It’s always fun when family comes to visit you in your new environment, so we were super excited to have Kevin (Grant’s brother) and Leighann, our sister-in-law come and spend some time with us in California. We wanted to make the most of our time with them, so we took a mini staycation of our own, taking time off work and away from boat projects long enough to play tour guide and tourist at the same time. There were many places we had noted we wanted to visit but boat projects always seemed to trump day trips, unless they were related.
Sailing is always on the visitors agenda, but the arrival of our family had been met with a dense fog and cold. Not so much land cold, but off the water ocean breeze cold. We continued to monitor the weather for wind and wave heights throughout their stay, seeking the most optimal conditions that would warrant a worthwhile view of the islands. A few weeks back we had learned to avoid attempting the entrance to the harbor when conditions are less than favorable. Six foot waves at six seconds to be exact (six seconds from crest to crest). It was a steep, wet and nail biting ride. Our boat handled it well and Grant did an incredible job steering us back into smoother water behind the break wall. I did my part by being both encouraging and supportive, ready to help as needed. Shoaling at the entrance of Ventura Harbor can be dangerous when high wind or swell are coming from the North West or West. (Meaning: the shallower the water gets near the entrance, the larger the waves. Sometimes breaking waves can also occur if the wind and swell align.) For visitors, this is not the kind of sailing they typically desire to do, nor the type of sailing we’d prefer to expose them to. Besides, there were plenty of other things to do while we waited for better visibility.
We started with a local tour of Ventura and a walk through the Ventura Harbor Village. Throughout the week we expanded on our sampling of local culinary delights starting with the Anacapa Brewing Company for handcrafted ales and lagers, Brophy Brother’s for tasty fish n’ chips during Happy Hour, The Cave for a self serve digital wine tasting experience, paired with delicious small plates, and fresh Sushi at Ozeki’s. Our first day trip had us heading to Santa Barbara for a fun filled day of shopping and exploring the pier. Another day had us driving South on the Pacific Coast Highway, with a stop at the famous Santa Monica Pier. There, we found Zoltar, a fortune telling machine similar to the one in the movie BIG with Tom Hanks. The machine shares the Zoltar name, but is not the same one used in the movie. Insert your money and Zoltar comes to life. Our next stop on Rodeo Dr. had us mostly window shopping, then it was off to Hollywood.
It had been 7 years since my last visit to Hollywood. The hustle and bustle seemed the same. The wax museums, still there. The questionable men, (uh women?) dressed in superhero costumes, still there. The Chinese and Kodak theaters, still there. This time the red carpets were rolled out in front of the Chinese Theatre. There was a lot of commotion but it was unclear what was really happening. Seemed typical on this street. Parking easily became a group effort. We took the next available parking spot we saw that was legal. The Hollywood Walk of Fame stretched for many blocks. We followed the stars and our stomachs to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. Our official “Welcome to Hollywood” came back at the car with a $65 ticket from our expired meter. Cha Ching! I vaguely recalled sharing exactly the same excitement during my first Hollywood visit 7 years ago, except there was one thing that had changed! The price of our ticket.
The Getty Center was the last stop on our LA day trip. We had no idea what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised by the museum and the remarkable view of the LA skyline. I found the presentation of some of the “Look Closer” exhibits very interesting. Specific content was designed and presented on iPads about the pieces on display. The content was interactively engaging and told a more detailed story about the piece to viewer. In some instances it allowed the viewer to virtually touch and explore the piece. This I liked! What is it about a museum that makes you want to touch things? Everything!
The fog did not lift, but we did find an afternoon where the wind and swell seemed the most pleasant for a day sail. We exited the harbor and watched as two sea lions fought for a spot on the Channel buoy marker. Even though there was fog, we still had pretty good visibility. We could not see the islands despite staring into the clouds and fighting to imagine their existence. Kevin took a turn at the helm and we all had some snacks. We usually have snacks during our sails with our guests. Happy guests are usually well hydrated and well fed. I’m pretty sure this is why there is always a beverage service on airplanes. Staying hydrated also makes you less prone to mal de mer (sea sickness).
The highlight of our trip was attending a Lakers game at the Staples Center where we watched, Kobe Bryant play the game of his life! Pause….ok, ok, who are we kidding. Kobe did not play. He was out sick for this game, so sick he didn’t even make an appearance on the bench. We still had an amazing time! Kevin scored some pretty bad-ass tickets and we rented a sweet ride to avoid the drive and the traffic. It was a “near” court side experience. It was also my first pro basketball Lakers game. It was very exciting, much more exciting than the Cubs pro baseball games I had attended in the past at Wrigley Field in Chicago. This game was action packed and super fast paced. The players were huge, and the court was much bigger than expected. Jack Nicholson was there in his usual seat and really seemed to like the half time show. The Lakers won and we were all sprinkled with confetti!