I was so looking forward to a day at the beach. Get out of the sweltering city, feel a little cool, ocean breeze on my face, eat some hot-dogs and ice-cream in waffle cones. Afterward, a stroll on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Now I have to tell you about this place. It’s not just any ol’ boardwalk. This place is a three-ring circus with sand.
You start down the long walk from the parking lot, at first you see nothing but the beach to your right. Which is okay because the sailboats are out and the gulls are dive-bombing for fish. The sun worshippers are baking on blankets, boogie boarders are riding the waves and little kids are digging for seashells and tiny crabs. The whoosh of the waves channel some sort of ancient lullabye in your brain. And you just feel happy or free or something. A spring comes to your step and you hurry along toward the cacophony of color, sound and smells.
First up is the Rostrafarian, roller-skated, bass-player. Well he doesn’t have an amp but he plays just the same. As you move on you encounter the Caribbean Crew doing some mean bongo island boogie. Painters, good and bad, have lined up their wares for you to see and buy. You move on – the Korean Ladies are doing Shitsu massage in little, white, open-air tents.
The smell of hotdogs, incense, board wax and popcorn, mixes with the sea air. You breathe deeply. They don’t have smells like that in the Valley. Ugh, the Valley – the hottest, hell-hole in all of California. But I digres…
You pass the crazy guy who is juggling running chain saws and make your way around the crowd of uninitiated tourists who are ooing and ahing as he whips them around and around. You wander into the Brazialian leather shop and inspect backpacks, wallets, cowboy hats and belts. You move on, walk some more. But an icecream cone from the place that has the waffle cones and you just walk. Moving with the crowd, your eyes trying to take it all in. You don’t care that it’s hot and you’re sweating because there is something cleansing about the ocean and the sun and the cry of the gulls fighting over a hotdog bun.
More music. More shops. More people. More jugglers. More paintings. More doodabs. Tie-die bikinis – the occasional roller-blader – then a whole bank of open-air stands. Jewelry from earrings to toe-rings- sunglasses – indian cotton shirts and dresses that flap in the wind. It’s all just the best time ever.
Only…well it didn’t really happen that way. Velma drove. We got kind of lost and kept doing this loop dee loop around. We stumbled upon the 3rd Street Promenade and searched for a bathroom and a steak. Well, no steak but there was a bathroom in the bistro we had lunch in. The food was okay, the waiter was scrumptious. More walking for special flip-flops but Velma couldn’t find the kind she wanted. Back to the car and off to the beach. I sent her driving in the wrong direction. We drove. We stopped and asked for directions. We drove some more.
We found the beach but alas, no parking. Lot after lot. Oh sure there were a couple lots that were asking for $20 but we weren’t willing to fork it over. We drove in more circles, looking for a space to park. No good. Not going to happen.
More time looking for the freeway – and then we headed home.
“Aw” you may be saying, “too bad.” But really not. I did get to ‘see’ the beach and it is still everything I knew it to be. I did feel the ocean breeze even though I wasn’t as close as I wanted. And I did get out of the blistering heat for a few hours. Plus I had lunch with Velma who always makes me laugh and has plenty of stories to tell.
All in all, life is a beach.
Writer Chick (guest blogger)