Friday was a very busy day. We drove back into LA to tour Griffith Observatory. Even on a weekday the Observatory parking lot was full and we had to park at the bottom of the hill and ride a shuttle bus back and forth.
Between the traffic getting into the city and waiting twenty minutes for the bus each way, we didn’t have time for a planetarium show. But we really did enjoy walking around inside, seeing all the exhibits and watching a movie about the Observatory narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
The outside views were pretty amazing too even though it was a hazy day. No doubt all the wildfires didn’t help. We had views of the Los Angeles area, the Hollywood sign and the Pacific Ocean far in the distance.
The planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation during WWII. In the 1960’s it was used to train Apollo astronauts for the first lunar missions. In 2002 the Observatory underwent a four year $93 million renovation in which the building was actually jacked up so an underground floor could be added.
In 1955 the Observatory became an emblem of Los Angeles when scenes from the James Dean movie “Rebel Without A Cause” was filmed there. A bust of Dean is located on the Observatory grounds. Many many films and TV shows have been filmed here as well.
We really enjoyed our visit and it is definitely on our must return list.
The reason we couldn’t stay longer at the Griffith Observatory is because we had tickets to see the taping of “The Conners”, formerly “Roseanne” at the Warner Brothers Studio. We actually had tickets for the previous Friday and even though we arrived two hours early with general admission tickets, we were turned away after waiting an hour and a half. They had a lot of VIP guests and the seats filled up quickly. They always way over book to ensure a full audience. We were disappointed, aggravated but would not be deterred. I emailed my high school friend and asked if she could use her contacts and get us VIP tickets for the following Friday. It seems VIP tickets is the only way to be sure to get in. She said she would see what she could do. A few days later we had VIP tickets and a pass for VIP parking right on the studio lot. We could see the signs where Sara Gilbert and others parked right near us! Unfortunately just like “Last Man Standing “, absolutely no pictures are allowed. We didn’t even want to chance taking our phones out in the studio parking lot to take pictures. No sense getting thrown off the lot after getting this far! But we did manage to snap this picture from the street before we passed through security.
Whereas “Last Man Standing “ took two and a half hours to tape, “The Conners” took three and a half hours. Since they took us into the studio an hour before taping, it was a long evening. But just like the other taping, they gave us pizza and candy. Katey Sagal had a guest appearance on the show. It was all a great experience and I am glad we were able to get in this time with VIP treatment. Thanks again, Miriam!
Our last day in the area we drove a short distance from our campground to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. We were attracted to the area because of all the movies and TV shows filmed here beginning in 1935 and including movies such as “Planets of the Apes, Star Trek IV, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, Conquest of Cochise, One Million B.C., The Flintstones, and The Ten Commandments”, as well as TV shows such as “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Battlestar Galactica, Big Bang Theory, Bonanza, Gunsmoke” and the list goes on and on.
A prominent rock formation is nicknamed “Kirk’s Rock” since so many Star Trek movies and TV shows have been filmed here. Also commercials for Taco Bell, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America were shot here as well.
The rock formations formed about 25 million years ago due to uplift along the San Andreas Fault and rapid erosion. The area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 because it was a prehistoric site for the Shoshone and Tataviam peoples around 450 B.C. The Homesteading Act of 1862 made the land available to homesteaders and many of them made money renting the area out as filming locations and they put up tourist cabins to capitalize on the star power. Some of the landowners used lumber and nails from old movie sets to build homes. California’s first gold rush began less than fifteen miles from here. And yet it wasn’t gold, but the discovery of borax which provided wealth to the area.
This area is so rich in filming history. One day as we were driving back from LA one of the roads near our campground was closed due to filming being done. We could see all the filming equipment and trucks as we drove by.
Despite the scary wildfires and wind, we had a great time while in this area. There is so much to do in the Los Angeles area we have a long list of places to go and things to see next time.
Next up: we move further south to Jojoba Hills near Temecula to see friends