We were both so busy around my actual birthday that D and I postponed the celebrating until this past weekend. Unfotunately, we both had an evil, evil cold when the time to celebrate actually came in. Not ones to let that stop us, though, we followed through with two key birthday-celebration plans, the first of which was a visit to the newly remodeled Griffith Observatory.
Which I have to say is a pretty cool place to visit at sunset. First, the Art Deco building is amazing. The architecture, sculpture, and murals all leave you with a sense of wonder at the Discoveries of Man, which is not something you feel much after, say, the third grade. Second, the site has nearly 360 degrees of views that include all of Downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign. On the day we were visiting there was a brush fire just on the other side of the sign, so we got to watch the helicopters dumping water on the hillside, which may or may not be visible in this photo:
We got some good shots of downtown LA at night, too, which was kind of dazzling in its sprawl and electricity consumption. Though I didn’t think it as pretty as the view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks.
The interior of the Observatory, though beautifully restored, was really more for elementary school kids than for adult stargazers. And I hate to say it, but the Planetarium presentation was kind of lame, focusing less on stars and more on History Channel-style animations of historical discoveries (Computer-generated image of Galileo’s desk, lit by candlelight, where he’s sketched his concept of the universe, etc.). Though we were totally jazzed to be in the same planetarium as the Rebel Without a Cause.
We also got a peek at Venus through the Observatory’s 12-inch refracting telescope, which was cool and all, but I’m sure I bored D with tales of a night spent observing through the 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes, courtesy of an Astrophysics class in college.
In the end we were glad we went, though being under the weather we were a little peeved at the shuttle-bus system for transporting people to the hilltop. We sat on a bus in the parking lot for nearly 30 minutes, waiting for the scheduled departure that would then take us through traffic to the Hollywood & Highland parking lot so we could pick up our car. For two sickies who’d spent their energy at the top of the mountain, it was a long, long journey home.