Jun 30, 2007

Irvine - Friday PM - June 29, 2007

As I mentioned yesterday, we had free time today, so we had spent some time trying to figure out what to do. We decided against theme parks because we have all of the same places back home in Orlando. We decided to go to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. We had gone to the LBJ Library in Austin a few years back, and this sounded great. It tooks about 90 minutes to get there, but it was an easy drive and the landscape was beautiful.

The Library itself is very impressive. It sits up on a hill overlooking the entire valley. It is styled after a huge western ranch house. When you get in, you go through the story of Reagan's life, from boy to actor to Governor to President. I have always loved Reagan, so I though it was very cool. I had just purchased the Ronald Reagan Diaries book that has his diary from when he was President. Fascinating. The exhibits were cool, and then half way through, things got even better.

You go out of the first part of the tour into the second part, where they have an actual Air Force One Boeing 707 jet for you to go through. It is the actual Air Force One that all the Presidents used until September 9, 2001. It was loaned to the library, and now has been redone to reflect how it appeared in 1985 or so. There also is a Marine One helicopter from LBJ, a beautiful mural of the history of Presidential air flight, a full motorcade complete with limo and police motorcycles, and a F-14 Tomcat. It was amazing to walk through and around.

We had lunch at the restaurant there - and it was amazing. We ate out overlooking the valley and had sandwiches and cake. Then we visited the Gift Shop (of course) and the Memorial Garden. It was fun and tiring, so we decided to head back. We still had lots of time, so we decided to swing through Beverly Hills just to see what all the fuss what about. Well....

The ugly side of LA surfaced as we got caught in never-ending horrific traffic. We went to Bevery Hills eventually, but it was just a bunch of expensive shops - most of which we have in Orlando at some high end mall or center. We thought about going to Chinatown or Hollywood or Studio City, but the traffic was getting horrible. Finally, we ended up driving right through Downtown LA, trying to find some way to avoid the gridlock on the freeways. It was a pretty fruitless effort. The traffic was unlike anything I had ever seen, and it was compounded by the absolutely out of their gourd bus drivers they have here. It was like LA went to New York and asked for all the psychotic taxi drivers who had been forced out of the business for being "Too Frigging Nuts" and then turned them into bus drivers. They would whip in and out of traffic, switch lanes with no warning, and drift into the other lanes. It was insanity. One thing I can't stand is being clueless about where I am going and having to deal with traffic.

Amazingly, Navigator Heather actually got us out of the mess and back to close to Irvine. We ended up stopping a few miles away for dinner at a mall - we ate at a Ruby's Diner. It was very good and fun, and the mall was pretty neat. The entire trip, we have been talking about how hard it is to find restaurants around this school. It seems like they are hidden. Well, once we headed back home through this community, we discovered where all of them were - just in time for us to leave on Sunday. The day was eventful and fun. Heather zonked out as soon as we got back. I keep dozing trying to write this - so bear with any spelling or grammar errors. Tomorrow we plan on being "table dwellers" at the Defender table. Hopefully we find some good stuff out then. See you later.

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