The Eames House

If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area and have any interest in architecture, Charles & Ray Eames, or mid-century modern, definitely make time to visit the Eames house and studio.

Exterior of the Eames House

Also known as Case Study House #8, it’s located in a lightly wooded meadow that overlooks the buildings, beach, and ocean below. Here’s the view from the end of the lot.

View from the Eames House meadow

Touring the house

We toured the exterior, and could clearly see in to everything on the ground floor of both the house and the studio. I totally want to steal some of their ideas for our own house. (Yes, I took notes.)

We got to explore the grounds and sit in these chairs:

Chairs on the patio between the Eames house and studio

Similar chairs were stacked in a tall tower inside the studio building, looking like art. I loved looking at all the items collected and created by the Eames. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside, but it was worth seeing!

The staff there was informative too. The house was built using pre-fabricated materials, like Cemesto for some of the colored panels. We got to see copies of ads and catalog pages from the era, like this one.

An ad for Cemesto, a building material used in the 40s

(Note what it’s made from!)

Getting there…

If you’re thinking of going, make sure they’re open and have room first. We just checked the info on TripAdvisor here, and then gave the foundation a call since it said they were closed. (They weren’t.)

You need reservations to tour the inside. Tickets for that are steep, because it’s a fundraiser for restoration work. When we visited, the price to tour the exterior only was $10 per person. Parking is on Corona del Mar street, about half a block north of the driveway to the house.


Smell the Coffee…

instead of the litter box. Ready for an easy DIY-odor eliminator?

I’m not sure where I first heard this tip, but it’s made such a big difference in the aroma of our house that I like to pass it on: coffee grounds absorb odors.

You can place them anywhere there are odors that you’d rather not smell.

For us, this meant keeping coffee grounds near the litter box for our cats. We just kept a handful in a Ziploc bag, and changed it out regularly so that it didn’t grow moldy.

Since we’re not coffee drinkers (gasp!), I got the coffee grounds from work or from Starbucks, who gives them out for free if you ask.

Bonus tip: If you do go to Starbucks for coffee grounds, bring a small container to have filled, otherwise they’ll give you an enormous bag full of them. If you do end up with too much, you can always use the extra in the garden.

Much cheaper than an air freshener, and better-smelling too to my way of thinking.

Exploring Easter Island

Easter Island (officially called Rapa Nui) is one of the most remote inhabited spots in the world.

Easter Island moai at sunset

You can only reach it from two places by commercial flight: Tahiti and Santiago. The island is about 2335 miles from Santiago, if that gives you an idea of how remote it is. At the time I booked my ticket, there were only 4 flights a week there, but during peak season there are daily flights.

Landing at the airport

My 5 hour, 40 minute LAN Chile flight from Santiago to Easter Island was uneventful, which is always a good thing. It felt like another world when I arrived. You just get off the plane and walk right from the runway into the “terminal”, which has one gate. Here’s the baggage claim area:

Easter Island airport baggage area

I stayed at the Tupa Hotel (chosen ahead of time mainly because the location seemed good and they offered WiFi in their lobby.) They sent someone to pick me and the other guests arriving that day up. They greeted us with leis made of bougainvillaea, so I felt right at home. (We have a bougainvillaea plant right outside our house.) Most of the places to stay are smaller, older motels, but that’s understandable.

The Tupa’s staff was super friendly and helpful, and the motel was easy walking distance to the main part of town and the water. And of course to the statues, which are called moai.

The moai are everywhere. There are around 900 of them on the 63 square mile island, most of them toppled over sometime prior to 1868 by the Rapa Nui people for reasons that can only be guessed at now. All of the upright ones have been restored, but they are still fragile and exposed to the elements.

One of the moai near Hanga Roa, Easter Island.

They’re a variety of sizes, ranging from smaller than a person to something like 40 feet tall.

Exploring

The first thing I did after dropping off my suitcase was wander down toward the shore in search of moai. I may have gotten an ice cream too, but I definitely made a beeline to see my first moai in person.

The island reminded me of an odd combination of Kauai and Arizona — Polynesian with the waves of the Pacific crashing against the volcanic shores, plus many plants commonly seen in Arizona (hateful Bermuda grass plus beautiful flowers and cactus.) It was beautiful.

View of the water from the shores of Easter Island

I loved hiking around, and then just sitting and listening.

The town

Easter Island has one town, called Hanga Roa, with about 4,000 residents. The people who live there speak mainly Spanish and/or Rapa Nui, and so I got to improve my very basic Spanish. It turns out any immersion helps :)

Horses and (friendly!) wild dogs wandered the town, and the rest of the island too for that matter. So much so that my hotel had a sign on the door saying “Dear guest: please do not bring street dogs to the hotel.” I’m guessing too many tourists tried to bring one of the dogs back with them in their suitcase…

Hanga Roa itself has a pharmacy, grocery store, church, museum, artist’s market/center, restaurants, and a post office. The post office will stamp your passport for you if you ask.

Souvenir Easter Island passport stamp

Or, you know, you could mail a postcard. I forgot to specify airmail so mine were REALLY slow in getting to the U.S.

There’s also a hospital on the island, but one of the locals told me she would be flying to Santiago to have her baby because they don’t have enough doctors. She seemed sad that so few babies are born on the island, but naturally people don’t want to risk things going wrong in such a remote area.

Tourist basics

Most of the other tourists I encountered were there by themselves as well. The couples I did meet were all from mainland Chile. Easter Island gets somewhere between 50,000-80,000 tourists a year, which is a lot.

Having read other people’s accounts of how expensive Easter Island was, I was a little nervous about costs. But prices didn’t seem crazy high to me. (Keep in mind I live in metro Phoenix, where an entree at Olive Garden costs about $16 + tax.) Which isn’t to say things were cheap — I just wasn’t gasping at the prices.

Most of the food available was seafood, which is understandable. I’m sure it’s great if you like seafood, but that’s not me so I stuck with basics I bought at the market plus the daily breakfast included with my motel stay.

I worried needlessly ahead of time about things like whether or not I should get a rabies shot before going (bats! wild dogs!) but in the end decided not to since I wouldn’t be sleeping outdoors, going spelunking, or petting strange dogs. I just stuck with the basic shots recommended by the US State Department for travel to Chile. I also drank bottled water, but that may have been paranoia.

Ahu and moai

There are several organized tours you can take on the island, mainly to sites with many restored moai. One of those sites is Anakena, which also has the island’s only sandy beach. There are food and knickknack stalls setup at Anakena too, so you could easily relax there for the day, but I only spent a few hours there as part of a tour that took me to several other sites, like Ahu Tongariki and Rano Raraku, the main quarry for the Easter Island statues.

Here’s Ahu Tongariki.

Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island

It has 15 moai, which were toppled like the rest of the island’s statues and swept inland by a tsunami at one point. They were restored by a team from Japan.

Hiking, snorkeling, and horseback riding

I mostly did a LOT of hiking around. The island is made up of 3 volcanoes, and I hiked up one of them (Rano Kau) to see the ancient Orongo village — only to realize I’d forgotten to bring my required park ticket. So I came back the next day in a taxi, which was inexpensive and significantly faster. My taxi driver even stopped along the way to point out sites and take photos.

You can also go snorkeling and diving around the island. (There are several dive shops.) I just snorkeled in the little harbor of Hanga Piko because I wanted to see the sea turtles, and I didn’t feel like figuring out dive times vs. my upcoming flight back to the mainland. (I spent 4 nights on the island.)

I nearly swam right into this guy before I frantically swam backwards and took a picture:

A sea turtle in the Hanga Piko harbor

It didn’t seem concerned at all. Apparently about 10 of them typically come into the harbor at low tide to feed. I saw 4 or 5.

Finally, I went horseback riding for a few hours near Ahu Akav with a guide arranged by the Tupa Hotel. It was just myself and my guide (who pretty much only spoke Rapa Nui) so it was also a very quiet ride, which I enjoyed. I can only speak for the ride we did, but you should actually have riding experience if you go. We did a lot of trotting and cantering. Fun!

Here’s the view from our destination, with our horses in the background:

Easter Island scenery

I also visited the anthropological museum, which had a lot of interesting information about the history of the island’s people.

If Easter Island were closer I would definitely go back again. But then again, being so remote is a part of its charm. I’ll leave you with one last photo of the shore.

Easter Island moai in the distance