California is known for earthquakes, fires and Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, this journalist decided to take a little hiatus to the city of Angels and see if the bad mantra fits.
As a traveler who has been all over the country, it was the first experience in LA, and while it gets a bad rap if you do things right as me and my companion did, the area can be a fun and interesting experience especially as my companion was taking in a conference each day.
So lets talk interesting.
Here on the Northcoast, we complain about our winters. Snow covered roads, especially the first one, create traffic jams and especially the first one, people seem to forget how to drive.
I woke up one morning and the news was all about the rain. Big deal I thought, just an ugly day to stay in. We get rain, its an afterthought since most years it seems every second day is cloudy with showers.
After hitting the roads, I fully understand. These people don’t know how to drive in it. A normal 15-minute commute from where we stayed in Old Town Pasadena took over an hour, and there were cars overturned and wrecked everywhere you looked off the 110.
The word "rain" strikes a fear in people like when Dick Goddard says "Lake Effect.'
Gas stations were packed with people filling their tanks. The shelves were empty at stores, and all the schools were on two-hour delays.
OK, that didn't happen, but again the way they talked about it on the news, you thought the Johnstown flood was about to hit town.
What they don't tell you is not to drive through standing water flooding roads. I got lucky as I followed a big truck who parted the water on the 110. Had I not made the move, I saw other cars do it behind other trucks, I would have been sitting in traffic for who knows how long.
The guy behind me in a Porsche, not so lucky. He thought he could be Moses by himself, it didn't happen.
Then there was this.
My first day after I got to the convention center, I had to go to the bathroom. I parked the car, and found what they call LA Live. Very cool place, Cleveland should take note of. Madonna was playing the Staples Center next door in the evening, so I figured there would be some interesting characters there and wanted to snap some photos.
Never found a bathroom. What I got instead was a guy wearing a white suite come up to me and ask me why I shop Target.
Startled; I go with it and say, “I love Target man, when I leave there I still have a wallet full of cash!” Next thing I know, a lady hands me a sheet, says two words, sign this. It was a waiver for a commercial.
Only in LA.
Then on the way home, we missed the turn and ended up in Compton.
To put in perspective, felt like Clark Griswald as he was headed to Wallyworld when he got lost. I learned some cool sign language across the chest some nice people gave me at the one light.
Eventually I found my way a better area, the 90210, aka Beverly Hills. Couldn't understand why when I asked someone on Rodeo drive where I could find Brandon Walsh or Kelly I got funny looks. How rude I thought. Maybe the Cruze I rented didn't fit in.
Then I found Santa Monica, home to Muscle Beach. Very cool I thought. So I moseyed onto the beach. There I found Baywatch.
Awesome I thought. Maybe I can talk to Mitch. No Knight Rider in sight, I find the real Mitch. Not sure of his name, he did not find that funny, but was very cordial when I told him I was a former lifeguard. He showed me around, and what I found most interesting was unlike here on the northcoast and the east coast beaches, they have towers and not chairs and an incredible set up. Nothing was like the show.
Then there was the pier itself in Santa Monica. I found Zoltar. Thats right, the same one of Tom Hanks Big fame. It was by accident too. Walking past, it spoke, not exactly sure what it said, but it scared the bejeebies out of me. I did not make a wish and walked to the end of the pier to look at the ocean where a seagull took liberty on my head.
They say that's good luck, but all it seemed to get me was a lot of looks from the locals until I was able to clean it off.
Only in LA.
I also found out I found out you can stop and smell the roses, but don't try to pick them.
I decided to kill some time between writing one afternoon while the companion was learning at her convention and took a walk. Ended up at the Rose Bowl.
Following a small group of people I walked through the security gate and figured they knew where they were going.
They did, the woman actually was in charge of the entire Rose Bowl parade. It was a few minutes later they realized I was not part of the Parade of Roses committee and within minutes, 'Paul Blart Mall Cop' helped me find the exit.
When I told him what I do for a living and where I was from, he was very cordial explaining the main reason he couldn't let me continue my tour was the fact the stadium was under construction (which it was) but showed me the ticket office and said I could purchase an overpriced ticket for Saturday's game to see UCLA play some Division III team.
I decided to take a few pictures, but a quick burst of rain had me race under some shelter in an adjoining park.
Not long after I found the rose garden which is right in front of the Rose Bowl. I noticed that one of the bigger flowers had been severed during the quick storm and tried to revive it, to no avail – but as I was ready to save it from its doom - Carl, the groundskeeper appeared, pitchfork in hand and gave me a stare down. I got the point.
Better to let the rose, which would have looked nice in a vase at the hotel take its course in nature then pick it. The way he put it to me, getting a rose out of there was harder than stealing gold from Fort Knox.
Which brings me back to the rain. Back at the hotel, it was as if Armageddon was about to arrive. They talked about lightning strikes, they talked about heavy rains, but the funniest thing was they made little mention of the snow falling in the higher elevations which you could see from my hotel room.
Isn't that something to worry about? Snow, the beginning of October?
Sun out in my location, I was going to pull the laptop out at the pool, when I heard a boom, and was ready to head for the doorframe thinking it was an earthquake as everything shook. Suddenly, I saw a flash of light that was unbelievable.
Now I know why they talk about the lightning. What I saw wasnt lightning, it was something out of Hollywood, and looked as if it could take out a city block.