I just came back from a week in my hometown, Los Angeles. Returning home can be stressful because there are so many people to see -- family and friends -- and if you have children, your schedule becomes even more chaotic. Not to mention that my parents live in Carmageddon Central (405 and Mulholland), so you have to add on at least an hour roundtrip of unexpected travel.
I truthfully had a bit of dread at returning for the week: too many demands, too many sig alerts and not enough time. It was a “family” schedule - not an “Elizabeth” schedule. I made a deal with my kids that we would expect the worst traffic whenever we got into the car. If the traffic was not so terrible, we would be pleasantly surprised. I was armed with audiobooks, music and even games on the iPod. In LA, when traveling inter-freeway, you have to be strategic with your schedule. And coming or going from Carmageddon, you really have to give up all hope: it’s luck if you get home without too much of a traffic snarl. After a few days of driving around town, visiting family and friends with only one freeway crawl, I became bolder: we drove all the way downtown (near USC) to the Natural History Museum. There is a terrific dinosaur exhibit, dioramas that rival New York’s American Museum of Natural History and the first insect zoo I ever visited. Got to see a tarantula! Worth the price of admission. We even ate at the museum -- kid friendly and we didn’t have to move the car. Do I sound traffic-phobic? I didn’t get to eat at myfavoriteplaces (kids, traffic, Thanksgiving), but I did try a new (to me) Korean place, Wharo, in Venice, my old neighborhood. I’m Asian food obsessed since I moved to Idaho and so Wharo was a real treat. We had all of the small dishes (kimchee, fish cakes, noodles, etc) along with our traditional barbecued meat, noodle salad and lots more. My friend and I ordered like pigs (my children were not there! They will NOT eat this stuff, I don’t kid myself) and did not feel overly stuffed at the end of the meal. I never dreamed that great Asian food (Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese) would ever be inaccessible to me. LA, you do not know how good you have it. Even on the West Side of town, which is not known for the better Asian food, there are some great eats. We went to Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier and rode the roller coaster and the ferris wheel. I almost didn’t go on the ferris wheel, but my friend (best friend from junior high), Elaine reminded me of the view. She was right, it’s a must see -- especially if you don’t live there. This is a very touristy place; nonetheless, it’s manageable and very fun -- and almost as beautiful as Los Angeles can be -- not to mention that you will see people from all over the world on the pier. Truly, a cultural experience. Toward the end of the week, we decided to stay close to home and revisit the Noah’s Ark exhibit at the Skirball. My kids have been there at least half a dozen times, and they were still excited to return. Noah’s Ark is a permanent exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center (also located in Carmageddon Central) and your kids will LOVE the interactive genius with which the exhibit was planned. You literally get into the ark and kids can climb, play, wind things up, push, pull and make believe. Even my almost-8-year-old was very happy to be there. Please note that you have to make a reservation (included with admission) to enter the exhibit. Believe me, this is a great policy. This is not an exhibit that works if it’s overcrowded. There was a live, interactive portion within the exhibit where all the kids got drums and other percussive instruments. After a call and response play, they pretended to jump in puddled while the rest of the kids created the sound of the splashes. This is my daughter:
Admittedly, I have a great deal of trepidation about traffic now that I’m traffic free in Idaho (new URL?). Los Angeles is a gorgeous place to visit: it was 77 and sunny in late November, the food was A+ and my loved ones live there. I love LA.
Elizabeth Rodgers is an avid traveler, award-winning filmmaker and Los Angeles native who lives in Boise, Idaho. She is also someone who never thought in a million years that she would live in a place like Boise... and she loves it.