Day 9 – Everyone woke well-rested today and we were all ready to push on to L.A. , our first “long” stop-over of the trip (4 days! ). Driving still comprised most of the day but left enough time for us to roll into Los Angeles and check out the science center there.
We hit some pretty wild, bumper to bumper traffic on the way into the city. While cruising along, a truck that was catty corner to us had a front tire that took on with a little wobble. Then a bigger wobble. Then it blew off their truck and bounced off my windshield…in crazy LA traffic! It shook this country girl to the core! I think pulling in and parking at the science center parking lot was the happiest I’ve ever been to park the burb.
Here at Loving Life Outside the Box, we are HUGE museum buffs, and the California Science Center didn’t disappoint. We spent most of the afternoon exploring their great exhibits. We learned about earthquakes, how buildings are built to stand in spite of them, and even stood on a platform that mimicked them during a presentation that randomly set them off. Unique, and really interesting!
They had a climbing wall and some fun simulators, loads of electronic gadgets to try out, and a sizeable aquarium area showcasing some impressive ocean life. California Science Center is also home to the Space Shuttle Endeavour which we were able to wander around and examine.
The science center closed right at 5:00 so instead of fighting rush hour traffic, we went for a little wander. We found a Quiznos for dinner and had our first experience at a Cold Stone Creamery. Both were way over-priced for this family of 7, but it was quite good and by the time we’d returned to the car, most of the post five o’clock excitement had died down.
We chose yet another Best Western for our stay in southern California, the same Best Western with the persnickety breakfast wenches that we camped out in the last time we were in the area. As ornery as they were, it felt like coming home and we were incredibly happy to be there again.
The day was wrapped up with a nice long swim in the pool and as much hot tub time as our bodies could stand.
Day 10 – The Best Western breakfast ladies require you to dress to the nines and always give me the hairy eye for opting out of their formal apparel requirement (this is just a hotel continental breakfast at a 2 1/2 star hotel after all), so we hopped over to the Family Restaurant in Simi Valley for our morning eats. They have a hearty breakfast for super cheap. Kids meals with pancakes, eggs, toast, and either sausage or bacon are just $1.99. Inexpensive and delish! In Simi Valley, you can’t beat it.
After we wrapped up our breakfast, we headed south to Venice Beach to ride the bike path for the day.
*Before I go any further, a word of caution: If you’re renting bicycles in an area where the ladies riding them are wearing nothing more than what amounts to a thin piece of fancy underwear between their hoo-has and the seat, bring Clorox wipes with you and wash those seats liberally….or you’ll be sorry.*
So, we pulled into a parking lot right near the beach where they charged us $30 to park the burb and then tried to charge us $30 more because paying for parking twice is fun. Darned crooks! At least they didn’t key the car on us like the parking lot in Hollywood did the last time we were there. There’s a silver lining to every cloud, right?
We walked across the street to the bike shop and picked up bicycles, baskets, and locks for everyone, and a trailer for Amelia to ride in and took off down the path. Venice Beach, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is bum city. The temperature is mild there year round, so it calls them in in droves. They keep to themselves just fine (most of the time) so it really just is what it is. As country folk who live deep in the middle of nowhere, this was a sight to see. We don’t have homeless people sleeping on the streets here, so it was an interesting lesson for the kids.
The bike ride started in Venice Beach and took us up past the Santa Monica Pier. We stopped for a water break at Muscle Beach between the two. Our silly Sammy walked over and climbed the giant hanging rope clear to the top…which caught the attention of most of the people in the workout area who took on clapping and cheering her on. Very cool! She also wandered over to the long row of hanging rings, and like the seasoned gymnast she was, asked the lady swinging on them if she could use her chalk bag to chalk up. Sammy proceeded to take on the rings like a pro, even though her wingspan was barely wide enough to reach from ring to ring.
We continued on with our bike ride, stopping at the beaches along the way for a float in the Pacific….another thing I don’t think I could ever tire of. On the way back to Venice, I tried to encourage one of the kids to walk up on the Santa Monica Pier and explore with me. I even enticed them with snow cones and they still wouldn’t budge. That was the second time this Pennsylvania gal has been within spitting distance of the Santa Monica Pier and I STILL haven’t been up on it to check it out. Maybe next time.
The bikes were returned to the shop just before they closed at 5:00. We weren’t quite ready for dinner so we took some time to wander up the boardwalk, which is actually a cement walk crowded with different bong and novelty item stores, but mostly just different merchants pushing their bongs.
This was where we witnessed our first bum fight. Elderly Chubby Bum on the bench beside the cement walk was irritated, apparently for the last time, by Jamaican, guitar playing, skateboard-riding bum who was cruising on his board and playing his tunes in ECB’s territory. ECB yelled, “I told you to stay off my f#$*@ turf!” and ripped the poor Jamaican dude off of his board, broke his guitar, and proceeded to pound the crap out of the guy….RIGHT beside us.
Pounding the crap out of him sounds too intense. There was so little gumption behind the punches Elderly Chubby Bum threw. It looked more like a couple of brothers roughing each other up….in slow motion It was over and done with and Jamaican dude was caressing his beat up guitar and rolling down the street again all in under 60 seconds.
And that was the end of the cement walk exploring for us. The sun was starting to set anyway and Venice Beach wasn’t really somewhere we wanted to be after dark. So, we grabbed some pizza and burgers from a diner at the beach, which were, again, overpriced but absolutely delicious. We headed back to the hotel for a swim and some hot tub time….and a good night’s sleep.