We had a relatively uneventful two hour drive up I-5, along the pacific coast, to Prado Regional Park in Chino. That park was close enough to where we wanted to visit in Los Angeles while not being too crazy expensive – two of the many features we look for in a campground!
We settled in and took a mid-day drive into Los Angeles, aiming for Hollywood Boulevard. We found some on-street parking and quickly ran into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We all walked along, reading the names with a lot of “Oh yeah! I remember…” and “Have you seen that movie….”
We found a cute sandwich shop on the boulevard, had lunch (and a pit stop!), and continued our walk. We finally arrived at the TCL Chinese theater and, with the other tourists, ran around reading what the stars had written in concrete, how long ago they were there, and putting our hands and feet in theirs.
Walking back to the car we saw where Jimmy Kimmel Live is taped!
We got a quick glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign and decided to drive through “the hills” and get a little closer. There aren’t many places to stop (without getting into trouble) and take a proper picture of the sign but we did our best. We drove around the reservoir and tried to stop in Lake Hollywood Park, but there was some event going on that had the park closed and no parking available. Bummer! We continued to drive around the crazy narrow streets with sharp turns, almost getting hit by someone coming the other way too fast. I couldn’t imagine living here! The houses were so close to each other without any yards and privacy only afforded by fences that completely surround the houses. Some of the public roads were also closed off by private security guards which, to me, made it feel more confining than elitist.
The next morning the kids got outside in the park for a bit and played before we ventured out. In the large sort-of-grassy area Yay-yay found a rope swing tied to a tree, which they all wanted to try.
Our big stop of the day was the California Science Center, which came highly recommended. There were a lot of interesting hands-on exhibits there, but without a map the science center seemed segmented by the waiting area to see the space shuttle Endeavour. Only after we walked past this area did we find so much more to the museum!! By this time, thankfully, all of the school groups had left so we were able to explore and learn a lot more without the crowds.
The World of Life exhibit was really cool, and Dooder was really interested in all of it, but especially the heart, blood, and brains. Dooder has been very interested in the human body for a long time. He was probably only three years old when he began to flip through anatomy books and ask how things worked. Developing type 1 diabetes further fueled his interest in the workings of the body. This was the perfect exhibit for him! He would see something of interest, watch a short video, and then tell me all about it with his energy-packed excited passion. He even watched open heart surgery, which was a bit much for his siblings who chose to find something milder to explore.
Yay-yay and I checked out the Endeavour: The California Story exhibit, saw some of the launch control desks used for the shuttle launches, and even got to touch a set of tires from the shuttle! Later in the afternoon, after the school groups had left, we were able to get into the Samuel Oschin Pavilion during general admission time to see Endeavour close up. This is one of only three remaining space shuttle orbiters that have been to space. Endeavour, the fifth orbiter built, was constructed from spare parts as a replacement after the Challenger accident. The kids have now seen all of the orbiters in person! (Atlantis is at Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, which we saw earlier on this trip, and Discovery is at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which we saw on a previous trip.)
The kids all needed a break from the museum for a few minutes, so we walked outside to explore the beautiful Exposition Park rose garden and fountain after a snack.
Back to the museum, we went to the Ecosystems exhibits. After walking under the 188,000 gallon aquarium holding the kelp forest, Cake went upstairs to look down into it and see the fish and sharks. Next, it was over to the Touch Tank to see and touch the sea stars, limpets, sea urchins, and anemones. We all had questions for the staff, who were very happy to see how excited the kids were and answer all of their questions. Back inside the museum one of the kids’ favorite exhibits was the Poles room because of the ice wall – yes, it was a giant wall of ice inside the building.
We didn’t see the whole museum and many of the exhibits that we did see we could have spent even more time there – it is BIG! On the way back to the car we took a good look at the Lockheed A-12 outside of the parking garage. A close cousin to their favorite SR-71 Blackbird, they were surprised and excited to see one!
Getting back to the park and campground, my eye caught a bird walking along the grassy area and looking for food. I wasn’t really sure my eyes were seeing what my brain thought it was until we got a bit closer and stopped. This was a bit crazy – a bunch of peacocks (peafowl) wandering around in the park! We watched them for a bit, hoping one of them would give us a show of their beautiful fan tails, but no luck.
That’s it! No, we didn’t see any famous people – just five crazy people living in a big bus with their cat. We have “done” rush-hour traffic in LA, and what we saw wasn’t too bad. Now it was time to head north and see another national park!