Manifest Destiny 2015

Urban Safari in LA

We had planned to spend only one day in LA, so we had to spend our time wisely. We started with a short drive from Rodondo Beach to Los Angeles, passing through some nice neighborhoods and some not so nice. We drove past Marina Del Rey, which seemed pretty nice.

Our first pit stop of the day was the Le Brea Tar Pits, where Matthew got to enjoy the presence of many fossils on display. I was pleased to find out that dire wolves were once real animals, and judging by the amount of skills that have been recovered from the tar pits, I think the Starks’ original home may be LA. Maybe that’s why they’re so excited for winter all the time. LA summers are hot. The tar pits also hosted an area where you could watch the fossil experts sort through, polish, and examine the fossils. Basically they were doing the most tedious work possible while annoying tourists like me stare at you and take pictures through a glass window.

From the tar pits, we headed to Pink’s, a famous hot dog stand in Hollywood. All of the hot dogs had the names of celebrities or movie titles to go with the theme. I was boring and just got a mushroom and swiss dog, no funny name. It was wicked good though.


Next was our Ultimate Hollywood Tour through the streets of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and surrounding neighborhoods. We got to see all kinds of stars homes, like Halle Barrie, Paul Newman, the Playboy mansion (bleh…), Jimmy Stewart, the Justin Timberlake character from the social network (I forget the real guy’s name…) Bruce Willis and Demi Moore (pre-divorce), Lucille Ball, and the best one by far, Beyoncé!!! We saw her there, teaching Blue Ivy the single ladies dance while Jay-Z was grilling burgers! Did you believe that? You shouldn’t have, because I just lied. For most of these places, you could just see the gates and shrubberies that shielded the Hollywood stars from the drudgeries that pursued them.

The coolest part of the tour was just driving around in the tour vehicle. Picture a van with the top and windows cut off and replaced with a canopy: that’s pretty much what it was. It reminded me a lot of when we were on safari two years ago. We were driving fast up and around hills, through side streets on a mission. The only difference was that instead of “Ooh, zebra!!” it was “Ooh, the house from Iron Man!” Oh yeah, we also saw the house from Iron Man. Turns out it’s a real house. Who knew.

We disembarked from out tour onto Hollywood Boulevard, which reminds me a lot of Times Square. You really want it to be this big, beautiful, glamorous place where dreams come true, and instead it smells bad, it’s dirty, and creepy people dress up like Mickey Mouse and try to hug you. Imposters!!! My mission during this leg was to find Walt Disney’s star. I was also looking for Audrey Hepburn, until I found out hers was like a mile from where we started. Boo.

We started down the road and I was reading every star, searching for Mr. Disney. In the meantime, I found myself frantically taking pictures of every star I found of someone I liked. Annette Funicello. Journey. Bob Barker. There was a lady in a mumu standing on top of Judy Garland and my soul shed a tear. But I took pictures anyway. Now, I have a personal preference about taking pictures. I typically refuse to take any picture that could easily come up in a Google search: for example, stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But yet I caught myself doing it anyway! It was like I was using a bridal registry scanner in ikea: I wanted everything! So when you scroll and see my pictures, know I’m not proud of the amount I took with no one in them and nothing special about them.

We had to take a bathroom break as well as a break from the sun, so we headed into the Roosevelt hotel, a tip from our tour guide. It was really nice inside, though it kind of looked like the Hollywood Tower Hotel on the inside. I refrained from taking the elevator.


After a brief respite, we were back on the walk of fame, star hunting. I dodged a few creepy Spider-Mans to do so, but I finally found Walt Disney’s star. I felt accomplished. From there we went to the courtyard outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was hunting for Audrey Hepburn handprints for a good 15 minutes before realizing she probably didn’t have any there. But I did find Julie Andrews’s, and fun fact, we both have tiny hands! We went upstairs to what was supposedly the world’s largest candy store. That was a major disappointment, considering there was barely any candy in it! If you’re a large building that claims to be the world’s largest candy store, there better be floor to ceiling candy, rather than just a few fixtures here and there. C’mon. Learn from Yummies in Kittery then talk to me.

We got the cars and headed back down to Beverly Hills for dinner. It felt good to be off the seedy streets of Los Angeles, where we literally walked past a homeless person laying next to a gutter. Using the 20 minute wait we had before getting our table at the Cheesecake Factory, mom and I headed over one block to walk down Rodeo Drive. I had been saying for months that I just wanted to walk around and feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, so I did the best I could. In my head. All the shops were closed, so I couldn’t go in anywhere. But that was probably the best. I had juggled the decision of whether or not to buy a $100 Chanel Kleenex just to say I’d bought something on Rodeo Drive, but I suppose fate made that decision for me.

We had dinner and then drove three hours down the road to Santa Maria. By the time we got to the hotel, everyone was ready for bed, considering how early we had to be up the next morning for our long day of driving and pit stops up the Pacific Coast Highway!

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