Monday, May 13, 2013

Adventures Near and Far

Taylor Mountain is a new regional park opened up just a few minutes away from our house. M complained bitterly about lack of access to it for some time after the Land Trust people publicized that a deal had been struck. But now, given a little time and energy for the climb, we can take in the great views from the hilltops that we used to only imagine from our everyday commute and that is a nice landscape in and of itself. Because it's so close, I finally caved and bought a regional parks membership so we could park for "free." Well, there's a little more to the story. Felicia had a membership as did our friends Caitlin and Sean, so I was a little ashamed that I hadn't already joined the membership club.


It's a good cause and will help spur us to new adventures, I'm sure. The other motivational poke was a park walk to see the blue herons nesting in the redwoods at Riverfront Park a few weeks ago. That was fun too. I'd never been to that park before, and it seems like it will be a welcome destination, particularly once the summer really stokes up.

Last weekend was a literal departure from our rural-ish adventures to the urban and suburban variety. M's mom finally played the retirement card, so we trekked down to celebrate with her on Thursday afternoon. We made good time and had a pleasant afternoon relaxing at the hotel after our long drive which we started early to miss Bay Area traffic. We had a nice dinner with M's family. Well, Rex was not pleased to meet his dog cousin Jack, but they eventually called truce.

The next morning M and Rex went shooting with Lee and Jack while I wandered the pavements of Fullerton. The day before we had found a lunch spot in a shopping center that had both a Goodwill store and a Big Lots! and by some shopping homing beacon I managed to find it again. I don't usually want to spend time thrift storing while vacationing, but I somehow whiled away quite a bit of time roaming the racks. After finding some good buys, including a particularly hideous tie for M adorned with graphics of gavels and Justice, I headed back to the hotel and curled up by the pool with some knitting. There were a few other guests also hanging out poolside and I realized that having other people around who were also just lounging in the sun or reading the paper made it easier for me to relax too. We don't all have to be checking our email or making business calls, what a concept.

That evening was Arienne's retirement party. Two other professors were retiring as well, so it was a very well attended event. A city Assemblywoman came to hand out plaques, the dean and Fullerton College president said some very nice things about them all, there was a slideshow with lots of fun facts and nostalgia. I was very glad to be there. What a nice celebration of their service to education. Arienne mentioned that she wasn't really much for multi-tasking which was why she hadn't really started on a retirement "career" but now she can focus on starting that next phase of her life. Well, after she finishes her last class in about three weeks.

Saturday was a long, but very culturally rewarding day. M, Arienne, and I left Rex with Jack and Lee and headed off to the Getty Museum, a place I'd been wanting to visit for years. I kept my expectations low and once again I was rewarded with an incredible and memorable experience. We arrived just in time to take the architecture tour, a good way to get acquainted with the site, which was much larger than I'd thought. I'm not really a fan of modern architecture, but the buildings really are beautifully clad and situated for the site. The atmosphere was hazy but the views were still amazing. The bright light and reflection from the pale walls were such a contrast with the sometimes dark interior galleries. We saw a special exhibit of LA architecture, a Van Gogh Irises painting in a room with other stunning Impressionist works, some portraits (I do love Sargent), and earlier works of glass, and illuminated manuscripts. We took the garden tour too, which again added to my appreciation of the site: we were guided from a runnel atop one of the many terraces then downstairs to a pool where the water collected via a giant amphora sculpture, then flowed down a bouldered stream crisscrossed by a walkway shaded by lovely mature trees and bold plantings to a largish pit filled with more maze-like walkways and amazing flowering and pruned plants. There was definitely more to see even after five hours there, but by the end I was pretty hot (thank goodness for the umbrellas they provided, which of course matched the travertine walls) and content to sit by one of the fountains in the main courtyard area and rest up for our tram ride back to the museum parking lot.

And then to the freeway which was not too much different from a parking lot by the time we got to it. We headed down to Long Beach to rendezvous with M's good friend Eric and his girlfriend for dinner. I had gotten in touch with a college chum who was still working near our alma mater, as the director of operations for the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Although she couldn't meet me for lunch on Friday as I had suggested, she offered to get us tickets to the show that Saturday night, "A Century of Jazz" which was a nice mix of big band, ragtime, and jazz standards that we could all appreciate. It took place in the Long Beach Arena--they set up tables on the main area that's usually covered with ice for hockey or ice shows, and people were invited to bring in their own food and drinks to enjoy before the concert. What a great idea! And it was so great to catch up with my friend. I admit, Facebook made it easy.

View the  whole photo set adventure.

The one negative of the day was, not surprisingly, the driving. We actually engaged in some of those conversations that are the butt of jokes, long discussions about the freeway numbers we'd take to get to our destinations. Those we traversed were in various states of disrepair or much needed repair--they were crumbling, crowded, graffiti'd, a far cry from the sleek transportation future they were supposed to represent and that I'd often had glimpses of when living there. It is a pretty amazing physical network. But it's also such a waste of time and real estate. I had never wished so hard for the Star Trek transporters to become a reality. Then those soaring lanes of concrete could become homes, walkways, hanging gardens. LA would be a paradise again!

One other unfortunate part was the trip was that it was kind of hard on Rex. He really is showing his age. Especially after our long day away, he was very upset. When M was playing with him late that night when we were back at the hotel, he discovered that one of his long canine teeth had broken off! We didn't know when it happened, but that was disturbing. The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant before checking out and came back to the room to find him ba-roooooing mournfully at the patio door. He never does that. M thinks he probably just saw another dog or something, but I suspect he thought he was in for another day alone.

It was another eight hours of driving home, but it was so wonderful to be on the open highways. And Rex has fully recovered.


At 6:32 AM, May 17, 2013, Blogger Brenda said...

Yay, Rex, See you tomorrow.
I liked your future LA image.


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