We are NOT big city people. For us to enjoy Los Angeles, one of the largest most sprawling cities in the world is most unlikely. Yet we like visiting LA. We have visited 4 times since 2012. Most recently our base has been the Soledad Canyon RV Park in Acton CA. It is in a very rural area about 70 miles northeast of downtown LA in the desert beyond the San Gabriel Mountains. The weather is dry, temps mostly very mild and almost always sunny.
One of the great features of the area is the Metrolink train a few miles from the park. No need to drive LA’s famous freeways and over crowded streets! We hop on the train to Union Station, then take the subway or bus where we want to go. It is a very inexpensive and relaxing way to see the city. Finding LA’s extensive public transit was a huge plus and makes the city enjoyable. Who knew, LA has transit.
Our first “day in LA” found us back in the car. We got free tickets to the taping of a sitcom “A Man with a Plan” starring Matt LeBlanc (Friends) and Kevin Nealon (SNL) at CBS Studios near Hollywood. It was a 5:15PM taping so we could get into town before the worst of rush hour. And we had no idea how long it would take to tape a half hour show. Turns out it was a good choice as we did not get out until 8:30, 3+ hours. It was good fun as there was a standup comic, Ron Pearson, keeping the audience laughing between scenes so we would be ready to laugh at each take of each scene. Some scenes were shot 4 times. The show was pretty funny and a clever script. Ron gave away prizes to good laughers and Dianne won a Starbucks gift card.
Another “day in LA” was a train, subway, bus trip to the La Brea Tar Pits. These are a world famous source for prehistoric ice age fossils which were trapped and preserved in a huge pit of asphaltum (tar). Literally thousands of fossils have been and continue to be pulled from the tar. We could smell the methane gas seeping from the gooey ooze. Giant sloths, mastodons, camels, saber toothed cats and dire wolves are among the skeletons on display at the visitor center. The large park area around the many pits is open free to the public. On our way to the tar pits we had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown near Union Station. We loved the vegan Pho made with mushroom broth. You know its a good place when you are in a sea of restaurants at 11:30AM and there is a line! After the Tar Pits we walked to the LA’s Original Farmers Market. This started during the Great Depression on land owned by the tar pit guy. We brought our farmers market bags, ready for some serious veggie shopping. Alas, it is now more of a shopping/restaurant area but we did find some nice oyster mushrooms. We had to laugh at ourselves. Bus, subway, train and we are home again. A day in LA.
Our next “day in LA” was another train, subway, bus trip to see a taping of the game show “Wheel of Fortune” at Sony Studios in Culver City. It has been on TV for 34 years and we wanted to see Pat and Vanna live. The set is not huge but takes up a large soundstage all year for 34 days of taping! We saw 3 shows taped in 3 hours, they shoot 6 per day. The shows we saw will be aired Dec 22,23 and 28. And yes, Vanna is 59 and size 4! We were soooo glad we took transit when we got out onto the streets of LA at 6:30 and found gridlock!
Our last “day in LA” was a special train trip downtown to Memorial Coliseum to see our Miami Dolphins take on the Los Angeles Rams. Have not seen the Fins in person in many years and the timing and opportunity were irresistible. The train was an hour and a half late but we got there for kickoff. As soon as we got to the train station we saw Miami Dolphin fans dressed for the game. We were so surprised to find Miami fans everywhere. Rams fans were polite but seemed almost outnumbered. It rained the whole game. The Dolphins played poorly for 3 1/2 quarters before exploding for 2 touchdowns to win 14-10. Again the train was an hour late returning. Such are the chances you take with public transport but we had a great day.
Near our RV park is another gem of LA County, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area. We had visited last year and loved it. It is a geologic wonderland of tilted rocks and hiking trails including a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail. We love the hiking and desert scenery. Many many films and TV shows have been shot here including Blazing Saddles and Star Trek.
We visited the area from November 2-22, 2016.