I was behind on packing and slow to get out the door, and just as I was ready to go I checked my mail and got the news that I had an obligation to be back in San Francisco on Monday, April 23! So much for a trip of liesure . . .
Anyway, I had recently gotten in touch with an old friend, who is now living in Long Beach, CA. She said I could stay on her couch, and I inquired if there was any gift I could bring her from San Francisco. She suggested that a Hobee’s coffeecake would be swell. Hobee’s is a breakfast chain in the south bay, and they tend to close at 3pm. I crossed the Bay Bridge and rode down 880, to drop by their East San Jose location, but the traffic turned nasty, and time was running short, so rather than delay I headed East on 580 when the chance came.
It was a breezy ride, as ever, down I-5, up over the hills, and into Long Beach. I tried to get in touch with my friend along the way, but her mobile kept answering “out of range” with no voicemail. Weird. I sent an e-mail . . . finally I arrived in Long Beach and found her place, embarrassed that I couldn’t get in touch beforehand. But, nobody was home.
Ah! What to do? I turned to Yelp Mobile and found a local bar, Joe Jost’s, where I was able to consider my options over a beer and a polish sausage. I had picked up some “discount hotel” booklets at a rest stop along the way, and found a place to crash near the beach. I then visited the rest room and got a call from my friend inquiring as to whether I was planning to visit . . .
. . . it turns out that the mobile number I had for her was an old old old mobile number from the last time she had lived in Long Beach. (She, like me, being one of those folks who has had several phones and area codes since the boom.) At any rate, I got the tour of her new place and spent a comfortable night on the couch.
I woke up early to move the car for street cleaning, then I joined my friend for breakfast at a local favorite restaurant of hers. I had no particular agenda for sight-seeing in Long Beach, though Lorah had said nice things about the Queen Mary. It just so happened that my friend has a shop on board the Queen Mary, so we spent the morning poking around the ship, and I discovered that my old-camera-that-had-been-lent-back-to-me-after-I-lost-my-newer-camera was just about completely dead. (Oh darn.)
Next, we visited the Korean Friendship Bell, a bronze bell in a beautifully-painted pagoda overlooking the Pacific, which Korea gave us for the Bicentennial. There is a youth hostel next door, which I would check out next time I may decide to visit Long Beach, if I did not already have accommodation. We drove further along the coast, visiting the Wayfarer’s Chapel, which is a beautiful glass church on the coast, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We arrived during a wedding, as this is a very popular venue for weddings, so we couldn’t enter the chapel, and the lady at the visitor’s center advised that visits are best planned for odd hours–11am, 1pm, 3pm–since weddings are scheduled on even hours.
My original plan had been to take off in the evening and drive about four hours to Las Vegas, and crash at either of two youth hostels I had found online, or perhaps a hotel room, since accommodations are cheaper in Vegas during the week. But I changed my plans to join my friend for a late night of clubbing in Hollywood. Having no particular agenda and an evening to kill, we moseyed further along the coast, and my friend decided to give Santa Monica a shot. We found a parking spot near the beach, and noticed a movie theater. We were just in time to catch “The Namesake” which is a movie we had both wanted to see, and which we both enjoyed.
Afterwards we strolled along the beach, catching the sunset. We then embarked upon several hours of groovy carousing in the Southern California style.
Today marks the completion of the 40th trip of this body around the local star. A momentous milestone for the resident being. I spent the weekend with my wife and son, riding the train down to Santa Barbara and back, a pretty little beach town where we visited the zoo and ate ice cream together.
Most likely, I’ll be around another 40 years, or more, but really: who knows? Every day I wake up with my health and my loved ones is a blessing.
The trip has been good. Tommy did pretty well, and the scenery along the way has had a lot of that intense emerald green the dry parts of California get after some good winter rains. The view along the coast near Santa Barbara is worth the long train ride.
I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my friends. I am grateful for my job and ability to earn a living. I am grateful to be living at what honestly seems to be a very promising time in the history of our species. Life will not always be so great for this being, and in time, my life will end. I am grateful for the time I have had, and the time I have yet, and that I get to experience a little part of our collective adventure.