Saturday, September 18, 2010

god save the queen

We woke up in our cabin on the Queen Mary and were able to easily hear our neighbors' voices and we concluded that our late night knocks probably were not the work of ghosts. Deb was relieved and I was somewhat disappointed. We set off to explore the rest of the ship which was no less impressive, but not nearly as spooky, in the daylight. Even the engine room wasn't the least bit scary. It was however, massive, impressive,and crammed with complex steam-powered machinery that dwarfed us. It is hard to imagine a transcontinental trip lasting four days, but it's equally hard to imagine taking such a trip in the comfort and luxury not afforded by a middle seat on an 8-hour flight.

After dropping the top on our Sebring and donning our designer sunglasses (Deb found hers and I bought mine at Marshall's) we headed toward the City of Angels. Unlike many of our other destination cities we didn't really have much of an idea what we wanted to see in L.A. When I posted this quandry on facebook the suggestions I received were mostly sarcastic and while I'm sure that the Getty is very nice, we live in NYC so going to a museum isn't all that attractive. We decided to do as the Angeleans do and just drive. We drove into the city and discovered that we were the only ones with more than one person in their car as we flew by stopped traffic on the 110 in the deserted carpool lane. When the carpool lane abruptly turned into an exit, we headed toward the water and found ourselves at the Santa Monica Pier a place I remembered really enjoying when I was very young.

We're still trying to eat the traditional cuisine of each city/area that we visit, but Los Angeles proved somewhat difficult. After all, what is the food L.A. is known for: sushi? burgers? Mexican food? We'd been looking for an In and Out Burger since we landed, but to no avail. Instead we made the mistake of getting a burger on the pier at a little place called the Surf View Cafe and they were not good. The place was a ramshackle reminder of what the pier had been long before the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company moved in, and that was why I chose it. The burgers were expensive and practically inedible but the place proved the old real estate mantra of location, location, location as it was somehow still in business. Also, the place seemed to be inundated by wounded pigeons hopping around on one good leg, their injured talon tucked beneath them. If you were really lucky they hopped right up on your table. It really helped set the mood.

We hit the road and headed for the hills--Beverly, that is. Along the way we experienced a city of billboards and discovered everything the fall TV schedule had to offer via billboards that were themselves giant television screens. I decided to head up Laurel Canyon and managed to drive a triple feature in three left turns: Sunset Boulevard to Laurel Canyon to Mulholland Drive (for more information consult your Netflix account). We ended up getting lost in a maze of multi-million dollar homes each more fabulous than the last; finally finding ourselves back on Sunset headed toward Hollywood Boulevard. The only street in Los Angeles more touristy than Hollywood Boulevard is Main Street at Disneyland, but it also has some of the city's best film-related gems and I'm a sucker for the movies. We parked in front of Roddy McDowell's star and headed to dinner at the most old-school Hollywood restaurant still left: Musso and Frank's Grill.

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