Last January, after the New Orleans Saints lost the NFC Championship to the Los Angeles Rams, I saw that 2019 would include a regular-season rematch and vowed to attend.
Two weekends ago, I did. My son John and I spent four days doing all things L.A., and here’s the report:
My plane landed about 9 p.m. Pacific time, and getting to a nearby hotel provided my first experience with the city’s overcrowded airport, which everyone calls LAX.
There was a huge traffic jam Friday night and another one at 10 p.m. Monday when I took John to the airport for his flight. Are you kidding me? Fortunately, those were the only negative moments of the trip.
For a late meal on Friday, we went to a nearby In ’n Out hamburger restaurant, where the pleasant surprise was that it only cost $12 for the two of us. Rest assured other meals in Los Angeles cost a tad more.
This was Pacific Coast Day. We visited Manhattan Beach, Malibu and Santa Monica. We also drove around Beverly Hills, which John wanted to see.
I wanted to drive out Sunset Boulevard to the Pacific Coast Highway, and we did. It was not as scenic as I would have liked because the road is flanked by rugged hills as you approach the coast.
In Malibu, we drove up one of the canyon roads into the hills. This was a warmup for what John had planned later on, and the thing I noticed most (besides some steep inclines and sharp curves) was that you could only see a few homes from the road. Evidently the residents value their privacy.
We had dinner in Santa Monica and then John directed me to Mulholland Drive for the sunset. This road runs atop the Hollywood Hills, and we stopped to get a picture of the pink horizon with the city’s twinkling lights.
That was fun, but I can report that Mulholland Drive is not for the faint of heart. It is a roller coaster of sharp turns for several miles. I told John that, had she been with us, his mother never would have survived this. But we came out fine, got on a freeway and headed back to the hotel.
This was what I came for: Saints vs. Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
I have always wanted to go to a game at the Coliseum, because that’s where Notre Dame and USC play. This is the Rams’ last year in the Coliseum, since their new stadium will open next year.
At home, I had gone online and bought two tickets in the 17th row of the end zone. It was a good view of the game: Saints defensive end Cam Jordan crossed the goal line right in front of us on his called-back return of a fumble.
Most important, the Rams fans that we sat around were nice people. I always worry about running into jerks on these road trips.
As a Saints fan, the second half of the game stunk, with the Rams winning 27-9. I suppose it’s memorable that this was the game where Drew Brees hurt his thumb, but it sure didn’t feel that way at the time.
My last two road games have been lousy: This game and a 2015 loss at Houston are two of only three games in the Sean Payton-Brees era where the team did not score a touchdown.
This was my favorite day. John and I toured the Warner Bros. studios and then attended the taping of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Warner Bros. was great. You ride around in an oversized golf cart seating a driver and 14 visitors. It provided the “La La Land” moment I sought when Erik, the tour guide, pointed to a building on one of their lots and said it was the coffee shop where Emma Stone’s character worked in the 2016 movie.
The tour included a ride through the construction building, where carpenters and other trade workers were putting sets together. There had to be a couple of hundred people in there, and it was a good reminder of all the jobs that TV shows and movies provide.
I found the process of making “Jimmy Kimmel Live” very interesting. We sat in the third row (there are only eight rows holding 200 people), and during his monologue Kimmel was only 20 feet away.
John and I did have our moment of glory when the camera panned the audience at the opening. To be noticed on TV, wear a red shirt. Mine definitely stuck out.
It was a great trip. The shocker is that I would enjoy a return visit, even though I’m not into the California mindset and the traffic would drive me nuts. But there is a lot to see and do.