Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's a Jaguar, It's a Plane, No Its a Ghost Town

I went to bed last night secure in our plans to visit the LACMA museum today. However when I came downstairs I found Ms. Ivey on the internet all bright and perky with an idea. Thats's never something to take lightly, and I hadn't even woken up properly yet. I sat down and tried to take everything she was saying in. You see Ms. Ivey is a morning person, and I am so NOT a morning person. After she repeated herself I finally got my head around her plan. Seems like Ms. Ivey in her early morning awesomeness woke with a sense of adventure. She got online and found several strange and unusual sites around Los Angeles. After walking through the various options, reading about the highlights and looking at the map I found that three of the strange things that she found were in the same general area. With a route planned and our itinerary set we were off, but first things first, we needed breakfast.

Mrs. Dancer suggested Royal T, a cute trendy little breakfast joint that I hadn't heard about yet, besides I already love the name of the restaurant… it is so my kind of place! We arrived and I immediately adored it. Built in a warehouse with wide open ceilings it was fun, it was quirky, it was so LALA. They had several artists work spattered across the walls, a dance floor in the back with a crystal ball and even a revolving store.


Everything on the menu looked fantastic. I always have such a hard time at breakfast, I always want something super fun and sugary like the french toast but my sane side knows I need something a little less crazy like an omelette. The decision is always so hard! Thankfully I was with my two besties and we all agreed to share a french toast appetizer and get eggs for breakfast. OH YEA!!!!! We were so hungry and I wasn't thinking clearly, obviously I only got a photo of the aftermath, but let me assure you it was DIVINE!


After french toast I was able to order something a little bit more tame. I opted for the spinach quiche and I was super excited to try it, it looked really yummy! Sadly the quiche fell a little short of my expectations. It was only sub par. Both Mrs. Dancer with her egg sandwich and Ms. Ivey withe her bacon omelette however were super happy so it wasn't a total bust. P.S. let it be said that Ms. Ivey was SUPER DUPER happy with her omelette, being a bacon lover and an official member of the bacon club and all, her omelette was literally STUFFED with crispy bacon. The cook must have found out about our club.


After breakfast we wandered over to the revolving store. Mrs. Dancer said that they change the store often offering different merchandise. This time there was a crazy, crazy person store. Shoes made out of my little pony bodies, crazy spiked hair troll stuffed bears and off the wall bacon wigs. Thats right you heard me. BACON WIGS!!! What the heck. Literally it was a white hair wig with a fat slab of bacon and some bones sewn on it. I was soooooo going to try it on, you know for the bacon club, and for the blog however after looking at the price tag $360 I decided it wasn't worth screwing with. Only in LALA land could they sell a wig like this for that price. Actually maybe I will make something like this for halloween and go as some primitive cave girl…. interesting!


When Mrs. Dancer stumbled across a bacon necklace, yea I know the day after we form bacon club and we run into the only bacon store in the WORLD, and she just had to try it on. In the spirit of the wig she made a hair ornament out of it. UMMMM at least it would be a conversation piece I guess.


After breakfast we stopped at Trader Joes for some supplies, you cant take a road trip without drinks and snacks in the car, a lesson Ms. Ivey and I learned when we got stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours. Regardless with a full tank of gas, a full car of yummy finger food and a map we were off toward our first stop, the Feline Conservation Center aka the Cat House. I have been to this center before with my parents but they always have new cats coming in and we found out they just got two new clouded leopards. They have over 70 of the worlds most endangered cats and acts as a non-profit breeding zoo and conservation center.

Although the center is small my favorite part about this zoo is that there isn't a moat between you and the cats. Which means you could be as close as five feet to a highly endangered cat. It is really awesome to be so close, to see such detail, to get the chill down your spine when they meet your eyes.



I think my only complaint is that most of these cages feels too small for such large animals. Most cages were about the side of a small garage but in general I would wish for double or triple the space. These cats are used to WIDE open spaces in the wild.



Some of the cats were outside when we arrived but as the day progressed it got hotter and hotter and the cats took cover hiding in the shade. One of the cats that was out was one of the clouded leopards. They had a gorgeous pair of young clouded leopards. They are difficult cats to breed in captivity, apparently if you want a pair to mate they have to be together by the fourth or fifth month, otherwise they just wont mate. This pair arrived two months ago, a male and female, who they are hoping eventually will breed. At only five months old this clouded leopard was so adorable.


The Clouded Leopard population is found in the Himalayan foothills has sporadic blotched pattern giving their spots a clouded look. With fewer than 10,000 individuals it was classified as vulnerable. Noted as the smallest big cat they have a very long tail and are known for their fantastic climbing abilities. Little is known about this breed of cat because of their preference for densely vegetated habitats in remote areas. What a cool cat to see!


Just when we were about to go thinking that we saw all that we could see the volunteers started to feed the cats. Of course they all came out of hiding then and we got some fantastic looks at cats that were previously hidden. Because of the feeding we managed to see every single cat they had on display. Not bad, not bad at all!



We headed back to the car, happy but hotter than HOT. The center is located out in the desert after all and although there was a pretty gusty wind the sun was relentless. I wasn't surprised when we got back to the car and I checked the temperature outside. 100 degrees, yup we are FRYING!



Our next stop was a good half hour away, which gave us just enough time to crank up the air conditioning to arctic temperatures. Cooled off we found what we were looking for The Mojave Desert's Airplane Graveyard. There were several suggestions online for places to park to have the best views of the planes, sadly since 9/11 the planes have been on lockdown and you can only get in to actually see the graveyard if you know someone who knows someone. Since I had the big lens with me we set it up at a few of the points and got to see far off looks of some super cool broken down planes.



We could see some roads into the actual airport and decided to test our luck and see how far we could go before we got kicked out. Besides there was an animal shelter deep in the back of the airport, if worse comes to worse we could just say we were looking for that! Sadly most of the compound you are not allowed to photos but surprisingly there were a few areas where you actually could take a few pictures. Oh how I would have loved to have taken a tour of some of the restricted areas, there is a man Ransom Riggs who posted photos of the graveyard that Ms. Ivey found that I love, see here. Alas I will just have to be happy with what I have, until a time I can con someone to let me in!




Some planes are parked here, space rented out by companies who need an economical place to store a plane for a few months. Some planes are in various states of destruction being torn apart piece by piece to act as a doner to other active planes. And other planes are ripped apart experimental monstrosities that have open gaping wounds and parts strewn apart like it had been in a crash. Metal and steel just rotting in the sun. I could have spent all day here if they would have let me in past all the locks and let me photograph to my hearts content.





After driving around for an hour and exploring the areas we could I went to the Administration offices. Maybe if I pleaded or begged they would give us just a little mini tour. I instead encountered a man who told us for $250 dollars we could get a tour, however not photographs would be allowed. SIGH… so not the point, especially for that much money.




After leaving the graveyard we headed over to our last and final destination, Llano Del Rio a utopian commune gone wrong. The compound was created as a progressive socialist village in 1915. Several buildings were constructed using local rock including a hotel, a meeting house and a water storage tank. The colony was poised to succeed with over 900 members at its peak Llano was able to create a school system, a champion baseball team, clubs, a functional city plan and flourishing farms. Internal power struggles, money problems with bookkeeping and an unreliable water source started to cripple Llano. A permit to build a dam would have sustained the settlement but the permit was denied time and time again by the California Commissioner. In the end three years after the compound was built it was abandoned. Apparently the water source ended up being unreliable and the over 900 members relocated.


Now Llano Del Rio is now a ghost town. Foundations of over a dozen buildings and remnants of the well and water tower are still present. Using Google satellite maps we were able to figure out where the buildings were and navigate the rough dirt roads. We headed to the water tower first.



Although I wasn't really dressed for it we decided to climb into the window of the water tower to see it from the inside. We used a nasty plastic chair that others have obviously used to get in.



We carefully walked around the water tower examining what we think may have been the communal meeting house. After all we are in the desert. Its all fun and games until someone gets bit by a snake.


We found old irrigation systems presumably to bring water in for the farms. You could see the effects of teenagers or people dumping trash everywhere. We found bonfire ashes, there was broken bottle glass all over and refuse people should have taken out with them. Seeing everything just left, abandoned, trash thrown everywhere, degrading in the sun was sad for the environment. A true challenge for a photographer however is "to make something beautiful or interesting our of something ugly or mundane". This abandoned, sad, trashed ghost town was the perfect place to practice that theory.



In the rubble there were so many interesting tidbits of things left behind. Old pull tab beer cans, random bits of this or that, cans with bullet holes. We didn't really have a plan, there isn't really a map to follow, we just wandered around and poked our cameras into anything interesting.





We planned our trip perfectly in my mind for photography. We visited the caged animals near noon when the sun was high and the animals in the low light areas were at least photographable. We visited the desert planes, which we couldn't get good photos of anyways when the sun was still high. And we visited the ruins just when the sun started to set. This is the best time of day for photographs. The low light creates beautiful long shadows and silhouettes. I was one happy clicking photographer girl!





Our last stop were ruins that we could see from the main road but that was fenced off. Using the satellite Google map we found an alternate route that we thought might work. After a few twists and turns we finally got a road that took us right up to the ruins. I wasn't exactly sure what we were looking at. It had two large fireplaces on either side and a large floorplan so it may may have been the hotel.




We drove off just as the light was fading. It had been a very long exhausting day and we were starving. I really don't know what people did before smart phones. Not only did we use them all day to navigate us to all our destinations we also used our phones to learn about the various locations and what best things to see.



Time to rustle up some food, using our phones again we found an Olive Garden close by. After attempting to tame untamable hair and cleaning up in the restroom a little we sat down to our feast. A long leisurely thankfully air conditioned dinner after an exhausting day. Yippie to all you can eat breadsticks and salad!



Jess said...

So much yumminess and adventure in one day! Too bad we didn't take pictures of the ginger cookies or the pecans!

Jennifer Arens said...

That sounds like a wonderful, wonderful day! I too liked the sunsetting photos, created such a cool 'ahha' moment :)

paul peggy zeus said...

What a cool excursion. Love the kitties and Jess's hair piece would attract many men. lol

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