When you’re going to discover the story of Orange County, you reason the right shirt.
It’s a Thursday morning in early August, and I’m setting out to visit John Wayne and the Marines, giant bunnies and rock formations, Mickey Mouse and so lots of a lot more of the monuments to Orange County’s history and verve that I have actually an impossible checklist. I finally discover my blue and beige Hawaiian shirt in my 19-year-old son’s closet where it’s been due to the fact that he wore it to a celebration attempting to look uncool.
We would certainly complete in a day. Register photographer Jeff Gritchen was my wingman. We traveled 146 miles from John Wayne Airport to San Clemente to Seal Beach to Angel Stadium. In all, we saw 17 statues in 7 hours and 42 minutes.
We met nice individuals from Brand-new York, Missouri and Stanton. We saw a naked surfer. We discovered Ronald Reagan is in cold storage. And we found the secret to longevity, prosperity and happiness.
Years ago, I read “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon, that traveled the circumference of the United States in a van he named “Ghost Dancing.” I believed of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” and Eazy-E’s lyric “Cruising down the street in my ’64.”
We’re going in my wife’s Prius.
You can easily learn a lot if you simply stop to look.
1. The Duke at John Wayne Airport. Once you arrive in Orange County by air, the very first sight you see is John Wayne’s butt. The famous Duke (we’ll see another, semi-famous Duke later) lived in Newport Beach throughout the waning years of his acting career. He wasn’t the county’s very first celebrity, however he was big enough to get hold of a statue and, you know, an airport.
2. The Zot at UC Irvine’s Bren Center. have actually you ever ridden the spine of an Anteater? I have. In the sun it can easily burn your legs (watch for chafing!) if you’re not careful. I think of developer Donald Bren and exactly how he not only expertly built Irvine, however likewise established UCI so individuals could be born, raised and see an anteater in the same community. That’s vision.
3. The Bison at MacArthur and Bonita Canyon in Newport Beach. The giant bison statue is not on Bison Avenue, which makes no sense. Apparently, Newport Beach was once a estate to the hairy animals, which is hard to imagine today. however getting a selfie along with the bison includes U-turns, illegal parking and climbing through bushes. Drive-by selfies are so much easier.
4. The Bunnies at the Newport Beach Civic Focus and Park. This is weird and cool at the same time. You get hold of to see metal bears, a black doughnut, a giant bunny and several smaller sized bunnies. The park and its walkway from sculpture to sculpture is a different civic Focus experience compared to exactly what you discover in most cities. Finn Light, a 3-year-old, constantly yells “The bunnies!” Once he passes in his mother’s car. So Sara, his mother, took your man to see the bunnies up close. “So lots of of my friends information pictures of their children on Facebook along with the bunnies,” she says. “I had to do it.”
5. The Greeter on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. The statue is named for longtime fixture Eiler Larsen, that waved and earned Laguna Beach simply a little a lot more friendly for decades. Today the spot in front of The Greeter is manned by Michael Minutoli, a 55-year-old homeless man. He is dressed enjoy a mime that stole Popeye’s hat. He dances as we talk. “I’m continuing the tradition of The Greeter,” he says. “I hold the placement unofficially. God blessed me along with personality and energy. I don’t do this for money. I don’t even care if individuals wave back.”
6. The Author Richard Henry Dana in Dana Point. The R.H. Dana statue in Dana Point honors the author of “Two Years Prior to the Mast,” the 1840 memoir concerning the horrible conditions for common sailors on a ship from Boston about South America to California. The statue has actually one of the most beautiful views in Orange County, and it’s no wonder why a depressed sailor would certainly stop there.
7. The Marines in San Clemente. There is a beautiful Semper Fi Marine statue and surrounding monuments on a hillside overlooking the beach, across the road from the pier. Once you get hold of to the top of the hill, if you’re from shape and wearing your beloved Hawaiian shirt, you’ll be sweating. The enclave is impressive, highlighted by the somber, saluting presence of an unnamed Marine. At the base of the statue are these words: “In every battle and skirmish due to the fact that the birth of our Corps, Marines have actually acquitted themselves along with the greatest distinction, winning Brand-new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has actually come to signify all that is highest in Military efficiency and soldierly virtue.” – Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune.
8. The Cowboy Greeting on El Paseo and Reese Way in Rancho Santa Margarita. It’s a tiny thing, a bronze of a rancher doffing his hat to greet a little girl. It suggests a less complicated time Once politeness reigned. It likewise shows the history of Rancho Mission Viejo, which was section of a land grant offered to John Forster in 1845. At one time, the spot where this statue stands was estate to cattle, grazing lands and cowboys.
9. The Superstar in Mission Viejo. We see the Florence Griffith Joyner statue in Mission Viejo – she is the only woman on our list. Note to next statue maker: believe female. Griffith Joyner is considered the fastest women of all time. She set globe records for the 100- and 200-meter sprints in the 1988 Olympics. She lived in the Canyon Crest neighborhood of Mission Viejo and died in her sleep on Sept. 21, 1998.
10. The Wolf of Irvine. We attempt to get hold of a shot of the giant wolf statue at Blizzard Entertainment on Alton Parkway, however an overzealous security guard screams at us. “Off the roadway,” he says, concerning 700 times as Gritchen stands on the roadway attempting to get hold of an image of the monstrosity. Now the guard’s coming for us. “Off the roadway … Off the roadway.” We got from there in a hurry. The man calls for a hobby.
11. The Ballplayer at Windrow Park in Irvine. The Ryan Lemmon statue honors the former Woodbridge Higher baseball star that was killed in a vehicle accident. Sports is so necessary to so lots of in Orange County, and the Ryan Lemmon Foundation boosts funds for education-based athletics.
Music break – As we drive north, we’re pounding on the console to the beat of the music “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” by Yes. Gritchen can’t sing, so he simply does the drumming. I can’t sing, so I manage lead vocals.
12. The Connector at the Segerstrom Focus for the Arts in Costa Mesa. It’s a rust-colored, 65-foot tall, echo chamber produced by Richard Serra and installed in 1996. The very first thing you notice Once you walk inside is the sound of your footsteps. It’s almost symphonic. You can easily burp inside there, and your burp echo Will certainly bounce to the heavens. Or you could sing. I opt for the former. The effect is amazing.
13. The Noguchi Sculpture Garden at 611 Anton in Costa Mesa. This is my beloved spot of our tour. It offers strategically placed rocks, trees, water and triangular formations of exactly what I assume is granite. I know, I know; it’s technically not a statue, however it’s too good to drive past. “It’s the most relaxing place I’ve ever been,” says Alex Madayag of Stanton. “It’s blocking every little thing out. It’s so quiet to be in the Focus of a metro area.”
14. The Gipper at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. We enter Mile Square on a quest to discover former President Ronald Reagan, however Reagan is a no-show. A custodian tells us they yanked out the Reagan statue due to the fact that his base wouldn’t support him. (Isn’t this a metaphor for all politics?) Reagan is in storage at an undisclosed location so no one Will certainly attempt to steal him.
15. The Original Duke on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. You can’t tell the story of Orange County free of a surfer. The Duke is named for Hawaiian icon Duke Kahanamoku, that turned us on to the sport concerning a century ago. however here’s the thing. As we drive a little north of the Duke, we see yet another statue of yet another surfer. This guy’s in action, riding a wave. And soon we learn another thing concerning him: “He’s naked,” says Rich Green, 65, that is visiting from Brand-new York City. “It’s rather cool, however after that I see there’s no bathing fulfill on him.” Green stops taking pictures immediately. Orange County is not France.
16. Slick the sea lion in Seal Beach. You haven’t lived until you rubbed your nose on the golden snout of “Slick,” the sea lion statue at the Seal Beach Pier. You read that correctly. The unofficial mascot of Seal Beach is not a seal. Memo to individuals that named Seal Beach: Sea lions walk on their big flippers and bark enjoy dogs. Seals wriggle on their bellies and have actually small flippers.
17. The Asian Garden Mall in Little Saigon. Bolsa Avenue is one of the most interesting drives in Orange County. You can easily see the God of Longevity, the God of Prosperity, the God of Fortune and the Happy Buddha. “This place is famous,” says Jennie Tran, that is visiting Little Saigon from St. Louis. “Everybody talks concerning this place. Whoever goes to California has actually to go here. I have actually to be here. I want longevity, prosperity and happiness.”
18. The Mouse at Angel Stadium. The last stop on the tour is the Mickey Mouse in front of Angel Stadium. due to the fact that we can’t get hold of in to Disneyland for free, this baseball version of Mickey Will certainly have actually to suffice.
Thousands of individuals take selfies along with Mickey under one of the big red hats at the Big A.
There are probably hundreds of others statues and monuments that show something concerning Orange County’s history.
We’re going to reason yet another road quest or two.