By Car, Train, and Boat: Invading Los Angeles County

This is the city – Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles is a city whose name is known in many corners of the planet, a city having an abundance of offerings typically not seen in great frequency, some of which are compacted into relatively small geographic areas.

A market providing, in bulk, nearly every type of chili pepper known to mankind is situated across a walkway from…

…a restaurant serving a delightfully wide variety of meats is directly across the street from…

…the world’s shortest railway line which takes roughly 45 seconds to travel from end to end.

Los Angeles provides an eclectic mixture of sights and sounds to experience.  Enjoy music?  Try the L.A. Philharmonic which plays inside the Walt Disney Theatre.

Or if you enjoy modern art, cross the street and visit The Broad.

This museum has what is likely the world’s largest balloon dog – made of stainless steel.

There are 88 municipalities within Los Angeles County.  Anything within the county and outside those other 87 municipalities falls into the city limits of Los Angeles.

How do I know all this?  My name is Jason.  I am a tourist.

The weather was uncomfortably cool and overcast the last few days of May and the first few in June, providing an outlet for residents to use the apt and descriptive terms of “May Gray” and “June Gloom”.  Yet none of this directly interfered with what brought us to Los Angeles.

The occasion was a convention of the American Harp Society.

As a quick aside, the harp is a phenomenally versatile instrument.

However, we aren’t concerned about harp conventions and the virtues of a Lyon & Healy versus a Salvi.  Nor are we concerned with art museums, chili peppers, or balloon dogs.  The facts are we are here to discuss cars and other forms of transportation (and some architecture) found in this auto-centric metropolis.

So here’s what was found around Los Angeles County…

Seen from the vantage point of our hotel balcony in Hollywood, this Chrysler Sebring convertible was still plying the streets.

The Fiats around there were so plentiful as to make one wonder if they traveled in pairs.

These Porsche sedans quickly became invisible due to their ubiquity.

The gentleman in the black Toyota on the left side of the screen is holding up two fingers, not one.  Peace, brother.

Mercedes vans outnumbered all the other Mercedes; one that was spotted was for a mobile dog grooming service.

This G-Wagen was unique among Mercedes sightings, odd as that seems.

Dodge Chargers of all varieties were rather plentiful.  Only one was seen that said “Highway Patrol” on the door.

These pictures were taken from the balcony of our hotel room, with our room being on the upper left.  A former apartment building built in the 1940s, being there made me wonder about who had found great success while living there – plus who had endured soul-crushing rejection and disappointment.

The courtyard was almost a colorized version of film-noir.

Discounting for Uber and Lyft, typical taxis were almost exclusively of the Prius variety.  A robust car that is ideal for such use, they heavily flirt with being too small when hauling three people and their ample luggage.

We made use of this very Prius a few hours after this picture was taken.  Alexander, the driver, was from Russia and lamented about having taken German instead of English when in high school.  A lot of very useful information about an area can be learned from taxi drivers.  A couple of our other drivers were Feliks from Armenia and Umid from Pakistan.  Both were very shrewd with a great sense of humor.

The Los Feliz neighborhood is adjacent to Griffith Park and not far from Hollywood.  The trees are amazing and of a species not identified…

…while some of the streets in residential areas are profoundly narrow in spots with negligible sight distance…

…and a few of the homes in the area purportedly helped inspire Walt Disney in how to present buildings in his Snow White movie.  The roof is the big giveaway here.

Going west from Los Feliz, one quickly realizes the change in the automotive environment.  The shift was pronounced and quickly desensitizes a person.

While a Bentley isn’t an everyday sighting for many of us, seeing about five in ten minutes erodes the statement they seek to make.

Similar could be said about Lamborghinis.  Earlier, on Hollywood Boulevard alongside the Walk of Fame, it was seen where one could rent a Lamborghini just like this for $129.

As our tour guide said, Lamborghinis in this particular area are like Toyotas everywhere else.  She wasn’t wrong.

What was attention getting, due to its relative rarity, was this all electric FedEx delivery vehicle.

Some owners were successful in making their pride and joy stand out among the competition.  This Audi is one such example.

Similarly standing out among the visual competition, although the competition here was billboards, is this railcar converted into a restaurant.

For reasons not readily discernible, a statue of Rocky and Bullwinkle is also vying for attention.  It got it.

It would be negligent to not include this Volkswagen.

As this particular journey continued, we were greeted with a sign taking strong civic pride in what it offered.  Such civic pride has never been so memorably displayed elsewhere in which similar services were offered.

It puts one in mind of a certain Eddie Murphy film from the mid-1980s.

Rest assured, we have that covered also.

It would be erroneous to think the City of Beverly Hills would have a Chevrolet Colorado in top-tier Denali trim for parking enforcement.  Despite the relative wealth of the city, the citizens of Beverly Hills are taxpayers also.

The restrooms above were located at the Greystone Mansion.  Built in 1928 for an oil tycoon’s son, the mansion has been open to the public since 1971.

If memory serves, the house is 55,000 square feet; thinking of it another way, the house itself is about 1.25 acres of the entire 18.3 acre parcel.

Many films and television shows have been filmed here.  The entrance to the estate gives a listing, which includes The Big Lebowski and Spider-man.

This is the garden used by ABC’s soap opera General Hospital in the early 1980s for filming the marriage of characters Luke and Laura.

A wedding had just finished when we arrived (on a Wednesday).  The rental rates for the grounds aren’t cheap but one is likely not going to get anything comparable for a special event.

Elsewhere in Beverly Hills, one could find the Ford van belonging to the hired help…

…a Mitsubishi of some variety parked on the street and appearing to be lonely amid all the foliage…

…plus a Toyota SUV cohabitating with a BMW something or other.

Naturally, there was yet another Bentley parked on Rodeo Drive…

…as well as a cheerful, taxi colored Rolls-Royce.

Upon seeing this Alfa-Romeo I remarked about having seen yet another one.  Daughter observed how the front makes the vehicle look like a modern Edsel.  She has a point.

This pairing was found at the intersection in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel.  I was uncertain about my thoughts…respect for the Chrysler owner who aspires to have something more Rolls like?  Or, pity for the Rolls owner who paid a boatload of money for something that looks like a Chrysler.

The possibilities of what to think are endless.

Chartering another two-tone Prius to transition downtown, many illuminated brake lights, the seeming trademark of Los Angeles, greeted us.

While the automotive sightings during our time downtown were skimpy, it was more of the type of sightings.

That yellow Ford F-250 was there intermittently for five days.

This Mercedes was not.

During our second night street racers made good use of Olive Street.

On our third night, different things happened.

The Leons, a football (or soccer for those in the U.S.) team from Mexico were staying in our hotel.  None were familiar due to not being a sports fan.  What was familiar, and unwelcome, was a few of them eyeballing my daughter.

As an aside, we heard nearly ten different languages being spoken while in the Los Angeles area.  Any language barrier is less insurmountable these days as the Spanish speaking maid and I conversed using Google translate on her iPhone.

On the last full day of our stay, this now vintage, and still in service, Ford Crown Victoria crossed my path.  It was a great sighting with all current such use being fulfilled by Ford Explorers.

That afternoon we headed south to Long Beach.  The Queen Mary entered service in 1936.  At 118′ longer than the Titanic, it is a huge ship that is currently serving in the Long Beach Harbor as a hotel and museum.

During World War II, it was converted into being the “Gray Ghost”, used to transport approximately 810,000 Allied troops to various locations throughout the course of the war.  During one voyage in 1943, the Queen Mary carried 16,000 American soldiers in one trip.

It was during this time frame, and perhaps the same voyage, in which the Queen Mary carried my late-maternal grandfather from New York to England at 30 knots.  Serving in the Army Air Force, his initial assignment was “between Liverpool and Blackpool” although it was near the town of Freckleton.

His journey aboard the Queen Mary included a rather vicious storm.  He said on the way there the waves were so tall one could hear the propellers spinning in the open air as the ship rode the waves.  More about that voyage can be found here.

It also seems during this voyage he was assigned to guard several coolers of milk meant for officers.  Being enlisted, and not having seen milk in months, he sold the milk to fellow GIs for $3 per coffee cup.  Somehow he evaded trouble with his having done so, but he could fabricate a very convincing story when needed.

The pictures of the Queen Mary were taken from this vessel.

It triumphantly took us around the harbor, the size of which is hard to fully appreciate when looking at Google.  By necessity it needs to be huge.

Cargo vessels such as this one dotted the horizon.

All appeared to be waiting to unload.  For whatever reason, there was no unloading taking place on this particular Sunday.

Back on shore, the sight of the Marina reminded me of the opening shot from Gilligan’s Island.

Walking (and also renting a pedal-powered surrey) found our two last treasures.

The first is this approximately 1971 or 1972 Ford F-250.  She was a sweetie.

She looks stout enough to pull the Queen Mary.

While in the Los Angeles area, I saw many fine automotive specimens I was unable to photograph.  The BMW Kammback (whatever its official name), several Japanese domestic market vehicles (one of which had been converted into a food truck), a pristine base model Ford Fairmont, several Falcons, and others I no longer remember.

However, this last one is special.  It is a car model of some notoriety yet we’ve never covered one.  This one almost didn’t happen due to said surrey ride being longer than anticipated.  But here it is, in all its exposure adjusted curbside glory:

A 1949 Mercury.  Better, it appears the top has not been lowered.

This was first spotted in daylight, but we stopped on the beach and did other various fun things.  Thankfully, it was still present upon our return.

This was the city – Los Angeles, California.  It and the surrounding area was a lot of fun.  Like any other trip, there were highs and lows but the highs vastly outweighed the rest.  Also like any other trip, there are things you seek to do but time does not allow, such as the Petersen Museum.

My wife has already mentioned what to do upon any return trip.  That alone indicates a high degree of success.