From San Diego we drove up Highway 1 (well, we entered Highway 1 at it’s southern terminus in Dana Point) to Santa Monica to meet friends of mine, Curt and his wife Michelle, for dinner. We stopped at a beautiful spot in Huntington Beach for lunch. Most of this particular segment of 1 is not particularly lovely, though we did have a couple of spectacular beach views and even had occasion to stop and watch kite surfers at one place. It is also slow-going, especially through Long Beach and Venice Beach, so I don’t necessarily recommend the route.
Once we arrived at Curt’s house, the parking spaces in front of his house were taken so we parked in front of the neighbors house. As we were exiting the van, the neighbor came running out of her house asking if we planned to leave the van there. I thought this an odd question, considering we were stepping out of the van at that moment. I stammered through the explanation that we were having dinner with her neighbors, which she accepted and said she was making sure we weren’t leaving it there for “days and days”. After dinner we decided to stay on the street, but since we’d had such an odd interaction with that particular neighbor, we moved across the street. From inside the van we heard the other neighbors also discussing the van. Only after this experience did John do some research and learned that Venice Beach and Santa Monica instituted parking regulations to prevent oversized vehicles from being parked on the street. This particular street did not have the regulation, which is implemented by request if RV parking becomes a problem. Anyway, we left the following day, I am sure to the great relief of all the neighbors.
We spent the day on the beach, and John even rented a surfboard to practice on his own. He had a harder time getting on the waves without an instructor’s aid, but he did have a couple of good runs. While there we also checked out Venice Beach, the next town south, and biked up to “Muscle Beach”. Muscle Beach is essentially an adult playground, with traveling rings, climbing ropes, posts for slacklines and other such physical fitness equipment.
The following day we spent in LA, first for a walk in Runyan Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills then in search of a particular post office. Our backpacks’ support frame had cracked and Granite Gear sent replacements to General Delivery, Los Angeles. In a big city, only one post office handles all the General Delivery packages, and we didn’t know which one. Also in a big city, post office telephones go unanswered (though surprisingly small town post office employees actually do answer the phone), so we had to drive to the post office we thought was the right one and inquire in person. And we drove in Friday afternoon Los Angelas traffic, on what turned out to be a holiday weekend (John insisted that it must be based on the traffic, so I looked up the public school schedule, and sure enough, March 31st is Cesar Chevez Day, a holiday for some schools). We drove all the way across downtown from Hollywood Hills to Compton, to be sent back up toward downtown to a post office by the train station. The one we actually needed was around the block from the second one, so we walked over there. When we came back, the parking attendant was up in arms because we had parked in the post office parking spaces (not the paid spaces he was in charge of) and left the premises. John talked his way out of the predicament and we high-tailed it out of the city.
It was great to see friends and John had a wonderful time surfing, but overall our experience in the Los Angeles area was stressful. I felt unwelcomed by the city and doing something as simple as picking up a package at the post office took an inordinate amount of time in the city’s notorious traffic and resulted in a fight with a parking attendent. I was relieved when we left to drive into the mountains east of the city.
March 26-28, 2014