Santa Monica exists in at least three different forms: UCLA and its attendant cultural features; the beach and its hotel/condo appendages and the Pier, with all that goes in, under and around its overarching presence.
I came here, to the end of Rte. 66, the beginning of I-10, and another few stops on the Pacific Coast Highway, just as a most respectable conglomerate of human beings had settled in for a day’s excitement at Pacific Park.
Except for my jaunt over the pedestrian part of the bridge to downtown, however, I not once felt crowded. There seemed to be a fairly even distribution among the various parts of this particular land’s end.
As always in a coastal town, I started my visit on the beach.
It was nearly deserted on this end, but there would be a fair number sunning themselves, closer to the Pier. Still, the hotel/condo area, east of the beach, looked well-peopled.
Casa del Mar is a bit rich for my blood, yet, but like other venerable places, would be worth exploring its lobby and grounds at some point. Another feature of west LA that I’d like to spend a day on, is the canal system. Venice has more, in keeping with its eponymity to the grand Italian city, but this one in Santa Monica has a certain sweep to it.
After trekking across what seemed as desolate as the Sahara, I came upon- THE PIER! Looking at this horizontal edifice so often on NCIS, Los Angeles and Southland, I had to experience the end of Mid-America’s rainbow for real.
There were lots more people on the other side, as that is where the ticket booths for Pacific Park happen to be. Then, too, the rides were full.
I have been on quite a few roller coasters in my time, though only one or two Ferris wheels. When all is said and done, the waves and the water are what brings me contentment, in a place like this.
So, the Mother Road had to end somewhere, and the grand adventures that many seem to seek at Pacific Park dovetailed nicely with the end of this line from Chicago.
One could always just hop a boat and continue on to Santa Catalina, and some one of these days I will, but on that March 22 afternoon, I was content standing atop a mass of pilings.
It was after an hour or so, with LA’s core in mind, that I left the iconic pier and trudged over the bridge,
past the hotel of song and secrets,
and an inviting garden path,
to my trusty car, which was too dirty to photograph. Oh, and I did take a photo of the Santa Monica snake charmer, his boa and a brave, but petrified, college coed. In the interests of the sensibilities of some of my most loyal readers, I have left that one in my Flickr account.
I would find that the Page Museum, near LACMA, was closed when I got to Museum Row, and I was exhausted anyway, so it was on to El Monte, and a healthy Chinese meal at Ming Yuen Restaurant (“You no need white rice this time of day!”), followed by deep slumber at a Budget Inn.
NEXT: San Gabriel, Part 1: Mission Playhouse and Downtown