I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. Life just got a little insane for a while there. I apologize for my long absence. I’m going to start by finishing the story of my trip to L.A. in this post and then move on from there.
So, without further ado…
Saturday was not nearly as busy as Friday, but it was, arguably, more fun owing to its relaxing simplicity. After our breakfast at the hotel, we headed over to Griffith Park to meet my mom. Of course Griffith Park is a huge gem of a park in the heart of Los Angeles. There’s a lot to do there, but our destination was pretty localized.
My mom rode the ponies at Griffith Park as a child, as did I. Generations of L.A. kids have been introduced to ponies since the late 1940’s. Harry’s had been there twice, in 2007 and in 2010 although he opted not to ride on our 2010 trip. Annie did ride in 2010.
For $3 per trip, kids a young as 1 year and up to 100 pounds can be strapped onto a pony and given a ride. The ponies are well trained and stay within the chutes until they come out and are either guided to the trough to get some water and a new rider or back into the chute for another go-round.
Both kids rode this year, and they had a blast.
They also went for a train ride with my mom.
After we were done horsing around (heh), we made our way back to Eagle Rock for lunch at Pat and Lorraine’s, a long-standing Eagle Rock eatery. ( If you’re a Quentin Tarantino fan, the restaurant scene at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs was shot there.) The server recognized my mom, who had not been there in 8 years, and the food was every bit as tasty as I remember, especially the potatoes.
Our next stop would be in Huntington Beach for dinner with my oldest friend. We’ve known each other since meeting at church camp when I was six and she was four. We would only see each other during that one week each year until I had my driver’s license, but somehow we could always pick up where we left off.
We headed off right after lunch, so we would hit HB a bit early. I was looking for one last special California moment, but I didn’t tell anyone what it was. With a little poking around on the internet, I had found a monarch butterfly overwintering sight not a mile from my friend’s house in a city park, and it was early enough in the year that there was a chance the butterflies hadn’t left on their spring migration. I was hoping to show the kids the clusters of thousands of butterflies.
Alas, it was not to be. We made our way to a large park oriented around a central lake and set off in search of butterflies. Of course, we had no idea where to go. The problem was that pretty much any stand of trees in the park could qualify as an overwintering site, at least on paper. It was all close to the ocean (across the street) and had access to fresh water (the lake). Any stand of trees could provide shelter and there were plentiful sources of nectar throughout the park.
After leading the family on a disorganized hunt, I looked across the lake to the street-side of the park. Between the lake and the street was a dense forest of sycamore trees. I’d observed them on the way in. It had looked like a pretty undeveloped area or the park. Of course, seeing the mass of trees backlit by the westering sun made clear what should have been obvious. That was where the monarchs were. There were probably no trails to the clusters to avoid disturbing the insects, and even if there were, the area was clear on the other side of the lake, too distant to reach in the time we had.
Oh well. It had been a long shot anyway. At least the kids got to chase some ducks.
Dinner at my friend’s house was exactly what we needed. Her sister and niece were there along with her husband and son. Between the video games the dog and the rabbit, the kids were thoroughly entertained and we grownups got to enjoy adult conversation. We reminisced. We talked politics and parenting, and of course we laughed a lot. The conversation was easy and went too far into the night for the hour that we had to get up to make our flight.
Ultimately, we crawled into bed at 11. Or 10? I’m not sure. But it was the night we had to spring ahead, so we’d be getting up at about 3AM according to our bodies. Somehow, we made it to the airport and ultimately home in one piece.
Then life got busy…but those are tales for future and more frequent posts.