The End of the Road

31 Dec

Sorry I’m late on this post – I had a hard time wrapping my head around what to say now that traveling Route 66 has gone from something I want to do to something I have done. It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling. I know we have a week of more adventures on the way back home and a whole lot of painting ahead of me, but it had an air of finality to it that was a mixture of “hell yeah, I finally did it” and “oh crap, now it’s over.” I had to console myself with some dim sum in Chinatown, a trip to the Getty, a second visit to the Beauty Foot Massage parlor, and another helping of olive oil ice cream. I think I’m doing better now.

We headed out Friday morning to finish the rest of the route from Abby’s house (near Pasadena) all the way out to Santa Monica. Route 66 is only a block away from Abby’s house. We headed west through her neighborhood and toward downtown L.A. on the surface streets. I was thankful to be able to avoid the Pasadena freeway, which is more than a little bit scary. It does not have merge lanes; instead you come to a stop sign, assess oncoming traffic, and attempt to go from zero to 60 in two seconds. This could be a lot of fun if we had a fast car, but the Fit is no speed demon, especially when loaded down with all the stuff we’ve brought on the trip. The lanes are narrow and the road is twisty, and everyone drives like a bat out of hell. The exits are even more fun – they are marked “5 mph maximum” and they are not kidding, because essentially you’re making a right hand turn onto a side street, not getting off on a long exit ramp.

The surface streets took us through a nondescript industrial area, past Dodger Stadium (I am going to assume that the signs telling you the stadium is there are not lying – you can’t see it because it’s behind a hill. We’ve driven past it at least 10 times and I have yet to see it). Then we hit Chinatown. What a gold mine of painting images! I am so glad it is on the route because I wanted to paint it anyway, but now I feel like it is a requirement. It was by far the best part of the rest of the route.

From Chinatown on the traffic was thick, but we headed on through the Silverlake area, which is hipster central, and on out through West Hollywood, Westwood, Beverly Hills and out to the beach. I was surprised by how little there was of interest painting-wise on this longer stretch, although there were a few things.

Aside from gathering photos it was interesting to observe the way the neighborhoods change, though I was frustrated knowing that we were traveling parallel to the Sunset Strip, which is only a short way away over and offers much more neon. But, we stuck to the route, and this was our typical view. At least the palm trees are cool.

Silverlake is neat but seems as if it’s trying too hard to be cool – every building has graffiti, but you can tell it’s sanctioned and planned out, it doesn’t happen organically. West Hollywood is clean and has that quintessential “Hollywood” look – really cute houses and shops interspersed with places like the Pleasure Chest, a famous “toy” store. Beverly Hills has a park that runs down one side of the boulevard where we saw several homeless people sleeping right in front of a huge sign that said “welcome to Beverly Hills.” It also has a section of office buildings, all of which appear to be banks or doctor’s offices. Every side street we looked down was filled with huge, beautiful houses, mostly behind gates. Westwood has a Starbucks on every single corner, every chain store & restaurant you can think of, and lots and lots of white people. From WeHo to Westwood was probably the greatest concentration of women with boob jobs and bleached-blonde hair I have ever encountered. I hate to buy into the stereotype (L.A. people are fake)  but in this area it appeared to be at least partially true.

Soon we finding our way into Santa Monica to find another first for me – a vintage, interesting hardware store sign – the Busy Bee.

We found our way toward Ocean Boulevard and once we got within a few blocks of the beach it became foggy and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. Santa Monica ends at Ocean Boulevard at the little building below, which is the official end of the route, but tradition is to end the trip with a walk out onto the Santa Monica pier a couple of blocks south.

We found parking and headed out to the end of the pier, just the two of us, the ocean below, 1000 screaming children and a flock of agressive, dive-bombing seagulls. It seemed appropriate to end the trip the same way we started – by walking. The only disappointing thing about the pier is that we weren’t able to get great photos of the rides because of the fog, but we did document the end of the road.

Today we’re hanging out with Abby and going out to celebrate New Year’s eve, so no post tonight. Tomorrow we’re heading homeward. I’ll be blogging on the ride home but it won’t be every night. The first part is probably going to be pretty boring – interstate 10 through west Texas – but we will have a day stopover in Austin and one in New Orleans, so I’m sure I’ll find some interesting things to tell you about.

I did decide on my New Year’s resolution: to continue living adventurously.

Happy New Year!


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