LOS ANGELES BY BUS March 17-22, 2013

Determined to try to cure my present, late sleeping, and to do another trip that I had planned for some time, I wished to not wait further. Temperatures are due to rise, and rates go up for the tourist season. I did a lot of research on the Net, and left some items to when I was in the middle of the trip.

I had first figured to go on Saturday the 16th, but then, I didn’t feel right about it. Early Sunday morning, I couldn’t sleep, so made my online reservations. I had to go. It wouldn’t be a bad loss if I then overslept and decided to cancel, but my self-esteem would be lowered. The forecast had been changing, so I checked it one last time, and then clicked. I dozed off somehow, then awoke at about 9 a.m., wishing to do my daily news check.

I’d leave my car at home. I started walking before noon for my daily exercise, with my day pack, containing all that I’d need. No wilderness, or extensive photography gear required. Not even a tripod or water containers. Going to the new bus station, out north of town, I had my time with the nice, sunny weather. Arriving an hour beforehand as recommended, that turned out not to be necessary. It wasn’t a busy travel day. I waited for the bus to arrive, then it came about on time, scheduled at 2:15 p.m. I had my printed ticket, and used the restroom. Aboard, I was on my way.

The bus was about half full, and we took Interstate 5 southbound. I started with video, something I can’t easily do while driving. We soon came to Stockton, CA, and I used the bus facility while stopped. Quickly motoring on, I enjoyed the ride, and looked forward to getting to my destination. I had some worries about the bus being late, as the driver warned about L.A. traffic. We made a half an hour stop in Avenal, CA, for food, and I got some ice cream. So far, so good. There was a nice sunset, then we headed past the Grapevine. About Lake Castaic, a car fire blocked the Interstate northbound. Yes, it was L.A.!

So gratefully, we came into town on time, and I had my plans memorized as to what number bus to take. I had made a comment by e-mail to the Metro bus webmaster, but there is no e-mail contact, FAQ, or similar for my questions. So, I didn’t know that you couldn’t buy a weekly pass when I got onto the bus. I had to pay the fare, and then I debarked at a transfer point in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. The Silver Line bus came by, and I had to pay cash fare. We soon were speeding eastward on the special bus lane by Interstate 10, and I was to save plenty of time to do this, every day of my stay. Shortly, we came to the impressive and new El Monte Station.

It was almost deserted at this time of night. Buses run late in Los Angeles, as many people use them. I took the first right bus, since few come by this late at night, and I’d walk the extra distance to my motel. I remembered the street names, and debarked at the street on which my motel resides. I had some anxiety about arriving so late at night, but most everyone drives in Southern California, so no one else was walking on the streets.

I began to suspect that my information was wrong, as I didn’t see the usual, highly visible sign, and had to backtrack to make sure that I was on the right street. It indeed would be terrible to find that no such business existed there, with no alternate plans. Fortunately for me, I found the motel, and the staff was on duty. I got my room, and would I have some bargain lodging! To save hundreds, I did this this way, using the bus, and instead of commuting a short way, I’d commute a slightly longer way, every day. I have good luck with this motel chain, and so, I settled in for the night. Hungry at 2 a.m., I walked the short way to another chain restaurant, and had some salad. Back to my room, I got to sleep.

Monday, it was a new week. I had things to take care of. I had to get my weekly pass. I paid cash fare, once again, to get to the El Monte Station, where presumably they’d sell the pass. I was told that I had to get one at a listed business, so walked a half mile to a check cashing store. I didn’t have time to do this when I arrived late the night before, and hadn’t read the web information correctly. Bus fare is pretty cheap, anyway, as many do support the transit system. I got my pass, and took a bus back to the main transfer point.

The Silver Line is a bus, not light rail or subway, as the other Lines are, but it is fast and handy. I inadvertently didn’t pay the extra dollar (95 cents exactly) on top of the pass, but I guess they didn’t mind too much. Some other passengers were paying fares, so maybe someone was mixed up. It is a difficult job for the driver to keep track of the fare payments, and on the other lines, it appears to be largely honor system with random enforcement checks assisted by surveillance. I was to be later reminded of the added fare, as the driver told me that it is a different fare structure, so started paying in full and then some. The bus systems may be confusing to tourists, as some do not honor some passes, and some buses do not operate under the local transit district.

I stuck to my schedule, so first walked from Union Station to Little Tokyo. I had some dining in mind. Wishing to explore in a culinary fashion, I stopped at a ramen shop, and promptly got a seat. I’d try various ramen bowls on this trip, being now somewhat of a noodle fan. While working, I consumed a lot of instant ramen, but now wish to make up, with the real thing. Ramen seems to be catching on, in popularity.

Next, I proceeded to the Ellison Onizuka Memorial, an astronaut who had been killed in the Challenger disaster. I have seen most of Little Tokyo already, but stopped by the branch library, then headed west on 1st, then 2nd. I went south on Broadway, to see the streets. Taking pictures, I came to Pershing Square, then Angels Flight. Then it was to the Red Line back to Union Station, where I caught the Silver Line back to El Monte. Low on endurance, I ended my days usually at an earlier hour, and liked to be with my tablet in my motel room. I walked over to get some more salad, then got to bed late.

Tuesday, I had to see Hollywood. I took the local bus, then the Silver Line to take the Red Line. There is some walking required, and they do not make it too easy. Surfacing at Hollywood and Highland Station, I looked about at a nearby shopping mall. Not too busy. I strolled over west to the Graumans Chinese Theater, the main sight and attraction, with people in costume. I basically ignored the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the classic stars of celebrities on the sidewalk, but now headed back east along Hollywood Boulevard. I sought not to have people in my photos, so aimed my camera high to capture the signs, being that I do not like any claims to invasion of privacy as many in the old hiking club would attack with.

Then, it was to the completion of objective two as far as my dining. A pickle plate and a burger were nearly missed due to my not noticing the unsigned side walkway leading to the business.

Back to Hollywood Boulevard, I continued east to turn around to cross the street to get to the Hollywood and Vine Station. The Red Line again took me back to Union Station, where I took the Gold Line to Chinatown. Back to Union Station, I went by the adjacent Los Angeles Pueblo historic district to see the sights, and had some soup. I did video of the Aztec dancers, tipping another bill. Tired, I took the Silver Line back to El Monte. I rested in my room with more research on my tablet.

Wednesday, the forecast was to be cloudy, so it was museum day. I had a ticket to see Endeavour, the space shuttle that is to be displayed for Angelenos. Going first for some potatoes, I got to the Silver Line which continues to about USC, where I meandered over to the African-American Museum, which is free and excellent. They do not allow photography, and I had to check in my daypack. I saw all of the exhibits, and donated $5. Very good! The nearby Blackbird model served for photos, too.

My ticket for the space shuttle was for 11 a.m., so I had to get to the ScienCenter. Lots of school kids! I waited in line, then finally went into the hangar where it is located. Seeing some of the exhibits, I snapped my photos and video, and bought a T shirt. I had some drink, then walked through the Rose Garden. Declining the other museums, I took the new Expo Line back to transfer to the Red or Purple Line, and then back to Union Station. This is a nice smooth ride, the best of the trip. The Gold Line led me back to Little Tokyo, where I had more ramen, the best, at a trendy noodle house.

I had time, so took the Gold Line north to Pasadena. I first went by Memorial Park, then walked along Colorado Boulevard, now Old Pasadena. More vibrant and busy than on my last time here. I did video as I rode the light rail, making use of my time. I am sold on Los Angeles by mass transportation! Having food later that night, I did more research on my tablet to make sure that I knew my way around. Even newer computer map services had outdated or incorrect information, as I found out, with potentially serious consequences if I had been unable to figure it out. There was also construction and events.

Thursday, I wanted to see Santa Monica. Getting to town, I took the Big Blue Bus, Rapid 10, requiring cash fare for me, west on Interstate 10. There aren’t any diamond lanes or busway, so we slowed for traffic. Arriving in due time, I walked for more ramen at a restaurant on Ocean Avenue.

Spending time on Santa Monica Pier, this has become quite the attraction. Walking to its end, I did video, and wished to spend more time here. Waves crashed on the beach and seagulls flew about. Marvelous for my videos!

Next was to see the Third Street Promenade. Too many people for me, so I didn’t take many photos. I went by the impressive Apple Store, then looked at the Tesla Store and the Model S. Customers in the way prevented any photos of just the large electric car, so I left and continued down the street. I headed back south, then boarded the bus back to Union Station. I went to Chinatown for a light meal, with sights again, and then back to the motel.

Friday, my last day, I woke up by 4 a.m. Having a waffle, I meant to just head home, but determined more things to see. I took the Gold Line to South Pasadena to see what was there. This was a good video op, with clouds and diffuse light. Then back to Union Station, I sauntered west along U.S. 101 past the L.A. Cathedral, then to the Music Center. By Grand Park, a fountain made for video, and I headed down Grand Avenue to gawk at the high rises, the U.S. Bank Tower being the highest building west of the Mississippi.

Another dining op presented itself, and then it was time to head for the intercity bus station. I took a local bus there, a direct ride. It was more waiting, and then the bus loaded, and left on schedule.

Traffic was O.K. on the Interstate north, so we made good time. I shot more video on the seven and a half hour ride home, and made it to town early. I took the local light rail from its newest station back home, being then the only rider. Safe, and successful, another thousand peaks adventure, and one with little or no carbon footprint, as with a car!

I walked maybe 10 miles, and spent about $638 for everything. I captured 1,606 images and movie clips. It is about 400 miles each way to Los Angeles, with 11 miles each way from El Monte Station to Union Station.

On the news, they announced that electricity for Los Angeles will be carbon zero by 2025. Currently, they said that it is 40% derived from coal fired power plants. Astounding! It will be a green future, and my regret is that I mostly likely will not be around to see it. I hope to go places by bus, train, and plane, if I should continue to travel, and it will be some time before those are emissions free. Wishing also for an affordable zero emissions vehicle, I will ration my car, and try to make it run to about 2017, when they say that they may have this technology readily available. With my peaks life basically ended, with few or no new peaks that I have in my sights anymore, I hope to stay fit, and maintain my health by some more hiking.