A four a.m. wake up call on a rainy Friday morning and a six-fifteen boarding time made for an early flight to LA. My arrival at LAX was on time at nine a.m. which gave me ample time to unwind and await my friend’s arrival. I made my way to the Westin hotel on Century Blvd. for some breakfast. By eleven, I crossed the street to collect the rental car. Then it was off to the LAX cell phone lot. My friend’s call came quickly and we were off toward Long Beach.
We had made arrangements to see the lobby exhibit of Carpenters memorabilia at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at the University of California at Long Beach. Jackie, our tour guide, revealed the hermetically sealed display cases which contain the treasured items of the Carpenters career.
Karen’s drum kit and Richard’s original electric piano are the largest items in the displays. The multitude of Carpenters gold records received during their time as recording artists adorn a glass case.
Prominently displayed is the Battle of the Bands trophy, which Richard won beginning his quest for a music career. It was not long after winning this award that Richard and Karen began performing. The exhibit is small and the space is magnificent. If you have time, see a show.
After a brief ride around the campus of USC at Long Beach, we found the Best Western Golden Sails hotel. It was a simple accommodation with a large room and a good rate.
That evening we had an invitation to attend the Queen Mary 50th anniversary celebration that evening. The City of Long Beach purchased The Queen Mary ocean liner in 1967 and it came to its berth in Long Beach Harbor on December 9, 1967. The liner’s final voyage crossed the world to reach its new home. A flotilla of commercial and private boats welcomed the Great Lady to her new home.
We were given an excellent historical tour of the ship by our tour guide, Kelly. She was well versed and provided us with a terrific overview of the ship.
After the walking tour, it was time for the ribbon cutting of the new exhibit Their Finest Hours housed onboard the Queen Mary. Jeanne Churchill, the great-granddaughter of Winston Churchill, cut the ribbon for the exhibit. This exhibit is akin to the Churchill war rooms in London. This also coincided with the release of the film, The Darkest Hour, which recounted Churchill’s rise to power as Prime Minister in England.
Tired and hungry from our flights, we had a very tasty dinner at Chelsea Chowder House on board ship with a table that overlooked the Long Beach Harbor. After dinner, we attended a reception on the fantail for the Churchill Society and the opening of Churchill exhibit and the 50th Anniversary of the Queen Mary arriving in Long Beach.
We slept in the next morning and after a light but tasty breakfast at the hotel we set off to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove.
There we were provided with an informative tour of the renovation of the great church by Docent, Rick Yurosko. The church was built by Robert Schuler for his evangelical flock in 1980. It is now owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Orange in Garden Grove. At present, it is undergoing a massive renovation. The organ is being returned to Italy for restoration. It is slated to reopen in 2019. The structure itself is magnificent and unique with its eleven thousand windows.
We ventured to Rutabargors in Tustin for lunch with a mutual friend. The restaurant is an eclectic spot with a large and appetizing menu. After our catch up lunch, we were off to the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda.
The library also houses the birthplace of the Richard Nixon the 36th President.
Entering the library, you walk through the crises that faced Nixon on his election in 1968. Watergate is thoroughly discussed and visitors will appreciate the long timeline of the scandal. Nixon’s Oval office has been recreated for visitors to enjoy and is thankfully free from recording devices.
Friday night traffic in LA is always frustrating but we soon checked into our hotel near LAX. An In and Out Burger not far from the hotel provided a quick and yummy dinner of burgers and fries.
After our simple dinner, we ventured to The Proud Bird Restaurant for an adult beverage. The Proud Bird is an ironic restaurant/bar located next to LAX and houses several static aircraft displays and a current exhibit on the Tuskegee Airmen. For additional information on the Tuskegee Airmen, see my posting regarding FLY.
It was another early night because Sunday we were off to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
A bronze statue of President Reagan greets you at the door to the Library.
The library was hosting a large Titanic exhibit which included costumes and set pieces from the 20th anniversary of the James Cameron 1997 film, Titanic. There are many interesting artifacts in the exhibit to discover.
After a thorough tour of the museum and viewing of the Titanic exhibit, we ventured to Miceli’s Restaurant near Universal City.
This ironic restaurant features talented singing waiters.
The food and wine are delicious at Miceli’s. Be sure to include this in your itinerary if you’re in the area. The food is excellent, prices reasonable and the wait staff, tireless and talented.
A long weekend in Los Angeles makes for an educational and exciting adventure through the decades, despite all that traffic.