Just got back from my Kaiju and Toy Making talk at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California. First off many thanks to Maria Kwong and Koji Sakai for the opportunity and honor to present this subject in this museum setting.
I’m not sure why I can have a smooth trip of late but this one was another trip to remember ;-P The idea we had was to leave at 6 pm from San Francisco, and take Highway 5 to Los Angeles. We knew it would take about 6 hours of so and we’d arrive after midnight. All was well however as we approached what is called the Grapvine ( a large mountain pass you have to drive over to get to Los Angeles via this route ) we saw signs saying there would be a detour .. from time to time the Grapevine is closed due to snow .. Ok no problem, the signs say there will be other signs leading us to the new route …
Of course, why we trusted those signs is another story … as we get to the base of the Grapevine, all traffic was being turned around with no help or signage pointing us to the new route. We stopped and asked a gas station person, who simply said the route would not open until the next morning at the earliest and his suggestion was to find a room to stay the night … ugh ! Plus all the rooms in this area were booked because of this closure so he suggested going back up the way to Bakersfield … which is like 40 minutes backwards … We had no choice so headed that way .. but as we got off at that town all the room were booked, too ! We found some signs pointing us to an alternate route and I saw a to of cars going in that direction so we decided to keep driving .. it was about 1 am at this point.
Sorry but the lack of pictures was due my concentrating on driving !
The route took us eastward .. and up into another set of mountains … but at this point the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and the light rain turned to heavy snow ! Now I’ve been in snow but have never actually had to drive in it … so found it a bit challenging to not get hypnotized by the white flakes lit up by the car headlights and flowing into the car window !
As we kept driving the snow became heavier and all the cars slowed from 70 mph to 15 mph …
Lucky Anna called the nearest town and found one room for us, so we headed to it. Cell phone reception was not good and by the time we got off the highway there was so much snow I was getting worried we could even make it to the hotel.
The town we stayed in was called Tehachapi and was i glad we found it ! Several other drivers also found their way to this hotel .. which just after we arrived fully sold out. The lobby kinda felt like a zombie apocalypse movie with people looking for shelter anywhere they could find it !
We made it to the room safe and sound and finally went to sleep at 3 am. I knew I had to be to the museum by 2pm, but had no idea how much longer it would take us in the morning .. or even if this snow would let up enough for us to leave.
The morning was partly sunny and the snow on the ground had partially melted, so we packed up and headed out .. looked like we had another 3+ hours to go .. so the timing would be very tight.We estimated arriving at 1 pm….
Turns out the route around the Grapevine takes you through the Mojave Desert … too bad we didn’t have any time to stop as the landscape looked neat.
At last we reached Los Angeles and with a slight slow down on the freeway, we found our hotel.
It was about 1:00 pm so we off loaded our stuff quickly, grabbed the Kaiju coloring books
and toys and walked across the street to the museum.
The main entrance to Little Tokyo packed with shops and eating places.
We found met up with our contact, Koji Sakai at the museum and had a short time to look around before the Kaiju talk.
I haven’t been to the museum in quite awhile so it was good to walk around and see all the new exhibits and show Max some of his history. The Internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2 is something that not many people know of … both of my parents, my grand parents and relatives spent over 2 years in internment camps .. actually as I reminded Max about the same age as himself. I told him can you imagine only being given a few days to leave your home and told you could only bring what you could carry with you ? Something like his XBox would be useless … just what you need to survive, clothes some photos, maybe … Visiting the museum was a nice reminder of what my parents and grand parents generations went through.
This event was sponsored by Target Stores and the admission was free, so many kids showed up to do various activities.
We set up a small selection of Max Toys, an iron mold, and paint mask on a table.
Before I knew it is was time for the talk .. now i’m not a public speaker at all, so I hope those who attended could follow my narrative ;-P I think it went well and we had a good turn out, with a mix of toy collectors and non toy collectors.
Max did a stand up job advancing the pictures via the lap top.
With the talk over I spent sometime answering and talking to folks. It was great to see the kids eyeing the kaiju toys … I could see in some of them the same wide eyed look I still get ;-D Perhaps one or more of them will become toy collectors or toy makers in the future !
We made a quick look thru the museum shop ( Anna bought a vintage Kokeshi doll ) which by the way is most excellent and also an exhibit of Origami art .. which by the way, were amazing and crazy cool !
The next day a top priority was to eat at House of Pies … so we had a good brunch, my fav eggs benedict…
With that we headed back up North this time being able to go over the Grapvine with no problems… along the way we saw hundreds of birds nests stuck to the underside of the over passes … while we sped along at 70 mph the birds would swarm in and out of these nests .. seemed kinda dangerous ;-P
With this event done, my schedule does not lighten up .. I have a piece in the May Monster show at FOE Gallery, and must prepare many customs from OneUp store in Tokyo, Wonderfest in July and also Comic Con in July as well.
We have many releases coming up as well ! Phew … The Kaiju Train keeps rolling along, folks ! I hope your enjoying the ride as much as I am !