Today, let me start before the beginning. We are in a beautiful hotel. Our room in it is very nice as well. But, there has been this one nagging problem.
Last night Helaine complained that at the top of every hour, the room’s alarm clock chirped a tone. Ever the electronics wiz I looked, but could find no way to turn it off. I called housekeeping.
This being a very good hotel, without skipping a beat they offered to swap our clock for another.
While we were out today they did just that. We knew it, because when we returned the clock was a different color. Sitting next to the clock was a Casio “G” Shock watch… not ours.
Coincidently, as I walked over to pick it up and look at it, it chirped. It was the top of the hour! It hadn’t been our alarm clock making the noise but a watch, left by a prior guest. Oops.
This evening Helaine brought it to the front desk to, hopefully, be reunited with its owner.
On to our day.
The plan of attack was to head to Malibu and take in the sights. Quite honestly, the weather could have been nicer. We have overcast skies with a bit of humidity. Not a perfect California day.
Malibu is a very easy drive from ‘headquarters’ in Century City. We took a left on Santa Monica, cut up Beverly Glen to Sunset, and then west past UCLA, OJ’s old neighborhood, Pacific Palisades and down to Pacific Coast Highway at the water’s edge. From there it’s a right turn and you’re traveling north toward Ventura County.
We were all hungry, so we looked for a nice place and lucked out when we found Marmalade Cafe in a small Malibu shopping center. Luckily, there was also a Radio Shack as Helaine can’t stand the touch pad on this laptop and was desperate for a mouse.
I had blueberry pancakes (excellent) and coffee (fair).
Let me become petty for a second. Coffee is lightened with cream, not milk. When restaurants bring out that tiny pitcher with white liquid, it should be cream. It was not at Marmalade Cafe.
We got back in the car and continued our trip north. As we approached Zuma Beach I could see some surfers, so we pulled over and I got out to shoot some pictures.
It was chilly and sandy and I suppose this qualified as a Geoff thing… a photo op. Helaine and Steffie stayed in the car.
A few months ago I had seen some surfing shots on a website, and I wanted to try my luck. I believe these surfers had about the same skill level surfing as I have with photography, but I got a few good shots anyway.
This was an opportunity to throw on the ‘long’ lens, my Sigma 75-300 mm. It’s not a bad lens, though it’s sort of slow¹. My surfers weren’t up enough to get a lot of shots, but I caught a few that were actually in focus, with the surfer atop his board.
I’d like to try this again some time on a sunny day, and a little closer to the action.
Part of the reason for this trip was to go to the Malibu Beach Colony. The Beach Colony is a very exclusive, very expensive neighborhood of homes. This is a community of the well known, well connected and powerful. The homes are behind a guard house on private roads. The backs of the houses are right on the beach.
If it were up to the people who live there, the beach behind these homes would be private – but California’s laws are pretty explicit in this regard. The land from the mean high tide line down to the ocean is public right-of-way.
We pulled into a public beach parking lot and then, while Helaine and Stef sat on the sand, I walked under a chain link fence and headed down the beach.
The homes in the Malibu Beach Colony are ridiculously expensive. Of that, there is no doubt. They are also squeezed as tightly together as can be. Yes, you can paint your neighbor’s kitchen while standing in yours!
The homes are mostly small, mostly two stories and all with incredible Pacific Ocean views. There is no Malibu architectural style. The homes are eclectic and totally different.
As I walked, there were no residents to be seen. There were, however, a lot of workers – all seemingly Hispanic men. A group of four or five were repairing and painting some steps, others were cleaning and sprucing up homes.
Actually there were some residents around – two dogs who barked at me as I passed their deck.
Peoplewise, except for me, this beach was empty.
It is a really beautiful place. Unlike the East Coast where most of the shoreline is on a coastal plain, there are cliffs and palisades along the immediate beach here. Not far to the east are steep hills separated by deeply etched canyons.
It is there, on the hills, where the really big houses sit. Some are spectacular. Others, like this ‘castle’ are just weird. More proof that money doesn’t necessarily buy taste.
When we left Connecticut there was still snow covering the grassy surfaces. Here it is definitely spring, with colors poking out as the rain fed ground gives life to flowers and plants.
Later, this summer, months after the last rain, these plants will die and set the scene for the brush fires which will surely follow. It’s the natural cycle of California. The beauty is so great – the climate so friendly – that people build here knowing full well it could all go up in a puff of smoke… or wash away in a heavy rain.
It does every single year, without fail.
We headed back toward Century City. Unlike our trip west, this time there was traffic. We crawled back up Sunset, retracing our steps to the Century Plaza. We’d need some time because we were going out to dinner tonight with my friend Howard and his wife Maria.
I’ve known Howard since our first day of college when he was (as I realized tonight) exactly Steffie’s age. We’ve been friends for over 35 years… and we’ve been friends through a lot.
Howard and Maria live here. Howard’s been in the L.A. area for close to 20 years. He is a show biz manager – a profession I still don’t understand 100%. Ido know Howard’s a great manager, especially based on some of the work his clients have had.
Tonight’s choice for dinner spot came from Steffie. We went to “Dolce” on Melrose Avenue. Melrose is very trendy, and “Dolce” fits in nicely, with celebs as the owners.
The restaurant is dark with loud (though very good) music, mostly from the 70s and 80s. The five of us sat in a banquet type booth. It is not the optimal table for conversation.
Though food was secondary in Steffie’s decision process, this was to be a meal. “Dolce” features Italian cuisine, and it was delicious. I had a pasta dish with Italian sausage. Helaine and Steffie had pasta with lobster. The portions, though not large, were decent. The food came out piping hot. Or waiter was attentive.
For desert we all had chocolate souffles which were rich and tasty. Unfortunately, it was milk and not cream (again) for my coffee! I know, I’m getting obsessive about this.
Considering this restaurant was picked more for its back story than it’s food, we were very pleasantly surprised. And, all things considered, the meals were reasonably priced.
Tomorrow, it’s dinner out with friends again! I’ll be 400 pounds by the time I get home.
¹ – The relative speed of a lens refers to its ability to capture light. A slow lens captures less than a fast lens, forcing you to slow down the shutter speed. The faster the lens the better… and of course the more expensive.