And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Southern California

Despite the fairly early hour of 10 a.m. on a weekday, I find myself fighting for a metered parking spot close enough to walk to the beach. I’m in Anaheim, staying with Marc for a few days while he starts another remodel in Irvine. 

I got here on Sunday and today (Tuesday) is my first real venture out in such heavy traffic, as I head on surface streets for Newport Beach and the closest ocean. I know it makes me seem like a whinny, but effectively for the past 25 years or more I have lived in relatively rural areas; at least they would be considered rural by traffic standards of the large metropolitan areas. Venturing forth takes its toll on my psyche and finding a dearth of parking places when I’m out exploring is a particular pet peeve of mine. Obligingly though, I drop a $1.50 worth of quarters into the meter so I can park for an hour of exploration. The problem is, as it turns out, there is nothing here worth an hour’s worth of my quarters. 

Yes, my first glimpse of this beach seems quintessential…the old truck, the kayak, the surfboard. I focus up and down the beach; it’s more of the same—people, surfers, parking lots stuffed with vehicles. I walk part way out the pier to get a better view as I pass some notable eating and drinking establishments and seaside art. I’m sorry I don’t have my ice chest with me when I see the fish market of some on-the-beach long time establishment called the Dorymen. They look for real. I wander on down the beachfront looking from the boardwalk six feet away directly into rental condos strewn back to back. The side streets do hold some beach-village allure, but nothing like say, for instance, Cannon Beach in Oregon. Soon tiring of this, I hit Highway 1 south through the downtown canal portion of Newport which is filled with more yachts, Porsche’s, Mercedes, and Ferrari’s than I have ever laid eyes upon. I am headed for a glimpse of the rich backyard’s mall known as Fashion Island. It’s an outdoor mall of large proportions anchored by Bloomingdale’s (nope, never shopped there), Neiman Marcus (never shopped there either), Macy’s (yes, this is more like it) and some other really big one I neglected to note. Most small shops cater to women’s fashion and scattered abundantly throughout are also restaurants and delis of all sorts. The landscaping is divine and big sumptuous chairs are scattered about to ease a pedestrian’s tired tootsies so they can rest to do more shopping.

Feeling a vague unease at my letdown on how-not-so-special this entire place is, I fight the urge to return to the RV park and instead head north on Highway 1 to Seal Beach. I pass through Huntington Beach which features miles upon miles of golden sand beach and pay parking lots all off to my ocean side, while condo development upon condo development recedes into the distance to the east. I finally come into Seal Beach and make a left turn on Seal Beach Blvd which appears to bring me closer to the ocean. At least parking here is free, on residential streets only one block from the beautiful and empty beach. The wind is whipping and I do not linger but I do note an offshore oil drilling rig just a few hundred yards off the beach, which somehow seems incongruous. The homes are neat and tidy and probably very, very expensive. I let the GPS track me the quick way back to the RV park 19 miles away, where I settle into the pleasant temps and sunshine outside and let Derby linger by my feet in the grass. Overhead a Goodyear blimp circles and circles numerous times, giving tourists a joyride I suspect until I see some digital message scrolling across its side. Ah, how appropriate: it’s advertising something.