Last week, Pat and I took a trip to Los Angeles to spend a week with John and Nancy. We were picked up at the Airport in the late afternoon and driven directly to Rancho Palos Verdes where they live. Nancy had prepared a Lasagna dish that was extremely good. The top layer had a carmalization that made it a gourmet meal. The wine and salad added to the eating pleasure. We later sat back for rest and conversation.
The next day we set out for the Reagan Library, John drove. He had already seen the Library but wanted to see it again. This was Nancy's first trip there, as was ours. The location in Simi Valley is nice and the building is set to overlook much of the valley. We had to park a ways away from the building but a bus was there to take us to the entrance. The place opens at 10:00 AM and that is the time we got there, yet, the closer lot was already full. The front of the building was resplendent with flowers and blooming shrubs. There were docents at various parts of the building to answer any questions, some so eager to help they just started in with explanations as we approached. Various rooms or stations had videos of important events in Reagan's life, all providing padded, bench seating which was most welcome as fatigue settled in. In one room there was a display of six of Nancy's gowns. John said that in his last trip here there were about forty gowns. Clearly there had been some redesign. Nancy was in full charge when the building went up but now she has taken a back seat. Yet, nowhere was there any mention of Jane Wyman, Reagan's first wife.
This building houses Air force One and the Marine One Helicopter in a humongous room. We toured through the plane and I must admit it is better than first-class on any other plane. (Obama's plane is much larger and has more plush.) A photographer is there to get a picture of us as we were boarding, encouraging us to wave as Reagan and Nancy did when they were embarking. We did not buy the $20.00 picture. However, we did each take a picture, using John's cell phone, riding on a fake horse next to a life sized picture of Reagan riding on a horse. It is supposed to appear that one is out riding with Reagan. Nearby, was a display of some of his belt buckles, he had over 300 of them all highly decorative. Just before leaving to go outside to see the Reagan tomb, we viewed a video of the funeral service. In it we saw Captain Jim Symonds, Debbie's cousin, giving the folded flag to Nancy Reagan. The monument bearing the casket was not overly done, yet, caused reverence in all who stood by.
We had been at the Library a little under three hours and on our way home we stopped at the Elephant Bar for lunch. It is a nice place, with well trained servers and delicious food. We each received a 20% seniors discount card. (Well that takes care of the tip.) We all agreed that there would be no hesitation to visit any Elephant Bar in the future.
The next day, Wednesday, Pat and I drove John's car to Westwood Cemetery to fulfill Duane's desire that we tour it. He had recently stayed at the Doubletree Inn nearby and was impressed. We agreed with him that it was unique and found many of the graves and walls he told us about. Some of the ones we saw: Marilyn Monroe, Bob Crane, Don Knotts, Merv Griffin, Natalie Woods, Farah Faucett, Charles Coburn, Walter Mathau, Jack Lemon, Carol O'Conner, all the rest I can't remember. Most cemeteries I have been in were Catholic and I was surprised to see many Muslim graves, many of which have a picture of the occupant. Two hours at the Cemetery and we were ready for lunch. We somehow took the drive completely around UCLA and eventually found ourselves in Santa Monica. We parked on a side street and ate at the Air, Water and Flour Restaurant. All male waiters and the food was great. Upon leaving we found a parking ticket, yet there were no signs about no parking, cost $64.00. From here we went to Rodeo Drive to fulfill Pat's desire to walk it. We parked about three blocks away and did walk the whole street. It was tiring but we did it. At one point a vendor wanted to sell us some water for $1.00 but it was not a warm day and we did not buy. Later, when walking back, we saw that same vendor standing near a Bugatti car and offering to sell it for one and a half million, we did not buy. The stores and displays were unique, interesting and colorful, Pat enjoyed it all. For me, it was all just a larger version of stores I had seen in Coconut Grove, St Andre Island, Toronto, and Naples. When we got home, Nancy had a beef stew with lots of carrots ready for dinner. The wine was excellent also.
The next day John took us for a tour of the Palos Verde peninsula. we stopped at the whale watching point to see what was being observed. Many people with binoculars, some with stands for the binoculars, some people sitting down with binoculars. The wind was cutting and the temperature uncomfortable, I was glad to have my windbreaker and Navy watch cap. John only had a short sleeve shirt and I could tell he was indeed feeling it, but he said nothing. Three whales had been spotted before we got there, all the particulars were noted on a large chalk board nearby. We looked but saw nothing. From here we went to San Pedro and toured the stores and fish markets near the marina. We chose one for lunch, John said it was the same one he had taken Pappa to eat many years ago. John did not have fish, he does not like it, Momma would be proud. The rest of us had fish.
Thursday John went golfing while Nancy, Pat and I visited the California Science Center near USC. We got there at opening at 10:00 AM and went sailing in bypassing about 150 kids. All three of us had seen many museums with similar exhibits, yet, this was an enjoyable pastime. The first exhibits we saw were three capsules from the space program, neat. It was unnecessary to read the plaques we mostly knew what they said, after all, we lived through it.We were soon surrounded by the kids we had seen, mostly 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, 90% Asian. They came in like lemmings running to the sea and were a sight to watch as they entered a room and immediately set about turning knobs, mashing buttons and twisting shafts. They were an excited bunch and ran from one exhibit to another, for them, Xanadu. There was a travelling exhibition there for a few weeks called "1001 Inventions." It was in a large room and there were seven kiosks, each covering a single topic: astronomy, medical tools, clocks, architecture, inventions, moon mapping, and medicine. These were the advancements that Muslims had made. The whole show was to promote Muslim learning and achievements through the centuries. The exhibits were colorful, well explained and did grasp attention. However, I felt it was all a piece of propaganda. We had lunch in one of the Centers restaurants, Taco Bell. While eating we were surrounded by kids, all eating their brown bag lunch. Upon our return home, Nancy unveiled a casserole she had been slow cooking, Pate Chinois. It was made just as Momma made it, roast beef instead of hamburger. It tasted exactly how I remember Mamma's tasting, a taste I had not had for over thirty years. Of course Nancy served it with pickled beets. The wine enhanced it even more.
Friday was for lounging around and playing "Jokers." John and Nancy taught us this game and we took to it as we did eating our first ice cream cone. At first, team John and Pat were unbeatable, but later Nancy and the slow learner began to stage a comeback, eventually winning the Superbowl. Saturday was more of the same thing. Late Saturday we went to the 5:00 Mass at their Church. We went in a side door and sat in a nearby pew. Many people there recognized John and Nancy and just had to say a few words to them. We were introduced to a few but I cannot remember one single name. One thing I can say for certain, they will be having many funerals in the next ten years because most of the people were old. It was a sea of gray heads. The Priest was likable and addressed the recent problem of kids breaking into the school and changing test scores in the school records, some for money. He was against it.
Sunday was for watching the news shows. I missed my Fox News and watched programs I know nothing about: NBC, CBS, and ABC. John does not have cable does not see Fox, nor does he have a movie channel. He is content with his antenna programs and his computer, for him most blissful. Later we returned to the Joker wars, every one fiercely fought and argued over, great fun.
Monday, John drove us to the airport but carried his bike along. After dropping us off he would be doing his 40 mile bike ride. We had uneventful travelling both ways. Duane and Debbie picked us up and we went to dinner at Piccadilly, joined there by Amber and her fiance Philip. All in all, a great trip.