Way Beyond Oakland

Fish Hook

We’re still enjoying the warm weather and the salty sea air of San Clemente. Spent a good chunk of the day yesterday walking the length of the shoreline south of the San Clemente Pier. We saw a few whales surface just beyond the breaking waves, lots of impressive surfing, and fortunately I saw this gigantic fish hook before I stepped on it. It was wrapped in a bit of plastic, so it was slightly concealed. The sun glinted off it just as I was about to put my foot down on top of it. It looks like it might have hurt a bit to get it stuck in my foot.

I walked down the beach as far as Richard Nixon’s Western White house (Called La Casa Pacifica). From the driftwood log where I sat I could see the round enclosed gazebo on the northwest corner of the property and the tower of the main house above. I didn’t have a camera, so I can’t provide a photograph, but there’s more information at Wikipedia and on Google Maps.

This morning we drove up to LA to check out our old neighborhood. Hopped off of 101 at the Silverlake exit and moseyed up the Micheltorena hill to 921. The front yard was totally different than when we lived there. The oval rose garden was gone, replaced by a fenced yard with much taller landscaping. The front of the house was completely concealed. Anna said she didn’t recognize it at all.

We drove on down to Sunset and parked and walked the section of Sunset between Micheltorena and Fountain. A few landmarks were still visible. One of my favorite spots from the 1980s when we lived here was Millies restaurant. It was, at that time, just a counter with about 6 seats. I think they may have had one small two-top table. Now they have a tiny dining room next door and there were about 5 or 6 small tables on the sidewalk. The place was a little bigger but retains much of it’s original charm.

We couldn’t find the laundromat where Anna used to take our laundry (and where Justin befriended the girls in the neighborhood), but we did find the building that used to house L.A. Nicola, the restaurant where I worked most of the time we lived in LA. The fa├žade of the building had changed (gone was the corrugated steel shed that housed the host station) but the bones of the building were otherwise recognizable.

We puttered on down to Melrose Ave., thinking we might enjoy a little stroll. That neighborhood had changed too. It wasn’t nearly as hip as I recall — there were still a handful of vintage clothing spots but the bulk of the shops seemed pitched more to the tourist crowd than the local hipsters that used to hang out there in the 80s. After a quick stop at the Beverly Center we drove south on Beverly to an old favorite restaurant, El Coyote. It was mostly as we remembered. A little kitschy, not the greatest food, but kind of fun. The clientele was kind mostly the same as we remembered, only (big surprise) about 30 years older than in the early 80s.

One thing we noticed on this afternoon foray into LA was the traffic. Anna recalled how long it used to take her to drive to Beverly Hills from Silverlake to work each day. We agreed we could never live here in LA again, but it was fun to visit. People watching here is a real pleasure.

Tuesday February 16, 2010 — Mark —