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Malibu Creek State Park Los Angeles

12th August 2010

From Sunset Strip, to Long Beach and Venice, then a Welcome Reunion with Dan

Panorama of Queensway Bay and Long Beach      (please use scroll bar)

Calabasas Geyser
    First thing this morning was a haircut up in Calabasas, followed by a latte in Starbucks in order to use their WiFi access. While I was in the coffee house, an almighty din erupted outside.
    When I later investigated, the din was as bad as ever. I may have been disappointed with Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, but before me was a spectacular geyser that made up for it, reaching well over 100' into the air. A jet of 15" diameter water was shooting out of the ground next to the main road, with such ferocity that it was tearing rocks out of the earth, hurling them skywards, only for them to crash down on passing vehicles. Rivers were washing down the streets carrying debris with them. The spectacle was visible from far and wide, so much so that drivers on the freeway had turned off and had driven over to the town to see the geyser close up.
    Needless to say the traffic jam by the geyser was chaotic, and the construction workers who had burst the water main were only making matters worse by trying haphazard traffic directing. One poor chap I passed was almost in tears as he inspected the dents in the roof of his car caused by the falling rocks.
    I found a route to the 101 avoiding the mayhem, and headed to Los Angeles. I had located the whereabouts of our hotel via the internet and managed to drive straight to it. The manager was rather curt and said the room would not be ready until 3pm, and he wouldn't let me in until Dan had booked us both in first.
The Roxy - This Trendy Nightclub Stood on the Site of the Old Club Largo
    By now I had got myself a better set of maps of the area, so I headed down the 405 and picked up Sunset Boulevard, which eventually took me through Sunset Strip. Driving along the freeways required a bit of bottle and total concentration, but it gave me a buzz. Driving along the Strip was the opposite; crawl and stop along what seemed like an endless stretch of roadworks. I drove past buildings that were highlighted in one of my books, and although they might have been glamorous and the place to be seen at one time, they now seemed neglected to me. There were of course strings of up market restaurants, boutiques, shops and the occasional hotel, for those who wished to be seen to be in the scene (excuse the pun). Overall, I was a little disappointed. Maybe it took on a whole new character at night, and I wasn't doing it justice.
    From the Strip I headed down the 110 Freeway through downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach. This looked straightforward on the map, and it was, but I did not appreciate the scale of the city. Los Angeles was big, very big.
    I parked myself quite near to the Queen Mary and looked across the Queensway Bay to Shoreline Village and downtown Long Beach. It appeared as a gleaming, up market resort, oozing with wealth (I might have had a different opinion if I had been close up to it).
Queen Mary Plus Escort
Queen Mary in Profile
    The piece de resistance of coming down here was to take a close look at the Queen Mary. The Cunard flagship from the 1930s to the 1960s, this luxury liner was converted into a troopship during World War II. It carried more than 80,000 soldiers during its wartime career. At the end of the war, it transported more than 22,000 war brides and children to the US during "Operation Diaper". It was permanently docked for use as a hotel and tourist attraction in 1967.
    I walked up to get eyeball-to-eyeball with the ship. She was still very much a majestic vessel, though some of her plates were buckling and paint was peeling off in places. I didn't want an indoor tour, I just wanted to appreciate her shape and size from the outside.
    When I was a young lad, perhaps 6 or 7 years old, one of my aunts gave me a wooden jigsaw of the Queen Mary, stored inside an old biscuit tin which had a picture of the Forth Bridge on it. It was strange that I could remember those details ever so clearly after all those years.
    Today, moored alongside her was a Scorpion Class Russian submarine. Opposite the ship, 80m inshore, was a mock up of an English harbour front. The collection of buildings was weather worn and empty, a little pointless to me, but maybe coach loads of Americans enjoyed the theme.
    A short walk away was a bar overlooking Queensway Bay, where I sat and sipped orange juice, watching pelicans and seagulls swoop over the water before diving vertically to catch fish. I was amazed that they could see the fish at the speed and height they were traveling at, never mind catch the fish.
Venice Canal Scene
Grand Property
More Grand Properties
    Continuing on my spiral course towards the airport, I headed across to Venice, just up the coast from LAX airport. Founded by tobacco tycoon Abbot Kinney, as a US equivalent of Venice (Italy), this beach town was a swampland little more than 100 years ago. Hoping to spark a cultural renaissance in California, Kinney built a system of canals, and imported gondolas to punt along the waterways. Today, only a few of the original canals remain, the rest having been filled in.
    I walked a while along the canal system, admiring some of the very expensive properties lining the waterways, and walked back to the van by the sea; the beach being peppered with beach volleyball nets. Body builders worked out on the sea front here, one celebrity once being Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    Then it was head off to the airport to meet up with Dan. The airport was logically laid out, with each terminal occurring in sequential order along a long road, with car parks being adjacent to all the arrivals bays.
    Dan appeared a little earlier than expected, and it was an emotional reunion; we hadn't seen each other for over 3 months. He was brimming with accounts of his adventures in New York. We loaded up in the van and headed off to the hotel.
    The drive took forever and a day, the 405 was reduced to a crawl over many long stretches, but it gave us a chance to catch up on events back home, and on family. The poor lad hadn't eaten since noon in New York, so we went into a restaurant near the hotel and had a meal; for me it was 10pm, for Dan his body clock was set at 1am. But we caught up with more gossip, and it was a novel experience to go into a restaurant and share a meal with someone. To ask for a table for two instead of one, was something I had been looking forward to.
    It was a lovely way to round off the day, and also round off the first phase of the trip.
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Malibu Creek State Park Los Angeles

Uploaded from Great Western Hotel, 5525 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles CA on 14/08/10 at 08:05

Last updated 14.8.2010