We woke up today to clouds and showers. It was in the sky. It was in the forecast. In fact, the forecast was for rain through the day and into Sunday.
This was our day to head south to Irvine and visit my cousins. We got the car, turned right on Avenue of the Stars¹ and headed toward I-10.
Before we left Connecticut, I went to Google and got maps and directions. Directions are not like horseshoes. Close doesn’t make it. Google’s directions were close, but not totally correct. Somehow, we muddled along and found our way to Orange County and the Foxes of Southern California. Google’s got to do a better job if they’re going to be serious mapmakers.
We visited Michael, Melissa and Max, noshed a little, and tried to decide where to go. There was a temporary break in the weather action, so we decided on Laguna Beach.
On our way, we passed by six year old Cousin Max’s school and decided to turn in and take a look.
None of us have ever seen a school like this. I’m not sure how to describe it except to say the school is a collection of small German fairytale style buildings. There are dozens of animals from pigs to goats to chickens to rabbits… even a llama.
He’s in the first grade, learning French and German. He loves the school, and I can see why. It is one of a kind. In many ways it fits Laguna Beach.
Laguna Beach is known as an artist’s colony. All along Pacific Coast Highway and the surrounding streets are boutiques, galleries and restaurants. It’s a browser’s paradise and, for the shoe-addicted like Steffie, a place to buy another pair of shoes.
Laguna Beach is also a beautiful and expensive place to live. Not far from the ocean are steeply rising hills. Somehow, huge houses have been placed on these hills. From the ground it looks like the ground is steep enough to cause a goat to reconsider where he’s walking. The houses are there none the less.
When you hear about California houses sliding down mountains, they’re talking about houses like these.
As we walked down one street, Helaine pointed out what looked like a TV crew. Though I didn’t see the camera, I did see a guy with a pack filled with wireless microphone receivers. Near him a woman held a clipboard. My zoom lens let me read what was on her papers. They were from MTV, probably taping another season of Laguna Beach.
That show was one of the main reasons Steffie was so anxious to go to Laguna Beach in the first place!
As we kept walking, the sky kept brightening. Before long, the Sun began to poke out and, though by no means warm, it got warm enough to be comfortable.
We headed down to the beach.
Like so much of the California coastline, the area around Laguna Beach is a coast with character. Here the beach is broad. Offshore, there are some rocks visible above the sea’s surface, allowing birds to rest… and poop. From time-to-time the waves break on the rocks, throwing white spray up in the air.
This is a friendly beach. Yes, there are people in the water (though, this being the Pacific, it’s awfully cold), but the real action is at the water’s edge. There’s a beach volleyball net, a playground and a small boardwalk with benches.
I was amazed, and pleased, to see dogs welcome on this beach.
Actually, Laguna Beach seems to be a very dog-friendly town. Many of the shops and stores had water bowls right outside their front doors. Others had signs saying dogs were welcome. I even saw one woman with a novel way of bringing her dog into a restaurant… without bringing the dog into the restaurant!
This is probably as good a time as any to mention something that really worked today. Obviously, what was fun for the adults and Steffie at Laguna Beach was not Max’s first choice. Luckily, he had his Game Boy Advance with him. Every time we stopped, he found a place to sit, pulled out the Game Boy and played Shrek II. He was content pretty much all day.
We continued to walk and browse, but dinner time was approaching so we headed south on the Pacific Coast Highway to South Laguna Beach and “Montage.”
None of us in the East Coast Fox family had ever heard of Montage. Michael and Melissa, the West Coast contingent, had only heard of it through friends, but had never been. What a find.
Excellent description for a property that originally housed a trailer park! It really is beautiful.
We were early for our dinner reservation, so we sat down for drinks in the main area in front of a picture window, looking down on the pool and the ocean. On the other side of the window is a balcony with the same spectacular view. I took my camera and started shooting away, only to be told my camera was “too professional looking” and I wouldn’t be allowed to take any more pictures.
I’m not quite sure why.
Dinner was at The Loft Restaurant, one floor down, but with an equally stunning view. This restaurant was equivalent to anything we had been to in Los Angeles… maybe nicer.
The service was excellent… though any place that refolds your napkin when you get up from the table tends to give me the heebee jeebees. The food was even better. Helaine compared it favorably to Spago, and I agree.
With dinner over, we said goodbye to Michael, Melissa and Max and headed north. We have been very lucky on the Southern California freeways, meeting hardly any traffic. By 8:30 we were back at the Century Plaza – exhausted.
What a great day. Everything we thought we’d do exceeded our expectations. The surprise spur of the moment things, or things Melissa and Michael had planned, were even better.
¹ – Shoot me – I just like typing that. It’s the world’s most pretentious street name!