Andrea’s apartment, Santa Monica

I keep thinking I’m a grown-up but I’m not. I made it to L.A.! It’s sunny and 72. Actually more like 90 but feels so pleasant out by the beach.

It was an early morning, packing and chatting one last time with Omar. I’d planned to cook something for breakfast and have some coffee but the mosquitoes remained fierce and I ceded the woods to them. I rolled across the road to Sycamore Cove for a look out at the ever-entrancing ocean, then on my way to Malibu.

Malibu, it turns out, is essentially a long beach overlooked by some obscenely expensive, well-manicured houses. Surfers on the beach, mostly just waiting for the perfect wave. I stopped at Zuma Beach for just a bit to walk in the warm sand and dip my feet in the Pacific.

Omar caught up to me near Pepperdine, he’s speedier than me, with only two panniers plus backpack, and also 9 years younger, and a marathon runner to boot. One last bon voyage as he sprinted ahead.

I saw more dolphins in Malibu, savagely graceful in their hunt. I wouldn’t had seen them if not for the other pedestrians around pointing at the ocean, attempting pictures. I don’t even try photographing the dolphins.

Traffic started increasing, finally re-entering civilization. Mixed feelings about that. The safeties and dangers are so different from country roads.

And then I was in Los Angeles county, and then Santa Monica. I climbed the frighteningly named, but really not so bad “California Incline” road towards downtown Santa Monica and was unsurprised to be the only cyclist on the city streets. Navigating traffic was actually pretty easy. I have wondered if it’s because LA drivers are unfamiliar with these bi-cycled contraptions, and are unsure if we are friend or foe.

I found my Macalester pal Andrea’s place without any trouble, hooray again for the iPhone (when I actually have reception, damn and blast AT&T). I met Andrea’s friend KJ at the door and got in and had a nice long hot shower, such a luxury. Then Andrea got home and we got to say hello after years, I guess it’s been since our 10th reunion. It was such a treat to sit on a couch and listen to music on very nice speakers.

I threw my laundry in to wash and tried to help with meal prep, but mostly just chatted and ate cheese & cracker appetizers. Then the three of us had a tasty lunch of Thai noodles and steamed broccoli. I had seconds on noodles and thirds on broccoli.

Andrea had a class tonight so I was on my own for several hours. She dropped me off in Venice so I could have a walk & a look around. I found a gelato place, N’ice Cream, and got salted caramel and a chocolate hazelnut combo. I wandered to the canals that Andrea had recommended. Yes, Venice CA has canals. The eccentric behind the formation of Venice had them dug. They’re really lovely, as are the houses that line them.

Then I wandered oceanward to the famous Venice Beach. I walked down Venice Pier, watched the fishermen throw out their lines. And watched the surfers, again mostly just lying in wait. Walking down the beach, feet covered in ocean, I saw another large group of surfers having better luck, watched some long, thrilling rides. At the end of one section of beach was a rocky wall and the waves would crash against it, sending a shower of seawater over those standing nearby.

Then I stopped a while to watch skateboarders carom themselves around the concrete and metal of a nice skate park, if not oblivious to danger then at least too young to be concerned with it. There were rainclouds and even lightning over Santa Monica but it was dry & sunny on the beach. The conditions made for a fabulous, if dim, double rainbow over LA.

Then further north along the water. I paused to watch the sun set, amused and elated to see so many others engaged in this old-as-the-hills entertainment. Sunset was gorgeous.

And I walked further on, towards the lights (ooh, shiny) and activity that turned out to be Santa Monica Pier. There’s a small amusement park, restaurants, buskers, and a video arcade, with two Dance Dance Revolution machines. I’m dreadfully out of practice but did gather a small crowd dancing to “Love Shine”, an old favorite. Then failed out in disgrace on the next song.

Just as well, Andrea had tried to call to schedule a pickup. We got back to her place for an appetizer of KJ’s incredible fresh-baked cookies and then a huge fajita dinner. I am so stuffed.

Now it’s to sleep in a real bed for the first time in almost a month. It is so soft!

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