Los Angeles, CA – April 22, 2017
Los Angeles is the location we chose for a rest stop. It is a long way from Grand Junction, Colorado to Wellington, New Zealand.
At the Marriott Residence Inn on Century Boulevard, we lounged around in the room until it was time for dinner. About 20 steps from the hotel is a wonderful restaurant, Zpizza Tap Room. They sell pizza either whole or by the slice. Their hand-tossed pizza is delicious. The crust is thin; not paper thin, but certainly not thick and doughy. Also offered are craft beers. We opted for wine instead of beer. After dinner, it was back upstairs for some television and sleep.
The following morning, it was downstairs for the buffet breakfast. While eating, breakfast we discussed things to do that day. We had plenty of time to kill since our flight to Auckland did not depart until 22:30 that night. Our decision was Santa Monica Pier. Neither one of us had been there before.
Google Maps easily guided us to the pier. When we arrived, we stopped at the red light directly across from the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. I knew I had to get a photograph of the iconic sign. That would have to wait until we parked.
The traffic light turned green and we proceeded across the intersection and began our descent to the pier. At the bottom of the drive, one had to turn left to the parking lot on the boardwalk.
Once we parked, I walked back up to the entry sign while Leslie waited on the boardwalk. I was certainly not the only one who decided to take a photograph of the sign. Group after group of people stopped to take a “souvenir” photo beneath the iconic Santa Monica Pier sign. All the while, the locals went by, hardly noticing the tourists. In the first photograph I posted, a blurred runner attests to that fact.
I was surprised at the crosswalk at the intersection. Essentially the entire intersection was a crosswalk. I had never seen one painted quite like that. With all of the converging lines, it was almost too hard to look at and stay oriented.
The pier itself is not as large as I had imagined. Much to my amazement, there was parking right on the pier. There was additional parking in a paved lot at beach level. As we began to stroll along the pier, it was obvious that the pier was not quite in full swing. Since we are usually early when we go anywhere, we frequently miss the largest crowds, which is just fine with us.
One of the things we noticed on the beach was a field of crosses on display. It seemed to be drawing attention to the many soldiers the United States has lost in the war on terror. We could not discern why some crosses were white while others were red. If one looks closely at the photograph, one can make out at least one Star of David and one Muslim crescent moon. Those that installed the display did a very precise job. No matter which way one looked, the crosses lined up perfectly.
In addition to the larger buildings and restaurants on the pier, there were numerous kiosks. The kiosks had all manner of tourist kitsch. Of course, we had purchase some kitsch; specifically, our prerequisite refrigerator magnet.
At the end of the pier, we sat on a bench near the Mariasol restaurant and watched all the sights. There were a lot of people fishing from the pier. While we were there, we did not see anyone catch anything. Maybe on other days at other times, those fishing have much better luck.
We ended up sitting on the patio of Mariasol to have a coffee. There were a few others there for lunch. The Mexican food looked amazing. Unfortunately, we were between a rock and a hard place. We had eaten breakfast not all that long ago. Also, we planned to drive to the In-N-Out Burger for lunch. If we ever get back to that point on the planet, we will plan better so we can try some of the Mexican food.
I did not realize the Santa Monica Pier was the end of Route 66 until I saw the Route 66 Last Stop Shop at the end of the pier. When we walked back along the pier, we saw the “End of the Line” sign.
A little beyond the Route 66 sign is the old Hippodrome building. I understand it is the oldest building on the pier, dating from the mid-1940’s. Housed in the Hippodrome is a beautiful antique carousel. The carousel dates from the 1920’s. We did not ride it (apparently there is a weight limit), but we did sit and watch it for a long time.
We got back in our rental car and drove off the pier. Sitting under the Santa Monica Pier sign, waiting for the traffic light, we noticed the drive down to the pier was no longer open. We could only imagine the drive reopened periodically as people depart like we did.
Just like the last time I was there, the In-N-Out Burger by LAX was absolutely packed. Somehow we were lucky enough to find a parking space. Inside the restaurant, all the employees moved at a frenetic pace. It is an amazing site to see all the employees working assembly-line-fashion to fulfill the dozens and dozens of hamburger orders.
While I waited for our order, Leslie went outside to find a table. In my opinion, half the reason to eat at this particular In-N-Out Burger is to watch the endless stream of planes landing at the airport. We got our fill of burgers, fries, and planes.
After lunch, we walked across the street to watch the planes approach the airport, flying directly overhead. I filmed a Southwest Airlines jet and posted it on Facebook. By clicking on “watch on Facebook” one can see the video.