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Goeun Park: Stepping out to see the beautiful and bizarre

The Saturday before midterms, I convinced myself to get off campus. It was the best somewhat irresponsible idea I’ve had in the past month.

While I’m only half an hour away from downtown Los Angeles, the lack of transportation and the abundance of traffic make it difficult to visit the city. Such trips usually take a whole day and I didn’t exactly have a lot of free time to spare two days before a big test.

But I knew that an opportunity to break out of the college bubble and go exploring (for free!) didn’t come very often. I also figured that I would regret not going even more. With such impeccable logic, I set aside my textbooks and hopped on a charter bus for a school-sponsored field trip.

The first stop was the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a strange labyrinth of a museum located somewhere in the midst of the LA smog. Their purpose is to serve as “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic.”

I’m still not sure if the Lower Jurassic is a legitimate thing, nevermind Lower Jurassic Technology. The visit was an odd and magical experience; it was like observing history through Alice’s looking glass.

The museum, much like its namesake, was obscure and peculiar and whimsical. It was a place full of bizarre and beautiful things. Things like X-rays of flowers, cat’s cradles and microscopic mosaics made out of butterfly scales.

The entire museum was a maze that led to hidden rooms and corners. One room held grand paintings of Soviet dogs famous for breaking through the stratosphere. Another room presented a simple cacophony of bells and eerie music. I could go on.

We soon left the Museum of Jurassic Technology for the Getty Villa. If the Museum of Jurassic Technology was obscure, the Getty was anything but. Imposing and impressive, the Getty Villa made the ancient history look like modern art. For a couple hours, I stared at marble statues of Greek gods with lost noses and the marble statues stared back. The fountains, gardens, and ebony statues all glamorized the past. That’s what museums do, I suppose.

As I dozed on the bus ride back, I caught glimpses of palm trees that lined the highways. I signed up for the trip to remind myself that LA was right outside but I got more than that. The world, past and present, is out there. I only needed to step out.

Goeun Park graduated from DLHS and attends college in California.