Thursday, November 27, 2014

Los Angeles

A few weeks ago Laura and I drove to Los Angeles for a weekend. We were primarily going there to pick up our friend Jami to bring him back to Tucson for the holidays, and we decided to use that time to see a sight or two in the city.

So, here are my impressions of Los Angeles.

I should be up-front about the fact that I'm not a city person. I don't require isolation, but there's a certain population density that makes me uncomfortable. Basically, if it's hard to find parking without paying for it, I'm probably not comfortable there.

Much of L.A. definitely exceeds that threshold. The parking is bad, the traffic is awful, and there's just people, people, people everywhere. It's by no means the most crowded place I've ever been (hello Shibuya), but it's just enough to be overwhelming for me.

That said, it's not actually bad there. I was able to drive where I needed to go, there was always a parking space somewhere, and the people seemed, on the whole, rather chill. Like anyplace, the people were varied, with plenty of jerks and friendly people in about equal measure. Granted, my sample size was limited to a couple of touristy places and the neighborhood of Laura's friend Chari, who generously provided us with a place to stay while we were there.

I'd previously only really experienced passing through Los Angeles on the way to someplace else, sometimes stopping to spend the night at Jon Magram's place in Burbank. Burbank is a lovely place that is, of course, just as crowded as everyplace else, pretty much. Driving through L.A. is generally the worst part of my drive up the west coast.

Laura and I spent our one whole day in Los Angeles seeing a couple of key sights: the Santa Monica Pier and the Griffith Observatory.

A friend of mine moved from Louisiana to Los Angeles, and we decided to meet up at the end of the pier and get lunch. Laura and I got there early, found parking for $2/hour right at the end of the pier (a really lucky find), and walked out to the end to wait.

The weather was perfect, and the view from the pier was great. After watching some sea lions play with the fishermen and tourists at the end of the pier, we just sat and listened to the waves until my friend arrived.

After getting lunch, we walked along the beach for a while, watching the interesting people walk, run, and ride by on bikes, skateboards, and whatever else they could find with wheels. We also looked at the beach houses and imagined the sort of people who owned and kept those places. It was like another world--one that fascinates me, but one I'm not terribly interested in joining.

Afterward, Laura, Cheri, and I drove up to Griffith Observatory for the sunset. There was traffic on the way up the hill, though, so we missed the actual sunset, but we still managed to get a view of the city as the twilight waned. The city was pretty smoggy, and the horizon was entirely blurred, but the view was still lovely. We then proceeded to actually check out the observatory museum, which was kind of crowded, but filled with interesting displays about our solar system, the sun specifically, and other general information about space.

After getting dinner with Cheri and her husband Elliot (Los Angeles is one of those places where there are a million restaurants to try and not enough time to try them all), Laura and I visited Turbo Mansion, the house where Jami was staying with a handful of other people. It seemed like an interesting, friendly environment.

Anyway, as far as cities go, Los Angeles seems alright. I wouldn't want to live there, but given that it's the second most-populous city in the country, it doesn't feel quite as crowded there as you might think. It is crowded, though, and it sounds prohibitively expensive to live there. I'm content to merely visit.

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