My Los Angeles and Palm Springs adventures end with James returning me to LA for a brief overnight stay. Sadness, at the hotel elevator door to say goodbye. Such fun I had with this madcap tour guide driver!
Opening the elevator on the second floor I hear, “Do you need help with your bag?” “No, no. I’m fine. Thank you. I am just slow. I need to figure out how to manage it by myself.” “Really, I will take it for you.”, he says. It’s late and I find myself responding to a drop dead gorgeous, perhaps Gen Xer who is entering the elevator when it opened on the second floor. Tall, dark and handsome. His button down shirt open at the collar, is seductively crumpled. His hair tousled. He could have been a modern-day member of the Rat Pack. Sensing my dis-ease, he entered the elevator and I wrangled my bag down the hallway to a sparse but adequate room. Exiting the elevator the next morning, I met him at the elevator door again. “We meet again! Didn’t you want to help me with my bag last night?”, I exclaim! He breaks into a welcome smile, responding, ” Yes, that was me”, as he entered the elevator. Whew, LA is just one continuous stream of beautiful people.
An UBER picked me up and whisked me off to Los Angeles Union Station. My driver took no prisoners and pulled right up to the sidewalk in front of the station. A traffic policeman gave her a look and she immediately fired back, “She is handicapped.” She deftly unloaded my bag and me on the sidewalk.
I am always a bit worried with a new place in front of me and this train station is huge! ” Built in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is the largest passenger terminal in the Western United States and is widely regarded as the last of the great train stations.” (www.unionstationla.com) It’s architecture blends, Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Art Deco, a style commonly referred to as Mission Moderne. Like so many of the million dollar homes James and I saw on our tour of LA it is at once a homey, comfortable but an awe-inspiring space. Gorgeous gardens, sumptuous hand painted mission tiles, American Black Walnut furnishings, and Art Deco chandeliers. So much to take in! There was an upright piano in the cavernous waiting room. A sign welcomed a visitor to play. A young African-American man took the keys and began a wonderfully relaxing set. A small group gathered around. If I had only traveled to LA to see just this building the journey would have been worth it but the trip continues…
I boarded the Coast Starlight traveling to Oakland. James’s sister, Joy and her daughter were to intercept me in Oakland and drop me off in San Francisco. This was the most amazing train trip ever. The train travels so close to the ocean you can see the waves break spraying the tracks. On the other side the terrain changed slowly from the semi desert plants of LA to green fields of grapes, almond trees, lettuce fields, artichokes, garlic, almost any produce you can imagine.
I enjoyed dinner in the dining car with three other travelers who conversation made dinner a fun event. One of my dining companions was a most interesting gentleman who travels in the United States every other year and every other year ventures to Europe.
I arrived in Oakland 8 hours later to be whisked across the San Francisco Bay to my B&B, The Artist’s Inn. Fortunately, Joy helped me into the quaint house as it was dark and tricky to get my bag down the stairs. Once landed, I encountered another wonderful spot. This is a Federal style home, with beautiful art everywhere.
My room faced a peaceful garden. I chose to organize my photos and rest the next day. I have done a powerful lot of traveling.
The next morning I prepared to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. My reason for this stop is to see the Matisse Diebenkorn exhibit. While I was enjoyed my room I read a card that talked about San Francisco’s “rolling blackouts”. So while preparing to leave when the electricity went out I didn’t think much about it. A small inconvenience. I went upstairs to call an UBER. As I mounted the stairs I heard a powerful knocking at the front door and the doorbell ringing off the hook. I opened the door to find the caretaker, Karen and her husband frantically trying to enter. They immediately begin thanking me for letting them in while gasping about 90,000 people who are without power here! I called the museum. They had power there. I attempted to call UBER. The confusion caused by this outage on the grid will not allow an UBER request to complete. Karen and her darling husband took me across town in his pick-em-up truck! They live about two blocks from the museum so this was right on their way! What luck I have! Karen’s husband claimed it’s Karma! Whatever, I definitely, have it.
The exhibit was huge! Featuring over 100 paintings and drawings by Matisse and Diebenkorn, room after room was packed with admiring visitors. The crowds made it impossible to read the exhibit labels but fortunately the size of the drawings and paintings made art viewing easy. Richard Diebenkorn is the quintessential California artist whose large deep canvases pull you into a mid-century modern world. Diebenkorn’s work juxtaposed with Matisse’s, from whom he drew lifelong inspiration was fascinating.
At the recommendation of Karen, the Inn’s caretaker, (we are fast friends at this point), I decided to UBER to Golden Gate Park to the de Young Museum the next day. Karen said she had heard good things about an exhibit called, The Summer of Love. I managed to score not one but two amazing exhibits at the de Young.The Summer of Love was an exhibition of the memorabilia of the counterculture that grew up in San Francisco in the 60’s. While I was on the far edge of this San Francisco iconic movement I was certainly impacted by the music, fashion and art of the era. Visiting this exhibit while listening to the music of Jefferson Airplane play over loud speakers I saw models with clothes I wore, psychedelic posters I recall plastered on my former high school sweetheart’s bedroom walls and a blank room upon whose walls a simulated visual acid trip undulated. It was an amazing experience revisiting artifacts of that era. A remarkable reminder of the astounding time in which I have lived. So many timely messages from then still ring true in our world today.
The other exhibit that was here was one of the painter, Stuart Davis. Stuart Davis In Full Swing was a visually lively treat from an artist of the post war era who married the complex visual beat of urban life with European Modernism. Davis’s canvases dance off the walls.
It was here at the de Young I did have a small setback. One that merits a warning for any and all travelers…UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE TRAVEL WITHOUT YOUR PHONE CHARGER! After, photographing many, many subjects, texting photos and messages with my old phone battery, of course it died. You may realize that I am traveling in the land of Apple. Using an Android is not the easiest path. My senses immediately became mush and I went to the customer service desk to ask if they had a charging station. Don’t laugh, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art does with both Apple and Android chargers. Alas, the de Young does not. The sweet docent suggested I ask some visitors. Now you can laugh, as I told you my brain was mush, I approached a large group of Asian men. Of course, they all used I Phones. I frantically asked a museum guard who calmly said to return to Customer Service and have them to call me a taxi. Duh, good idea. The only problem with that is the spot to pick up a taxi is two long city blocks away. By the time I got within hailing distance of the taxi another party took my ride. I finally made it to the taxi stop and in about 20 minutes I was able to catch a ride. Whew! What did we do before cell phones?
My next adventure in San Francisco was on Sunday. I took an UBER to Fisherman’s Wharf. I will fill you in on that trip next time I post about how I survived my extensive trip maintaining my very particular diet! I took UBER to the Oakland Airport and flew home from there. An amazing trip that I cannot hardly believe I managed. You could do it too!
Get up! Get out! Above all keep moving.
The Fragile Traveler
# Handicapped travel #Amtrak #Coast Starlight #San Francisco #SFMOMA #Matisse #Diebenkorn #de Young Museum #Summer of Love #Stuart Davis