The John Wayne tour

Recently I was going to go visit my mother in California. I promised James that while there I would do a tour of everything John Wayne in Los Angeles and take pictures for him. Little did I know at the time, that day would become known in our family as the "infamous John Wayne tour."

First let me tell you that to do this you have to have someone who loves you very much! Driving into downtown L.A. is an experience not for the faint of heart. We come from a big city but it is nothing compared to the traffic in California. Add to that a very small car driven by a 60 year old woman who loves to exclaim loudly while driving "oh my God-look at that!" This would not seem so bad but when you are right next to a semi doing 60 on the freeway, it is a little unnerving to say the least - only to find she has spotted a nice flower along the side of the road - lol.

On to our John Wayne tour. I had done my homework - I thought - and had printed out several sheets with detailed instructions on how to get to various places. Some of them repeated the same info but none could agree exactly on how to get to the destination. So, I am reading this to my mother who is laughing when it says "Glendale is just down the road from New Port." Nope it isn't. Suffice it to say, it would take a helicopter to do all the sites in one day with 2 kids in tow who need to make "pit stops."

"No problem Mother, we will just do the ones that are close to each other and then head down to Long Beach to the Aquarium of the Pacific for the kids." Yeah right. The first inkling we had that this was going to be an unusual day was when we lost the "best" (and I say that lightly) instructions as we left the restaurant.

John Wayne's star Ok-no problem, just head down to Hollywood and Vine and I am sure we can locate John Wayne's star. What people do not tell you is that the Walk of Stars goes on for what seems like miles in several different directions on different streets.

"Not to worry, it says here that it is on Vine!" Well after looking for a place to park and walking awhile we DID locate John Wayne's star!! The really sad thing is that the Walk of Stars is in a run down part of Hollywood with many abandoned buildings (not at all what you would have imagined) and the stars are not kept clean. So sad. But we took the picture and were off to the next location. (completely forgetting we were just a few blocks from the Chinese Theater where his fist and boot prints are)

John Wayne statueThen next stop was the statue of John Wayne in front of the Great Western Bank building on Wilshire blvd. It didn't look like a long drive on the map. The traffic was murder but there were many beautiful churches and buildings to see along the way. Mother said it was called "the miracle mile", yes a mile that took at least an hour to navigate.

But we did finally arrive and circled twice looking for parking. The statue is truly beautiful. It is a large bronze of John Wayne on a horse with scenes of a cattle drive along the base. I took the photo and we were off again.

Now we headed down to Long Beach to take the kids to the aquarium. It is wonderful and really worth the visit if you can manage it!! The plan was to leave there and go on to New Port to get photos of his boat and grave site. The drive along the ocean was lovely and we stopped to let the kids play awhile in the water. Unfortunately it was starting to get chilly and my oldest cut his hand, so we moved on again to our John Wayne sight seeing tour.

John Wayne's boat, the Wild Goose

photo courtesy of Hornblower Cruise

Finally we made it to New Port, at dusk, and wondered how we would locate John Wayne's boat -"The Wild Goose." That part of the instructions had been lost. We were driving along when I saw the sign - Hornblower. This is the company who now owns Duke's boat and hosts cruises on it. I got out to look around the backside of the office (which was closed for the day) and asked a man if he knew where John Wayne's boat is docked.
"Well, it is out on a dinner cruise right now but that is where it docks." My heart sunk as I looked at the empty slot. But not to be deterred, I snapped a photo of the sign-lol.

It was dark by then and we knew we could not go to his grave site because the cemetary would be closed. So we planned to head home, stopping by John Wayne Airport on the way. I guess I should say now that my mother is very good about getting lost but she says that she always gets lost in the best places. This proved to be true! I was looking at the map and trying to direct her when we realize we are lost, it is dark and we have no idea how to get where we want to go. "Lets just keep going", she says. And you know, we wound up right in front of the John Wayne Airport coming in at a totally different direction!

John Wayne statue at AirportBut again, where to park??? So, I say, "just pull up front and I will jump out and take the picture." Right where it looked like a good spot, I jumped out and ran into the building heading for the statue. There is a man looking at me like I am nuts :-) I get up to Duke's statue and snap several pictures from all angles and go running out again. As I pass the man I say "I came all the way from Texas just to get this photo." Even now I laugh when I think what that man must have thought when a short fat lady came running by him and said that-lol. The lovely statue at John Wayne Airport is another larger than life bronze of the Duke standing in western clothes.

All in all, we had a great time that day! We got to tour L.A. and had a great story to tell Dad on the phone that night.

Vicki :-)



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