Day 4: This Boot Was Made for Walkin’ (Retro Post)

Any good visit to Los Angeles starts with a meal at Porto’s Bakery in Burbank. I’d been to Porto’s on a few prior occasions, enthusiastically returning each time for their famous potato balls. These things are pure magic – seasoned ground beef encompassed by mashed potatoes, breaded and fried to perfection. Breakfast of champions!
Porto’s promotes a calm, healthy and happy disposition
After breakfast our hosts Pat and Laura took us up the hills to Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory.  The park is a very popular filming location; you’ve probably seen it in multiple movies without even knowing it. Griffith Observatory is at its peak and well worth the trip up. Endure its parking fiasco, and you’ll be rewarded with a number of interactive exhibits and panoramic vistas of Los Angeles. Star Trek fans will appreciate the fact that the auditorium is named after Leonard Nimoy. On the way back down we drove through the tunnel from Back to the Future II, and I could have died a happy woman at that point. 

We zoomed up, down and all around the Hollywood Hills, narrowly escaping death at every hairpin turn. Mailboxes, garbage cans and oncoming vehicles threatened to send us careening down the cliffs, but Laura and her trusty steed became one with the road, leading us safely to the top. The road ended at a spot that provided a fantastically intimate view of the Hollywood Sign. 
Not pictured: “TURN BACK! NO HOLLYWOOD SIGN ACCESS!” signs
Being in a residential neighborhood, this unsanctioned viewpoint was cluttered with ominous warning signs for trespassers. This one was my personal favorite:
Well that escalated quickly
Now I don’t know about you, but every time I escape persecution, I like to celebrate will a 24-ounce boot full of fun.  So we made brief stop at the house to whip up a batch of walking potion and strolled through Thai Town to catch the metro. Alighting at Union Station, I experienced the same déjà vu I’d had at the park. Blade Runner and The Dark Knight Rises are just two of the many movies that were filmed here.

That night our worthy fellowship dined in the great hall of Palms Thai Restaurant in Hollywood. Palms is home to the best yellow curry I’ve ever tasted and a popular Thai Elvis impersonator. Unfortunately we did not  have an audience with the (Thai) King that night. Our consolation prize: two entertainers I had initially mistaken for karaoke participants. An entire set list of late 90s pop music poured forth from the stage with much enthusiasm. 

From there the evening progressed (or devolved, depending how you look at it) into hours of silliness.  We met up with more friends at a dive that was so dive-y its sign wasn’t even lit, averted a parking lot confrontation with a curiously-aggravated bro, and fell asleep chuckling to Bob’s Burgers. All in all a successful day.
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Day 3: Morro Bay Rocks!

Tim and I took our time winding down 101 through the central coast, stopping at the waterfront city of Morro Bay. Approaching Morro Bay, I had these exact thoughts in this exact order:
“This is so cute.”
“That rock is huge.”
“What the hell are those?”
Morro Bay is visually defined by its quaint seaside town architecture, a 581-foot high rock sitting offshore, and three obscenely tall, visually jarring smokestacks that tower over the harbor. The latter belong to a natural gas power plant, which I later learned about from an oddly friendly informational sign out front.

Morro Rock itself is one of nine volcanic plugs that formed along this part of the California coast 23 million years ago. An informational sign (oh, there will be a lot of these. I love ’em!) explained that the rock formed from lava that hardened inside of a long extinct volcano, which eventually eroded away to expose the plug. There are signs all over the rock cautioning one against any attempts to climb it. Apparently a friend of mine has a friend who climbed it once and had to be helicopter-lifted off.

Circumventing this natural behemoth against powerful gusts threatening to blow us away, I concluded,
“Yup. That’s a big damn rock.”
Lazily continuing down 101-S we stopped in the town of Summerland to have an early picnic dinner. I had wanted to find a beachside picnic area for a while, and we stopped here out of the rising need for a restroom (and, by the way, you should never go to the gas station just off the Summerland exit, as the last thing you’d want to see when crossing your legs together and holding them tightly out of need-to-pee agony, is a 25-cent lock on the restroom door).
Restroom crisis aside, the little dog-friendly park we found not only had a terrific view of the late afternoon surfers, but also came with a delightful surprise. Watching the surfers do their thing, I noticed some movement and a little flash of something out of the periphery of my left eye. “Is that…is that?…Yes! A dolphin!” Not just one dolphin, but a whole pod of them, leaping their way up the coastline. I was blissfully entranced by a trail of arching bottle noses and dorsal fins until they finally passed out of sight.
Later that evening we made it safely to Los Angeles, happily easing into a night of rooftop hangouts with our good friends Pat and Laura who live in Los Feliz. A sign in their living room playfully mocked us through the night.