I was born and raised in southern California, but 23 years ago I moved to Arizona. Over the years I’d heard from a lot of people about the problems with traffic, smog and nonstop building. None of which made me want to go back for a visit. But I decided, what the heck. And I wanted to see my nephews for the first time too.
So two weeks ago we finally went back for a visit. My feelings on the above issues are:
- The air quality (smog) is greatly improved. My chest didn’t hurt 24/7, like it did the last few years I lived there.
- The traffic is a little heavier, but no big deal. It’s no worse than driving in the Phoenix area.
- The buildup of the area is crazy. You used to be able to drive down Katella Ave. and see Disneyland from miles away. Now the roads are lined with multi-level buildings, and near Disneyland almost a solid wall of giant palm trees lines the road. It’s like driving through a canyon. Nothing but concrete and asphalt as far as the eye can see.
- Highway people, and Disneyland, USE SIGNS. Don’t put up one sign on a six lane highway telling me that the exit I want is 100 feet ahead. Disneyland, put signs up telling what a line is for. And shorten your lines. If I’m in line, I’m not buying anything from you. And get rid of Fast Pass. Because of that, what should have been a 30-minute line to the Haunted Mansion was 75 minutes long.
That being said, there are a lot of things I like about LA and Orange Counties. For one thing, you never run out of great places to visit. On this trip I visited some of my favorite places.
I have a challenge for you. Below are photos of me at various locations, or just the locations, that will test your knowledge of southern California. Can you guess where these pictures were taken?
Put your guesses in the comments section. Next week I’ll add captions to all of the photos so you can see how well you did.
On the way.
This was taken on the highway about 20 miles from Palm Springs, through the side window while I was going about 70 MPH. Relax, my wife Linda-Ann took the photo.
These are bones in a block of resin at the La Brea Tar Pits. It shows the density of bones in the blocks of asphalt they remove for study. There isn’t really any tar at the Tar Pits, it asphalt.
Part of the display of dire wolf (Canis dirus, “fearsome dog”) skulls that cover a large section of wall at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Gas erupting from the large asphalt pool in front of the La Brea Tar Pits museum. The whitish water you see is 2′-3′ across.
An old fossil at the La Brea Tar Pits. No smarty-pants, the fossil is in the background. I’m in the foreground.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – Jackie Chan. Such a cool guy.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – Humphrey Bogart.
We’re at Disneyland waiting to go in and hear President Lincoln give his talk.
Pixie Hollow at Disneyland. Unfortunately, there were no pixies or fairies there when we walked through.
The Date Shake Shack. I couldn’t wait to have another one of these delicious shakes. Ruby’s Restaurant took it over a few years ago. One great improvement was replacing the gravel patch for parking with an actual parking lot. And having a little pullout where you wait for a parking spot. In the past, you really had to want a date shake to be going down PCH at 65+ MPH and pull off into a patch of loose gravel.
I love Laguna Beach. It’s a great beach, with excellent art galleries and all around wonderful quirkiness. And like the sign says, don’t wash the sand off your feet in the sink.
The main beach at Laguna Beach.
Main beach at Laguna Beach at sunset. Unfortunately, no Green Flash today. But I did see one here about 40 years ago.
We’re at the Huntington Library and Gardens. I’m taking a picture of a lily pad in bloom. There was a nice blue damselfly on the stalk too.
At The Huntington, you can see NASA’s Orbit Pavilion. You get to hear the sounds of the International Space Station and 19 Earth Science satellites.
One of the buildings in the Chinese garden at The Huntington.