahl House barely visible in the far distance through the haze on the hill.
The El Capitan Theatre is right next to the Disney store, ...
... and down the street from the Dolby Theatre, the current venue for the Academy Awards.
The Hard Rock Cafe is between the Dolby Theatre, and ...
... Grauman's Chinese Theatre, which opened in 1922 and was the site of the 1977 movie premiere of "Star Wars," among many others.
Right across the street from Grauman's Chinese Theatre is the Roosevelt Hotel, where we were originally going to stay before changing our mind and booking a second night at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.
While we were driving, Debbie zoomed way in with her camera to see the Stahl House way up on the hill. More on that later.
This is the original Laugh Factory, which opened in 1979, which helped launch the careers of many comedians including Eddie Murphy, Jay Leno, Dave Chapelle, and Jerry Seinfeld.
We laughed at this billboard when we drove past.
Later that evening, we learned that the message had been posted that very day and Dwayne Johnson was claiming credit for it. Hilarious publicity stunt, Netflix!
Further down Sunset Boulevard, we drove past the Comedy Store, which opened in 1972, and was the host location for the annual HBO Young Comedians specials.
We passed famous Tower Records, ...
... Whisky a Go Go, a nightclub that was the launching pad for Alice Cooper, The Doors, No Doubt, Van Halen, and Metallica, among many others, ...
... Fred Segal's flagship store, ...
... the Sunset Tower Hotel, ...
... the Sunset Trocadero, ...
... and the Chateau Marmont, which was completed in 1929 and is known for its long-term and short-term celebrity residents.
We headed up the steep roads of Laurel Canyon, ...
... to the Stahl House in the Hollywood Hills. We were here for the 4:15 PM sunset tour, and we arrived right on time at 4:00 PM. Parking is very limited, but since we were the second car to arrive, we were able to park in the carport.
After signing our tour permission documents, we were let through the carport door, and our breath was taken away. There is absolutely nothing obstructing your view once you get past the carport. There is a fence on the edge of the property, but it is well below the line of sight.
Look at that view!
Here's the view from a few feet inside the carport door looking toward the house. The walls of the house are floor-to-ceiling glass, so you can look straight through the house. This home has been used as a location for many films, and we have to admit that we were here because we love "Galaxy Quest." A scene set in character Jason Nesmith's home was filmed here.
The home has two bedrooms, and both have giant sliding glass doors that open onto the pool area.
A few moments later, the sun dipped behind the hill.
Let's take a closer look at the house from the outside.
This is the living room. On the far left, inside the room, is a fireplace that divides the living room from the kitchen. The left glass panel is a sliding door. Almost every other window is a sliding glass door, allowing the entire house to be opened up.
Here is a view of the kitchen and dining room. On the the right is the fireplace that divides it from the living room. The big glass panel in the center of the photo is a sliding door.
This is the second bedroom. Our excellent tour guide, Melisa, who is married to one of the children of the couple who built the home, explained that the bedroom can only be accessed from the pool area or through the master bedroom.
Now let's look inside. This is the living room again, from the inside. There is a small patio accessible through the sliding glass door on the left side of end of the room. That sliding door is directly under the globe light in the center of the picture, and it is open in this picture.
Here's the dining room, with a small table and bar-style seating on a counter between the dining room and the kitchen.
The kitchen seemed quite large, with a double oven, microwave, counter, spice rack, and refrigerator all built-in to the back wall. The island had more seating at the far end, a cooktop, sink, and plenty of countertop space. There were cupboards and storage everywhere.
The master bedroom was very spacious, with an alternating wood and mirror back wall to make the view visible even when you were facing away from it. The drop ceiling above the bed is more storage compartments.
This is the second bedroom, and Melisa explained that it was originally set up as a Jack and Jill bedroom for the two oldest children, with a divider down the center of the room and everything mirrored on both sides. There are two closets, two dressers, two bathroom vanities, and one shared shower/bathroom. The divider and separate beds were removed a long time ago and replaced with this one bed.
The main bathroom was interestingly decorated, with the wall behind the toilet covered with carpet.
Melisa kindly took photos of everyone who wanted them, and she got this great shot of us in the living room.
This view is from the couch in the living room, looking through the open door at the end of the room. The view is incredible.
After sunset, a house down the hill lit up with colorful neon. Everyone was curious who lived there, but all Melisa could tell us was that she had heard that it was the home of a YouTuber and that it appears to get rented out. It looked like a fantastic party house, with a large pool and lots of room for people to hang out.
The colors of the sunset were amazing to see, with the vibrant orange layer especially beautiful.
As it got darker, Melisa turned on the pool and hot tub lights, which made the house even more beautiful, if that's even possible.
The lights of the city came on below us, ...
... and the stars came out. We sat in the chairs around the pool and just enjoyed the atmosphere.
There was a blimp visible on the horizon at the edge of the hillside, ...
... and it slowly drifted toward us until we could clearly see that it was a Goodyear blimp. It silently continued on its course around the hills and out of sight.
Later on, Debbie found our tour guide's Instagram account and found that she had posted a much better photo of the blimp. Her photo also includes the twenty-something who spent the entire tour either posing for photos or taking pictures of her boyfriend while he posed for photos.
After the end of the tour, we made our way back down the narrow streets, ...
... and through the very twisty Nichols Canyon Road, ...
... back to Universal City and the Sheraton Universal Hotel.
We ordered room service, getting a bowl of Boston clam chowder to share, a club sandwich with fries for Debbie, and a spicy pepperoni pizza for Tom. It was a very good last day in Los Angeles.

Day 12 >


California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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