Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vacay - Day 3, August 25th, 2014

Waking up hungry and early seemed to be the rule here in California.  This time, however, we had a good plan set into place for breakfast.  On our way to Diana’s the day before, we passed a place called Norm’s that boasted steak and eggs for a really good deal.  We looked up the address in Costa Mesa and went there first thing.  While steak and eggs sounded good, we still had our usual; coffee, two eggs over easy, hashbrowns, bacon and whole wheat toast.  It was still all under $20 and much larger portions.   

After breakfast, we returned to the hotel to pack up, shower, and prepare for the next part of our vacation.  We were heading north to spend some time in the Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Hollywood area before arriving in Simi Valley where my boyfriend’s friend lived and where we will be staying the next couple of nights.  First on our list of things to do was visit the big donut. 

It was actually Randy’s Donuts’ big donut.  As we were still in the plane approaching LAX, my boyfriend – who had the window seat – noticed the giant donut as we flew over it.  We are both huge Marvel fans, so getting a selfie in front of the giant donut Tony Stark was sitting in during a scene in Iron Man 2 was on our list.  It was a lot of fun.  Too bad we were so full from Norm’s that we didn't same Randy’s Donuts.  It said on the side of the building that they were the best donuts in America.  Funny thing is, the scene from Iron Man indicated there was an area to dine inside, but it was actually just a walk up restaurant.  Might as well been a food truck.  In fact, there were a lot of walk-up food places and food trucks in L.A.  Probably because there was limitations on available parking. 

Next on the list was Venice Beach.  I was forewarned that there were a lot of characters there, and they were right.  As soon as we got a couple of shops in along the sidewalk, there was a medical marijuana “hospital”.  A man in bright green scrubs with pot leaves all over it was standing outside.  It advertised $40 for the evaluation (and later along the shops it would be $30).  We must have passed three or four of those. 
We stopped at a shop to get a shirt as a   It was a very hot day, despite being close to the ocean and feeling the breezes coming off the water.  We were both sunburned at the end of the day.  

I came across Zoltar. Any “Big” fans out there?  As I was having my photo taken in front of it, a couple stopped by to comment.  The man had large, almost crazed eyes, as he insisted he wasn't on drugs and Zoltar would talk to him as he walked by.  I smiled politely and nodded.  We tried taking the photo again and the woman with him – who had a particular style what pronounced her stomach butt – insisted I needed to smile several times.  I really wasn't keen on getting advice from a woman wearing a tube top and short shorts that were at least two sizes too small for her, hence the stomach butt crack that was showing.  Plumber’s crack in the front can be as nauseating as from the rear.  We eventually removed our shoes and socks and walked along the long expanse of sand toward the ocean to walk along the shoreline.  A few waves came up on us suddenly, soaking our shorts.  We went along for some time to a little finger of land jutting out and I found some shells that were interesting and kept them.
We also came across what at first appeared to be another shell, but I noticed it was a by-the-wind sailor.  It was a jellyfish I was reading about before I came on this journey.  Apparently, the little sea creatures were being washed up on the western shorelines due to a shift in the wind whereas normally they would float along driven by the wind and living a very long, prosperous life.  My boyfriend nearly stepped on it until I warned him it was a jellyfish.  He asked if it would sting and since I knew it fed just like any other jellyfish from the article, I insisted it would.  We went through the hot sand toward the skate park where we sat, cooled our feet and put our shoes and socks back on.
We sat in the shade of the park for a while to watch the skateboarders and people mingling about.  I noticed a peculiar thing – people wear the oddest things here.  There was a teenage girl wearing a long sleeve denim jacket with short shorts on, and flip-flops, but wearing one sock.  Then you would have several women wearing barely-there bikinis, followed by girls wearing bikini bottoms, but hoodies over the tops.  Men would be in short denim shorts with long, curly hair and no tops, but bronzed and squeezed enough that they looked like topless women from behind.  Then, there was Muscle Beach.  There were a range of men and boys from young to quite old; fat to trim to scrawny.  The sounds of weights being dropped and grunts almost beat out the din from the waves of people suddenly crowding the walkway.  I didn't recall it being that busy when we first arrived.  I was getting hungry and crabby about how people around here simply continued walking straight at you instead of moving aside.  It was pretty unnerving to not have anyone show you the courtesy of nodding and moving aside as you performed the same courtesy so you don’t run straight into each other.  I was getting pretty tired of dodging mindless, sightless drones. 
souvenir and again to get a cold drink for me.

Pinwheel sculpture in the open mall before the Farmer's Market
The Farmer’s Market was something that was supposedly a place to see and eat, so we put in the address to the GPS and were on our way.  We ended up parking about a block out of the way, went through another outdoor mall into the Farmer’s Market.  There were a lot of unique foods there, but we went with Chinese.  It was $21, but good sized portions.  We wandered around afterwards and found some delicious chocolate turtles to get and snacked on those as we finished wandering and headed back to the car.  It wasn't what we were expecting at all.  Overcrowded, open air Farmer’s Market with permanent stalls.  The most interesting thing I saw was the organic produce section – also where we got the chocolate truffles – that had so much more in variety than we see in Michigan.

Since it was almost 2pm, we still had a great deal of time to spare before we wanted to head up to Simi Valley.  His friend didn't get home until after 6:15 and we didn't want to just walk in after a long day of work.  So, we went with another of my friend, Diana’s, suggestions – Santa Monica Pier. 

Stairs at the end of the pier
We parked right on the pier itself.  There was an amusement park next to the parking area – and quite frankly, I was amazed there were spots to park in.  There were a lot of people on the pier.  As soon as we got out of the parking area into the main thoroughfare, there was a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant – first one I ever saw up close.  I drove past a few, but never stood in front of one.  There was also a kiosk indicating this was the end of Route 66.  My boyfriend’s dad drove Route 66 on his motorcycle so he got a photo of that and sent it to his dad's Facebook.  Along the thoroughfare there were pier performers.  One guy was calling people in to make a semicircle around him.  We joined in.  I feared this would be one of those deals where he would bring in people from the audience to be part of his act.  After watching him break dance for a while, that was exactly what happened.  As we were leaving – I certainly didn't want to become part of the show – my boyfriend was grabbed by the performer from behind.  Don’t worry, he escaped – but barely.  At the end of the pier was a restaurant. 

View at the end of the pier
People were fishing at the end of the pier.  There was several tiers of stairs to walk up and down from the top half of the restaurant to below deck.  We could see the barnacles encrusted along the pylons beneath the pier.  There was also a section telling the entire history of the pier.  I was amazed to discover I was walking on history – 105 years old!

After an hour we were ready to see something else, so Rodeo Drive was next.  There was metered parking at a park – with real grass - uphill from the main section of Rodeo Drive.  We were stuck behind a woman in a Lamborghini, showing it off for all the men on the sidewalk.  The muscle car had a throaty purr that was near deafening.  The walk down was interesting.  After taking a selfie by the sign, I noticed the shops would have people standing in the doorways, but as we got closer, those people disappeared.  It was as though they judged us as unworthy of being greeted nor even seeing them as we walked by. 
We found a side street that took us into a quiet area with a pyramid like glass roof of a little atrium of some sort on a lower level.  There were shops in there too and a lot of women covered up from head to toe like a Bedouin going into those shops.  One was a beauty salon.  The went around that corridor, walked down a bit further and crossed the street to head up another side street with cobbled stones. 

Sitting area of atrium
A lot of people were in the beginning of this street taking photos of themselves with the street going up in the background.  I haven’t the foggiest if this was significant, but apparently a lot of other people did.  I’m not as Rodeo Drive savvy as they were.  It was a nice little place.  Tiffany’s was up there; complete with an outdoor café setup around it with a small wrought iron fence.  Next to Tiffany’s there was an art gallery.  We went inside and were treated to seeing the work of Salvador Dali, complete with early sketches.  There was even original bronze statues by Dali on display.  My boyfriend, the art major, was excited with the find.  While we were in there, a man greeted us and explained the exhibits and generously to let us know of other art exhibits in the area to look into.  One of them was the Getty Center.  When we had seen all the displays – and maybe some that wasn't part of the exhibit on accident – we left and continued on our way.  The road curved around and descended into steps with a fountain at the bottom.  Again, people were taking photos of themselves by the fountain.  Must have been a famous one I wasn't knowledgeable about.  As we continued on, we passed a salon where they were giving out samples of a product line called Adore.  One of the ladies asked if I wanted to come in for a free sample for the eyes.  I suspected it was a pitch – I was right – but getting Rodeo Drive treatment wasn't to be passed up.  Apparently, there is a deal once a year where they pull people in from the street and let them try out their eye treatments that they give to the stars during the Emmy’s.  The deal is that the products that normally sell for $600 are going for $199.  While I loved the instant results - and that she evened up my eyes so I didn't look like a stroke patient - there was no way I was going to spend $200 there.  I said no a couple of times before I was allowed to leave and we returned to the car.

By that time it was a good idea to start toward Simi Valley.  It was already rush hour which adds on time to an hour long drive.  We figured we could get something to eat when we got to Simi Valley and his friend would give us a nice place to go.  We got in as she was having her dinner.  We dragged our things to the room she provided us.  The bathroom was shown to us and she gave us an idea of her schedule for the next couple of days then told us Don Cuco’s would be a good place to have a nice dinner.  We dressed up a bit for this occasion.  The restaurant was dimly lit with loud Hispanic music.  A lot of families were there including one table with at least two newborns with them.  We both got dishes that comprised of three different meats and a variety of veggies, rice, and refried beans.  We were stuffed before we got halfway through our plates.  Probably didn't help we ate quite a few freshly made chips with salsa while we waited.  I also had a couple glasses of wine and he had several beers.  We still had a bottle of wine waiting for us when we got back.  We opened that and shared it with his friend when we returned.  She was watching the Emmy’s and we chatted while we all finished off that bottle of wine. 

Another day came to an end with us falling asleep, exhausted from our fun-filled, long days.  Visit here next week for Day 4 and….

Happy Reading!
I dedicate this post to Walter Burl Owsiany, Jr. who rode the great and scenic Route 66 and was present in his younger son's thoughts when we visited Santa Monica Pier - the final stop of Route 66.  Walt was a storyteller all his own and he made an impression on me in the brief time I had known him that encourages me to keep living life and telling my story.  Walt passed away on 09-07-14.  His memorial will be on 09-14-14 from 1-4 EST.  I invite my readers to spend this time honoring him.  If you have a motorcycle, go out and rev its motor at 2:30pm EST for a "rumble salute".  Or fondly recall those you know who love the open road in a moment of silence. 
Walt, you will be missed.
Peritus sed numquam obliteratus

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