Los Angeles, 27–30 Dec 2018

Traditions can come and go, but one that has been going for more than a half-century is my family gathering to make mochi for the new year. Melody and I also manage to play tourist for a day, and this year we walked along Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

27-Dec, Thursday

We’ve flown out of Seattle enough to have our routine down. We ended up having a flight in the early afternoon so we left a bit late for the last commuter bus of the morning. Lunch and drinks from Dilettante taken care of, we settled in to wait for our flight.

There was quite a tailwind so we landed pretty early. The wait for the shuttle was also quick, and we got into line at the light rail station to load fares onto our cards (we save transit cards and have them for several cities.) We were in the middle of the station and it wasn’t clear whether the stairs at the ends were open, so we hopped onto the elevator with one other person. The doors were just shut when a woman started running up. The other person tried pressing the button to open the doors but the elevator started going up. I told him it was a good attempt. As we exited at the train platform, one was just arriving. The other man said that makes it more of a shame the woman didn’t make the elevator.

I let my parents know what time we were going to arrive as we zipped by traffic on the 105. After getting off the train, we put day passes for the next day onto our transit cards then met my parents in the parking lot.

Before going to the house, we stopped at the Mexican grocery store to pick up breakfast food and tamales to take to mochitsuki. My dad also got meat for making beef jerky.

Once at the house, we settled in a bit, changed, and went to Have dinner at Dal Rae, my parents’ go-to place for a nice dinner. The menu was the abbreviated holiday one, but we quickly settled on Christmas duck and lobster pot pie. Food and service were great as always.

Back at the house, I did a bit of tech support for my parents, knowing that more would be needed before going back home.

28-Dec, Friday

This was our day to play tourist. We decided to try out taking the bus to and from the train station, and that worked out pretty well. The bus is why we had bought day passes the night before, since we wouldn't be able to load our transit cards on the bus. After the bus and three different trains, we arrived at the Hollywood and Vine station, which was decked with old film reels, and a couple projectors were on display. Going out of the stations, we found ourselves at the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

As we often do, we found a self-guided walking tour to follow. Along most of the way we were going along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and while we glanced down every now and then at the names we saw, we also needed to look up to not run into people or things. Ones that stood out are the special plaques for the Apollo 11 astronauts at each corner of Hollywood and Vine, the ones for the four Beatles in front of Capitol Records, and the ones for Elvis Presley and The Beatles (as a group) at Hollywood and La Brea. I noticed that some people seemed to have multiple stars, and it's because they were awarded ones in different categories: motion pictures, broadcast television, audio recording or music, broadcast radio, and since 1984, theatre/live performance.

We went by many theaters. The Pantages was built in 1930, bought by Howard Hughes in 1941, and was the first venue for the Academy Awards in 1953. The Egyptian was built in 1922 around the time King Tut's tomb was discovered, capitalizing on its popularity. The Dolby is where the Academy Awards are currently held. The Chinese, opened in 1927, was the site of many movie openings including Star Wars and has many hand and footprints in front. The Palladium was known for its dance events and is still active as such.

We saw quite a bit of art. Dolores Del Rio was one of the first Latina stars in Hollywood and there's a whole mural dedicated to her. Another mural along the side of Hollywood High depicts many stars, most graduates from the school, including Lana Turner, Rudolph Valentino (not a graduate), and Judy Garland. At the corner of Hollywood and La Brea (right next to the Elvis and Beatles stars) is the Four Ladies of Hollywood monument depicting Mae West, Anna May Wong (first Chinese American movie actress), Dolores Del Rio, and Dorothy Dandridge (first African American actress nominated for an Academy Award); Marilyn Monroe is the weather vane at the top.

Other notable sights were the Hollywood Wax Museum, The Magic Castle, the Capitol Records building (with the Hollywood Jazz Mural by the parking lot), and Charlie Chaplin Studios (now the home of the Jim Henson Company.) We also walked by the Cinerama, with a very similar logo as the Seattle Cinerama, but this one is housed in a geodesic dome.

We were done with the walk, so found a café to relax for a bit. After we were there for a little while, there was a confrontation between some of the patrons, but people came to defuse things pretty quickly.

To get back to my parents' house, we did the morning's trip in reverse, but the bus part at the end was a little different since the route loops a bit to get to the train station.

My aunt was at the house when we arrived, so we had a great time talking with her. Since we had leftovers from Dal Rae, we ate that for dinner, and my aunt had brought some food for herself.

Later in the evening I did some more tech support, as well as forming the an my dad had made into balls to put into mochi the next day.

29-Dec, Saturday

After breakfast and gathering things, we headed out to Glendora to my cousin's house for mochitsuki. As the morning went on, many more people arrived, so the garage was pretty packed with people. We did take a break about ⅔ of the way through the rice to have lunch, so things went pretty quickly at the end.

It seems that there are many small details we all forget from year to year, but each year things go a little more smoothly, so it's fine that we don't have it down to a science.

After everything was packed in the car, we headed back and put the mochi into the freezer. My dad had cleared out a lot of the backlog from the previous years, so there was plenty of room. He had taken a lot less rice than before, so there wasn't much to squeeze into the freezer, anyway.

Since it was only mid-afternoon, Melody and I took a walk to see how the Downey Rose Float was doing. Even though they had a couple more days to finish, it seemed there was a long way to go. They were still working on the structure of the float, which meant the next couple of days were going to be packed with adorning it with flowers. The theme of this year's float is, “Let's Go To The Hop” with an American Graffiti feeling to it.

There were plenty of leftovers from mochitsuki, so that's what we had for dinner. I did my last bits of tech support and started packing for the return trip.

30-Dec, Sunday

The trip back was pretty uneventful. Since it was a Sunday, we knew there would be no commuter bus to speed up the trip, but we still did really well; the train showed up within a minute, and we only waited a minute or two for the bus transfer (but we did walk quite quickly from the train station to the bus stop.)

And with that, we were home, another end-of-year trip behind us.