For the Route 66 enthusiast Santa Monica Pier is the end of
the rainbow. Yes, I know that the pier isn’t located on, or even near Route 66 but who will make the amazing cross country journey on this storied old highway and stop at a nondescript highway intersection when something as magical as the pier is a few blocks away. Well, this past weekend I was within spitting distance of the end of the rainbow but a couple of detours, lots of road construction, and a very tight schedule prevented me from making it to the proverbial end of the road, the Last Stop Shop and Bob Waldmire memorial at the end of the pier.
Still, as always, the trip to, from, and in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area was filled with adventure. Even though I have an aversion to communities with more than three stop lights, the museums, the history, the rich cultural diversity, the restaurants, and opportunities for new discoveries ensure my journeys into the Los Angeles area are always interesting as well as memorable. Still, once again, my only complaint was spending a week stuck in traffic during my weekend visit.
On a serious note, many enthusiasts skip this dynamic section of Route 66 because of traffic congestion. Yes, that can quickly put a damper on things, especially when that congestion is compounded by road construction, detours, closed ramps, and similar issues. Still IT IS possible to cruise most of Route 66 from the foot of Cajon Pass to Santa Monica and experience relatively light traffic. The secret is in timing – early Sunday morning is best but for sections such as in Pasadena early Saturday evening evening will work as well.
This particular trip was two parts business and one part personal. The business end was a book signing and video introduction at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, a delightful store in business since 1953. The personal end was a long overdue father/son outing that included a visit to the extraordinary Peterson Museum, and a quest for good food.
If your an automotive or aeronautical enthusiast, or you simply enjoy a good old fashioned book store, a stop at Autobooks – Aerobooks (2900 Magnolia Boulevard) in Burbank should be added to the list of stops when in the Los Angeles area. The store was recently relocated a few blocks from its original location but it still has a timeless feel. Travel books, repair manuals for most anything with wheels built in the last century, quirky automotive sculptures, DVD’s, magazines new and old, books on almost any automotive or aeronautical subject you can imagine, and a rare book section are but the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say, the shop is a haven for area auto buffs and as a result, especially on Saturday mornings, the parking lot becomes a car show in itself.
The Peterson Museum needs to be experienced. Mere words can not do it justice. First, cast aside preconceived notions of a what an automotive museum is. The exhibits are well designed and include something for everyone and every age group. The stunning artistry of murals on traditional low riders blends with the jaw dropping body designs from Bugatti, historic hybrids and electric cars are intermixed with futuristic fuel cell vehicles, cars from the movies are displayed against a looping back drop of the films they appeared in, and showcases highlight the evolution of dashboards and road maps. For the youngster (in age or at heart) there are an amazing array of interactive exhibits on everything from the workings of the internal combustion engine to modern computerized automotive design.
On this particular trip the Petersen Museum marked the limit for exploration as the adventure had commenced at three o’clock in the morning. So, we set out for the oasis that is the Saga Motor Hotel in Pasadena, and dinner. Of course, since this was Los Angeles that was no easy task. Road construction, traffic in the historic theater district, and a couple of accidents transformed the drive of thirty miles or so into an hour and half long odyssey. The upside was that this long, slow drive through unknown territory provided ample opportunity to take in the sites, and make new discoveries.
As always, the trip to Los Angeles, Burbank, and Pasadena was a grand adventure, a voyage of discovery that leaves me grateful I live close enough to visit but not close enough to deal with the frustrations of daily life in this dynamic metropolis.