11/28 A long trip for lunch in LA

Since this area has some public transportation, Randy arranged a trip to LA today. Leo and Lisa joined us - early in the morning - and we arrived at the train station at 7:20. According to the schedule, the 7:35 train would take us from Vista to Oceanside. The LED banner at the station confirmed this, so we relaxed and waited. And waited, it just never showed up. But the 8:05 did show up, so we took that one. Unfortunately that meant we missed our connecting train from Oceanside to LA. So we got tickets for the next train, then realized it would not leave for 2 12 hours. Now we had some time to kill. So we walked to a coffee house, got coffee and talked about our favorite movies.
Then we walked down to the pier. I love the ocean, and will go for a look any chance I get. It was a lovely day, cool enough to be comfortable and warm enough (in the sun) to dispense with our jackets.  
But the water, of course, was cold. All the surfers wore wetsuits, as they sat on their boards and hoped for a wave. 
Eventually our train left the station. The trip took another 2 1/2 hours, but it was a smooth-riding train, with stops at 13 stations along the way. We arrived in LA Union Station, a lovely building built in in the 1930s, with much of the old stuff remaining. 
We picked up a map, asked the lady behind the counter where we could get a good lunch, and started our walking tour. Just down the road from Union Station is a beautiful building, the United States Post Office Terminal Annex; pretty fancy for a post office. 
The lady in Union Station recommended we eat at Philippe's. Randy and I had been there before, back in 2001, and felt it was good enough to repeat. We walked in the door, looked at the lines, and everyone decided "no". Another day we may have waited, but thanks to the train snafu we just didn't have the time today. The lady's second recommendation was right across the street, the Regent China Inn. They offered a daily special for $4.95 and she had assured us it was very good, so we went there. We ordered fried rice, shrimp-and-eggs and kung pao chicken. Each order came with white rice, egg drop soup and hot tea, all quite good. The portions are enough for family-style, so we put them in the center of the table and everyone sampled everything. 
Full and ready for a walk, we headed out. Chinatown was the only scenic area near enough to walk to in the time we had available. So we started walking through little shops, crowded with unusual (to us) items. I am not sure what you would really use Deer Tail Extract for, but somebody must know, because they make it. 
Chinatown's gate has two golden dragons, who don't seem to like each other. 
Leo wanted to find someplace with whole ducks on display; it's kind of a staple of every Chinatown we've been in. We found one, but we couldn't figure out why a turkey dinner there would cost $48.95, even if it does come with Special Sticky Rice. Must be something about those hanging ducks.
And I wish I knew what's in all those little wooden drawers in the Pharmacy shop, but I didn't want to ask and I wouldn't understand the answers anyway. I would love to have the cabinet, though.
One store sold live fish, which it smelled a lot worse than they should have. 
We saw a bad sign of the times - gas is over $4 again here. Fortunately it's not that high in Vista, where we can still fill up the car at Costco, for around $2.45 a gallon. 
Along Main street are structures with greenery growing up them, and plaques commenorating some of the people and places important to the history of this area.
Most of the plaques I saw were about Doria Deighton Jones and her husband John Jones. I would have liked to see the building used as a combined cigar store and shooting gallery. 
On the Old City Plaza bandstand on Olvera Street is a life-size Nativity scene.
 Very, very beautiful.
Near the edge of the plaza is a big, beautiful Moreton Bay fig tree. What amazing roots these trees have, like something out of a fairytale.
Next we looked into a building advertising a "Cultural Expressions of Day of the Dead", which could have been very interesting, but it didn't seem to have much in it; just a few paintings. Back outside Leo pointed out the City Hall building, which he recognized from a distance because it was used in the opening credits of the old Dragnet show.
We stopped for a very quick look in Plaza Fire House Number 1, where they have an old firetruck on display.
The last train back to Oceanside left at 4:30 so we headed back to the station. Our train was #666. But it was an uneventful 12 hour trip to Oceanside, where we hurried over to the next station to catch the train to Vista. It was scheduled for 7:35 pm and we arrived in plenty of time. And just like the morning train, it didn't arrive. This time I called on the emergency phone and spoke with a young lady who told me that yes, the train did come. I assured her that the group of people on the platform didn't overlook it. She put me on hold, spoke to someone else awhile, then told me that after 7 pm the trains only run once an hour. I suggested she might want to update the LED banner which kept proclaiming there would be a 7:35 train. Then we waited for the 8:05 train, took it back to Vista where our car was parked, and Randy got us all home before 8:30. It was a long day but we had a good time. And our sweet dogs had not made a mess inside; 13 hours is a long time to "hold it"!

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