California Part 4 - Santa Barbara and LA

It was nice to wake up in a home for a change instead of Motel 6. Last night, I was fed some delicious swordfish and risotto and this morning I had a leisurely cup of coffee with my Aunt Dorothy while getting ready to leave for my class in North Hollywood.

Because of the possibility of heavy traffic and not knowing the parking situation at the studio, I planned to leave three hours before class was scheduled to start. But once I got in the car and entered the address in my navigation, I noticed that I only needed a bit over an hour to get there, so I actually had plenty of time.

So much extra time in fact that I couldn't resist stopping at the beach in Sandyland. River and I played for a good half hour and then got back on the road.

I apologize for the framing in this video. Due to the glare of the sun, I couldn't see what I was filming. I was pointing the camera at River and hoping he was in frame. 

So once we got good and sandy, we got back into the car. And wouldn't you know it, we did hit lots of heavy traffic. But even with the unscheduled beach stop, I had so much extra time padded into my commute that I arrived at the studio with lots of time to chat with my producer, Paula, and with most of the students as they arrived. River was perched on top of his crate, which was already opened and ready to go into the studio as soon as the class before it cleared out.

It was a small space but we filled it with passionate moving bodies. I overheard a student talking about taking 'her space' but this routine is all about traveling. I don't think she was too uncomfortable with all the moving around the room. Every time we went into a big ambulatory free dance, I would notice a huge smile on her face.

Afterwards, my gracious producer turned into a gracious host and invited River and I to her beautiful home in the hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley. And she made an incredible dinner including homemade pork pate, celery root salad, roasted stuffed potatoes, grilled vegetables and a truffle butter roasted chicken stuffed with mushroom and bread stuffing, with gravy. And then we had an exotic French cheese plate for dessert. Her husband, Gary, is into making sourdough bread, so we had a long talk about that, too. He buys whole grains and actually makes his own flour.

There were four cheeses; A roquefort, which we enjoyed with a drizzle of honey, is the only one I can remember the name of. I wish I could remember the names of the rest, because they were all so rich that the tiniest bite filled my mouth with delicious flavor.  One was a pinkish color and had holes in the rind that Paula said was caused by mites that they add to the outside of the cheese intentionally to give it its distinct flavor. Another was a creamy white cheese that was hard enough to slice, and the fourth one was a runny, gooey almost liquid cheese that had a brie like texture and an extremely rich, slightly salty taste.

After dinner I drove back to my Auntie's house in Santa Barbara. Coming to this area always brings back so many childhood memories. Today I was really struck by the memory of driving back to Santa Barbara from L.A. Something I've done many times in my youth. And on this occasion, I was reminded of the beauty of seeing all the lights of Ventura County as I drive over the lip of the valley and begin my descent down the long, steep Canejo Grade.

Something else that struck me these past few days as I've been on US 101 since the coast of Washington. It has taken me through some amazing places. It hugs the coast in Washington and Oregon and cuts right through small towns, where you have to slow down to 25 MPH because you're driving right past stores, restaurants and schools.  And then it took me through the Redwood forest, through San Francisco and all the way down to L.A.   So I think it might be my favorite highway. It's definitely in the top five.

And here's a little interesting thing about the Pacific coast that most people don't know unless they've lived in Santa Barbara. But the coast takes a jog at SB so that the shore is actually south, not west. So as you can see from the map I posted above, my drive from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles was almost entirely eastbound and not southbound as one might think.


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