Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday Adventure: Griffith Park Carousel

I'm a few weeks behind but a couple of Sundays ago, we ventured out for a brand new daycation adventure. We drove down the street, past the zoo, and up through some winding and confusingly marked and oriented streets into Griffith Park. We had planned to eat a picnic lunch at the Old Zoo and finish our afternoon with a carousel ride, but due to some user and Apple Map errors, we ended up at the carousel first. So we decided to picnic there instead. 

We found a lovely patch of grass all to ourselves and had a nice little lunch, but noticed after we started eating that there was a huge swarm of yellow jackets (wasps? I seriously can't tell the difference)  feasting on a patch of clovers less than ten feet away. They kept buzzing over to check us out and after word got out that we had delicious lunches, I started getting alarmed and we packed up in a hurry. 
Alice driving the getaway vehicle. I just can't get over those long, long three-year-old legs.
Little did I know the place was overrun with whatever variety of striped stinging insect those were. We bought our tickets for the carousel at the snack counter window where clouds of the bugs were trying to suckle on the soda and sweet treats they were selling. I evacuated the stroller after I saw one fly up under Ivy's stroller canopy. Yikes!
Ivy watching the carousel. Or the yellow jacket in her stroller...
After we bought our tickets, we watched the horses whirling past us. Alice got a little bit alarmed at how fast they appeared to be going and had a little melt down. While we waited our turn to mount, I distracted her with a few family self-portraits.

The carousel was enchantingly beautiful. It was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company and installed at Griffith Park in 1937. I believe it was in San Diego before coming to it's current spot. It is the only full-size Spillman carousel still in operation today and has more of it's original paint than about any other in the country. Apparently only another carousel in Colorado has nearly as much original paint. 

Legend has it that Walt Disney used to take his daughters here; watching from the sidelines, he dreamed of a place where adults could have as much fun as children. That dream turned into Disneyland.

The horses are gorgeous, with real horse-hair tails. I believe I also read that it was originally intended to be a two-row carousel, and then larger horses were installed for the two outer rows.  
It is believed to be the largest band organ carousel on the West Coast with a Stinson 165 Military Band Organ. Apparently it plays over 1500 marches and waltzes, but it was only playing tunes from Mary Poppins while we were there.
Ivy and I rode on one of the two chariots and she was totally into it. 
At first Alice wanted to ride next to us and there was another round of tears until we could convince her that the horse would be much more fun and that it wouldn't seem as fast once she was riding as it did when she was watching. She tends to be a little leery of carousels until she's got a couple of revolutions under her belt and then she's good to go. 

Afterwards, she told us that she "loved that carousel," and that "it was SO beautiful."

We took off down the street and around the corner and up the hill on a dirt path, trying to use the maps on our phones and the oblique signage to find the "Old Zoo." The Griffith Park Zoo originally opened in this location in 1912, and closed in 1966 when the L.A. Zoo opened in it's current location.

The "Old Zoo" had some rocky years before the WPA renovated it in the 1930s. Now abandoned, the enclosures still remain for hikers, explorers, and picnickers to enjoy. I wish I could find more photos of the zoo while it was open. I can't even imagine how strange it would be to climb inside the enclosures where you used to observe wild animals.

I've been wanting to visit the Old Zoo for a long time, and now that we know where it is, I'd love to go back and explore a little more. It was peaceful and fun to explore, but the graffiti and beer cans hinted that it might also be a popular spot for less savory activities, so I didn't let Alice venture too far off the path, for fear of what might be hiding in the piles of leaves...
Alice and I had a good time imagine what kind of animals used to live in these "houses." Naturally, she thought kitties had lived in every one.

"That kitty colored on the wall!"
Our best kitty impressions. Alice says, "meow."

Last Sunday, we visited our city's new Activity Pool for the first time. Though it was a little loud and crowded and splashy, Alice ended up having a great time. She even became brave enough to go down the little slide, and played with an older girl who took a liking to her.