John Archer
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Christmas Letter - 2006

Monday, April 17

Nevada, California


Norton Simon Museum
Ronald Reagan Library
Los Angeles


LA is the only place that says "the" before road numbers. Noboby in the east would ever say, "I am going on the 128". Why? Southern California is home to the oldest real freeways in the country. They were all named for cities, (San Diego, Pasadena, etc.). So, the only reference that works is "the San Diego freeway". When numbers replaced names, "the" stayed on.

LA is a haven for rich men's museums. In addition to Norton Simon,

Pasadena also has the Huntington Library (Henry Huntington), and LA has the big enchilada, John Paul Getty's museum overlooking the city.

The problem is that even museums that have virtually unlimited money (Getty),
can't buy art that's not for sale. Museums in older cities rarely sell...

California -- Home at Last...

Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the
birds change color and fall from the trees.
-- David Letterman

Tip the world over on its side and everything
loose will land in Los Angeles.
-- Frank Lloyd Wright

The day started early with one of my Vegas rituals, an early morning stroll through the casinos (Luxor, Excalibur, and Mandalay Bay). At 3:30 the casinos were doing fairly well (a few hundred players). By 4:30, about half the traffic had disappeared. Some nice ladies wandering through the hotel offered to show me a good time. It's Vegas.

The computer says it's 272 miles to LA. But we aren't going directly to LA, and one result will be a chance for Janet to experience a genuine LA traffic jam (rush hour on the 405). It's cold when we leave Vegas, 54 degrees with winds gusting over 40 miles an hour. Along the way we see sand blowing through the desert. When we get to Barstow, we are once again following the path of old Rt. 66. We travel through Bakersfield, and a turn-off on the 210 heading toward Pasadena. It's been raining in LA, unusual for this time of year, and the hills are lush.

In Pasadena we stopped off to see the Norton Simon Museum. Janet discovered that this was the old Pasadena Museum. Famous as the backdrop for the Rose Parade, it has some wonderful Impressionist art.

We decided to head over to the Reagan Library, the nicest presidential library to date, I think. My last visit was with Mom, two days after 9/11. The intervening five year period has seen some significant changes. The area now has lots of expensive homes including some near the library on the hill.

Oh, I almost forgot the 707 in the new hanger on the side of the mountain! To the left is one of the two large aircraft that served the president for many years before being replaced by 747-based planes. This is an amazing structure, and the plane and its role in enabling presidents to travel is now a major focus of the museum. It's about 20 feet above the floor, but designed for visitors to walk through the plane.

The library is very different from the earlier Truman library. It's much more "Hollywood" with "good production values." Two other points of emphasis:

Cowboy stuff
The role of Nancy Reagan is emphasized more than other first ladies.


Last Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 2:31 PM