Monday, February 1, 2010

Catching up with friends in SoCal

We have spent more time in California than originally anticipated, but we have enjoyed it all. We flew into Los Angeles on 27 January and our trip became an adventure right away.

An obviously foreign girl left her iPhone near where we were charging our phones by baggage claim. Dwight tried to run her down to return her phone, but she was gone. We ended up calling the last person she called and getting them to come back to get the phone. They offered to give us a ride and took us to Union Station downtown. They were in the fashion industry, one French and the other Venezuelan.

When we got to the train platform, there were many people speaking in languages other than English. Between the foreign sounds and the completely different climate, it felt like we were in a foreign country. We stopped at my friend Barb's studio to pick up keys and got to watch some taping of her show, All My Children. There was a map of Pine Valley on the wall in the studio, which is the name of the first area we plan to camp outside San Diego. After discussions with several people, Barb told us it was the fictional location of the show, in Pennsylvania.

After a good night's rest and a morning of catching up on email and blogging, we headed out to Eaton Canyon, NE of Pasadena. It was a great hike up a stream valley (they called it a river). They measure water on a different scale than we do back east. The reverse is true for mountains.

The waterfall at the end of the trail was nice and cool, in the shaded end of the canyon. The water felt about 50 F, so we didn't do any swimming!
There were many other people out enjoying the day. We did some tree identification (Scotch Pine!) and practiced with our cameras. At the end of the day, we had over 125 pictures, including a few nice panoramics. In the evening we met up with Barb, her niece, and coworker for dinner.
The next day, we headed out to the beaches. We started at Santa Monica Pier, the western terminus of Route 66. I got a call from Pat back in New York that it was 5 degrees, so I made sure to send him a picture from the warm, sunny beach!

Our next stop was Venice Beach. We had a great lunch and then walked to view the area. There were some great architecturally interesting beach houses. We walked to Muscle Beach, which looked like all the equipment was still vintage from the 60s. I knocked out a set of pullups, just to get a small workout in. There were so many strangely dressed people, that we stood out in collared shirts and unripped blue jeans.

Our last stop was Longbeach, where we met Dwight's longtime friend, Kris Larson. We had a great, wide ranging conversation about Kris's move to California and his work with the city planning there and back in Raleigh before he left. Barb's niece is close to completing her master's in urban planning, so we exchanged their contact information.

Shortly after Kris's girlfriend, Erin, showed up, he headed to a brewery for dinner. Another old friend from Raleigh, John Murphy, met us there. We spent the evening catching up and telling stories. It was really great to see those guys again. For me, it had been almost 15 years, and it seems like, while we've all changed, we still managed to be friends.

I've noticed that since I've been back, I've been more interested and feeling more part of these friendships than I did before. I guess that's the difference between always being ready to leave, and now having a little more permanency to my life.

The great evening came to an end, and we went back to Barb's. In the morning, after another nice breakfast, Barb took us to the train station. She was very helpful and a great host in LA. We took the train and stopped to have lunch with Kris and Erin in Longbeach at the local Art Museum overlooking the bay. The breakfast burritos and flautas were outstanding!

We could see the oil rigs, which drill diagonally to reach deposits directly beneath the city, only a few hundred feet off shore. The city ordered the oil companies to make the drilling platforms less of an eyesore, so they are camouflaged to look like little resort islands.

After lunch, we got on another train and headed to San Diego. Dwight's mom and cousin picked us up and we went to dinner with Dwight's family.

Sunday morning (31 JAN), we got up, had a little breakfast, and I went to the San Diego Hash. It was a great trail up one side of a valley and back down the next valley. The lunch was great and they did skits for their change of leadership. It was a great afternoon.

Now it's 1 Feb and our bikes still aren't here. I did talk to the freight company, and they say the bikes will get delivered tomorrow, so we've got another day in sunny California. There always seems to be errands to run. We are both really looking forward to getting on the road and getting into the rhythm of our ride.


  1. What an awesome post....I feel like I was there! Adam, it is great to see you are doing well! I have been able to keep up with Dwight on Facebook :) This is such a cool thing y'all are doing. My brother in law is a Major in the Army--currently in Saudi Arabia. I am sure he can understand where you are coming from with regard to the friendships thing. I can't wait to read more!

  2. Did you sit on a bicycle seat yet in California?

  3. Wonderfull story,keep safe always