Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pacific Coast Highway

I woke up and couldn't wait to get out of the smog in Gardena.  After giving River a very brief walk, we got on Rosecrans and took it all the way to CA-1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway and also known as Lincoln Blvd. It was slow going, since it was Saturday and mid July and a beautiful day. So there was a lot of traffic.

It's a surreal experience to drive on Lincoln Blvd when the underpass goes under the runways in LAX. The airplanes and cars seem to be sharing the road for a moment. As seen in a scene of the film, Koyaanisqatsi.  Once I got past LAX, the air quality started improving, and continued to do so as I forged northward.

I made a point to turn off Lincoln to drive through the craziness of Venice Beach on Ocean Ave.  And it didn't disappoint. I was too enthralled to remember to take any pictures, but it's wacky. Colorful murals and people are everywhere.  River gets spooked when skateboarders ride by the car, but then River gets spooked very easily.

Eventually I made it to Santa Monica and filmed one of my favorite little pieces of road; the one that goes from Ocean Ave, down the cliff onto Pacific Coast Highway right next to the beach.

And then the traffic really got gnarly. It was stop and go for the next hour and I was still only in Malibu. It was a good thing I wasnt' in a hurry to get anywhere, and it was also good because it allowed me to really take good looks at some of the scenery in Malibu that I normal speed right past.

There's one tavern on PCH that I feel sorry for because they're called Tavern 1 and their logo is a highway sign with a 1 in it.  Its the one on the right...
I guess they have another location called Tavern 101. But the reason I feel sorry for them is because the logo is wrong. It shows a marker for a US Highway, and the Pacific Coast Highway is a CA Highway. It should be like this...
Every beach access area that I usually frequent was crowded with throngs today. In retrospect, doing this trip on a Saturday in the middle of the summer wasn't the best idea.

The traffic started to clear up as I got into Ventura County and I eventually found a place with parking and beach access if we climbed down a small rock embankment. No problem; we both love to climb rocks.

I took River off to one side where no one else was and we found a piece of palm tree trunk and played with it in the waves for a while.
River get very excited at the beach. I'm started to get worried that it might become too much for him to handle. So after playing for a while I did a lot of exercises where his only task is to stand up on a rock. Those types of games tend to be very grounding for him.
River got his ears wet playing our game so when we got back to the car, I made sure to dry them out all the way in. And I swaddled him in a blanket once he jumped up on his seat. He didn't fuss, and actually seemed to appreciate it.
Back on CA-1, we made our way into Ventura. I used to work in an insurance office in Ventura, so I drove past my old office for a little trip down memory lane. I also drove through old town Ventura, inspired by all my fun Route 66 discoveries which often took me through the 'old town' section of towns.
I was impressed at how vibrant it has become. When I worked there, it was in the 1990's and it was a run down, old fashioned place that most of Ventura proper tended to ignore. But now it was alive with music and restuarants and shops and lots of people. Some of them on skateboards, spooking River.

I stopped at Cemetery Park to give River his dinner. This a place that used to be a cemetery but at some point they relocated all of the headstones and turned it into a public park. Some of the name plaques are still there, but they removed any stones that stuck up above ground level.


I guess it must be a dogs allowed off leash park because there were quite a few of them. River was distracted but well behaved. The whole situation kept me on my toes. If you look very closely you can see them in the background in the above picture and the following video.
The trip to Ventura put me in a nostalgic mood, so I decide to bypass Santa Barbara, my final destination for today, and go all the way up to Goleta, where I grew up. I drove past three of my old houses and two of my old schools. I drove past the place where my dad had his insurance agency where I worked right after high school.

I wanted to stop at get a burger at a favorite place called Roland's Nugget, but it was no longer there.
I drove past a place called Woody's Bodacious BBQ, so I couldn't pass that up. I picked up a Muleskinner burger, which had BBQ sauce, cheese, bacon and a whole lot of fried onion strings. I ate it in Berkeley Park. All of the picnic tables were in direct sunlight, so I chose to sit on the grass under a tree. Even though I had my burger sitting down on the ground, River sat right next to me and barely looked at it. I could tell he wanted a bite, though, because he was drooling. But he's too polite to ask.
The park was near one of my childhood homes. In fact, this park butts up against Kellogg Elementary School. As I sat there eating, and looking at the playground, based on the memories I was having, I realized that this was the place where my young sexuality first started to blossom.

After the burger, I headed back down to Santa Barbara where I was going to have dinner at my aunt's house with my uncle and his wife and my cousin.  It's always fun to chat with the family, especially when we talk about Santa Barbara. The memories I have of this place go further back than my conscious memory, since I was raised here from birth.

It's changed a lot but also has stayed the same a lot. I can still navigate my way around without maps. And if you know Santa Barbara, you know that's no easy task.

Aunt Dorothy made some wonderful pork loin with homemade applesauce. and roasted salted potatoes and asparagus and salad and fresh bread. And for dessert she had made her award winning cheese cake with raspberry drizzle. YUM!

I went to bed with a happy stomach.

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