Since I mentioned one of the less desirable hotels we stayed in as a family, I thought I would share some stories about some of the hotels Dad and I were guests in before all of you were born. The most unique hotel was a cruise ship that is now permanently docked in Long Beach, California—The Queen Mary.
I accompanied Dad on a business trip to California. We flew into Los Angeles and spent time there prior to his meetings in San Diego. We did not plan to stay on the Queen Mary. I believe it was one of our spontaneous decisions which turned out to be a lot of fun.
The Queen Mary took its maiden voyage from Southampton, England in 1936, the port Grandpa and his family sailed into five years earlier. For three years, it was considered the grandest ocean liner of its time but was retired for civilian travel during World War II. It eventually resumed passenger travel for twenty years until its retirement in 1967, when it became permanently docked in California. While we have spent a lot of time on cruise ships, there was something special about staying on a vintage luxury liner from the thirties.
While in LA, we checked out the fancy stores on Rodeo Drive, drove around Bel Air looking at celebrity homes (I still have the map), looked at the handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, went on the Universal Studio tour, and of course, saw the infamous Hollywood sign on the hill. We went to the Santa Monica pier, walked around Venice, and dipped our toes in the Pacific. We were typical LA tourists.
We stayed at the snazzy Century Plaza Hotel in LA, but the only celebrity we saw was an actor named Gordon Jump, who was on a television show called WKRP in Cincinnati.
Jamie, you in particular would have loved this trip. Dad was not impressed with spotting famous people. It was the Lamborghini Countach he viewed from the balcony of our room that got him excited. Apparently, it was quite the impressive automobile, and you know how he is with cars.
We went to an amusement park called Knots Berry Farm. Perhaps that’s when we stayed on the Queen Mary. I believe it’s just a 30 minute drive from the ship.
Then we headed down the coast, ending in San Diego, where we dined on Mexican food outdoors and went to the fabulous San Diego Zoo. (It was January so this was a real treat.) I did some shopping while Dad went to his conference.
Before heading home, we went to Tijuana. Mexico, where I learned that I had no clue how to haggle, so we bought the gray and white chess set for more money than we could have if I had just kept my mouth shut.
Still, for someone who had done very little traveling outside of the New York area before I met Dad, this was a fabulous trip. And the hotels were all so much nicer than that hotel near the Outer Banks!