Day Nineteen: Pacific Coast and LA

Every since the kids heard California was on the itinerary, they wanted to go to Los Angeles. I wanted to take them to San Diego and other parts, but as you know you can’t do everything. We decided to let this day be more about the kids than anything else.

It was a two hour drive from Palm Springs to LA, so we wanted to get on the road relatively early (9:30 am) knowing we would have a long day ahead of us. As we were leaving Palm Springs, we went through the Palm Springs Windmill Farm. It was already scheduled to be a windy day, however, driving through the windmill farm provided some extra wind (it was 17mph in the morning). Here are some facts about the windmills in our area: Immortalized in the helicopter chase in the movie Mission Impossible III starring Tom Cruise, the Palm Springs windmills area increasingly popular alternative source of energy. Wind turbine generators are a type of windmill that produces electricity by harnessing the wind. They require average wind speeds of at least 13 mph. The largest of these windmills stands 328 feet tall with blades half the length of an American football field (150 feet). The compartments at the top containing the generator, hub and gearbox weigh 30,000 to 45,000 pounds. They can produce 300 kilowatts- the amount of electricity used by a typical household in a month and each wind turbine’s cost can range upwards to $300,000. Almost all of the currently installed wind electric generation capacity is in California. The high-tech megatowers are engineered in cooperation with NASA and nursed by federal and state subsidies. This wind farm on the San Gorgonio Mountains Pass in the San Bernadino Mountains contains more than 4,000 separate windmills and provides enough electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley.

Windmill Farm

The drive was uneventful and our first stop was to El Segundo High School, in El Segundo. This was the high school used in the filming of All American (not Beverly Hills High). All American was a show Anna Cate, Betsie and I watched during quarantine and loved! We are anxiously awaiting Season Three! On our way to El Segundo, we drive by LAX and Eli was thrilled. I truly think if he is not going to be an architect, he will be a pilot. He loves planes and researches everything about them before we fly any place. It is amazing to me as a parent the simple pleasures you see your child light up over (boys are so different than girls and in this respect easier).

El Segundo High School from All American

From here we drove to the Santa Monica Pier so the kids could see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Anna Cate was also an avid Hannah Montana fan and the Santa Monica Pier was in the movie, Hannah Montana. I am sure we have seen the movie over 500 times when she was in her Hannah phase and we recently watched it during ‘stay at home’. Apparently, the pier recently opened in the last few days and masks (indoor and outdoor) are required. We walked up for the pictures and walked back down not lingering around this area for too long. From here we walked to a shopping area called, the Promenade area. We were not expecting the temperature drop and it was chilly! I guess the heat really got to us as we figure the whole state was this hot. We had a 30 degree temperature difference and outer layers where needed! While the girls and I shopped, Will and the boys went to grab the car so we didn’t have to walk back to the car and off to lunch we went.

Santa Monica Piet Main Entrance
Where Lily had her birthday party in the Hannah Montana movie
Eli, AC and Betsie with the Pacific Ocean in the background
Em and Will
Walking to get warm layers
Cute Promenade Area

If you remember in Texas we had Whataburger and when you are in California you have In-N-Out. The consensus is in. Everyone, but Will liked the In-N-Out burgers better as the burger to bun ratio was more proportional (and the spread they put on the burgers is delicious!). No one liked the In-N-Out fries, saying Whataburgers were better. After a to-go lunch in the car, we headed to Beverly Hills!

When in Cali!
Entering Beverly Hills

Driving through Bel Air among the gorgeous houses makes you wonder who lives there. It would seem the higher the fence and bigger the gate to get in, you know it has to be someone famous. As we drove around we would ask Google who lived in these homes. We passed by Michael Bay’s house (director and producer of Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and Transformers), Clint Eastwood and one of the houses we drove by is the home to Jay-Z and Beyonce! It was hard to take pictures, drive and take it all in so we would right down addresses and look up who lived there later. One house we passed on Airole Way was massive! Apparently it is the home to Nile Niami, movie producer turned developer. His house is called ‘The One’ and this is what I found out about it: Seven years after he started working on ‘The One’ Nile Niami says he’s just about ready to test the market with his ballyhooed $500 million asking price. Replete with a nightclub, four swimming pools, bowling alley and 360-degree vistas of sun-dappled Southern California. There are 20 bedrooms, 30 bathrooms, a 30 car ‘auto gallery’, two kitchens, a jellyfish room (yes the glass walls and ceilings hold jellyfish tanks), a library, cigar room, a 32- seat theater, and every luxury imaginable. I mean, if we have to go into quarantine again, this sounds like the perfect place to me (minus the jellyfish!). Crazy, crazy, crazy!

We also made a drive down Rodeo drive and as soon as we hit this area Will snapped this picture making it the perfect backdrop for this area of town. While we were in this area, Betsie wanted to drive by a famous Tik Tok house. I have learned more about Tik Tok than I care to, but seeing as this is the ‘teenage thing’ right now, we found the house for her to see in person. The first Tik Tok house was the Sway House.

Will’s shot!
The Sway House (can you hear Will’s dad jokes?!?)

I think Bel Air was one of my favorite areas of Beverly Hills as the views were amazing and the roads were wider as you were driving up these windy roads. Driving through Hollywood Hills was completely the opposite. Hollywood Hills was our next stop as you can’t come to LA and not get a picture of the Hollywood sign!

Immediately getting off the interstate, there was a camping village under the overpass like nothing I have ever seen. It reminded of an area called ‘Skid Row’ Will and I had seen in a movie we watched not too long ago. Living in the city in Richmond, I have seen homeless populations and camping communities, but nothing to this extent.

The area under the overpass
First view of the sign before heading up

The views driving up and through Hollywood Hills were beautiful, but the roads were so curvy and narrow I don’t know how people navigate this area daily. Seeing all the construction going on, I wondered how work trucks even make it through! After finding a place to pull off to get our attempted selfie with the Hollywood sign, we continued as far up as we could to find the second Tik Tok house, Hype House. Not knowing it at the time, it was feet from the Hollywood Reservoir, which made for the best Hollywood sign picture backdrop, but the parking area was packed. Betsie and I jumped out to snap a picture while Will turned the car around for us to start back down.

Picture of the curvy roads (the turns on the GPS don’t do them justice!).
Can you see the sign?!?
Hollywood Reservoir
Better view of the sign

By this time, we decided to start making our way back to Palm Springs. On our way to the interstate, we passed by Warner Brothers Studios which was really neat for the kids to see. I wish times were different as a tour would have been really fun to do. Many things are not open in California and today was very much a driving tour. Seeing as we did not go in any place but the store to grab extra layers of warmth, I knew we could not make the drive back to Palm Springs without a restroom break. Luckily, close by there was a really nice mall with a Bloomingdales as I was not stopping for any restroom, especially with covid!

Second Tik Tok House (the Hype House)

As we drove back ‘home’ to Palm Springs, the sunset was gorgeous to watch. And for some reason the drive home seemed much shorter. Remember I said the wind was around 17 mph when we left in the morning. As we were approaching this area last night there was a sign that said, ‘strong winds ahead’ and there were 28 mph! We pulled in around 8:30 pm, and while I made dinner quickly, Will, Anna Cate and Eli took a night swim. It was a long day, but a day simply for the kids. There are so many parts of California we want to take the kids to, but this was not the time unless we extended the trip another week. Next time!

Sunset views on the drive ‘home’
No filters needed
Coming back into the Windmill Farm area
More sunset views
Windmills in action
Last sunset picture

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