Santa Monica and L.A.: November 14-18, 2011

Reminders: 1. Posts are in chronological order with most recent on top. 2. Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them and then using the back button (not close) to return to the text.

Dot’s friend of more than forty years, Dianne Newman, has lived in Santa Monica since the 70’s. They talk every weekend. They got together more often when Dot’s business travel brought her to the west coast, but since retirement, their face-time has suffered. It was obvious, therefore, that we include the area in our itinerary. We faced campground fees up to $90 a night, yet we were prepared to pay whatever was necessary, hoping to get a spot in Malibu. But steep fees weren’t the issue; dog restrictions were. So we wound up in a $60 site in Van Nuys. It turned out to be a rather strange park – laid out with one main drag and sites on a series of narrow side streets. The manager was sure he could back me into one, but it didn’t work; our hitch requires that the truck and trailer be relatively in-line to unhitch. So we wound up in a site on the main street where maneuverability was much better. It was so jam-packed, mostly with full timers, that dog walking was a challenge. But both we and the Schips made lots of friends.

I went down to the waterfront at San Pedro on our first full day, visiting the Maritime Museum and the largest marina I’ve ever seen. Dianne came up on the afternoon, giving me an opportunity to renew my friendship with her and her a chance to meet Schip-Dude. We celebrated with a Dot-prepared multi-course dinner in the RV. Dot then took the car down to Santa Monica the next day and spent it with her, while I dog-sat and did chores.

L.A.’s WorldPort, one of the largest in the world, is framed by the mainland at San Pedro and Terminal Island, (which includes the U.S.Navy Long Beach facility) and thence across another channel to the Port of Long Beach. Ferries provided access to the Island from 1870 through 1963, when the Vincent Thomas Bridge replaced their need. The Maritime Museum now occupies the old ferry terminal. Numerous exhibits herald the history of the locale, from small boats to ocean liners and from the earliest days to the present. One of my favorite exhibits, however, is a sculpture (at left) of a harbor pilot boarding an incoming commercial vessel via a Jacob’s ladder. We’ve had multiple exposure to this often perilous job, especially at the mouth of the Columbia in Oregon. Pictures below include models of one of the last Island Ferries, a classic inboard runabout and a harbor dredge that literally scooped up muck off its stern with a series of buckets on a conveyor belt. The fishing and canning industry gets plenty of space; it was the largest fishery in the U.S. until its major shrinking in the late 20th century. Both Chicken of the Sea and Star-Kist brands originated there. The marina I toured was further down the road, closer to the Bridge. Huge!! Beyond it was the pier from which all of the Catalina Island ferries departed. Wish I’d had time.

On Thursday, we visited the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley. President Reagan was offered land in the Valley for the resting place of his chronicle, and he accepted immediately after seeing it. We could tell why.

When it was first dedicated in 1981, it was the largest of all presidential libraries. Eclipsed by President Clinton’s, it regained its title in 2005 with the dedication of the addition housing Reagan’s Air Force One and Marine One helicopter.

It’s a grand and informative place, from the multiple exhibits describing his California heritage and the many critical issues and events of his presidency. One can literally walk through the huge 707, witness a large section of the actual Berlin Wall, and laugh at the elephant-sculpted hedge near the entrance.

No part of his long career is neglected. Childhood years in Illinois, the Hollywood years, the Gubernatorial years, the Berlin confrontation, SDI, the assassination attempt and the diaries all get rightful play. Nancy gets plenty of space (as does his love letters to her), and leisure time at the Ranch is not neglected. Of course, there’s a full size replica of his Oval Office.

In 2010, the Library and GE announced a partnership, to enhance the celebration of the President’s centennial in February of 2011. Part of the package involved GE’s renovation of the entire Museum’s audio/visual presentation to state of the art, including the building of a Ronald Reagan General Electric Theatre featuring the story of his Hollywood days. Some of you (well, a few, maybe) may recall that RR hosted General Electric Theatre in the fifties and served as the company’s goodwill ambassador prior to his Governorship. My earliest recollection of the man comes from faithful weekly viewing of that classic program on our 10 inch GE television, the second in our neighborhood.

And therein lies a problem for us. There were too many presentations going on simultaneously in neighborhoods so proximate that they not conflicted with each other. I had more of a problem with my bum hearing, but Dot is of the same opinion.

There was too much we didn’t see in the greater L.A. Area. But contact with several of Dot’s chat line friends drew us 50 miles west for a weekend of Schipperke activity.

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