Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March in L.A.

Librarians gathering outside the central library
I've been to many political rallies, but have never participated in a protest march, even though I lived through the Vietnam War, Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. This time, however, I've been so distressed over the presidential election results that as soon as I heard local librarians were participating in today's Women's March in downtown L.A., I signed up. Happily, Tim and Karen decided to join me, too.

Despite pouring rain yesterday and another storm predicted tomorrow, the skies were crystal clear today—surely a sign that the heavens approved of our actions. The librarian group debated what types of signs to bring and decided to promote a positive message. So early this morning I hand-wrote my sign: LIBRARIANS FOR DEMOCRACY. Certainly not as eye-catching as many of the others at the march, but well-received nonetheless, especially by librarians and their fans.

We arrived at the Culver City lightrail station at 7:30AM. And lucky, too! Not only did we get a good parking spot, we were also able to squeeze onto the first train. (We heard afterward that hundreds of riders had to wait forever to board later trains.)

Waiting on the platform to board
The librarian group arranged to meet on the garden side of the downtown central library at 8:30AM. Lots friends, colleagues and former students. At 9AM, we started to walk en masse to Pershing Square, two blocks away. After a short rally, we would march from there to City Hall. We found what we thought was a good spot to stand and staked our claim as hundreds—thousands?—of people walked by. Apparently there were rousing speeches, but we never heard any of them for all the movement and commotion on our end of the plaza. 

 More librarians ready to march

General sentiment of the crowd

 More signs

A crowd favorite


Even more signs

Channeling Obama's mantra: "Fired up! Ready to go!"
We stood and cheered and stood some more, until finally, at around 10:45AM, word spread that the streets were completely blocked with marchers. Not easily defeated, everyone spontaneously turned around and headed for Olive St. (behind us), which we all then took toward City Hall. People sang, chanted, and posed for photos. It was joyous and absolutely wonderful! A half-hour later, we arrived at City Hall.

 Back to Olive St.!

The crowd behind marching up Olive

"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Misogyny has got to go!" (Tim with 
library poster) 

 Nearing City Hall

Thousands there ahead of us
Festivities continued till 4PM, but we left at noon, after seeing for ourselves just how crowded the streets were. The L.A. Times reported attendance at about half-a-million. And yet not one arrest was made. Just goes to show that protests can indeed be peaceful.

 Riding the train home

As soon as we got home, we put on the news to see how protests around the country—and the world—had gone. More than an estimated two million people marched today. Do the White House and Republicans even care? It seems unlikely. At around 3:30PM (our time), press secretary Sean Spicer held a brief press conference and berated the media for misrepresenting yesterday's inauguration. He then stormed out of the room without saying one word about the protests worldwide.

But that's OK. We and a million others know what happened today, because we were there. The majority will be silent no longer . . .

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Star Wars 5K

 Nearing the finish line

Disney race events occur rain or shine. So, despite predicted inclement weather, we headed to the parks, Thursday afternoon, spent the night at the Disneyland Hotel, and got up, Friday morning, at 4AM to participate in the Star Wars 5K. It was damp and a tad colder and darker than our last 5K, but we had fun nonetheless. As I always say: any excuse to go to Disneyland!

Thursday: nothing like a little drizzle to keep the crowds away from Disneyland!

With Dumbo, our family favorite

Friday: 5AM selfie while waiting for the 5K to begin

Giving the ol' Vulcan salute—Live Long and Prosper
but wait, this is Star Wars not Star Trek!

 My favorite Disneyland sight: Tomorrowland's rocket

Running the teacups before the park opens

Sleeping Beauty's castle at dawn: magnificent!

Close to the finish line

Right before crossing

Our reward: a 5K medal (pretty cool!)

But wait, there's more! What's becoming a post-5K tradition, we treated ourselves to a buffet at the PCH Grill, the "character breakfast" at Disney's Paradise Pier hotel.

Daisy Duck and me

Stitch and Tim

Me and Pluto

Pluto and Tim

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekend Getaway in Riverside

Mission Inn
I had a big meeting in Riverside, Monday morning. Torrential rains were predicted, so Tim and I decided to take the train out the day before and spend the night at the historic Mission Inn, which we had only ever viewed from the outside.

Dressed in shorts, we took the lightrail to Union Station in downtown L.A., before hopping on Amtrak. There is no direct train to Riverside on Sundays. Instead, we got off in Fullerton and rode a bus the rest of the way. The weather was perfect—high 70s—but we could see snow-capped mountains in the distance. Ah, Southern California . . .

Union Station

Tim on the platform, ready to board
Downtown Riverside is charmingly old and highly walkable. Once we arrived at the depot—calling it a train station would have been a huge exaggeration!—we rolled our bags a half-mile to the hotel. We checked in and then went exploring. First stop, the Mission Inn itself.

What started in 1876 as a twelve-room adobe guest house, designed to look like a mission, is now a renowned California landmark, where even presidents have stayed. There's a chapel and glorious courtyard and apparently every inch of public space is famously covered in lights and Christmas decorations during the holidays. We missed the light show by a day, but did see remnants, including a lovely tree in the lobby and human-sized angels standing on the interior balconies. 

Interior balconies with angels

Looking down on the courtyard


Mission Inn chapel

Lobby Christmas tree (detail)
The Inn is beautiful and very "old world." Our room was large and airy, but in desperate need of updated furniture. Walking above the courtyard, I felt like we were in Spain or Italy—a million miles from Los Angeles.

We next went in search of lunch. Coincidentally, I had just read about Tio's Tacos, #69 on Los Angeles Magazine's list of 100 "hidden gems," located just a few blocks from the hotel. What a find! Not only was the food amazing—and inexpensive, too—but the entire place was festooned in fascinating outsider art created by the owner. Mostly enormous figures, the art is made from recycled items (e.g., cans, bottles, small electronic devices, etc.) and reminded me of a more primitive Watts Towers.

Tio's logo

Fabulous food: carnitas taco and rice for me,
pork torta for Tim

Palm-tree-sized woman

And another

Even the walkways are decorated in discarded bottle bottoms

Tim as angel
Eating at and seeing Tio's was a uniquely wonderful experience. In fact, our whole stay in Riverside was wonderful and highly recommended for a much-needed weekend getaway.