Los Angeles

No Filter December – Day 27: Driving Tips For Mexico

I have ranted on this blog in the past about how much I hate four-way stop signs, but I found I actually don’t mind them in Mexico.  Down there, everyone works together and you all get through the intersection, and if someone pushed in a little ahead of you when it was technically your turn, it’s not all that bad, because at least they do it quickly, and with sure intention, so that there is no question in your mind that you have to stop and wait a bit.  And they tend to get out of your way with equal alacrity.

There is this one intersection in Rosarito that almost defies description, but I’m going to try anyway. Or perhaps I will draw a diagram.

Here’s how it looks on the map:

Mcdonalds Rosarito intersection

The top orange line on the right is a freeway off ramp, and the bottom orange line is a freeway on ramp.  The white road between them goes over a bridge that starts right about where the ramps begin. The yellow lines on the left show the main road through town.  Doesn’t look so bad, right?  Except for one thing.  If you are coming off the freeway on that top orange line, but you want to go across the bridge (and it seems that a large percentage of the traffic does want to do that particular maneuver),  you have to pull a U turn across the white street.  Okay, so that’s not so bad either, especially when you consider that the west-bound traffic on that white street has a stop sign right there.

Except that this seems to be one of the busiest intersections in Rosarito. Not only are people coming off the freeway and wanting to U-turn to cross the bridge, but some of them also want to go to the McDonalds across the street.

Plus there are people coming out of McDonalds who want to go across the bridge.

Plus, let us not forget that freeway on ramp at the bottom, and some people coming east from the main road want to get on the freeway.

Also, some of the people coming across the bridge, who have stopped at the stop sign, also want to either get on the freeway or go to McDonalds, so some of them are turning left there.

And to make matters more fun, a large amount of people are coming off the main road and going across the bridge, and at the other end of the bridge there is an equally busy intersection that often gets gridlocked.

All this means that this intersection is almost always choked with cars, and that much of the time traffic is backed up across the bridge.  So if you are coming off the freeway, you don’t just have to make a U Turn.  You have to make a U turn while pushing your way into traffic that is backed up while not blocking the people who have stopped at the stop sign.

And you also don’t want to accidentally get on the on ramp instead of the bridge because then you will find yourself the other end of town, at the off ramp that empties directly into the parking lot of a very popular Pemex gas station.

Mcdonalds Rosarito intersection satellite2At any rate, the satellite picture on Mapquest shows the mayhem a little more accurately, although this was obviously not taken during rush hour.  Notice there are no sidewalks or crosswalks.  More than once I have seen pedestrians crossing this road.  Not at the intersection, though, but kind of in the middle between the intersection and the bridge, i.e. the absolute worst place to put your body in front of a moving vehicle because the driver is already distracted with trying not to hit the cars coming at him from five different directions.

Just to make it more fun, when you get to the other side of the bridge, if you want to turn right, you have to be aware of an off ramp coming up alongside the bridge on the right.  You can’t actually SEE it, because it’s lower than the road, but there could be a car coming up that way, so you have to do your best, before you cut over to the right turn lane, to catch a glimpse of something in that direction so you don’t crash into them as they merge onto the main road.  This is why it’s always good to have a passenger with you when you drive in Mexico.

Within a few hours of arriving there my first time driving in Mexico, I had to face this intersection – the hard way, being one of the U-turners.  I should also mention it was the evening rush hour.  And dark.

It was surprisingly easy, because as I said before, everyone worked together. As long as you don’t dither, and take your turn the second it opens up, you do just fine.  I find this far preferable to the waving-on wars that happen in intersections up in the States.

Come to think of it, while this U-turn intersection actually seems to work in Mexico, I’m pretty sure it would result in some shootings if it were up in L.A.

At any rate, after my two days of driving across the border, I came up with this:

Mexico 2013 Ems Camera 403Driving Rules For Mexico

1) Drive slower than you think you should.  You never know when a car, pedestrian or dog will appear in front of your car.  Or a pot hole.

2) If you think it’s your turn, go. You’ll figure out it really wasn’t your turn if you find someone else in your way, and you can always stop then. If you hang about too long trying to figure out if it’s your turn, though, you’ll mess up the whole flow of traffic.

3) Always take a passenger.  This gives you someone to talk to during slow traffic, as well as equipping your vehicle with another pair of eyes.

4) If someone honks you, they are not upset.  They are just saying, “Hey, I’m over here, don’t hit me.”  There is a good chance they are breaking traffic laws at the time, hence the need to get your attention.

5) Stop signs are a good idea, but no one really takes them all that seriously.

  • Corollary A) If the paint has washed off the stop sign, you really shouldn’t have to stop there.
  • Corollary B) On the other hand, it’s a good idea to treat every intersection like there is a stop sign, just in case someone else is not taking them seriously coming the other way.

6) Traffic lights are also suggestions, but it’s usually a good idea to agree with them.

Mexico 2013 Ems Camera 3597) If armed men in fatigues or uniforms tell you to stop so they can look in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to comply.

Corollary A) Don’t take pictures of them.

8) Develop an innate sense of the width of your vehicle ahead of time. You will use this information often.

9) If too many pedestrians are clogging the crosswalk and taking their time to get across, just start easing forward to encourage them to hurry up, especially if they are students.  They need to develop a healthy fear of moving vehicles.

10) If you need to back out into traffic, just go.  Nobody wants to hit you.  They’ll stop.

11) Don’t worry about doing the right thing. You can’t really do the wrong thing.  We’re all making it up as we go.

Come to think of it, that last one is a good rule of thumb for life.

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Categories: Around Town, Los Angeles, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

No Filter December – Day 23: Driven To Distraction

I must admit I was nervous about driving in Mexico when I went last week, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t all that bad.  Because as crazy as some of the intersections get, and as optional some of the stop signs seem to be, it all somehow works out.

After a few days of coping with Rosarito traffic, I returned to the States, and it was on my way out that I almost got in an accident.

Just as I approached the border, the lane I was in unexpectedly turned into an offramp that would take me back to the road to Rosarito, so I had to quickly slow down and cut over a lane.  Unfortunately, someone was at that moment parked horizontally across that lane, waiting for traffic to clear so that he could shoot over to the offramp.  I checked the mirror and started to drive around him on the right, when all of a sudden someone was honking me, loudly and long.  My daughter told me there was someone trying to cut around me from behind.  I stopped and let him go first, and as he drove past us I looked at him. He was a very harried-looking overweight American with a very sour expression on his face.  He looked exactly like a character in a movie about a grumpy middle-manager.

I was a little shaken and upset at first, as I maneuvered into line in the lane next to him.  We had reached the point where the border lines began, so I knew there would be no going anywhere fast for the next hour or so. I tried to catch the man’s eye so I could wave and say sorry, but he just looked away. A few minutes later, the car in front of him didn’t pull up right away when the line moved forward a few feet.  The man laid into his horn with the same gusto he had honked me.  It was so ridiculous to honk when you’re going to be sitting in line for the next hour, I burst out laughing.  What exactly did the man think he would gain by moving up those few feet right away instead of waiting a few seconds?

039While he was busy honking in the left lane, I was quickly working my way across the lanes to try to get into one of the right lanes. I had discovered on my last trip that the right lanes at the San Ysidro crossing open up two or three times down the road into multiple lanes, so they go much faster than the two left-hand lanes, which only split once at the very end.  If you don’t get into the right hand lanes right away, however, you lose your opportunity to change lanes, as the space between the lanes is filled with vendors and their carts all the way to the border. Within a few minutes, I was 5 or 6 cars ahead of the man.  Again I heard the angry honking.

“Oh no,” moaned the 12 year old.  “Is he going to keep that up all the way to the border?  For the next hour or two?”

“Don’t worry,” I assured him. “We’ll soon be out of earshot. We can just use his honking as a gauge of how far ahead we’re getting in this lane than if we’d stayed in that lane.”

Sure enough, about 10 minutes later we couldn’t hear him any more.  He had honked at least twice more before he faded into the distance, however.

All I could do was shake my head and think, “That poor man.” His honking was making no difference to his wait time. It was only fueling his frustration.  Suddenly all the stress of the incident with him, which I had realized by then was simply his preponderance for horn-blowing and not actually a near-miss, melted away. I sat back and enjoyed the wait, watching the vendors and talking with the kids.

036The vendors have a tough job, standing in the sun all day, threading between constantly moving cars, but many of them (the successful ones, as it turns out) maintain good humor.  One vendor walked in front of my van just as traffic started to move, so he quickened his pace and crossed himself with a twinkle in his eye.  They don’t let the grumpiness of the drivers get to them.  They hawk their wares, exchange pleasantries with each other and help each other out when needed.  Smiles sell more goods, and the ones who have found a way to smile sincerely sell the most.

Something clicked into place in my head that day. How many times do I get upset about circumstances outside of my control, fuming and ranting and raving about it?  It makes no difference.  Even if there is a point where my words might change the situation, those words need to be calm and reasonable, not ranting and raving.  I can be saddened by a situation, but working myself up about it — following the excitement plan, as a friend of mine calls it — does nothing but raise my blood pressure.  It’s not good for me.  It’s not good for my kids. And it does nothing for the situation.

I came back to the States and jumped headlong into Christmas shopping and traffic jams and harried people and long lines, but somehow the lesson I learned at the border stayed with me.  I keep finding myself pausing in the middle of chaos and smiling, appreciating details, giving away small kindnesses, stopping to have conversations and putting people above things.  Just as I duck under large breaking waves in the ocean, I have been submerging myself under the Christmas frenzy and letting it wash over me instead of knocking me down.

Because the circumstances come and go, and stuff is just stuff, but people are forever.

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Categories: Around Town, Christmas, Family, Los Angeles, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No Filter December – Day 22: Pilgrimage To The British Connection

20141222_113615_resized_1Since my parents, my brother and I left England 45 years ago, you would think I would be thoroughly Americanized by now.  Ah, but you would only think that if you had not ever been to my parents’ house.  It was a little piece of England.  We moved a lot, so that piece of England was transplanted quite often.

At any rate, when we finally settled in Southern California in the 70s, we had come to terms with not being able to eat our favorite British sweets and foods without a journey up the coast to Santa Monica.

20141222_113410_resizedAnd then, after many Jelly Baby-less years, we found The British Connection in Torrance.

Since then, it has become a necessity to visit this store every year at Christmas. When Alan and I got married, he became a British sweetie convert and insists on making the pilgrimage, with or without me.  Other people visit the Christmas lights at Sleepy Hollow section of Torrance; we go buy Cadbury Flake bars.

So here’s a shout out to The British Connection.  If you’re in the South Bay of L.A., give them a visit.  They are at 4413 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503.  Very friendly people working there, without fail, and if you have no idea what to get, they can help you figure it out.  You can even tell them your budget and the age of the person you are buying for and they will put together a basket.

The girl stocking the shelf said they just can't keep enough Flake and Crunchie bars.  "This will be gone in a few hours," she said, piling the candy on top of the bars.  "I didn't believe them when I started working here, but it's true."  I confirmed her words by promptly putting a handful of each kind in my basket.  Oops.  Now my brother knows what he's getting for Christmas.

The girl stocking the shelf said they just can’t keep enough Flake and Crunchie bars. “This will be gone in a few hours,” she said, piling the candy on top of the bars. “I didn’t believe them when I started working here, but it’s true.” I confirmed her words by promptly putting a handful of each kind in my basket. Oops. Now my brother knows what he’s getting for Christmas.

Just a note – you can buy Cadbury at regular grocery stores, but the British Connection sells the real stuff.  Yes, there is a difference!

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No Filter December – Day 20: Why Worry?

One day a lady went to a meeting at her church to hear a missionary talk about the work he does in Mexico.  She wasn’t able to join the next trip that went to his area, but she remembered what he had said about the church he and his wife are starting in February of 2015.

A few weeks later she went to her storage unit, and struck up a conversation with a man from Liberia whose unit was across the hall from hers. He mentioned that he had just moved to the area, but after a couple of months of paying for the storage space, he had decided that it was too expensive to keep all this furniture in storage. He and his wife were looking for a church or ministry to donate it to. So she told him she knew just the place.

037She put him in contact with the head of the missionary’s home team, and a week later he and some other members of the team showed up to the storage unit to pick up the furniture.

It turned out to be around $6000 worth of furniture.  It filled a 20-ft truck.  The couple who donated it only wanted to know that it was going to a good cause. After hearing about the new church and the work that has already begun down in Baja, they got so excited they agreed to join the team on the next trip down there, for the grand opening of the church.

068Soon the furniture bought in Indiana by a couple from Liberia, which was shipped to California, will be headed for Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, to be used by the members of a brand new church, Capilla Calvario/Calvary Chapel Playas.  It will join the 150 chairs that were donated a week before by a Norwegian cruise ship.

When God decides to start a new work in a certain area, this is how things come together.  It makes you wonder why, when we feel a nudge from God to do something or go somewhere, we ever worry about the details.

 

 

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No Filter December – Day 16: Retail Mayhem and More Weather

Today was the first official day I had off since we broke for Christmas Break last week. I celebrated by going to the dentist to get the permanent filling put on my root canal at 9 a.m.   After this I went Christmas Shopping at a local mall.  This leads me to believe that I may need to rethink my idea of the word “celebrate.”

After an hour and a half in Marshall’s, I finally emerged with a good chunk of my shopping completed.  This isn’t all that big a deal, except for the fact that I had intended to go to Home Goods, not Marshall’s, but I accidentally went in the wrong door.

Which, again, wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it took me ten minutes to notice I was in the wrong store.  And by then I had stuff in my cart so I decided to stay there.

So I’d say I was functioning on a par with most of the other shoppers I ran into. The 19 year old met me at the store, which helped a lot, because after walking up and down aisle upon aisle of miscellaneous department-store overstocks, I felt like my eyes were about to roll back into my head.

I arrived home bag-laden and foot-sore, pleased that I had finished such a daunting task, until I realized that I needed a few more items.  I then broke my hardest and fastest December Rule. I went to Target at 3 in the afternoon the week before Christmas.

Also, just then, it began to rain.

Somehow, though, the rain just brought us all together, and there was a cheerful atmosphere among my fellow shoppers.  I had a moment of solidarity with a young couple in the toy section when a little boy reached into the cart his mother was pushing and pulled out a toy, saying, “HEY!  Why is this in our cart? I said I liked it but I didn’t put it in here!”  His father burst out laughing, while his mother looked over at me and mouthed the words, “Darn it!”

The best moment of the day happened on my way out of the store.  The exit was clogged with people stopping to pull out umbrellas and put on hoods, because the rain had just started up again, and just ahead of me was a family with three kids.   Their youngest, a little boy who looked to be about 4, ran out the door and stopped just at the edge of the overhang, then threw his arms up into the air, exclaimed, “Bye-bye, cwuel world!” and stepped out into the deluge.

I was still chuckling by the time I got home.

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First we get rain, and then we get a rainbow. Will the weather incidents ever end here in L.A.? Pretty sure this will be on all the news channels tonight, in detail.

 

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No Filter December – Day 12: The Spa For Teeth

007Today was the Day Of The Root Canal, and fret not, I will spare you the gory details.

I did get a picture of the back-lit ceiling tile, however, and wanted to share it:

I must admit, it did help during the procedure.  It was certainly better than counting the dots in the regular ceiling tiles.

This was my first root canal, and it appeared to be a fairly uneventful one. The endodontist worried me a little when, after giving me anesthetic, she bounced back into the room and said, “So, are you numb?” When I said yes, she replied, “Good, me too!”  Then, seeing the look on my face, said, “HAH!  Just kidding.”

Then again, perhaps I deserve this endodontist.  Perhaps it’s all a cosmic scheme aimed at helping me to see myself more clearly. Towards the end of the 2-hour procedure, she actually started SINGING.

Yep, pretty sure I would do that if I were an endodontist.

I had brought my iPod with me, so during the whole nastiness of drills and such, I was happily floating away to tunes by Gungor and Kari Jobe, and between that and the “tree” above me, I was almost able to forget what was going on. The fact that I’m a lightweight and Novocaine goes straight to my head helped as well.

So all in all, it was a successful appointment.  I celebrated with a cup of hot tea when I got home.  Pain-free hot tea.

My regular dentist provides earphones and a radio when he does work, so I was not a stranger to the concept of music during dental work, but I found that bringing my own iPod was a vast improvement.  Two reasons:

1) no commercials

2) no unfortunate choice of music.

As a musician, I am finely tuned to the music to which I listen, so it is unfortunate when I settle into the chair and discover that KUSC has chosen the absolute wrong piece for the occasion.

This happened with my regular dentist once.  He was doing a filling, so it wasn’t a terribly lengthy procedure, but just as he started and I tuned into the classical radio station, the beginning bars of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue were playing.  This was okay at first.  However, the more it progressed, the more I couldn’t help but think of the animated piece that accompanies it in Disney’s Fantasia 2000.  So by the time I got to the last minute of the song, it struck me how fitting the song was with all the drilling and bits flying and water spraying that was going on in my mouth, which then tickled my funny bone so badly, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. And believe me, the wrong time to laugh is when you are reclined in a dentist chair with drilling and bits flying and water spraying going on in your mouth.

After undergoing that ordeal, I thought I had experienced the worst.  That is, until the next time I needed work done, and just as the dentist maneuvered into my mouth with the giant syringe of Novocaine, the song warbling on the office speakers hit the chorus… “Do you really want to hurt me…” I snorted, and he backed out of my mouth, and I explained what had happened and apologized, and quickly put in the earphones he had provided, turning up the radio to drown out Boy George.  This worked well for about a minute or two, but halfway through the drilling, Edvard Greig’s In The Hall of the Mountain King began to play.

So in the future, I will bring my own dang iPod to all dentist appointments.

Which brings me to the photo of the day.  I have blessed the header with the pre-sunset cloud formations visible out my front window.  We don’t often get weather in So. Cal., so it was a photo worthy sight for my neighbors and I.

As for the photo to end the post… Well.  I can choose between a close-up of the Very Zen Fountain from the waiting room, or a headshot of me laughing with half my face frozen, which, besides looking very creepy, caused my nose to twist to one side.

I will be merciful and go with the Zen.

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No Filter December – Day Seven: Stuck At The Border

My amazing weekend in Mexico came to a screeching halt just as I was re-entering the United States this afternoon. I had so carefully packed my passport and my daughter’s birth certificate, but somehow I had completely forgotten that I would also need my green card to re-enter the country.

This is not my first border crossing. And it’s not like being a non-U.S. Citizen is something new for me. So I don’t really know what was up with that.

Off I gallivanted to Mexico, blissfully ignorant of the doom that awaited me until we pulled up to the guard station after an hour and a half of waiting and trying not to buy things from the vendors that patrol the border lines. It was at this point that I looked over at my friend Virginia’s green card and went, “Ohhhhhhh….”

If it hadn’t been for my hero of a husband, who jumped in the car and drove for 2 hours to bring me my green card, I would still be there. Because even though they can easily look up my information in the system, with or without the Alien Identification Number that I memorized years ago for just such an occasion as this, and even though the border guards themselves were completely convinced that I was not a criminal or a terrorist or anything other than an absent-minded middle-aged woman, they said the point was that I just could not come into the country without the proper documentation in hand.

Unless, that is, I paid them a “waiver fee” of $595. This fee would be a one-time thing, and if it turned out I had actually LOST the card, I would then have to pay an additional $450 for a replacement card. I am sure that somewhere up the chain of command, this line of reasoning makes sense to someone.

A friendly border guard also advised me that it would take more than two hours to do the paperwork, considering that there was another forgetful woman ahead of me with the same problem.  He posited that my husband stood a good chance, given the fact that traffic would be lighter during the Chargers game in San Diego, of getting there sooner than they could process me and my $595 fee.

So Alan jumped in the car and headed south. And I waited on a metal chair that was just a couple of inches too high for my short legs, which meant I either had to dangle my feet, or sit slumped down on the chair and put one toe on the floor.  Needless to say, my legs took turns falling asleep.

I hadn’t packed any books for the weekend, figuring that there would be no time to sit and read while on a mission trip, and my phone died after the first 30 minutes, so I just had to sit there and deal with the realization of my worst fear – the Fear of Having Nothing To Read.

I did have my camera, and as I had this blog in mind, I was about to take a photo of the waiting room, when my eyes lit on a giant sign outside the window that said, “No Photography.”

Not wanting to tempt fate, I dutifully put the camera away.

So here is today’s photo:
no_photography_prohibition_sign

You may have surmised, given the publication of this blog, that I made it home okay.  I did. I survived.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  And while I didn’t really get a chance to converse with anyone else in the waiting room, given their ignorance of English and my ignorance of Spanish, I did manage to give a cough drop to a very sick older lady who should have been home in bed, but was apparently being brought to a doctor in the States by her adult children.  She was wearing her house slippers.  Her cough was painful, and when I handed her the cough drop her son was so grateful that I had reached out to her instead of moving away from her, it made my 2 hours on the chair worth it.  Because as annoying as my wait in that room was, I can’t imagine how stressful it was for them.

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No Filter December – Day Four: Christmas Sweater

When I was young and single, I lived with a married couple and another single gal in a house that was owned by a friend of mine. As we neared Christmas, a friend gave me this red sweatshirt with a teddy bear on it, and the words “Hug Me” emblazoned across it.

Two things, however:

1) The words were in a weird font and clashed with the picture behind them, so that it looked like it said, “Huame.” People asked me if that was Hawaiian for Christmas. I don’t know why they thought I would know – I’ve only been to Hawaii once.

2) APPARENTLY, I wore the sweater all the time. It was very comfortable. But the morning I came out of my room, comfortably dressed and feeling festive, and my roommate Charley looked up from his coffee and deadpanned, “Oh, you’re wearing that sweater. I never would have guessed,” it occurred to me that perhaps I was overdoing the Wearing Of The Huame Sweater.

I kept it for years, since I could only wear it in December (My rules. You guys do what you want). But eventually it wore out and I had to part with it.

Fastforward 25+ years to last Christmas, when the 12 year old simply HAD to have an ugly Christmas sweater. We headed over to Aaardvark’s Odd Ark and found a rack of them. And you will never guess what he not only found, but chose.  And what he has worn EVERY DAY OF THIS WEEK, ever since we got the Christmas decorations out of the attic. It must be hereditary.

One day soon this phase will be over and I will get a picture of the 12 year old with a regular smile on his face.  Soon.  No, any minute now, surely.

One day soon this phase will be over and I will get a picture of the 12 year old with a regular smile on his face. Soon. No, any minute now, surely.

Categories: Around Town, Christmas, Family, Los Angeles, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

No Filter December – Day Two: Rain

Rain may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but I live in Southern California and we are in the middle of a really bad drought.  So it’s a really, REALLY big deal to us.

When we arrived at the library this afternoon, it wasn’t raining too hard, so we left the umbrella in the car. Considering that it’s been a while since we have seen rain, it’s understandable that we forgot we might need the umbrella on the way out.  So of course, we emerged from the library right in the middle of a downpour. The 12 year old grabbed the keys and insisted that he be the one to brave the elements and ran back to the car to get the umbrella while I waited with the books.

Yup, I really did stop to take a selfie.

Yup, I really did stop to take a selfie.

Walking back to the car, sharing that umbrella with my son in this much-needed rainstorm, was one of those moments where time stands still for a few seconds and all your senses come alive.  The scent of the rain, the feel of the wet and cold, the laughter as we tried to squeeze under the umbrella together.  The promise of the new books tucked under my arm.  For those few seconds I forgot about my sinus headache and aching body, forgot about the bills and the homework and the dirty dishes and the Christmas shopping and just enjoyed life.

So I figured it warranted two photos.

Old enough to take care of his Mom, but still young enough to hop up on the wall as he does it.

Old enough to take care of his Mom, but still young enough to hop up on the wall as he does it.

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Of Costa Mesa and Far Too Much Coffee, Part Three (in which we visit Huntington Beach)

(Continued from Of Costa Mesa and Far Too Much Coffee, Part Two)

The Husband (who we shall now call Alan, because “The Husband” is getting a little old.  The term, I mean, not the man. Although he DID just have a birthday…) turned the car west and we drove, obeying the siren call of the beach.  Eventually we found the coast road and headed north toward Huntington Beach.

Huntington is a place we generally drive past in a hurry, since Huntington Pier on a weekend or mid-summer attracts just the size of crowd I will do anything to avoid, but this was November, and it was Monday, so we decided to park and walk around the pier.

559While there are historic buildings scattered around, the main drag leading to the pier and surrounding streets are very trendy, boasting just about any retail establishment or restaurant you might expect to find.  It was somewhat of a cross between San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

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I pause to pay my respects to Mr. Huntington.

I pause to pay my respects to Mr. Huntington.

Still full from our breakfast at Rooster Cafe, we walked past the numerous restaurants, bars and treat shops and simply admired the architecture.

I had a teacher in college who gave this piece of advice for exploring a new town: “Don’t forget to look up, and whenever you have a chance, nip up the snickelways.”

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We debated whether that motorcycle just happened to be there or was part of the decor. Because it just matched a little too well.

Admittedly, this class was in England, and the professor was talking about the city of York, but I took his advice to heart and have followed it ever since.  This has resulted in more than one bruised shin, but has also led to many a hidden discovery.

Sure enough, the “snickelways” (alleys) of Huntington Beach proved worth “nipping up” (quickly exploring). Local artists had painted murals and around each corner was something new.

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And there’s just something about a back entrance that intrigues me.

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Eventually we made it to the pier. Considering that both of us grew up in Manhattan Beach, 30 miles to the north, we couldn’t help but compare beach venues.

It pains me to have to admit that indeed, Huntington has the better pier.

For one thing, it’s longer, boasting 1,850 feet to our own Manhattan Beach Pier’s 928.

A shot The Husband took a year or so ago at "our" pier.

A shot Alan took a year or so ago at “our” pier.

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Manhattan Pier prides itself on its landmark roundhouse, which contains a snack bar and the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium, the site of many an impromptu homeschooling field trip or lazy Sunday afternoon walk for our family.

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Huntington Pier Roundhouse

Huntington also has a Roundhouse. Theirs is bigger, of course. And theirs contains an entire stinking ocean-view restaurant. We had no choice but to abandon our deep-rooted South Bay loyalties and bow to the superiority of Huntington.  Ruby’s Diner indeed.

20141124_113725They even had more surfers in Huntington. We consoled ourselves with the thought that the water around OUR pier has become a hangout for young sharks, proving that we’re just that much more hardcore up in L.A. County, because we all still surf and paddleboard and swim (and by “we,” I mean my really cool friends).

Also, we have a restaurant owned by The Fonz.

And I’m pretty sure I saw Kevin Costner on our pier once.

At any rate, despite the superiority of their pier, it was time to turn toward home.  (Read: I didn’t take any more photos worth blogging about).

Well, except this one of Alan with a pelican.

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Categories: Around Town, Family, Food, Los Angeles, Relationships | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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