As we flew into Los Angeles the thin Marine layer butted up against the San Bernardino Mountains leaving the city sprawl below unseen and unappreciated. Just moments prior to landing, the airport and its immediate surroundings came into view. A familiar sight for me albeit a long overdue one.
We arrived at our two bedroom modern oceanfront home just steps from the Venice pier. It’s located south of the madness where bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk and normal people and dogs flourish. People watching for me would become a favorite pastime while my Snorkie would dog watch and dog patrol over the next week. A whine here, a growl there, and lots of sniffing of the air, other dogs and the ground in general. I too would use my sense of smell in a different way to bring back memories of when I lived near here.
Although Venice was cool with the marine layer, a rarity this time of year, the beach was crowded with surfers, families and hard bodies working out. Couples doing squats, groups practicing yoga, and individuals running and walking all day into the evening. Mid-day the sun peeked through and some people just sat on the beach absorbing the afternoon warmth, but for the most part Venice is an active beach with movement overcoming inertia.
The following morning I chose the southern route for my morning run around Marina Del Rey. I ran around an endless sea of sailboats as I jogged through all the nooks and crannies of the marina maze. I stumbled upon a friend’s condo not recognizing it until the faint familiar smell of hot bleach and laundry detergent hit me. I stopped, looked around then confirmed that it was the building she used to live in. What may appear to be a common smell in this particular instance was very unique and memorable. I ended my run by cutting through a trail that I had never experienced. It was a short dirt path between the Venice canal and million dollar houses with awesome landscape and architecture. Over an hour passed without me even breaking a sweat.
Continuing my desire to exercise my body and mind by reliving my past life in L.A., I rode my bike to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Arizona Street. I filled my backpack with fresh organic fruit, sourdough bread and gourmet nuts then headed back down the Venice boardwalk to our temporary home. I’d worked up an appetite and wanted to visit another favorite place of mine, Trader Joe’s. After convincing my husband that it’s worth the extra ten minute drive we arrived at my beloved grocery store. We would be cooking dinner during part of our stay so he stocked up on meats for the three teenage boys while I strolled the isles for old-time favorites. I was like a kid in a candy store, not sure what to get while trying to figure out what I could take back to Florida. I ended up getting fresh and frozen vegetarian prepared meals and bottles of wine priced at $1.99 a bottle. No wonder I didn’t cook much when I lived in Santa Monica, Trader Joe’s did it for me. I would be back without my husband trying to rush me, I decided.
The following day I had an equally rewarding run through Venice Beach to the Santa Monica pier. I decided to listen to music instead of my audiobooks so that my mind could wander through diverse memories and thoughts. I let it without judgement or surveillance.
I craved a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains so my husband dropped me off at Topanga State Park at Temescal Gatway Park and then took the boys to Zuma Beach in Malibu to surf. I took the more challenging route of the ridge trail, a hike I used to do once a week without effort. The switchbacks led me uphill for almost an hour. It’s a well-traveled trail but somehow a rather large non-venomous snake managed to cross in front of me, startling me for a brief moment. As I winded through the mountains, sage and juniper filled the air. The scent of nature and the views of the city and ocean were divine. It had been over six years since I traveled this route that had inspired me for the preceding decade.
A visit with a good friend and a late lunch at Gladstone’s completed my awesome day. The rest of the evening was a gift. Laid back with no agenda, just the beach and family.