What I did on my vacation

I had a good week off even if I didn’t travel anywhere exotic. Wednesday’s column has a short version of my activities, which I cut down for space. Here’s a little more.

First there was the Paul McCartney concert at Dodger Stadium. Belying his 72 years, McCartney performed for nearly three hours and ran through three dozen songs, even at that only scratching the surface of his Beatles and solo work. What a night.

I saw three very entertaining movies that week: “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Hercules” and “Edge of Tomorrow,” the Tom Cruise movie that blends sci-fi with “Groundhog Day.” Criminally overlooked, it was the best of the three, and was also the cheapest; I saw it at the bargain-priced Academy in Pasadena, where my matinee ticket was $2.

(On my way to Pasadena I stopped at Donut Man for a strawberry doughnut, which was $4. A $4 donut and a $2 movie? Has the world turned upside down?)

Naturally books were part of my break. I read three: Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass,” Chris Nichols’ “The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister” and Owen Hill’s “The Chandler Apartments.”

Two days of balmy weather awaited me in Ventura, where the temperatures were in the low 70s, not the low 90s. I checked out two bookstores in Santa Barbara, the Book Den and the Granada, but my attempt to eat at Julia Child’s favorite taqueria, La Super-Rica, was foiled because it was closed the day of my visit.

I did get in a game of bowling at Wagon Wheel in Oxnard, a place along the 101 that has enticed me for years due to its quaint name, large neon sign and freeway frontage. In fact, the Wagon Wheel used to have a motel, skating rink, restaurant and other uses, and it still has its own street (“Wagon Wheel Road”) and freeway exit. Everything’s been torn down for a new development, though, except for the 32 lanes.

Two journalist friends claimed to be poor bowlers who couldn’t break 100, so to make it interesting we decided I would take them both on, my score against both of theirs. Then they had the game of their lives. The final scores: 133 for me, 123 for Wendy and 113 for Cindy. I couldn’t beat them collectively, but at least I beat them individually.

Of course I made one Metrolink trip, meeting a friend in Larchmont Village for lunch and a walk. And I sought out two Jonathan Gold-approved eateries I’d been meaning to try forever: Chili John’s in Burbank, where they’ve been serving chili from behind a U-shaped counter since 1946, and Bulgarini Gelato, a highly regarded Altadena gelateria.

I worded it that way purely for the pleasure of typing “Altadena gelateria.”

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  • DebB

    Whew – what a week! How did you squeeze it all in? What did you think of Paul McCartney – apart from being energetic enough to perform for 3 hours? How did he sound?

    • davidallen909

      He sounded great, and he bounded around the stage like a youngster. Good band too and inventive song choices.

      As for my week, remember that, bookended by weekends, it was nine days in all. There were a couple of days of downtime in there, but other than that, I kept busy!

  • Joanne Dallas

    Ooooh, nooooo. The Wagon Wheel complex dismantled! Argh and gasp. Ate there may be twenty years ago. Oxnard’s loss.

    • davidallen909

      Its best days were behind it, but still, yeah, sad.

  • Bob House

    As usual, a jealousy-making vacation. Glad you had fun. I drove by the Wagon Wheel many times in the 60s and 70s but never stopped — for shame. As a fellow Alice/Looking Glass buff, Martin Gardner’s “Annotated Alice” has long been one of the favorite books I own. Notes in the margin explain all the old references, math puzzles, etc., etc.

    • davidallen909

      I don’t know that i want to dive that deep, but it’s cool that the Gardner book exists for those that do. My edition (Barnes & Noble, $6.95) has both books and the Tenniel illustrations, which are a must.