Updated: Apr 27
How taking a field trip can squash the blues
Illustration: A Day in LA photo collage by JEFS
“You deserve a break” that is what I told myself when I reserved my free tickets to The Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles (LA) when it reopened for visitors. I have been waiting to experience one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room installations and finally snagged a timeslot online.
My only expectation for the experience was to get to The Broad Museum before 11:45am the day of my tickets. I didn’t want to miss my window to see The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.
My husband agreed to go with me. We both have been grieving the recent loss of our 14-year-old dog. A day in LA would be a welcome distraction from the emptiness of our home without her.
I didn’t know what a great day it would be. I had been stuck in a sameness for a long time and forgot the joy of doing the unexpected. Nothing like a day trip to get away from the blues if just for a little while.
I am sharing five memorable moments from my day in LA because a great day is worth sharing as much as a bad one. This is written in honor of great days
1. Ditching the car and taking the train
In Southern California (SoCal), driving more than five miles beyond one’s neighborhood bubble takes great energy and commitment.
Los Angeles is one of the most challenging SoCal areas to visit because it is a complex place that feels unapproachable. Our usual experience with LA is finding the fastest route through it on the way to somewhere else.
We decided for our trip to The Broad to go carless and take a Metrolink train instead.
The Metrolink stop nearest to our house takes a route to LA that hugs the coast for ~20 miles. During some parts of the journey, the train feels like it’s coasting on top of the ocean. The unique views of the beach are hard to capture anywhere else.
Illustration: JEFS photo of San Clemente Pier taken through Metrolink train window
The day of our trip we caught the train no problem. Because we were the starting stop, the train cars were clean and empty. We got a primo window seat with clear views.
If we took our car, our trip would have been a little cheaper with less walking. One thing we would have missed was the beauty of the sun beaming through the grand hall windows at our final stop at Union Station LA.
Illustration: JEFS photo of Los Angeles Union Station original grand hall entrance.
2. Eating two breakfasts
When we got out of Union Station, we were ready for breakfast. I hadn’t done any pre-scouting for places to eat. I figured we would find something, coffee for sure. My husband typed in breakfast on Google maps and the first thing that popped up was Eggslut. I said yes to Eggslut even as he rattled off more places. I didn’t care if the food was bad. Eggslut is too good of a name to ignore.
We found Eggslut in Grand Central Market, LA’s oldest public market. Eggslut had a line, which we figured was a good sign. We both ordered a Fairmount sandwich. The sandwich had loose eggs, with caramelized onions on a huge brioche bun; It was delicious if a bit messy.
Illustration: JEFS photo of first breakfast from Eggslut (Fairmont sandwich and coffee)
As we finished eating while sitting at the tables in front of the market, we kept eyeing racks of donuts from The Donut Man a couple of stalls away from Eggslut. Two young ladies, who didn’t look like they ate much, sat down next to us, and started taking pictures of themselves with donuts the size of their heads.
There are times when a second meal after a first meal is acceptable. My husband and I agreed that this morning was a good time for a second breakfast. We tossed our Eggslut remains and got two big ass donuts.
Second breakfast was as good as first breakfast
3. Happening upon Angels Flight Railway
Walking around downtown LA as an outsider can feel uncomfortable until you stumble upon something you never thought you would experience up close.
As we walked from Grand Central Market to The Broad, we found ourselves at the bottom of Angels Flight Railway. My husband and I looked at each other in excitement.
Illustration: JEFS photo of Angels Flight from S. Hill Street entrance
The Angels Flight funicular is the world’s shortest railway and has a varied history. The railroad has made appearances in over 25 films. We knew Angels Flight best from Season 4 of Bosch, the Amazon series based on Michael Connelly’s LAPD Detective, Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch.
Binge watching six seasons of Bosch got us through the early days of the pandemic.
No one else was around, so we got in the very front of the train car. I filmed the whole climb up Bunker’s hill. It was a coolest way to travel 298ft closer to The Broad Museum.
The cost was one dollar each for the ride up; the experience was priceless.
4. Being alone in a roomful of Basquiat paintings
I have never visited The Broad Museum. The whole purpose of the day was to get to The Broad in time to be encased in Yayoi Kusama’s lights. I didn’t think about how the rest of The Broad collection would affect me.
The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away was worth the journey even if it were the only thing I experienced. Yayoi Kusama’s creativity and vision to create the Infinity Mirrored Room installations is pure artistry.
What I didn’t expect was my geek-out moment when I was alone in a room surrounded by The Broad’s collection of 13 Jean-Paul Basquiat paintings. I jumped up and down a little.
Illustration: JEFS collage of photos taken at The Broad of Jean-Paul Basquiat paintings: Pink Devil, Deaf,Untitled, and Eyes and Eggs
Great artists channel emotion to the viewer through their work. I sensed the spirit of Jean-Paul Basquiat in each painting. I became overwhelmed and happy once again in the appreciation of feeling truly connected to art.
How art can capture time is a concept that I get now that I am older. A piece of art’s energy and commentary resonate most clearly while standing in front of a work in person.
If you can, visit The Broad; it’s free to visitors and worth every penny.
5. Walking among LAPD officers on horseback
On the walk back to Union Station for our trip home, I spotted a couple of horseback riders in the distance. The riders were headed toward the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.
El Pueblo Historic Park area is across the street from the entrance of Union Station. The famous Olvera Street vendors and restaurants of the Mexican marketplace were closed when we arrived in the morning.
Illustration: JEFS photo of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Infantry officers at Olvera Street
I never knew LA had a mounted police force. I am used to visualizing LA police in patrol cars.
I overheard a woman saying to one of the officers that she has never seen them before in her many visits to the area. The officer said they usually patrol skid row.
The challenge of visiting LA is reconciling the dichotomy between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. The homeless were on my mind throughout the day. We encountered encampments along the sidewalks as we walked.
These officers on horses reminded me that this day we were presented the best of LA. I acknowledge that many others encounter LA at its worst.
The whole day in LA was a wonderful time. We experienced a lot of things to remember, but these top five highlights captured the essence of the trip.
Walking was tiring, but freedom from the car was worth it. Without the car there were no worries about gas, parking, or traffic. Besides, because we walked, we were able to track the horse-riding LAPD.
The entire trip including the food and train tickets cost us less than $100.
Daring to be a tourist for a day in LA chased away the blues. The unique experiences inspired a new desire to take more chances, which is all one can ask for to get out of a rut.
Julia Fletcher is founder of JEFS Storytelling Arts, a graphic design studio, where she uses her unique research skills and artistic talents to create custom visual stories that help clients’ increase engagement and promote the education of their audience.