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Butterflies, Burgers, and Bones: A Day in Exposition Park

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Some mornings, you wake up in a wandering mood: after a strong cup of coffee and a survey of the weather, we decided to peek beyond the veil of the early morning haze and venture southeast. We forsook the freeways for the more scenic route of Sunset Boulevard, through Hollywood east to Western, then south, south, south beyond the 10, through K-town and past endless strip-mall Iglesias de Dios and pupuserias. Wonderful! As we passed through at least six far-flung nation-hoods contained within fifteen or twenty colorful city blocks, I reflected upon the Easterners who imagine Los Angeles to be a bleached-out wasteland of pneumatic blondes walking tiny dogs.

We got to Exposition Park in a reasonable amount of time, and parked without a problem right next to the great classical hall of the Natural History Museum. The museum is full of happy families, and wasn't too crowded even on a sunny holiday weekend. Admission to the Pavilion of Wings exhibit is an extra $3 for adults, $2 for students, and $1 for the kiddies, but it's totally worth it to wander around in a cool, enclosed greenhouse filled to the brim with the floating, radiant little butterflies - some are bright orange, others zebra-striped, others large and pulsating with iridescence, and still others black with neon-blue wingtips. The docents are kind and vigilant about butterfly-safety even among careless kids, and MAN the giftshop is neat.

We spent some time on the main floor of the museum, mostly in the Ancient Latin American Hall - the great towers of Tikal were a familiar sight after our last winter's vacation in the jungles of Mayan Central America. We weren't there two hours before serious tummy-rumbling set in - but the museum cafe? Not so great. We couldn't wait twenty minutes and pay twenty dollars for cafeteria-quality food that had been sitting in fridges or under a hot lamp all day, so we decided that serious eats had to be procured.