I spent a couple of days touring the area around LA. The first day I drove up to Malibu in search of the James Rockford mobile home on the beach…sadly I never located anything that looked slightly like it, though the ocean area was beautiful. On the next day I went to Palm Springs. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 100’s as I drove through the desert area just west of LA. It all seemed so desolate except for the oil rigs that cropped up everywhere the eye could see. It was amazing to drive into the Palm Springs area! The scenery went from dry and drab to lush greenery. The first sight I caught of the city was a beautiful golf course with sprinklers running at full tilt. There was really nothing remarkable of the city except for a tramway that climbed from the desert floor to a national forest 8200 feet above. From that height I got a panoramic view of the valley and it’s towns below. Driving back into the city I was amazed to see the thermometer in the car register 126 degrees F. I don’t think I have ever been in such a hot place. The day before the desert had set a new record high heat of 128 F. Just sixty miles west LA was a balmy 92 degrees and it felt almost cool after my trip to the desert.
On my final full day in LA I took a bus tour of the city. I like to do this in cities that are new to me. I get to see the tourist sights and have someone explain why they are important. We went to the Santa Monica Pier where I encountered a homeless man who, I think, lived on the beach. He had a bicycle with a sheep skull (with horns) attached to his steering column. He began talking at me and for the most part I did not understand what he was saying. As I left the pier he followed me back to the tour bus and attempted to load his bike into the bus. The driver blocked him so he asked where we were going so that he could meet us there because he had “developed an affection for me”. After all the other tourists got back on the bus we left behind my new best friend and traveled to Venice beach. The tour ended with a visit to Hollywood so that we could look at the stars in the sidewalk that gave honor to the many different people who have been involved in the film, radio and TV industries. We were told that to receive this privilege each person so honored had to front $85,000 to purchase the star that would be placed in the sidewalk.
The next day I made my way to Union Station in downtown LA. It is a beautiful and dignified building that spoke to me of the richness of the past railroad days. I boarded the Southwest Chief for my trip back to Chicago. The ride back was not as scenic as the trip to California. I suspect that if I had a deeper appreciation of the desert it may have been as beautiful, but with that lacking I just enjoyed the passing scenes as the train brought me back to the familiar Midwestern farmland that marks our part of the world. I hope you enjoyed this little travel log (though I fear it may have been like watching someone’s slide show after a vacation), but now it comes to an end as I turn my attention to present day matters.