COTV Out on the Town

 On Tuesday, April 22, a small but intrepid band of explorers met first at the Big Flag (Boers, Easleys, Hackworths and Pages) and were then joined at Dos Lagos by Marilyn Glenore and the Webers for a magical mystery tour set up by Hans and Alma. As always, all the details were meticulously taken care of. We had waited long enough to miss most of the morning commute traffic as we headed to our first point of interest. Guess what…it involved food! We drove across the 91 to the 710 and down through the harbor area to Ports of Call in San Pedro, where we had lunch at a great seafood restaurant in order to build our strength for the after-lunch event. The Travel Channel was filming an episode in the group of fish restaurants and markets while we were there, which made us feel like we must have chosen the right place to be. There was a lot of fish and chips on the table as well as quite a few clam chowders.

After we had finished lunch, we got in our cars and headed to the USS Iowa, a short distance away, where the group did the self-guided tour of the ship. Marsue opted out of climbing all the stairs and moving around the narrow hallways. Marilyn was up for the challenge, but by the end of the tour it had taken some of the edge off her energy level. Al and the Webers took their time reading all the plaques and got back to the parking lot to find everyone but Vickie had left for our overnight destination, the Queen Mary. We all caught up at the ship/hotel in time to check in and make plans for happy hour and more food, dinner at Sir Winston Churchill’s. The Queen Mary is all about ambiance and not as much about luxury as it might have been in its heyday. Most of us did some sort of tour of the ship; some went to the Princess Diana Exhibit; Al went on a disappointing tour of the Russian Submarine; and Marilyn took a nap. We all met in the Observation Bar in the “ship’s” bow area for happy hour and Al “generously” (and somewhat surprised when he found out he had) paid for drinks for many of us. Just before 7pm we headed aft and up the stairs to Sir Winston Churchill’s where they had set up a very nice table for the 11 of us. It was a very nice restaurant with all the 5 star touches, including sherbet between courses to cleanse the palate and chocolate covered strawberries at the end of the meal. Marilyn treated herself to the Chateaubriand for one (you rarely find a single serving version) and said it was perfect. Marsue had lamb, Steve had scallops, Dan had chicken, several stuck with an assortment of appetizers and/or salads and Alma, Hans and Daryl sat next to each other and had Dover Sole. There were a few souffles on the table at dessert time. Al and Hans had both celebrated their birthdays in April and the waiter brought them red velvet cakes with candles so we could celebrate again. On the way back along the deck to our cabin areas, the view across the harbor to Long Beach was stunning. We all made plans to be on our way Wednesday morning at 9am and headed off to our cabins. 

When the Queen Mary was built and in her prime, folks must have been smaller. The tubs were very narrow and the shower heads at about the level of a 5 foot person. There were four faucets in the original configuration – hot salt water, cold salt water, hot fresh water and cold fresh water – although they had added more modern controls. Marsue used the hot and cold fresh taps to fun a bath, so she had a more historic experience. Most of the group ended up congregating at the Starbucks on the Promenade Deck in the morning and then we all headed back out across the harbor, the bridge and into the depths of Los Angeles to the California Science Center. This was the central focus of our trip – to see the space shuttle Endeavor. Actually, we had lots of company as there were thousands of school children in class groups everywhere in the Science Center and any of the other Museum areas. We had hoped to see the IMAX movie of the Hubble telescope in space in 3D, but would have had to wait 2 ½ hours as the next showing was sold out. So some looked at more exhibits, some went to the Natural History Museum and, of course, some ate again. 

We had planned on going to Huntington Gardens in San Marino on Thursday morning, but found out they did not open until noon, so an executive decision was made to head straight to Pasadena and do the Gardens on Wednesday afternoon. We did not do the grounds or the art gallery or the Japanese gardens, etc. justice as we only spent 3+ hours wandering around, but we headed to our second night’s stay, the Sheraton in Pasadena. After settling in to our much more modern and spacious (albeit not quite as historic) rooms and showering off the dust of trek around the gardens, we met for drinks in the bar and then had the hotel shuttle take us Il Fornaio where Hans had made reservations for dinner. Al and Vickie were not staying the night in Pasadena, but met us for dinner and got to the restaurant early enough to get a private room for the group, which kept our the noise of the “general population” and allowed us to make plenty of noise of our own. After another several hour meal, we called the shuttle and headed back to the hotel. 

Plans for morning departure were pretty general. Steve Page thought he might make some business calls in the area on Thursday and everyone else said “see you if we do and if not, see you for the Mystery Lunch Run on Sunday.” Another successful and fun COTV trip for the 2014 archives and we are all looking forward to the next great adventure!

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