Alex, Rick and I met up at Brian's house at 8 a.m. Actually, Alex rolled in around 8:45 because he can't tell time, but who's counting?
It was a beautiful day to explore Los Angeles.
The moon was still up as we hit the 210 into L.A.
Our first stop was the eastern side of Griffith Park.
We were here for the old Los Angeles Zoo.
Much of it is still standing.
The zoo opened in 1912...
...and closed in 1966.
It's super cool to be able to stand in the enclosures.
Evidently some of the animals are still here.
The trick here is to hike up around the back of the enclosures.
Obviously it's not that hard to do.
Many of the old bars are still there.
After jumping a fence I found myself in the old animal dens.
Please don't give the bears spray paint.
It's amazing that the place is still in such good shape...
...nearly 60 years later.
From the top of the old enclosures you have a nice view of Griffith Park.
The other guys finally caught up with me.
Alex decided to play zoo and...
...swing like a monkey.
I explored a bit.
This violent beast is right where he belongs.
And still more graffiti.
Turns out I didn't need to jump the fence.
Great view of the San Gabriel Mountains.
More of the old cages.
While these guys talked...
The view from above.
We continued to hike.
Brian and Rick decided to try their luck climbing down the hill, hoping they would find a short cut to the car.
Alex and I backtracked. Who would win?
They were waiting for us on a park bench.
Then we drove to the opposite side of Griffith Park, down Los Feliz and Franklin, and up Canyon Drive to our next hike. Alex even changed into hiking shoes.
Brian had his walking stick from earlier and his baby water bottle.
Only YOU can prevent sexy forest fires.
Off we went.
A quarter mile later we found Bronson Cave in the Hollywood Hills.
This is where the Bat Cave was filmed for the old Batman show with Adam West and Burt Ward from 1966-68.
The Batmobile exiting the cave.
We paid homage.
Batman was not the only time fame visited Bronson Cave; one of the greatest Westerns ever made, The Searchers (1956) with John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter and a young Natalie Wood, was filmed here.
Another 1956 film, the great Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Kevin McCarthy also used the caves.
"This photo is from the outtakes from Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson's 1969 photoshoot at the Bronson Caves in the Hollywood Hills. At first, the photographer (Edmund Teske) was photographing Jim and his girlfriend Pam, at the singer's apartment nearby. They eventually moved to the caves for a more natural setting. Teske liked the idea of Jim moving out from the dark caves and into the light. He viewed Morrison as more of a poet, than a rock star, and that was the inspiration behind the shoot."
Into the darkness.
And now for the Eighth Wonder of the World: The back side of the caves!
We survived the harrowing 60-yard journey.
Alex, however, nearly died on a harrowing 20-yard climb.
There is a great shot of the Hollywood sign from back here.
Then we headed back.
Bronson Cave selfie.
Then we headed into L.A. to visit the county medical examiner.
The coroner's office, to be more precise.
The coroner's office has a gift shop called Skeletons in the Closet that sells an assortment of items...
...including body bags.
They have a morbid sense of humor down here.
We joined in. (Yes, that's a coffin couch.)
Brian enjoyed the eternal comfort.
You don't steal from the coroner's gift shop.
The facade has been kept in great shape.
This was the old L.A General Hospital. A baby named Norma Jeane Mortenson was born here on June 1, 1926. The world would come to know her as Marilyn Monroe.
This is for the corpse road trip.
This employee is working in the right place if she keeps enjoying her cancer sticks.
Los Angeles produces a lot of dead bodies.
Heading back to the car Alex found an interesting sign, then made good use of Brian's walking stick.
I wonder what it smells like on the inside.
Now that our appetites were worked up we headed to lunch, taking a shortcut through Chinatown.
We hit the Eastside Market Italian Deli.
Yes, Brian, we all know you're Italian....
Word to the wise: Never park in Downtown Los Angeles.
Any Italian deli worth its hot pastrami has a Vespa parked inside.
We chose to pick up our subs and head somewhere picturesque to enjoy our food.
Wait, could it be...?
*Vin Scully's voice* It's time for Dodger Stadium!
The L.A. skyline on another beautiful day in paradise.
Welcome to the nosebleed seats.
This was our picnic area...
...and this was our view.
And this was my Italian sausage, meatball, peppers and cheese sub. Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.
Alex went to town on his sandwich.
Brian left the gun and took the cannoli.
Rick enjoyed some chips after his sub.
A Dodger diamond ring.
We had the entire stadium to ourselves.
Many a fan has enjoyed these seats.
The top deck is a section commemorating the jersey numbers of Dodger greats.
After lunch we headed to the old Hawthorne Mall. No trespassing?
No problem for Alex.
Brian and Rick remained outside in case we needed to be bailed out of the Hawthorne jail.
The Hawthorne Mall opened in 1977 and closed in 1999.
The 40-acre property included an indoor mall and free standing stores at the property's south end.
Including a hot tub store?
The abandoned mall has also been used to film a number of movies, such as Minority Report (2002), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), The Green Hornet (2006) and Gone Girl (2014).
We knew there was a way inside we just couldn't find it, which was frustrating.
I did, however, enjoy the graffiti.
Ha ha, "Rick James, bitch."
I hate when someone is giving you good advice but doesn't finish. On the bright side, Slayer.
Alex and I kept searching.
After a while we finally gave up. Fail.
Brian and Rick walked the mall's perimeter also searching for an opening, but to no avail.
To soften the blow of failure we headed to Inglewood.
Randy's Donuts, son!
I'll take this one.
This place is iconic.
Forward to 4:54 for donuts around donuts.
We put our order in.
Brian and I split an apple fritter...
...and a bear claw.
We headed to Culver City for a visit to The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a place one Yelp reviewer described as, "If Wes Anderson opened a museum this is what it would look like."
C'mon, have you met me?
The place opened up with a small-scale version of Noah's Ark.
This included the Biblical family tree that lead to Noah.
Microscopes with various things to look at.
Then there was the mobile home exhibit.
Yes, miniature mobile homes.
Another Yelp reviewer called this place a "hipster paradise of ephemera." That adequately describes it, for better or worse.
The Conversion of St. Eustace at Mentorella.
The story of St. Eustace tells of this first century C.E. Roman general and his conversion while hunting via a miraculous vision of the crucified Christ between the antlers of a stag. Afterward Eustace refused to sacrifice to pagan gods during the persecutions under Hadrian, and was consequently martyred by being burned alive inside a brazen bull.
Then there was the exhibit of pre-scientific cures and remedies.
We had slid down the rabbit hole.
Even mirrors are problematic here.
I didn't need a museum to tell me this.
Alex enjoyed a quiet moment in the "Napoleon Library", which was a room with random (and mostly uninteresting) books.
Introducing the Dogs of the Soviet Space Program.
The famous Laika.
Laika, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow, was selected to be the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957.
The coolest part of this place was the Moroccan-themed rooftop garden.
It was fun to wander around.
There were doves everywhere up here.
Dig if u will the picture.
On our way back to the car there were signs of femi-nazis.
We called upon Waze...
...to help us avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Then we hit Figueroa St. when someone remarked on the "biggest Staples store I've ever seen." Kobe would not be amused.
We came for the "escape room" experience hosted by Captvt. We weren't allowed to take pictures but you know how that rule works for me.
Our first challenge was to solve clues in 45 minutes to get out of this creeeepy room complete with a freaky TV playing...
...and blood-red messages scrawled on the walls along with affixed children's blocks.
There was a second area that can only be described as...
...a torture room!
Our second escape room challenge was a spaceship.
Again with a monitor that included a stress-inducing 45-minute timer.
This room was way more confusing.
There were three areas to this one.
Including weird blacklight hieroglyphs.
Abject failure, however, couldn't erase the enjoyment we had.
It was getting late so we headed to Eighty-Two...
...for some arcade games!
Galaga, all day, all night!
My measly 197,000 points didn't even dent the ELEVEN MILLION high score.
But my game was projected onto the wall.
Alex provided moral support to some deaf, dumb and blind kid.
With my fistful of quarters I was King of Kong!
I get the idea of a barcade, but I don't get why they aren't playing games. Hipsters.
Still at the pinball.
Boooop boooop boooop BEEEEP! Rick earned the pole position.
Brian finally hit a real game. But we all know what the greatest threat in Centipede is. WATCH OUT!
Damn you, jumping spider!
Let's finish the night kickin' it old school.
All that killing space bugs worked up an appetite so we walked around the corner to...
So many choices...
...but there can only be one: The rattlesnake and rabbit with peppers!
Couple that with sweet potato fries and it brings to an end a perfect L.A. day of fun, friends and food.
Brian clearly concurs.
Zee German in Gerlach also agrees with Wurstkuche.
Even Alex's strained rib/back/vagina muscle couldn't ruin the experience.
Thanks for driving, A-Rai.