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Swimmin' pools and movie stars (2003-08-03 - 8:07 a.m.)

Well, I have now made it up to Wednesday, July 23 in our vacation journal. Why am I doing this, you might ask? Mostly to have a semi-permanent record of the trip. In other words, it's more for me, than it is for you. So there.

Wednesday, we got up early (7:30, Har!) to go eat breakfast by 8:15, so we could get picked up by a V.I.P. tour bus at 8:45. We had scheduled a "Grand tour of Los Angeles." We had a great time and a really good tour guide. I'll try to reconstruct it as much as possible, as we didn't take notes.

The tour began by taking us to Olvera Street, where Los Angeles was supposedly "born" in the laste 1700s. There was a small open air market area, such as you might see in a small Mexican town, along with what is alleged to be the oldest standing house in L.A. It was a nice little area. They also happened to be shooting a "Plus Sizes" magazine print in the courtyard. We drove by Chinatown, but all we got to see was the gate with the two big golden dragons on the top. We saw a lot of downtown buildings, such as the police headquarters, which has been in many movies and tv shows, such as the old b&w Superman show (it was the Daily Planet), etc. We saw the extremely huge L.A. Catholic Church, one of the largest in the country. We saw the new home of the L.A. Philharmonic, which is one of the strangest buildings I have ever seen. We saw the Capitol Records building (YAY!!), and the building where the OJ trials were held. Eventually, we worked our way into the Hollywood Hills, a portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. Here, we got a pretty decent view of the Hollywood sign. The driver didn't tell us that this would be the best view that we got, though, so many people (not me) failed to get a picture of it. I think they were a bit angry. Then we got to see some homes. We saw Ed Harris's driveway and one end of his house (he's getting a new fence built). We saw Charlize Theron's trees (can't see her house, it's totally obscured). We saw Jason Alexander's house. We saw Cameron Diaz's house. We saw the house of Paul Reubens (not only was he PeeWee Herman, he also played one of the main vampires in the original BtVS movie!). We saw the three-lot house that Ben Stiller is having built (he bought part of it from Lou Diamond Phillips). We saw William Shatner's house (Hee!), and his Mercedes was out, so he was probably there. We saw the house where Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn live (looked like they might have been home, as well). We saw Francis Ford Copolla's house (Wow!). Did you know that Nicolas Cage is his nephew? Real name is Nicolas Copolla. Why would you change that name?? We saw Penny Marshall's house. We saw the house where Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston used to live (they sold and moved to Beverly Hills). We saw the house of Courtney Cox and David Arquette. I've probably forgotten some. There were a lot as we wound around the hills.

From there, we finally made it to Hollywood Blvd (never saw Hollywood & Vine, darn it!). We stopped and got out along the "Walk of Fame," where there are over 2000 stars in the sidewalk. Noticed Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Bugs Bunny, and even Billy Graham. We saw the Kodak Theatre, where the annual Academy Awards are now hosted. We also saw, of course, the famous Graumann's Chinese Theatre. There were many, many foot and handprints, and a couple of other things, like nose prints (Bob Hope *sniff*) and knee prints (Al Jolson). I took a lot of pictures and remember seeing the Marx Bros, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Betty Grable, Clark Gable, the whole Star Trek cast (they got one block all together), Harrison Ford, even Nicolas Cage has one. It was fun, but kind of emotional, too, as so many of those stars have passed on. Kind of takes one back in time.

After this, (probably out of sequence, but who cares?) we hit sunset Blvd, the Sunset Strip. Here we saw famous sights such as the old Rainbow Bar & Grill, the Whiskey-A-Go-Go (Yay!!), Johnny Depp's night club, called The Viper (where, tragically, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose several years ago), the House of Blues (where, incidentally, James Marsters and Ghost of the Robot played the previous Monday night!)(did our tour guide say John Belushi built that??), the famed Hyatt House, famous because of the number of rock stars who have trashed the place, and we even saw a big Hustler store. Yeah, that Hustler. It all went by pretty fast.

Then we hit Beverly Hills. Tour busses aren't allowed in residential BH anymore, so we couldn't see homes. But we did see Rodeo Drive, home of such famous shops as Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Harry Winston Jewelers, etc. We also saw the Beverly Hills Presbyterian church, where the guide said Jimmy Stewart attended for 60 years. We also saw the old "90210" post office.

Then we had lunch at the L.A. Farmer's Market, where there is a huge international food court.

After lunch we went to beaches. First, we went up to Santa Monica (where I hear Allanis Morrisette set up and did an impromptu concert on the 3rd Street Promenade that afternoon), then to Venice Beach, where we got out and wandered for 30 minutes. Here is home of Muscle Beach, where "Ahnald" filmed "Pumping Iron," and the basketball court where "White Men Can't Jump" was filmed. Apparently, Venice Beach is also home to the "misfits" of L.A.

Very abruptly, Venice Beach ends and Marina Del Rey begins. Night and day. MDR is a very expensive living and vacation resort area. We got out at Fisherman's Village, where we chose to embark on an optional boat tour of the harbor. It was a charming tour with a delightful host, the captain of the "Just Fun Stuff." He was very, very funny. We saw many boats, including those belonging to Florence Henderson (she reportedly lives on hers), Johhny Carson ($14,000,000!!!), James Arness (a classy tall sailboat), the empty dock where Nicolas Cage's boat stays (was he out there that day??), "Danny" from the Partridge Family (what's his name again?), and many others. We saw homes belonging to Suzanne Sommers, Vanessa Williams and her L.A. Laker husband, the late Dudley Moore *wahhh*. Good times. We got off the boat, Christi had an ice cream and I had a cappaccino (how DO you spell that?) took a photo of the real, live "English" people on our tour, and got back on the tour bus, which took us straight back to our hotel. We went back to The Block at Orange, planning to eat at "Left At Albuquerque." It apparently left. So we ate at Market Broiler again. Then we got some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Good times.

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