Archive for the ‘California trips’ Category

I picked a spot at the edge of a parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport and put the folding Bike Friday together, under the watchful eye of a cab driver.

Because I was already out west on a three day vacation to Las Vegas, I had taken a few more days to bicycle in Southern California.   The weather back home in North Carolina was terrible.

Bought in advance, a one way ticket from Las Vegas to LAX on Southwest was only  $44.00.  I had arrived early on a Saturday afternoon and had taken the ten minute hotel shuttle from the airport.   I had a reservation at that hotel the last night of this trip, five days hence, and they had agreed to watch the bicycle suitcase for me.

Contrary to popular perception, Southern California is not as hostile to bicycles as many areas, certainly not as hostile as my recent trip to the hinterlands around Savannah Georgia.

This was the first trip with my new set of expensive front and rear rechargeable bicycle lights that I keep turned on all the time, as a safety factor.

At 3:00 PM I bicycled off into Los Angeles, heading first towards the beach, then along the coast to San Diego, 140 miles to the south.  This first afternoon I hoped to get to Redondo Beach, maybe even Long Beach, by dark.

 

 

Looping around LAX airport and heading towards the beach, there were bike lanes and traffic was not heavy.

 

Parallel to the beach, Pershing Drive goes right by the end of the runways with airplanes from all over the world landing just above my head.

 

 

Soon I was able to take a right and bicycle right down to the Pacific Ocean.

To bike along the beaches of Southern California is some of the most scenic urban bike riding in America.  There are gaps, sure, and that is part of the problem and part of the adventure.   Arriving at the beach here about three miles from the airport hotel, it felt like paradise.

 

The bike path is right on the beach, this continues for miles and miles, all the way to Redondo Beach and a few miles beyond.   Surfin” USA by The Beach Boys lists these towns one by one, and I would be biking through almost all of them during the next three days.

 

It was about to get dark and there were only a few lodging options.  I found this motel in Redondo Beach on Pacific Coast Highway, about six blocks from the beach; low cost, no frills, but certainly adequate, not at all sleazy.

 

I had eggplant parmesan that night at Mama D’s, seemingly the best option that was within walking distance to the motel.  It was a little too family friendly, tons of kids running around as I joined all these people waiting in line for a table.  The management was very welcoming.  It was a Saturday night; what would you expect?   Despite the insane housing prices here, and L.A.’s reputation as being a multicultural stew, some of the beach areas seem almost 1950’s in their outward show of wholesomeness.

 

The next morning I biked past more evidence of this 1950’s vibe.

 

Biking south from Redondo Beach there is no beach bike path for about eighteen miles in and around Long Beach CA.    One just has to meander through residential streets, trying to stay off Pacific Coast Highway as much as possible.   South of Long Beach the delightful beach bike path would resume.

 

Inland from the beach the neighborhoods become more diverse.  It is insane that little houses cost about a million dollars.

 

But Just Say No to condos and apartment complexes!

 

My bike ride this day went right through Torrance CA, the childhood home of Jan & Dean.   This is just a few miles south of Hawthorne CA, childhood home of The Beach Boys.   I passed by an early sixties surfer van!  On second look, maybe this was not so romantic, was somebody living in this van, is that why the windows are blocked out?   I would see more egregious examples of this later in the trip.

 

It was Sunday and commercial truck traffic around the ports was negligible.    On a weekday I imagine bicycling this stretch would have been terrifying.

 

On this bright clear day with a temperature in the sixties, snow covered mountains rose in the distance.

 

On a side street near one of the ports I passed this place at 10:30 AM.    Despite my rule about always stopping for great food, I just was not hungry and I kept biking.   I’ll bet this is some of the best Mexican food in L.A.

While even older areas around Los Angeles still seem suburban, Long Beach feels urban, like a small city plunked down in the L.A. megalopolis.

The older neighborhoods of Long Beach have attractive hundred year old houses.

 

 

The Queen Mary has been parked in Long Beach since 1967.   I wished I had been able to bike this far the previous day, so that I could have stayed on the ship as a hotel.

Long Beach does have a beach, and a lovely bike path that extends south, with a couple brief interruptions, for a total of twenty miles,  through Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, and Huntington Beach almost all the way to Newport Beach.

I grew up in Virginia Beach and was a decent surfer for a while, although I was so uncool I never hung with the surfing crowd and I mostly surfed alone.   Huntington Beach is the home of the International Surfing Museum, which I did NOT visit.  I had lunch at a stylish place near the Huntington Beach pier; a California-ish healthy sandwich served by a young guy that looked like a caricature of a bleached blond surfer dude, except that he spoke with an English accent!

 

Back on the bike I passed through Huntington State Beach where the beach was enormous.   On this Sunday afternoon it was all staked out for organized athletic events, especially Ultimate Frisbee and Beach Volleyball.   Weren’t these sports invented around here?

 

 

The beach narrows down and the mountains come down to the sea just before Newport Beach, one of the wealthiest communities in America.   The bike path on the beach stopped.  For a while I cycled along the backside of oceanfront homes, and then through the streets of Newport Beach.

 

 

 

It is eleven miles of mountainous coast south from Newport Beach to Laguna Beach.   Part of the way I had to bicycle on Pacific Coast Highway, which at least had a bike lane shoulder.    I later passed through Crystal Cove State Park, which has an off road paved trail.

 

Back home in Chapel Hill I have a good friend, songwriting partner, and blogging coach named Dan.   He grew up in Laguna Beach.  His son Peter, who grew up in Chapel Hill and was on the same high school cross-country team as my son Jack, is now in Laguna Beach, living in part of an uncle’s house.   Peter works at a high-end oceanfront hotel called the Inn at Laguna Beach.  He very thoughtfully got me a super discount on a room.    I insisted on a selfie with him.

Yes, Dan says some of the rhythm of Laguna Beach has been lost since his childhood, since the odd wayfaring surfer can no longer afford to live there, or even eat or sleep there.  Still, I like Peter’s description of “shockingly beautiful.”   My description is “terrifyingly nice.”

I walked around just as the sun was going doing down, which it does in an artful way every afternoon over the Pacific.    Crowds stand around Heisler Park, just to soak in the feeling.  Sure, there were foreign tourists brandishing selfie sticks, but aren’t I a tourist also?

 

 

 

That evening I ate and watched the Chiefs / Patriots game at one of the few semi-affordable places to eat in Laguna Beach, surprisingly good shepherd’s pie at Hennessey’s Tavern.

 

The next morning I biked around Dan’s old neighborhood, which rises up from the ocean on a hillside on the south side of town.   Everything looked relaxed and low key.  Spoiler alert: these houses are all now worth millions of dollars.

 

 

 

People seem to want reminders of the Beach Boys glory days, like an early sixties van.

 

 

Next to someone’s restored Mercedes convertible, a Woodie.

 

I turned from this Laguna Beach neighborhood and stated biking south on Pacific Coast Highway.    It was still more than a day’s ride to San Diego.

 

Ten or fifteen miles south of Laguna Beach is the small community of Dana Point.  The Boujour Cafe seemed a nice local spot to snag breakfast.   Wrong.  Way overpriced and pretentious.

 

Satiated by my $ 28.00 breakfast I continued down Pacific Coast Highway through San Clemente.  There was a bike path pretty much the whole way.

 

 

Camp Pendleton, a U.S. Marine base, covers about eighteen miles of coastline, separating the southernmost part of the Los Angeles metro area with the northernmost points in the San Diego area.   On a bicycle coming from the north, there is no real fence where the military base starts.   The bike path along the coastline transitions into a pedestrian and bicycle path on a semi-abandoned highway between Interstate 5 and the beach.

 

This was too good to be true, an empty highway on a beautiful coastline with no cars, perfect weather and wind at my back.    Ten miles into this bicycle perfection the path abruptly ended at a parking lot, right at an exit for I-5.   Just beyond, in a third direction, was a military checkpoint.   No, the soldier at the gate would not let me bicycle further south without some kind of permit that takes more than a day to obtain.  The only way south was on I-5. There had been no sign warning me of this.   Twenty years ago Alex and I had bicycled this stretch without obstruction.

I was stuck.  I was not going to bicycle on I-5 unless absolutely necessary.  I called an Uber, who showed up right away and cheerfully took me and the folding bicycle the remaining eight miles.   He dropped me off in the streets of the beach town of Oceanside.

It was one or two in the afternoon, I had not had lunch yet, and it was still forty miles to San Diego.    I decided to stop for the night at one of the beach towns along the way south.   The lucky town turned out to be Encinitas.   Along the way, biking was on the main highway or on parallel residential streets.   Most of the way it was quite safe but a few stretches were dicey.

 

 

Encinitas, while not downscale, seemed not as deliberately upscale and self-important as some other beach towns along this strip.  I want to give a big shout-out to the EconoLodge in Encinitas.   A room there cost way less than a hundred dollars and was immaculately clean.   There was even a decent free breakfast.  The hotel was run by members of a southeast Asian ethnic group I could not distinguish.

The Italian restaurant a few doors down was not as affordable and the food not all that great.  The conversation at the bar, however, was lively.

 

The next morning it was only about thirty miles to downtown San Diego but there were several large hills and complicated neighborhoods to navigate in between.

 

I did cycled up a very large hill / small coastal mountain, the top of which was covered by groves of what I assume are torrey pines.

 

The famous golf course Torrey Pines, owned by the city of San Diego, is right near the highway.

I headed to the right off the main highway and descended a long hill into the wealthy beach town of La Jolla.   I imagine somewhere in here is Mitt Romney’s house with the car elevator leading to a four car garage.

 

 

 

Pacific Beach seemed much more democratic, as in democratic with a small d.

San Diego is unique in that its airport with only one runway sits right near its central city and on the waterfront.  I biked along San Diego Bay by the airport, heading towards downtown.

 

 

The downtown Amtrak station was built for the Santa Fe railway in 1914.    It is like going to church to take the train.

 

 

 

I had managed to get here in time to make the 1:35 PM departure, three hours to downtown Los Angeles.    I could wheel the bicycle right onto the lower level of the train car.

My bicycle suitcase was stored at an airport hotel near LAX, about twenty miles from downtown L.A.

I arrived by Amtrak to the downtown Los Angeles Union Station at 4:30 PM, coming up from San Diego with the bicycle.  Union Station opened in 1939 and exhibits Art Deco calligraphy.  It provides an interesting architectural contrast to the San Diego station built twenty something years earlier.

 

 

 

It was getting dark but I had only a short distance to bike through a surprisingly hilly downtown Los Angeles to a nearby Airbnb.

I passed near the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

To get to my side of town I needed to bike through quarter mile long tunnel!

My Airbnb was on the apparently still gentrifying side of I-110 in a newer large apartment complex.    I had one bedroom of a very neat and clean two bedroom apartment occupied by a twenty something guy.   This ended up being totally acceptable to me and cost less than a hundred dollars including taxes.  He gave me instructions to tell security at the front desk that I was a “friend” of the guy in 415.  There was a nice view out of the bedroom window.

 

Street life is at a minimum in this area on the edge of downtown L.A.  There were hardly any restaurants near my place.   At dinner hour I walked a few blocks down a hill towards Wilshire Boulevard for a purported “gastro-pub.”

 

I easily found the Plan Check Kitchen + Bar.  It was an interesting scene on this slow Tuesday night.

I arrived about the same time as two extremely tall and well dressed twenty or thirty something women.   One looked African-American, one white.  I was intrigued, who were these two tall and tastefully dressed women?   They both looked super fit, buff.   Was this just because we were is Los Angeles?   Were they WNBA stars?   Was this just my prejudice coming forward?  Where they just two normal people out for dinner together?  I felt like these were not the kind of people who I would meet back in Chapel Hill.  I sat at the bar and they took the remaining two seats.  They did small talk with the bartender and the three of them all seemed to be in the know about Show Business.  How L.A.!    There were a few other people at the bar as well.

 

 

I got the Aji Tuna BLT (how California! Seafood and bacon!) and a beer.  It was all very good.

 

The next morning I sat at a Starbucks across the street from the restaurant where I had been at the night before.   I plotted a route to bicycle back to my airport hotel and maybe see something of Los Angeles in the process.    I guiltily dismissed riding the most direct route because I felt uncomfortable riding through miles and miles of majority African-American neighborhoods like Crenshaw, South Los Angeles, and Inglewood.   I would ride instead a slightly longer route through Koreatown, Beverlywood, and Culver City.

I headed out on Seventh Street, going northwest.

 

 

MacArthur Park is melting in the dark / all the sweat green icing flowing down / someone left the cake out in the rain / I don’t think that I can take it / ’cause it took so long to bake it / and I’ll never have that recipe again!

 

 

Homeless people were all over the place.   Southern California seems like a perfect storm for homelessness; agreeable weather year-round and out of control housing costs.

 

Mostly later in the day I was repeatedly confronted with a trend I had not previously been aware of but was confirmed by a quick Google search:  housing is so expensive that people live in RV’s parked on the streets of Los Angeles.  I guess they move them around when hassled.

 

 

I continued on through the area known as Koreatown.  It has been listed as a prime up and coming area, hipsterish even.   It seemed to be full of all kinds of ethnicities, not just Korean.

I was surprised that most housing this close to downtown was still single family houses.   I am generally a big fan of historic preservation, but with the cost of housing here,something has to give.  I am not sure where this is headed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was not yet lunch time but I was ready for lunch.    Myoung Dong Kyo Ja was already half full at 10:55 AM.   At $ 11.95 this was one of the cheaper entrees of this whole trip and probably the best meal.    Their English translation menu listed this as “Korean chicken noodle soup.”  It was a big bowl of flavorful broth and big slurpy noodles, dressed with several dumpling-like things and bunches of crunchy vegetables and kimchee.

While there were patrons of all ages, all Korean looking.  I noted several groups of middle aged women who seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.

 

Moving further west the neighborhoods became more pristine, certainly more expensive and less diverse.    I bicycled many miles through prosperous neighborhoods.   I stopped for a coffee in this place just south of Beverlywood.

 

The further I travelled from downtown the more the street grid consisted of dead ends and cul de sacs.   It became more and more difficult to bicycle on residential streets as opposed to major four lane thoroughfares.    I was lucky to find the Ballona Creek Bike Path, which extends several miles towards the ocean and took me very close to the airport.

 

In the late afternoon I did indeed bicycle right up to the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport.   My suitcase was still there.   After checking in I took it and the bicycle up to my room and put it all together, for my homebound flight at 7:00 AM the next morning.

We did not come to Las Vegas to bicycle around.   I came with Tootie and her sister Kathryn for a three day vacation.   Still, I brought the Bike Friday in a suitcase so I could maybe noodle around Vegas.  (Southwest Airlines does not charge for luggage!)  Later I would I use this opportunity while out West to bicycle five days in southern California.   More about California in the next post.

The Strip is a conglomeration of high rise buildings several miles south of the original Las Vegas downtown.   We stayed in The Bellagio, a high rise with Italian themes, across the street from Paris, a hotel/casino with a French theme. This was the view from our Bellagio hotel room window. It is all so over-the-top; the Eiffel Tower sexually mounting some chateau, with a Haussmann styled high-rise behind it.

 

The same view at night.

 

This was the view out the same window thirty degrees to the left.    At the bottom of the photo are Roman columns in the outbuildings Caesar’s Palace, with an ad for the Donny and Marie show on the side of the The Flamingo, Ferris wheel in the back yard.

One afternoon I decided to bicycle around Las Vegas.    First, I had to somehow get to the street.    Las Vegas hotels are set up so one as to walk through the casino to enter or leave.    I had put the folding bicycle together in the hotel room and then walk the bicycle right through the casino.

 

The craps tables were in full swing.

 

Walking with the the bicycle, the casino transitions into a small shopping mall lined with pretentious stores like Prada and Gucci.    If someone makes substantial money at gambling the casinos entice their customers to blow their winnings on a multi-thousand dollar woman’s handbag.   The mall ends at a pedestrian bridge that crosses the 8-10 lanes of  Flamingo Road.  On the other side, near the back door of Caesar’s Palace, there is an escalator that descends to street level.   From there I could put the bicycle on the highway and ride off without having to make a left turn.

When staying on the Las Vegas Strip and planning to bicycle, (if anyone ever does this again!) the first three blocks are the worst.   I mostly biked on the sidewalk for about a quarter mile down Flamingo Road as it passed over Interstate 15 and mainline railroad tracks.    Once I could take a right turn onto a “normal” street, everything calmed down with a wide two lane street with a shoulder.   It was suddenly quite pleasant.

Las Vegas is mostly flat and built with a street grid.   I rode all over the west side of Las Vegas for about two hours.  Somehow I had expected the residential areas of Las Vegas to look exotic.  Not.    It is still America.

 

 

After biking around west side neighborhoods for quite a while I headed east towards the older downtown.   There was a bike lane!

 

I have heard that Las Vegas has put serious effort into drawing people to its downtown, maybe even regular people, not just tourists.   I stumbled onto this Cleveland Clinic research building built in 2010.  I guessed but could not believe it was Frank Gehry.  Later I checked and found that it really was designed by Gehry, about the most famous architect in America.

Fremont Street has been the main drag of downtown Las Vegas for a hundred years or more.  The street is closed to vehicular traffic and is now covered with a mesh rooftop.  The whole street feels like a room, even though it is still outdoors.  Compared to the huge hotels out on The Strip, downtown is much more democratic feeling.  Aberrant behavior is permitted.  The casinos have much lower betting minimums.  This is my kind of Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

There are “outdoor” bars along the street.  I walked around with my bicycle.

 

 

I biked the three or four miles back south our hotel,  The Bellagio out on The Strip.    Closer to our hotel, this tower sat by itself, one of many, clearly not one of the big draws.   Only in Las Vegas could such a huge building seem insignificant.

 

I did make it back to the hotel safely, but I did not venture out on the bicycle again.

 

My son Jack is living in San Diego, and he wanted to do a bicycling trip down the California coast, but without him taking more than one day off work.    Together we came up with a Saturday though Monday plan. We would both fly to San Jose airport.    I arrived San Jose late Friday night and stayed in a motel.  Early Saturday morning, I picked Jack at the San Jose airport, and we drove a one way rental car sixty miles south to the small Monterey airport.   We left the car there, pulled two bicycles out of the back, and biked off into the California morning.

Our destination was San Luis Obispo 142 miles to the south; we would need to arrive there by 1:30 PM Monday to catch the southbound Amtrak to Los Angeles and San Diego.

California Highway One south of Monterey and Carmel is a coastal road of dreams.   Parts of it are remarkably isolated (in much of the area cell phones do not work, very few stores and restaurants) especially for a region that is within driving distance of two huge metropolises.

Just as we were starting,  Jack stopped to take a work phone call.

 

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Carmel was our last stop before we heading into the coastal wilds.    Carmel is a cute and very rich town, apparently for people who do not have to work, since it is not near any employment  centers.   Appropriately, we had a nice brunch before taking off down the highway.

 

Ferrari and Mercedes, Carmel

Ferrari and Mercedes, Carmel

 

 

The coastal highway dips up and over cliffs, with the occasional bridge over a ravine.   The cold ocean generates fog, and the blue sky pokes through only on occasion.   The temperature moves back and forth with the sky, from warm sun to damp chill.

 

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There is so little development on this coast that finding a place to stay is a challenge.   Sixty miles south of Monterey we ended up at the one motel in the “town” of Lucia, south of Big Sur.   Once you got over the very high price, and the fact the restaurant had thirty dollar entrees, it was actually a quite informal and friendly place.  Little 1930’s cabins overlooking the ocean.

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The next morning we headed out into the cold fog.   There was no major town until our day’s destination of Cambria, fifty miles south.    The scenery the entire day was lovely.    We passed the Hearst Castle, seeing it up high on a ridge several miles away.  We did not take on that uphill climb to actually see it up close.

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At 12:30 PM on a Sunday we stumbled into Ragged Point; a restaurant by itself on the highway, with an outdoor space full of people with barbecue, hamburgers, beer, and a live band.   You could not ask for more.

 

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Down the coast, the mountains move further from the sea, and the road flattens out.

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That afternoon we tiredly rode into Cambria; the kind of place that I thought California no longer had; small town, great food, nice weather, no apparent traffic or pretentiousness.  From Yelp we found what is clearly The Best Restaurant in Town; Robin’s.  It is the kind of place that would have been in the movie Sideways.    Gourmet food and local wine, but casual.   Jack had never tasted dessert wine before, so we shared a $12.00 glass of red dessert wine grown and made in Paso Robles, about thirty miles away.

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The motel was a similar vibe, less than a third of the price from the place the night before, but friendly, quiet, and clean.

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We had only thirty-five miles left the next day to San Luis Obispo, home of Cal Poly and another place that seems like The Way California Used to Be, in a good way.

Extra credit for anyone who knows the significance of this street.  Hint: what song by what band mentions this street?

Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo

Johnson Avenue in San Luis Obispo

 

We got ourselves and the bikes on Amtrak, no problem.   Jack got back to San Diego at ten something that night, but I got off in downtown L.A.   Much of the train ride went right on the Pacific Ocean.

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I arrived into Union Station, downtown Los Angeles at seven thirty on a Monday night.     I left Jack behind on the train;  he was going another couple hours south to San Diego; he had to go to work the next day.

I had never been to downtown Los Angeles before, and had no agenda.    I had just found a room a couple hours earlier on Priceline.com.

Union Station is a beautiful art deco building that opened in 1939.

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Especially considering the low price I paid, the Westin Bonaventure is an impressive place.    Built about 1975, it had mesmerizing patterns on the wall behind the front desk, and fetching interior design in the lobby, which led to four high rise towers.   I now have learned that it is supposed to be a great example of postmodern design.    Pretentious words about the hotel from Edward Soja (via Wikipedia)
 (It is) a concentrated representation of the restructured spatiality of the late capitalist city: fragmented and fragmenting, homogeneous and homogenizing, divertingly packaged yet curiously incomprehensible, seemingly open in presenting itself to view but constantly pressing to enclose, to compartmentalize, to circumscribe, to incarcerate.

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That night there were all sorts of expensive restaurants within walking distance.  I went to the sushi place Chaya.  It cost a lot, but I kept the entire evening at less than fifty dollars by ordering the cheapest a la carte sushi.  It was the only time I remember being served sushi by an actual Japanese person, who exhibited the professionalism I imagine you would see in Japan, including bowing to me after the meal.

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Starting the next morning, over the next two and a half days, I bicycled a big loop through some of Southern California.   The first day I cycled from downtown to Hollywood, then to Santa Monica, then on the bike path down the beach to Redondo.

The view from my hotel room was Jetsonesque; about five layers of freeway circling high rise buildings.  On leaving downtown, the scene became gritty while being multicultural in the extreme.

 

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Graffiti in some unknown Asian language

 

Despite the movie star names embedded in the sidewalk,  I found downtown Hollywood tacky and depressing.    I turned toward the ocean, cycling through prosperous neighborhoods, ending up in the beach town of Santa Monica.  On the outskirts, I ate salad for lunch at a low cost ethnic place.   Across from me these guys seemed very Southern California; casually dressed but with a determined formalism that one would not see back here in Chapel Hill.

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I have written before that cycling along the coast through a string of beach towns is some of the best urban bicycling in America.   In Southern California the wind generally blows from north to south, so going in that direction increases the smile factor.

This particular ride went from Santa Monica, to Venice Beach, on the beach under the LAX airport runway, to Manhattan Beach, then Redondo Beach.    The entire ride is a delight.

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That evening I stayed at this nice little motel in Redondo,  two blocks from the ocean.    I bicycled in the dark a few blocks to a gastropub.

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The next day I rode a big loop, first south to the hills of Palos Verdes:

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then through the suburbia of Torrance (home of Jan & Dean!)

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I turned onto the bike path following Ballona Creek.   It feels very California as you remember these concrete rivers that continually appear in the movies.

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I had lunch in downtown Culver City, which is the town born of the MGM movie lot.    In a Mexican restaurant, the guy on the right first sat down alone at the table next to me, and looked almost like a homeless person.   Later when the dreadlocked guy on the left sat down with him, I realized these two are probably serious creative types in the movie industry.

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I then biked up into Beverly Hills, looking at rich people’s houses.   I also enjoyed seeing the hubbub that surrounds the “public” elementary schools in a wealthy enclave like that.  (Expensive cars lined up at 3:00 PM; several hired police officers standing around)

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I stayed that night back in Santa Monica, at an Airbnb six blocks from the beach.    The next morning, I walked over to Starbucks for a coffee and an oatmeal.    It was a neat L.A. experience, both this young woman and this guy clearly were aspiring actors, working at the coffee house.    The guy says he has done a couple commercials, and also does D.J. work to pay the bills.

The young woman showed everybody her cheerleader routine.

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At a UPS Store I recovered my bicycle carrying suitcase that I had sent there from north in San Jose.   I then did something I have only done once or twice; ride with my suitcase to the airport.   Because the ride along the beach was so nice, I strapped the almost empty suitcase on the back of the bike, rode the 6 – 7 miles to LAX, and then put the bike into the suitcase for my flight a couple hours later.

 

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My son Jack has been living in San Diego.  Myself and the rest of our family, plus Sam’s girlfriend Layla, all went out there for Christmas.  On Christmas Day we walked out on the pier in Ocean Beach.

Layla and Sam

Layla and Sam

 

 

Tootie, Henry, and Jack

Tootie, Henry, and Jack

 

On December 26, I got away for a thirty something mile bike loop around the the southern sprawl of the San Diego area. I began by biking a few blocks from our downtown hotel to a small ferry that crosses San Diego Bay to Coronado.

I biked up to Hotel del Coronado, which opened in 1888. My mother says her great-grandfather Joseph Spoor, who was a recent immigrant from England, was one of the principal wood carvers on the interior woodwork of this hotel.

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

 

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South of the hotel, there are a few blocks of Towers in the Park. South of that, there is a nice bike path that parallels an empty oceanfront road down the barrier island, about fifteen miles south to Imperial Beach, where one can cross back to the mainland.

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Imperial Beach:  Tijuana, Mexico sits on the opposing hill, watching over a working class neighborhood.:

 

Tijuana in the distance

Tijuana in the distance

 

Once away from the beach, this is not the trendy side of San Diego. Posh La Jolla is many miles to the north. On this side of the bay there is a nice bike path, twisting through concrete canyons and industrial sites, before depositing me on the south side of the large U.S. Navy base.

Bike path in Chula Vista, south of downtown San Diego

Bike path in Chula Vista, south of downtown San Diego

 

 

Once past the Navy base, there are suprising areas of non-gentrified turn of the twentieth century buildings, circling the south side of downtown San Diego. I got back to the downtown hotel just before dark.

 

barrio south of docw

barrio south of downtown

 

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