Yesterday I wrote about the first part of my recent travel adventures. Visiting with my sister Laura and her husband Doug was a relatively minor blip on the "out of your comfort zone" radar. The day after I got back into town from visiting at Laura's, I took off for places south with my brother Matthew. This second trip was more than a blip on that comfort zone radar and yet I enjoyed every moment of it. Imagine that.
My siblings and I were raised about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley. During the 1970's my entire family relocated to northern California, though not as a group. Some of us went away to college, and some (including our parents) moved north because they wanted to leave the smog and congestion of SoCal. Matthew is doing book research and when he tossed out the idea of the two of us going to Santa Monica for a few days, I got very excited. There are both cultural and environmental attractions that I have always heard about but never had the chance to visit. I was out of SoCal by the time I was 19 and have seldom returned and then only for a specific reason. Matt knows this area and going with him would give me a guide to the sights and a guide for maneuvering on unknown freeways. I jumped on board the plan.
The beach areas did bring the familiar ocean scent which tops my list of favorite fragrances. I love the sound of the ocean waves too and, yes, you could hear that lovely rhythm. Traveling on the freeways and in the congested traffic had the same traffic sounds and smells you will encounter in traffic anywhere. Can't fault SoCal for that!
The pockets of pretty were feasts. I had to stop and look carefully at flowers everywhere. They were bright and abundant in the coastal and upscale areas we visited. Flowers were not so obvious in the hard scrabble parts of town but I suppose that is the same in many large cities. We visited the Getty Museum in Malibu and the Huntington Library in San Marino and both of these fabulous cultural banks provided us with luscious eye candy. Our bike rides along the beaches were difficult to sustain as I was constantly distracted by the beautiful blues of the sea and the very inviting scenes of coastal living.
In addition to pockets of pretty to see, Matt and I enjoyed wonderfully tasty yet simple dining. Matt knows good food and he was instrumental in selecting restaurants that included well made food, and an ambiance conducive to relaxing conversation while enjoying our meals. One night we happened to end up in nosier sort of place but the food was outstanding. We also ended up engaging fellow diners in conversation and that was fun!
I have so many impressions and will continue this series tomorrow. What I know is that, even though I must slip out of my comfort zone to do it, travel seems to be agreeing with me more and more as I get older. I am especially drawn now to places that shake, rattle, and roll with energy. I can't get enough of being in the dynamic world. I want to take in all the sights and I want to ask all the people who they are and why they are there. Travel makes me know that I am alive.
I SO MUCH appreciated Matt's patience on this trip because he was constantly having to wait while I snapped yet another photo or chatted it up with yet another stranger. He never seemed to mind and would simply appear to enjoy the solitary moments to absorb what was in front of him. His planning and attention to detail made all the difference in the world. We both agreed from the get go that this was going to be an adventure and that surely we would encounter unsettling moments but we would be flexible. We both knew that we need down time, time with nothing on the agenda other than to read or nap. We built "no stress" time into the days and that paid off. In short, Matthew was a great travel companion and I hope he lets me go with him on future excursions.