Bakersfield to LA

After a Saturday morning breakfast at my favorite Bakersfield diner (discovered six years ago on a trip to Las Vegas), we explored downtown for a little while, looking at interesting buildings and wandering through the remains of a classic Woolworth’s store which now houses an antique mall.


We stopped at Long’s for previsions and cash, and made our way toward the Grapevine, hoping that the mudslide from a couple of days before had been cleared. Fortunately, it had.


We had one of those mileage milestones near the summit, which was the most eventful part of the Grapevine leg. Finally, we arrived in Greater Los Angeles, which is to say that we were within 40 or 50 miles of the center of town. We passed Magic Mountain and all the assorted beige suburbs, and finally the freeways started getting bigger and more intense.

We arrived at the lovely Motel 6 – LAX in time to realize that we’d be sharing it with about a hundred youth soccer teams. This wouldn’t have been to much of a problem except that this particular Motel 6 was a former Howard Johnson’s hotel, about 10 stories tall with only elevator access to the rooms. Unsupervised kids and elevators are not a good combination. But there was a king-size bed and a balcony overlooking an off-ramp. It was good…


Saturday night dinner was at Clifton’s Cafeteria, which was a high spot on the agenda which we didn’t really have. I’d been here once before and it’s a most amazing place, the surviving link in a chain of cafterias from the 1930s. Clifton’s is a wonderful joint, with most of those cafeteria classics I miss from the south (except for the collard greens and fried okra), and I don’t come to LA without visiting if possible.


After dinner, we roamed around downtown LA for a while. Lots of people tend to forget that there actually IS a downtown LA, but it’s there in its faded glory. The department stores and most of the theatres are closed, but it’s still a lively place, with shops catering to a largely Latino clientele and at least one really cool rock-goth-skate shop where I was pretty excited to see that Vision Street Wear is back.


We headed back to the Motel 6 to, ummm, eliminate the heavy dinner, and then wandered back out toward Hollywood and the LA branch of Amoeba Music. The San Francisco and Berkeley branches will never be quite the same for me; this place is a huge mecca for music AND video, and we spent most of the vacation budget here. It was truly amazing…


Further driving ensued (Hollywood Boulevard on a Saturday night is a nightmare, by the way) and somehow we ended up going all the way to Burbank and Toluca Lake, where we had late-night food at the perfectly-preseved Bob’s Big Boy I’d visited once before with Duncan.

Then it was back to the Motel 6. The soccer kids were, alas, not asleep yet…