Small Wonders: Becoming purposeful tourists

November 20, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

Keeping the kids entertained is a parent's primary job. It ranks higher than feeding and cleanliness. In the throes of a good time, hunger and head lice are but minor annoyances.

With a free day, where could the wife and I take the kids without passports, plane tickets or extended lines of credit?


At least we wouldn't need passports or plane tickets.

A day trip to the entertainment capital of the world is a perfect way to kill a few hours so long as we return with both girls. To better those odds, we take along one of their friends. Travelling with a friend also keeps them focused on each other rather than how bored they are.


Stemming more from my hatred of parking structures than civic or global responsibility, we take public transportation rather than drive ourselves or hire a private helicopter. This gives our excursion a gritty realism rarely found on family vacations.

Deep in the bowels of the Earth under Universal City, we stand on the platform waiting for the Metro Red Line. Thing 1 and Thing 2 move nervously about, avoiding eye contact with strangers while appreciating the artistic tile work and pungent aromas. Their friend, Thing 2.5, sits on the dusty floor scribbling in her autograph book. Or maybe she's taking notes to report back to her parents:

Day One of my captivity with the Canedays. Female parent seems nice, but male emits foul odor and appears deaf. Will remain obedient until he's had his evening cocktail. Hunger beginning to set in.

Feeling the telltale rushing wind of the approaching train, I tell the girls to stop playing on the tracks.

"Mind the gap!" I holler in my deepest British tenor.

The male parent pleases himself in making obscure references unintelligible to children.

Though it's only an eight-minute ride through a dark tunnel from the valley to Hollywood, the Red Line is more accurately an eight-minute trip through a wormhole from sanity to psychedelic. I forget how popular Hollywood is, with sightseers from around the world. Riding the escalator up into the midday sun of Hollywood Boulevard I feel like Richard Dreyfuss boarding the spaceship at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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