Carolyn Adventure Tours
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(Almost) 24 Hours in LA

Do you read travel magazine itineraries for cities you plan to visit? You know, the articles that are based on your travel interests (i.e., sports, culture, food) that suggest what to see and do if you have x number of days? I like to read them because I’m curious. I sometimes follow up on recommendations, but mostly make it up as I go.

My style of travel involves a little pre-planning for each day - one activity or place to visit and dinner reservation. Of course, if you’re traveling with others, you factor in their requests, too. The rest of the time is for serendipity.

We had an appointment in Burbank Monday, so I proposed to my daughter we drive up Sunday and overnight in Pasadena. It had been a couple years since I visited and I thought it would be nice to break up the drive north and return drive south over two days.

Our hotel was centrally located in Pasadena, within a couple miles of the Norton Simon Museum, Gamble House, Pasadena City Hall, Cal Tech and shops and restaurants. We managed to fit it all in except for Gamble House - there simply wasn’t enough time. A return visit to Pasadena is definitely in order.

Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon is one of my favorite museums to visit for the wonderful Monet-like sculpture garden, the bronze sculptures (Rodin, Henry Moore and others), the art collection, and the architecture.

The Pasadena-based architectural firm of Ladd & Kelsey designed the museum structure. In the 1990s, there was a major renovation of the interior galleries by architect Frank O. Gehry and the sculpture garden was remodeled by Nancy Goslee Power.

Maven of Modernism

The current exhibition through Sept. 25, Maven of Modernism: Galka Scheyer in California delves into the life of the dealer responsible for the “Blue Four”—Lyonel Feininger, Alexei Jawlensky, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky. Other works by artists Alexander Archipenko, László Moholy-Nagy, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera, given to the Pasadena Art Institute in the early 1950s, are included in the exhibit as well.

If you meander outside to the grounds of the museum facing Colorado Blvd, you’ll be rewarded by Rodin’s bronze, The Thinker. At the Norton Simon, it’s Edition of 12, Cast No. 11.

If you meander outside to the grounds of the museum facing Colorado Blvd, you’ll be rewarded by Rodin’s bronze, The Thinker. At the Norton Simon, it’s Edition of 12, Cast No. 11.

A Few of My Favorites

Pasadena Presbyterian Church

On Monday morning, I decided to run to Cal Tech.  Though I attended college in a neighboring city, I had not visited Cal Tech before. What an architecturally rich run! My map app decided to take me past Pasadena’s first church, Pasadena Presbyterian Church. It was established in 1875 and at the corner of East Colorado Boulevard and North Madison Avenue since 1908. The church hired architect John Gougeon to rebuild it after the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake severely damaged it. The current structure was completed in 1976, with a fairly plain face to Colorado Boulevard but a dramatic, multi-tiered bell tower. The view from the back, along Madison, with a soaring half-arch and tall vertical stained glass window is what caught my eye.

Cal Tech

Once at Cal Tech, Beckman Auditorium, completed in 1963 by architect Edward Durrell Stone stood out. It’s aptly described as a “modern interpretation of a circular Roman temple” on the LA Conservancy website. In the pics, you can see the two buildings by architect Robert C. Alexander which flank Beckman Mall.

I only had time to visit a section of Cal Tech before heading back to the hotel. The turnaround point was the Robert A. Milliken Library, the tallest building on campus.

Pasadena City Hall

I did get to make a pit stop at the Pasadena City Hall, a Beaux Arts civic building designed around a central courtyard with a cast-stone Baroque-style fountain. The architecture firm of Bakewell and Brown designed the building which was completed in 1927. In the TV show, Parks & Recreation, Pasadena City Hall plays the part of Pawnee, Indiana’s city hall, the fictitious town depicted in the show.

Urban Light and Wall

My daughter had two requests which I was happy to honor on our ride back – one, take her to see Urban Light at LACMA on Wilshire and two, take her to the California Dreaming wall near the Chinese Laundry on La Cienega. This has come to be a thing on road trips with my daughter - taking her to places she has seen on Instagram. A social media travel phenomenon, I suppose. I see adults at these walls as well as teenagers.  There are common poses people use, such as one foot on the wall or facing away from the camera.

I generally don't post pics of her as she wouldn't want me to. Here's a typical museum candid. In her words, "I hate museums." One day, I am hoping that sentiment will change.

Reluctant museum goer

Reluctant museum goer

Because I wanted to beat afternoon traffic in LA and San Diego, lunch was eaten on the road in the car. Not quite the foodie meal, but you make do. Another fun road trip for both mother and daughter.