Last weekend Meredith and I flew out to the west coast for a gallery exhibition I was featured in. Before we get started with the adventure I would like to thank Liesl Bradner and the Veterans home of California for including me in a fantastic show.
Our trip started with meeting my father, a Vegas inhabitant, at the airport and a drive up into the hills of Nevada to do some touristy stuff. Once in a lifetime you have to check out the Hoover Dam along with some other tourist locations. With only two days to do it all, we had no time to waste! Now when I say hills, I mean we passed ram crossing signs.
First we got the view from the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. From there you can take in the full scale of it all. After the bridge we grabbed some gatorade to combat the dryness of the desert and walked across the dam.
After the Dam, we toward Vegas, drove through the famous strip which by the way, is FILLED with poke-stops. So if you are an avid Pokemon Go player, make sure to have plenty of battery. We drove around Vegas taking everything in, and as the sun set we went up to the top of the Stratosphere. There are 3 rides you can go one at the top, but next time I am in Vegas I think I might take the fourth option which is being strapped to a cord and jumping off the stratosphere. After that we went down into the city and walked up and down Fremont St. If you want the full Vegas experience, or to just see some weird crap, head down that way. The street is lined with a giant LED screen which offers light shows while people zip line down the runway above your head which makes for a very cool sensation, I could only imagine how it must look after a few drinks.
The next morning we woke up early and drove to LA. That is a 4 hour drive but it is worth it to take in the views. The first stretch is desert, you pass the Joshua Tree park and a couple of Solar farms but the mountains are what make it all worth it. Somewhere between Bat Country and Vegas you can try some Alien Jerky, which you will see billboards leading you to it. There is also a Giant Thermometer which will remind you how hot it really is. As you get closer to the coast you have to drive through a large mountain pass which is the best part of the whole trip. The ground becomes a little more green up until you hit the ground which is scorched by the previous years wild fires. But then on one hill side, a red line of fire retarder separates the green from the black. After the mountains, traffic begins to pick up more and more as you enter the city.
So we arrived at the Veterans Home of California which was worth all the lobbying to create because it looks like a great addition to the VA campus. Inside the lobby large black and white gallery wrap prints showcase some of Phil Sterns work which he dedicated to his home before he died in 2014. One of my favorites was a small German Shepherd Puppy from WWII which was surrounded by a small piece of barbed wire with a sign which said "Prisoner of War." It was exciting to see the other veteran's artwork including Ken Hackman's Atomic Bomb photos and Nick Ut's Napalm Girl which both hung right down the hall from my own work.
When we left the gallery we decided to do some more touristy stuff at the Santa Monica Pier. I spotted a Camera Obscura building and was so excited until I found out it had closed 30 minutes before we arrived.
After Santa Monica, we drove up to Hollywood, found some street parking and walked by Man's Chinese Theatre to see all of the handprints and stars along the street. Some of my favorite were Humphrey Bogart and Quentin Tarantino. We also saw the Hollywood Sign from pretty much every vantage point around LA. Next time we visit we will probably do the more artsy tourist things such as the Getty Museum and the little Italian Vila who our friend Lou recommended.
At the end of the two day visit we were exhausted from having packed so much into so little time, but it was well worth the trip!