After our trip to Canada, we spent 3 days at the Mullins' house going through 2 weeks of mail, dealing with things, and repacking. Finally we were ready to fly out to California to see the kids.
Sept. 11- 15. Santa Monica. We got a great price on a one way car rental at Santa Ana Airport (much cheaper than the LA Airport). It was only an hour's drive from Julie's. Believe it or not, traffic wasn't too bad. And it was nice to have warm, sunny weather.
The first day we dealt with transferring the title of our '93 Camry to Julie. This also involved her getting her CA license and getting a smog inspection for the car. That afternoon Julie had an audition in Burbank. We drove by lots of movie studios, dropped her off and then hung out in a park. We had a 7 PM date with our friends, George & Scott at the Hollywood Bowl, the outdoor amphitheater. We were having dinner and then seeing the LA Philharmonic & Brian Wilson (formerly of the Beach Boys). It was really neat to be there. George and Scott have box seats fairly close to stage. They provide small tables that hang over the edge of the "boxes" for a meal or just drinks. They had brought a delicious vegan dinner of lentils, falafel balls, heriloom tomatoes, and pie and wine from New Zealand in honor of Michael. The orchestra was great. We were really shocked at Brian Wilson, though. He showed no emotion at all. He also doesn't have much of a voice. But the people accompanying him were excellent. It was fun to hear the songs and they had people dancing in the aisles and singing along. At the end they had fireworks to celebrate the end of the summer season. It was great to see George and Scott. And we thank them for the wonderful seats and the wonderful meal! (See the bottom of this for a short video clip of "California Girls.")
Julie's and Michael's apartment is pretty good sized and really nice. It's in a great location. They can walk to everything, the beach and famous Santa Monica pier, the Farmer's Market, library and the coop. Their neighborhood is a mix of apartments & single family houses. The first few days we were there it was hazy until late morning and then in the low 70's and breezy - not warm enough for me to have a bathing suit on but lovely for any outdoor activity. That's one thing they love about Santa Monica. It can be 80 in LA and 70 in Santa Monica!
There was a cool electric car on her street and my favorite flower, the Bird-of-Paradise.
The beach is pretty amazing. First of all it's at the bottom of cliffs (palisades) and the beach is really wide. There are lots of beach volleyball nets set up. Right at the edge of the beach there's a biking/walking path 22 miles long from Malibu to Torrance. We walked to the beach every day just for exercise. Way off in the distance of the first picture you can see the amusement park at the pier. The water is pretty chilly here but there were a few brave souls.
This cool looking gnarled tree was at the top of the cliff. I liked the sign on the apartment building across from the beach advertising free sunsets!
One night Michael had to work (as a waiter at the Wilshire Restaurant) but the 3 of us went to the Getty Center. You park at the bottom of the Santa Monica Mountains and then take a tram to the top. It's a beautiful setting - the view, landscaping and buildings are really amazing. The buildings house paintings, sculpture, and furniture from 1600 to 1900. We definitely will go back. (If you drive, you pay to park but museum is free.)
Sunday Will Matthews came over for lunch. We hadn't seen Will in about 3 years so it was great to see him. He's still doing the voice of a cartoon character and also writes comedy in hopes of getting work as a writer. We met Michael's parents, Jim and Sylvia, for dinner at Real Food Daily, an excellent vegan & organic restaurant. On the way to the restaurant we walked to the beach again & down 3rd Street Promenade which is closed to traffic. There's lots of music, street performers, and very expensive stores. We had hoped to watch Julie on "Mad Men" but they don't have a TV!
Monday Julie took us down to Main Street, south of the 10. At the Visitor's Center we picked up a guide to historic buildings downtown to use at another time. We walked down Main Street and window shopped. The stores were more reasonably priced than 3rd Street. Here's a picture of the other side of the pier amusement park. And we saw this really interesting building with fake windows!
In the afternoon Michael took us on a hike to some pools at Malibu Creek State Park up in the brown mountains. (They turn green during the winter rains.) When we arrived the film crew from "Cold Case" was finishing up their shoot. The pools were really pretty but had slippery rocks at the edge. Michael was the only one who went in the water and got refreshed!
We always love to spend time with Julie and Michael and their cute cats, Clovis and Teela. Although it was a little challenging to figure out where the cats should be for the night in their one bedroom apartment. (They like to rise with the sun!!) Clovis liked to play with his "Duckie" or jump up to catch a toy while Teela preferred playing with a twist tie. They were fun to watch!
We really had a great visit! Santa Monica is a really nice to place to live and Julie and Michael are really happy with their apartment and its location. They hope to be there for a few years!
Next trip: Coastal California.