|Spending time with friends is one of our favorite things to do and go places together makes the experience that much more fun. Ending up in the same RV Park in Perris, CA for a week together gave us the opportunity for some great visiting and a day of sight-seeing in downtown Los Angeles...and I mean RIGHT downtown. Heading out early one morning, well not too early with the infamous LA traffic in mind, Olvera Street in downtown LA was our destination for the day. With me at the wheel and Joyce riding shotgun, the guys sat in back claiming they would get us there in fine shape...well not so much! With 2 GPS's zoned in on our address, not only did I have one back seat driver but I had two! It always amazes us that no two GPS systems are alike so of course I was getting mixed signals from the back seat drivers. Laughing and joking as we got lost a couple of times, Jim finally shut his GPS off and ours found our way. Having no idea what we were doing, we pulled into the first parking lot close to Olvera Street we came to and $14.00 an hour later as we're walking up to Chinatown we found all kinds of lots for $5.00 per hour! Olvera Street is the oldest part of LA dating back to the late 1700's and a stroll down the narrow cobblestone street, we were delighted to see many of the old buildings still intact. The town of the Queen of Angels (LA's first name) was founded in 1781 and as the settlement grew, ranchero families built town houses around the plaza to live in when they came into the pueblo to attend mass, visit with friends on festive occasions, or to take care of business. We were allowed to walk through Avila Adobe which is the oldest existing house in LA and was built in 1818. The family traded cowhides and tallow for furnishings from all over the world. At the time, the two Avila brothers were said to be the richest cattlemen in the Los Angeles area and were well know for their hospitality. Don Avila became the first Mayor of the City of Angels in 1810. The house was vacant in the 1840's and during the Mexican-American War, Commodore Robert Stockton and his troops used the house as their headquarters in 1847 while peace was negotiated between the Californians and the U.S. authorities. The home fell into disrepair and in 1926 a local woman, with the help of influential friends restored the Avila Adobe and created a Mexican style market place which is how it is today. Finishing up our visit, as we looked at trinkets, brightly colored tapestries and souvenirs on the quaint little stree,t we ran across one of the buildings that was used to house the Mexican athletes during the 1932 Olympics. It was donated to Olvera Street in 1933 and has housed the same Merchant since that time. As we wandered the tiny street, the aroma's from the Mexican Restaurants finally got the best of us all. Choosing one that was very busy (a good sign unless they are all tourists!) we had a wonderful meal with the highlight being the guacamole made fresh at our table and oh was it yummy. People watching in the outdoor restaurant as we slicked up our plates, we all decided we needed a nice walk so off we headed to Chinatown only 5 blocks northwest of Olvera Street. Learning that the original Chinatown had been located a little over a mile away from where it is today, it was not at all like we pictured it and sadly many of the businesses are closed and buildings empty. We did find a few outdoor merchants selling their wares and food but expected it to be much more like the outdoor shops on Olvera Street. The first Chinese was recorded to have come to LA in 1852 and by 1870 a definable "Chinatown" had sprouted. In its heyday it boasted 15 streets and allies of merchants. Now it mostly consists of a 4 block long area with merchants on both sides of one street...certainly another sad reminder of today's economy. Deciding we wanted to beat the evening commuters, we headed back to the car and after talking a loan out from the credit card company to pay our parking bill, we made our way home...happy...tired and still full but of course not without getting misplaced (we're never lost) at least twice to make a stop for Jim to get a spare tire for their car and a magnetic necklace for me, that seems to be working great. Just hope Jim's tire is working out as well. And yes we did survive a day in downtown LA!