On the nicest day, weather-wise, of our visit we took a scenic drive to Malibu – down Las Virgenes Road, then along the PCH (Pacific Coat Highway) all the way to Ventura County and Point Mugu Beach, and then back up Topanga Canyon Road. Rather than another visit to Malibu Seafood, we tried Neptune’s Net, which was fun — less expensive, more fried food and range of seafood than the other place. I had good crab cakes, Dirck had fish and chips which we ate at a picnic table on a roofed open air patio with a great view of the ocean. No complaints.
I thought Point Mugu was the beach I visited a few years ago but I was mistaken. Still nice. But not quite as secluded as El Pescadore Beach (the beach I was looking for and finally found…) We saw quite bit of damage from the fire that ravaged Malibu late last year, mostly charred trees but the vegetation may have been greener than usual, which is what happens when farmers routinely burn their pastures to spur new growth (something I learned about up close and personal in Kansas). We stopped at the Malibu Country Mart which was surely a tongue-in-cheek name, since it’s not the least bit country. It’s a chichi shopping center. Not much there of interest. In Topanga, we stopped as usual at Cafe Mimosa where we had to endure an old hippie talking to his friend about how Obama was the “anti-Christ.” Yes, Obama. Not Trump. Wanted to tell him where to shove it but I refrained.
An art exhibit I was dying to see in DC turned out to be in LA this trip, hence our first trip to LACMA, which was a great option on a chilly Sunday. The show, about the interplay between untrained and trained artists, was fascinating and as I suspected, one of my favorite Kansas sights, The Garden of Eden in the small rural town of Lucas got a prominent nod in the exhibit (“Outliers and American Vanguard Art.”)
Dora, Denise and Dirck at LACMA
We parked for free on a residential street near LACMA. Before the museum, we had a good quick lunch at Sycamore Kitchen – the fried cauliflower side was a favorite (in a hot red sauce with a cool creamy dressing).
Dirck and Dora at Sycamore Kitchen
In Burbank, we have done the tour of playgrounds, thanks to our 6-year-old niece Lucy who prefers Johnny Carson Playground and Betsy Lueke Playground. Dinner tonight was in Venice at my cousin Jenny’s house, with superb food by her husband Jay. We enjoyed walking down the narrow sidewalks lined with beautiful cottages, bungalows and modern showpieces, plus dense gorgeous foliage and flowers.
We did wake up to blue skies which was a welcome change. Outside our sweet little Airbnb casita, we sat beside the pool (not heated so too cold to swim in) and looked out across the green lawn and tall palm trees to the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It finally felt like we were in California (or Tucson). After a nice chat with another Airbnb guest from Rochester NY (by way of Sparta, Wisconsin) and our very nice hosts (she from Dublin, he from Illinois) we set out for a day at Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour drive northeast.
En route we stopped for a very good breakfast (huevos rancheros, mike’s mess – scrambled eggs with goodies) at the rustic Crossroads Cafe in the town of Joshua Tree, then onto the park visitors center where a very nice ranger originally from Romania gave us some great recommendations for short hikes and drives in the park. We also discovered that Dirck is now at the grand old age of 62 able to get a year pass to any national park for $20, cheaper than the $30 one day pass to Joshua Tree.
The weather was nippy (glad I brought my light down jacket) but the sky clear, albeit not always blue, and we spent several hours hiking and diving past the strange Joshua trees, which look like giant bristle brushes used to clean the inside of bottles. Dr. Seuss must have visited. We felt like we were walking The Lorax. The strange giant boulder formations (skull rock and jumbo rocks) were cool to see and we took two easy 1 mile walks (Hidden Valley, Barker Dam). We had a spectacular views from Key Point of The rugged San Bernardino mountains and in the distance the Salton Sea and even Palm Springs. Like Palm Springs, there were also telltale signs of flooding at Joshua Tree but the water had receded by morning in both places, fortunately.
Dinner was delicious ribs, steak, red rice and margaritas at Pappy and Harriet’s, a large ramshackle honky tonk place in Pioneertown, a strange forlorn community high in the mountains on a former film set for westerns. A band was setting up for a sold out show and tons of cars made the climb up a rough mountain road, with some sections covered with dirt after receding floodwaters. Unfortunately it started raining on our drive back to Burbank. Next trip: idlewood.
Baby Benji — my cousin’s so sweet four-month-old son- was the highlight of (and reason for) my trip to Venice but I was reminded of how cool and pretty and pricey this seaside community is. I loved strolling along the narrow pedestrian-only lanes of the Places, “walk streets” each lined with usually small (but sometimes large) houses, some old bungalows and cottages (my favorite) or sleek flat-faced modern newcomers, most with gorgeous overgrown foliage and lush colorful flowers. (Nowita, Marco, Amoroso Places)
I had a delicious (but almost $20) Niçoise salad and green apple lemonade ($4 but u was relieved to learn, after-the-fact that the refill was free) at trendy Superba Bar and Grill. I drove around until I found Rose Street, which I decided was the emerging area I visited a few years ago. It appeared to still be emerging.
I also wandered a little along Abbott Kinney, window shopping and people watching and since I happened to park around the block from the superb ice cream shop Salt & Straw, I decided it was a sign from above and had a large (almost $5) scoop of “freckled woodblock chocolate,” which was delicious although I didn’t really understand the name. (I choose it in part because it was the rare chocolate flavor without salt as a touted ingredient.)
After a ridiculously long drive back to Burbank in rush hour traffic (I started my drive at 4 pm, not 3 pm as planned) I went for a burger with my family at a local place, Simmzy’s (3000 W. Olive) …yet another newish and bustling Burbank restaurant.
Golden Morning in Burbank
My favorite meal at the Tallyrand (a diner opened in 1959 ) here in Burbank is the thanksgiving special – turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes – but that wouldn’t fly at 10 am so I went with the more traditional poached eggs, sausages, hash browns— good food but even better ambiance and people watching. We walked some of the meal off, I hope, at Stough Canyon in Burbank which looked more like Arizona thanks to the recent devastating wildfires that have scorched green grassy hills into brown dirt hills, and left trees charred black. But hopeful tufts of green grass dot the dirt, reminding me of the regeneration that happens on the Kansas range after the annual spring burn.
sweet pea and her favorite purple bouncy ball
Later we strolled along Magnolia Street in Burbank which had more interesting shops than I remembered. Among the resale and vintage clothing shops is the cavernous “It’s a Wrap,” so named because it sells cloths worn in TV shows by actors. Some of the racks and tags have clothing with codes that refer to the show they were worn on which is fun. The upper floor has the classy designer stuff, most of which was too pricey even with a 40 percent off storewide sale. An amazing Missoni wrap I admired would still be about $200, we calculated — better than the $700 original price but still $200. We stopped at Romancing the Bean, a trendy coffee cafe and passed the surprisingly long line at the Cuban Bakery Porto’s.
“Mister Ed” fans take note: you can see Mr. Ed’s descendants up close and personal, in the small backyards of the Rancho area of Burbank, where residents (and day trippers) on horseback are so common along the wise suburban streets leading to Griffith Park’s more rugged Cowboy-esque terrain that some of the buttons to push at the crosswalks are high enough for riders to reach.
Could it be Mister Ed? The Rancho, Burbank
We did a short loop through the Rancho and behind Disney studios and along what is apparently the Los Angeles River (it looks more like a concrete spillway or wash), conveniently ending up at our new haunt, the High Horse Dinette/Basecamp (this time for a very good breakfast (a shared skillet with scrambled eggs, cheese, chorizo). It seemed more in context when approaching it this time after walking past the equestrian center stables in the Rancho and next to the cars and bikes in the parking lot were two horses tied to a post.
Our hike to the old zoo (near the new zoo) in Griffith Park was cut short in a very Hollywood way. A nice PA with an occasionally squawking phone (akin to a walkie talkie) stopped us just as we were about to walk past the old cages to suggest we not enter. The TV show 911 was filming an episode featuring a live tiger that presumably escaped. Turning around was an easy decision.
Live tiger alert, old zoo, Griffith Park