So, I was informed that we had “plenty” of time to have breakfast at one of my favorite places – Stratford Court Café in Del Mar. It’s a great little open-air patio that makes excellent frittatas and always affords good people watching. After that, The Beloved input the “first stop” into the GPS system… 109 miles… hmmm.
Imaging my surprise when we began to drive into the heart of Los Angeles! For those that don’t know San Diego or L.A. – Los Angeles is typically referred to a the annoying place you have to figure out how to “drive around” when heading to more interesting places in The Golden State. I thought we might be headed that way — but I never dreamed it was our destination!
We headed in I-10 (sorry, “the 10”) and exited around Korea-town. Needless to say, I was equally intrigued and confused until we rounded a couple of blocks and we were at one of the coolest places in California (which I had never been to…) – The La Brea Tarpits! You see – I love science and wild-animal shows, and dinosaurs, etc. But one part of natural history that’s always gotten short-shrift are the great animals that died out at the end of the last ice-age – about 10,000 years ago.
The park and accompanying museum are really fun and interesting for folks curious about this part of North America’s history. The tar-pits are naturally-occurring asphalt ooze that seeps up from underground chambers and has been for thousands of years. Mammoths, mastodons, bears twice as large as a modern grizzly, dire wolves and saber-toothed cats (not tigers – apparently they’re more related to the modern bobcat that the tiger) all roamed the western part of the continent and would occasionally get stuck and die in the tar. Literally millions of fossils have been excavated there, giving researchers one of the best ideas of a functioning prehistoric ecosystem. And yes, animals – mostly birds and rodents still get stuck there in it today.
Following our visit – another address was input and we were off for lunch. We stopped outside a non-descript little place on Pico – The Apple Pan. In business for nearly 60 years, its famous for its counter-only service and limited menu – burgers and fries. It is essentially what In-N-Out Burger was modeled on. Very good cheese burger and fries – and yes, I finished it off with a big old piece of apple pie with homemade whipped cream – its my birthmonth, don’cha know.
Full, but still game – we were onto our next adventure. A shuttle bus for a visit to the Griffith Observatory. What an awesome place! The observatory is a public landmark in L.A. and has recently been renovated and expanded (the expansion all underground) to include new and updated exhibits – and was only re-opened last Fall. As the Beloved knew, as a child, I’d always wanted to be an astronomer, so the stars, planets and galaxies are near and dear to my heart. We saw the new planetarium show which was THE BEST one I had ever seen – a wonderful synthesis of science and WHY people do science and why we’ve looked at the stars for millennia in attempting to understand the universe and our place in it.
Finally, we were off to wet our whistles and this was the last adventure for the day. The Beloved knows that I love to watch tv-shows about aliens and unexplained phenomena for fun. So, of course, there’s no better place to get a drink than The Bigfoot Lodge! Part schtick + part grunge + fun bartender = great bar. I even got a birthday shot of tequila!
Lastly, we made our way to our West Hollywood hotel, which was very hip and monochrome (mostly blue-grey) and we had a few snacks before heading to bed.
Favorite breakfast place
Classic burger + fries
Astronomy and planetarium
Yeah – she knows how to make a pretty perfect Surprise Saturday for me. And we needed a good night’s sleep for what was to come the next day too.