Living in L.A.: Life is just beachy
I don’t like getting up early, especially on a Saturday morning, extra-specially on a forced-vacation Saturday.
But there is one thing that will get me up, out of bed and excited for the day: beach trip.
A part of the reason for my move to Los Angeles was the weather and stellar beaches. Yes, there are beaches in Northern California, awash with fog and driftwood, very romantic and great for photographing. But I want hot sand between my toes, endless stretches of golden grains and sun, glorious sun.
And it’s pretty much perfect weather here 24/7, 365. Unless you ask a not-to-be-named friend about going to the beach in January, to which they reply, “It’s winter.”
It’s L.A. Winter just means the suns sets sooner and in a different spot. (I learned that at the Griffith Observatory.)
There are more beach choices in Southern California. I’ve spent time at (from north to south) Zuma, Malibu, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo, Torrance, Huntington, Newport, Balboa and Laguna – and other points between.
(Note: There are Yelp ratings for beaches but the comments are so insane [1 star, sand’s too hot] that I refuse to use it for theses venues.)
People wear fewer clothes at Southern California beaches. At San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, it is common to see board shorts and hoodies.
Today as we stake our claim to a section of SoCal’s world-famous Venice beach, it is clear the Europeans are on holiday. The distinct accents and lack of tan lines are dead giveaways. There are plenty of locals also sans tan lines, but they typically speak one or two languages I know.
All of my Southern California friends know how to enjoy the beach – they all enjoy it in different ways but no one ever says, “That day at the beach sucked.”
Today I’m with two friends: a plopper and a meandering napper.
Friend One will lay out the blanket, secure the oversized umbrella and pretty much not move except to turn the pages of the magazine.
Friend Two will lay back, soak up some rays, and then ask if you’d like to go for a walk. After a bit of a walk, it’s back to the blanket. Repeat every hour or so.
Me, I’m a bit of both. I could sit, watch and listen to the waves for most of the day. However, sitting still too long makes me antsy, so I run down and get my feet wet (I realize my swimsuit was not packed and I am in need of swimwear – yet I have a complete set of golf clubs).
Thanks to a hurricane creeping up the Baja Peninsula, today’s surf is gnarly, dude.
Making life extra exciting is the surf break, a jumble of rocks that cause the waves to crash in spectacular fashion and then dissipate into a fairly harmless foam, but boy it’s impressive and scary for a few seconds.
I am drawn to see this up close, but not too close. Growing up in Southern California, there are certain rules you learn early. One is never underestimate the ocean or turn your back on it.
My friend and I made our way to the break. I was happy at our distance, but she urged me to move closer. Every nerve was on alert. Seeing a wave rise and then crash on the rocks, feeling the spray on your face and the surf on your feet and knowing you’re on the edge of rule-breaking is very exhilarating.
When pressed to get closer, I balked. I’m a tad chicken, but as stated in a previous column, I also am an adopted only child, and I feel obligated to live as long as possible so my parents get the most for their money.
I take my pictures and meander back to the safety of the blanket.
The high surf also has the Baywatch bunch on high alert. They are constantly trying to shoo the swimmers out of the surfing zone. Finally, the waves get to the point where they shoo the surfers away from the break and the swimmers even farther down the beach.
This move works out perfect for us. Our view is now people-free.
After an hour of chilling, it’s time to meander to the Venice boardwalk area and see what’s for sale. First-time visitors to this beach may be shocked or excited by what they find. There is everything from Day of the Dead skulls to $30 medicinal marijuana consultations. (I purchased neither.)
In addition to various trinkets, there is a plethora of dancers and artists working for tips. And of course, there’s Muscle Beach and skateboarders.
Venice Beach is a great place to relax or get distracted. I’m sure I’ll be back for both, but I’ve got a few other beaches to take in before then.