Santa Monica / LA
My eyes popped open Thursday morning at 630, which has happened a few times and has become a problem. A ‘car-lag’ of sorts which I believed to have been overcoming but then moved from mountain to pacific and maybe required readjusting to that. I presumed I’d gradually adjust to the time slippages but wonder if it coupled with the driving/sitting/lack of regular exercise has thrown me off a bit.
Though have to believe San Francisco has lots of great things to offer I didn’t get to experience them and was very excited about getting out of there and staring my coastal 101 trip. I darted out of the city and headed to Santa Cruz where I would then do a short stretch of beach stuff (1 of the pics I posted yesterday) before the 101 would divert, moving east into more rural/slower areas. When it moved back west to the coast began the climbing and winding that I was imagining and it was magnificent.
I struggled most of the 1st half of this trip with fighting the urge to stop and photograph everything. If I had I wouldn’t get anywhere. I’d have perished long ago most likely in southern Wyoming — succumbing to the harsh winds and starving crows desperate for the deliciousness of my sweet, sweet eyeballs. Which if you didn’t know crow’s love. This 101 trip however I would take my time with, which I hope is reflected in some of the pics. It was beautiful and bewildering. And as suspected a popular trip. It moved through Big Sur and [most likely] world famous destination, which would certainly be backed up by the amount of people gather around the few picnic areas and restaurants along the way.
There were tons and tons of places to stop and take pics, some larger than others which I’ve come to understand everywhere along this trip to keep my eyes peeled for both and don’t invest too much into the first one because there could be an even better one another 1/4 mile down the road. It was great to be able to share these wondrous views with so many people.
When I got down to Cambria headed East. This would serve 2 purposes. I would pass through San Robles where I would have an early dinner at the Firestone/Walker brewery and afterwards slide a little further east and catch the 5 down into SM/LA. This was a great plan but had spent nearly 2 more hours than I’d planned for shooting and moving through the very, unexpectedly slow (sometimes 15mph) 101.
Leaving the brewery nearly immediately found myself back in the ‘flat’ dessert and eventually a bazillion oil pumps tended to by lots of South Americans. It was surreal, something out what could be any postapocalyptic wasteland. So very many shades of the most boring browns and greens forever. The sun was going down fast and did my best to get into Santa Monica — where I was reminded a former coworker and amazing person moved not too long ago with her husband. This is where I’d planned on talking about how terrible California drivers are but feel as though I need to save that for another post.
Made my way into the city, did the hotels.com thing, parked, threw my bags in the room and hit the streets. Maggie, her husband Andy and 1 of his friends in from out town had just finished dinner and were walking around. We met up and was told I should see the pier which hilariously I [w/out having previously been or seen it] suggested it was a Times Square on the water. And it was. Fewer topless women and superheroes fighting for tips but pretty similar. It even had a Bubba Gump Shrimp. And similarly rather than hordes of people preforming for tips there night-fishermen seemingly performing the for adulations of the locals/tourists who were too lazy/stupid/bored to not sit down and watch people stand on a pier and reel in the most fierce of seaweed. I feel victim to this when out of the corner of my eye saw someones rod start bouncing around and ran over to see the angry, defiant piece of seaweed he tired out.
Maggie, Andy and fried had enough and Uber’d out but suggested I walk a couple blocks up and see The Promenade. So did. The Promenade is a retail/food ‘district’ which contrary to what I’d been told was closing down. I wondered if everyone had exhausted by the heat earlier in the day and retreated. It wasn’t unlike many of the same sort of little areas I’ve seen all over. It reminds of of an airport where all the same sort of shops are in the same sort of places. The uniqueness and character stripped away in the interest of common appeal. I grabbed a desperately needed beer (to help subside the festering anger for the Californian driver) at Stout and headed back to the hotel.
But not before remembering that I might know 1 other person in the area. 1 Jenice Marshall who I went to high school with and occasionally kept in touch with over the years. Turns out she was still in the LA area and would have some coffee with her in the morning.
Again even though my alarm was set for 8, my eye popped open around 630-7. Dragged myself out of bed showered and coffee’d. I’d been told that breakfast was being offered in the lobby area of the Wyndam — assuming there would be some free nibbles, but that was not the case. ‘Offering’ breakfast and breakfast being served in the restaurant are 2 very different things I would suggest. And when I realized the only thing they were offering was coffee decided to head over the Jenice’s earlier than later.
Jenice lives is a pretty amazing building. The Gaylord. A once beacon for all things Hollywood and it wreaked of it. Visually and nasally. A beautiful old building going up around the 10’s-20’s. We grabbed some coffee, caught up and then headed to her [new] local market so she could pick up some goodies. This particular local market is located — as is she — in Korea town! As imagined it was a great market with an enormous variety of all sorts of things, California and Korea. This little slice of LA was interesting and am definitely interested in exploring more of it. A city in which at the height of American car manufacturing was built as sprawl-city. And it’s so very fucking hideous and lazy and suppose very American in an older Gold Rush, Ohio Trail, Western expansion sort of sense that didn’t require considering anything other than building 1 (maybe 2) level buildings and then horsing/buggying/driving to as many of them as possible.
This is where I could very easily be accused of playing the very cliche and tired NYC vs. LA (or wherever) game where I say NYC is better. BUT is in fact infinitely better. The way in which this city was so poorly envisioned and seemingly incapable of fixing ti leaves it looking like a soon-to-be shanty town where in another 10-15 years, cardboard box communities will live on top of all the existing infrastructure.
I reluctantly said goodbye to Jenice and a great big city I'd only seen a spec of and headed out towards Flagstaff which immediately came to find out waited too long. At 1230-1 the east bound traffic through > out of the city was horrendous. It eventually lightened up and was then nearly a 65-70 zone all the way into Flagstaff which allowed me to keep my time even though stopped for gas and several times to take come pics.