More Southern California
February in California would prove to be a stark contrast to our snow-shoveling final days in northern Michigan. When we weren’t going to concerts or working on our projects, we had the time and the good weather to visit family, eat the food and have some fun. The family connections took us to Prescott, Arizona, San Diego California and the nearby towns of Monrovia and Pasadena. We’d see parents, significant others, brothers, a niece, an aunt and uncle, a cousin and his wife and two first-cousins-once-removed. It was great to see familiar faces and share the stories of travel, work and the future.
My brother Tom was just awarded “Best Actor” for theater in San Diego, Dad’s finishing a novel, Terry Kempf just finished and will be working on another motion picture, both filmed in Albuquerque, brother Frank has a new CSI-style textbook that is making headlines in the field of forensics and genetics and little Erin and her big sister Lilia were two of the stars in a recital heard in Monrovia. I never heard the theme from “Peanuts” for four-hands played better!
The drought in California lasted through the first three weeks of February. Our morning routine usually began with a walk from our little place in Sierra Madre. The weather was so warm, shorts and tee shirts were common. We usually were out from 60 to 100 minutes and covered areas that took us into the streets of Astoria, Pasadena and Monrovia. Hills were always a part of these early morning treks. Going by foot always made it possible to really see the neighborhoods. The often winding and sidewalk-less streets offered views of some amazing homes. Where the bungalow is king in Salt Lake City, the ranch-style home reigns in this area at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Large mansions with imposing gates and high hedges, big Victorian homes with ornate lawns, haciendas, tiled roofs, modern homes, a variety of bungalows, basically, a colorful collection of well-kept homes. The economy is bouncing back and new homes are being constructed, old homes are being renovated, landscape crews are busy working their magic and huge trees are being trimmed. The oak, juniper, and palm trees were as tall as a ten-story building. People walk their dogs and we had days where we saw a quintet of deer, a quintet of pheasants, wild parrots and birds of all kinds that accompanied us on our walks. The temperatures were often in the upper 80s and the blooming wisteria, cacti and bougainvillea were everywhere.
We enjoyed going to the Pacific Ocean and walking about the Santa Monica pier and the long walkway of Venice Beach. The cooler temperatures at Venice Beach didn’t deter the many skateboarders, vendors, people on Segways, bicyclists, strollers or beach-combers. A dozen sailboats could be seen from the sandy shores, people tossing frisbees and footballs and a large dose of homeless individuals. We had a terrific breakfast at the Fig Tree right along the beach.
The restaurant scene in California is the best. We couldn’t try them all, but had a fabulous time at Real Foods Daily in Santa Monica, Lum Ka Naad in Northridge, Cameron’s and The Athenaeum in Pasadena, Paco’s in Astoria and Badmaash and Inaka in Los Angeles. Maybe my next sabbatical will be restaurant-related!
We spent time at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Park, the front of Igor Stravinsky’s home, Old Pasadena, the Gamble House (an Arts and Crafts house from 1906), The Getty Villa, the Getty Museum, the L.A. County Museum, the farmers market and when we wanted to avoid the horrible freeway traffic, the movie theater. We saw, “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon. This true story had the main character walking the Pacific Crest Trail, which had a stretch high above our lodging in Sierra Madre.
The traffic in L.A. is always an issue. To fit in, I had to improve my evasive, pervasive and even persuasive maneuvers. All the same, it was a relief to be home. There we could see a high-speed chase on the L.A. freeway or a train derailment from the comfort of our living room.
Even when we left L.A at 5:20am to get back to Salt Lake City, the stream of cars coming into the city was constant.
In the next blog entry look for some wonderful musical experiences from our last few weeks in California. The sabbatical would cause Lisa to say, “I feel rejuvenated!”.”
– Robert Stephenson and Lisa Byrnes