2016 Los Angeles Museum Tour

March 16-21

The tour to Los Angeles was truly a road trip to remember Our first day took us through the green rolling hills of Monterey County to Coalinga where we stopped for lunch at a little mom and pop sandwich shop with the menu on the wall and a self serve soda machine that was out of order. Charlie scored points with the waitress and got a little more attention than he bargained for.

From Coalinga we traveled down the Old Oil Well Highway through a forrest of oil pumps to the small town of McKittrick. The McKittrick Hotel is ancient and the only building in town with a public bathroom. The hotel features a bar with a pool table, a small cafe, and space for outside dining. A sign in the bar reads, "The Hotel Does Not Have WIFI - pretend it is 1995 and talk to someone!"

The floor in the Hotel Bar is made of copper pennies and the bar ceiling is papered with dollar bills. The back bar is decorated with Christmas Tree Lights and an official notice that the bar is also the McKittrick Post Office.

We used the bathroom, downed a Coke, and got back on the road to Taft. As you pass through these towns you get the sense that their glory days have passed but that oil is still the major recourse that keeps these communities alive.

We checked in at our hotel in Lebec around 5 pm, enjoyed a short Happy Hour, and adjourned to Maruchio’s Mexican Restaurant for dinner.

The next morning, Thursday, we toured the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar. There is no museum in the world quite like this one. The center piece is not an automobile but a massive pipe organ on the third floor. We were treated to a short concert featuring the theme from Phantom of the Opera and Ghost Riders in the Sky.

On Friday we started the morning with a visit to the Automobile Driving Museum. We were escorted through the museum by a charming little lady who impressed us more than all the cars in the museum.

Our next stop was the Peterson. This is a world class museum. Our docent guided tour emphasized the history, design features, and unique qualities of the cars in the collection. The museum itself is beautiful, well organized, and the cars are artfully displayed.

Around 1 pm John Bettencourt suggested we have lunch at Langers, a well known Jewish Deli on Alvarado Street in east Los Angeles. John offered to buy everyone a sandwich. Langers opened in 1947 following the war. It is know for it's #19, a world famous Pastrami Sandwich. The deli almost went out of business in the 90's but survived due to the Los Angeles Subway!

After lunch we hop-scotched through traffic up Wilshire Boulevard to the La Brea Tar Pits. The museum closed at 4 pm. and it was now 3:45 pm. They let us in for half price and allowed us time to visit the exhibits. Gunard Mahl had planned this side trip and it turned out to be one of the day’s highlights.

On Saturday we spent our time at the Getty in Malibu. We took the collection highlights guided tour, marveled at the building and the collection, had a snack in the cafe, and headed for Oxnard.

The Murphy Museum in Oxnard was ground zero for the Annual Central California Regional Studebaker show. We arrived around 10 am. There must have been around 30 Studebakers on display in front of the museum. Most of the cars were Studebakers but Avanti was well represented. The museum housed an eclectic collection of cars, trailer campers, and an HO model train display.

The next leg of the journey took us to San Louis Obispo where we stopped at the Cemetery to view a large granite pyramid built by Fred Adolphus Dorn to shelter his wife and infant son. He spent around $100,000 at the turn of the century building their last resting place. Mr. Dorn intended to be buried in the pyramid but he moved to San Francisco, remarried, and at his death the second wife buried him in Colma.

John Bettencourt and Joe Higgins continued on home. The rest of us checked in at the Sands Motel. It was Palm Sunday. Mission San Louis Obispo celebrated a Mass at 6 pm. We dropped Charlie off at the Mission and he joined us later at the Black Sheep Bar and Grill for dinner. They have a great Mac and Cheese Burger and the waitress was cute.

The next morning we pushed a CD into the player and came home to the sounds of Brenda Lee, the Coasters, and the Four Seasons.

We had some great meals, some animated discussions, and saw some wonderful treasures. It could not have been better.

Photos by Barry Kinney