Los Angeles

My USA excursion continued in Los Angeles:

Saturday 30 March

The weather was cold and wet this morning as I started just round the corner from my hotel, at the Angels Flight funicular. There didn’t seem to be much of interest at the top, I couldn’t really see any reason for its existence. Perhaps it would be more attractive if the rain stopped!

I dodged the weather with a short trip on the metro and then a long tram ride to Santa Monica.

When I arrived the rain had finished so I took a stroll onto the famous pier which marks the symbolic end of Route 66.

In the cold weather no one was on the beach:

With the weather slightly improving, I headed back to Los Angeles and the place everyone has to visit, Hollywood Boulevard. The stars in the pavement go on for miles (literally) so here’s just one picture of a random sample:

This star will become more relevant later in the holiday:

I noticed the underground station at Hollywood and Vine has a ceiling decorated with film spools:

Sunday 31 March

Another long tram ride saw me in a cold and wet Long Beach, where I quickly headed for the shelter of the Queen Mary. The art deco glory of thus museum/hotel/tourist attraction has been beautifully restored, and I took a fascinating guided tour:

Monday 01 April

On a much sunnier day I headed out to La Brea to visit the tar pits, an interesting museum and park. The pits there now are the result of asphalt extraction a hundred years ago, and are mostly full of dirty oily water with the occasional bubble of gas breaking the surface.

The pits have been and still are a great source of fossils of the many animals that became trapped in the tar. To give an idea of the quantity of fossils recovered, this wall in the museum displays about 500 wolf skulls. The wolves fed on other trapped animals but occasionally got stuck themselves.

In my continuing search for breweries (See my pub blog here.) I next caught the metro and then a tram to Chinatown, where I particularly liked the Chinese-style station:

Tuesday 02 April

An early start found me back at the beautiful Union Station for another Amtrak train ride, on the Pacific Surfliner to San Diego.

The Santa Fe station at San Diego is also beautiful:

My main target in San Diego was the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier commissioned in 1945 and decommissioned in 1992. In its new role as a museum it welcomes more than a million visitors a year.

I can only show a few of the many aircraft and other exhibits from the massive collection here:

The ship was equipped with all sorts of radio equipment:

Air traffic control:

Pilots briefing room:

Having spent a large amount of time in this really good museum, I moved on to the nearby maritime museum. Unusually, the small exhibits are displayed on one floor of Berkeley, a former San Francisco steam ferry dating from 1898:

Moored around the Berkeley are a collection of historic vessels, all of which you can board and explore.

The museum also provides trips around the bay on this 110 year old pilot boat:

There is lots to see on the trip:

Wednesday 03 April

For my last day in Los Angeles I headed up to the Griffith Observatory, found on Mount Hollywood, a very popular place to view the most famous sign in the world:

There are also good views over Los Angeles from here:

The observatory itself is well worth a visit. Built in the 1930s it is an impressive building and contains lots of interesting exhibits as well as a planetarium. On a sunny Wednesday during school holidays it was very busy.

A brief mention of the rather good cafe here, which had a method of operation I’d not seen before: You serve your own food – I had chilli and rice – and at the till you pay for it by weight.

Next, a rather longer train journey. I left Los Angeles Union Station at 22:00 on the Texas Eagle for a 38 hour, 1,700 mile trip to Fort Worth.

Dawn saw us in Arizona:

A chance to photograph the locos at Tucson, AZ:

Approaching El Paso, TX, we could see “Trump’s fence”:

At El Paso I texted my brother who was meeting me in Fort Worth to say “I must be nearly there because I’m in Texas”. Of course, there was another twenty-four hours of travel to go! The pause here was a chance to view the station building, and watch a very long freight train overtake us – The picture shows two locos in the middle of the train.

Trains at El Paso are met by Juanita the “Burrito Lady” who has been selling her food here for many years. She was even mentioned on the train announcements as we approached. I had a very tasty beef and bean burrito and a bottle of pop for only $5.

The next day we paused at Temple, TX for another photo opportunity, note that we had a different loco and some different carriages after shunting at San Antonio. They have a small collection of historic trains here:

My holiday continues in Texas …

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