Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Museum of Ice Cream

 Welcome to the Museum of Ice Cream

The pop-up Museum of Ice Cream has come to Los Angeles! Reportedly sold-out when it was in NYC, the "museum" is actually a large art installation spread throughout several rooms of an old one-story building on the far east (i.e., industrial) side of downtown L.A. You know you've arrived when you suddenly see an otherwise nondescript facility that's painted bright strawberry-ice-cream pink.

Not knowing exactly how long it would take us to get there, we left way early this morning and arrived a half-hour before our ticket time. (You have to buy tickets in advance.) So we were invited to play in an adjacent open space setup with hula-hoops and other outdoor games for kids. The rest of our group was mostly young couples and moms with small children.

Waiting to go in: wall painted in milk bottles

 Ice cream cones on the sidewalk

We were invited inside at 11AM. The lobby, painted pink, was decorated in all sorts of candies and desserts. There, we were told the museum rules—we could stay as long as we wanted in each room, but could not go back to previous rooms. We were then set loose to enter a mysterious—yes, pink!—door. (The rest is something of a spoiler, so don't continue if you want to be surprised when you visit.)

Lobby decorations: how many sweets can you find and name?

On the other side of the door was another pink room lined with pink telephones. Following directions, we each picked-up a receiver and listened to a famous actor (my lips are sealed) describe what we were about to experience. He told us to jump for joy, if we were excited, and then asked us to yell out our favorite ice cream flavor.

 Pink telephones!

Awaiting instructions
We then went through a door to another room, where we got to sample our first scoop of ice cream: banana and caramel. Not my thing, but Tim (obviously) loved it (below).

Happy boy!

Pretending to love banana ice cream

I did love the ice cream cone sculpture, though, and
pink-and-yellow tropical wallpaper!

 Funny, ice-cream-related "walk of fame" stars on the floor:
Dwayne "the Rocky Road" Johnson

From there, we turned a corner to find a room—my favorite!—filled with plastic bananas hanging from the rafters. Very clever and so unexpected—I couldn't stop laughing.

Hmmm . . . Not sure what's going on here . . .

But did love the hundreds of fake yellow . . .  

and, of course, pink bananas! 

We then followed a (simulated) waffle cone wall around to a mint room, where we had our second ice cream sample: Japanese mint chocolate chip ice cream, called mochi, covered in ground sticky rice. Tasty but odd.

Fake waffle cone wall

Melting popiscles

Next up: a room filled with (fake) melting popsicles, followed by a room featuring giant plastic gummy bears. A museum employee doled out real gummy bear samples, explaining that only in the U.S. do green gummies taste like strawberry. Red gummies, on the other hand, are raspberry. Who knew?

Tim waiting to go into the next room

The final art installation included pointy cones filled with black  ice cream stuck onto two walls as well as into the eye of Michelangelo's David. The ice cream sample wasn't ice cream, at all, but black raw cookie dough stuffed into a small cone. Yikes! Tim had one, but I passed.

Poor David!

We skipped the pool filled with candy sprinkles—apparently a highlight of the visit, but not very appetizing to us—and instead went straight to the gift shop and our final sample: french toast ice cream sandwiches! Chewy but good.

The entire visit took about 30 minutes. The verdict: kitschy but fun! If you don't live in the L.A. area, I highly recommend combining your museum visit with other downtown sights, because you'll probably end-up standing on line outside the museum longer than you'll be inside. Also, this is a pop-up, so get your tickets fast. The museum will soon be gone.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Ranunculus everywhere!
When Tim and I lived in San Diego, we would marvel every springtime when the ranunculus bloomed at Carlsbad Ranch along the I-5. In those days, the only thing separating the fields from the freeway was the Pea Soup Andersen windmill. I swear I don't know how there wasn't a traffic jam every day from people just stopping to gawk at the flowers' beauty.

An outlet mall and car dealership now block the view. But if you look quickly, you can still catch a glimpse of the flowers as you zip north through Carlsbad. The owners sold half the land to developers after we left San Diego. However, the city has apparently promised to retain the remaining flower fields, which are open to the public from March 1 until early May every spring.

En route back home from San Diego, last week, I decided to stop and take photos of the ranunculus. Luckily I arrived at 9:30AM, because an hour later the parking lot was full of drivers trolling for a spot. There was a short ticket line when I got there: adults $14, seniors $13 and kids $7. For an extra $3 I could have ridden on an old tractor that takes passengers around the perimeter of the fields and drops them at the top. I opted to walk on my own.

The fields were nothing short of spectacular. Variegated flowers are planted at the foot of the hill, followed by wide swaths of single color-plants: yellow, white, pink, red, and orange. The effect is breath-taking. Selfie sticks were in abundance as people couldn't get enough of taking pictures of themselves in front of the fields.

I found a maze covered in sweetpea vines, away from the rest of the fields. I entered and soon got stuck. Yikes! Thank goodness two youngsters were running through, so I followed them out. I then made my way up the hill, so I could see the fields and ocean beyond. Again, the view was just glorious.

Unfortunately, everyone has to pass through an area filled with booths festooned in handmade geegaws, t-shirts, and jewelry before entering the fields. Plus everybody is forced to exit through an Armstrong garden supply store. Far too commercial and touristy.

Still, I was completely in heaven as I wandered on my own for an hour

If you love flowers, gardening, and/or color, you must take a trip to see the ranunculus of Carlsbad, if not this year then certainly next. . .

Looking up from the foot of the fields

Approaching the top

Pink ranunculus

Endless flowers

View from the top of the fields—Pea Soup Andersen
windmill in the distance and the ocean beyond

Orange ranunculus



Red ranunculus


Yellow ranunculus