The L.A. Connection

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May 30th 2012
Published: May 30th 2012
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Near Bakersfield
Los Angeles….the town where a guy knows a guy who can…..

There’s a distinct possibility that indeed this is true. Our premise is that we did know a guy who knew a guy who could. We took the long holiday weekend to make the drive from San Francisco to LA for several great reasons; to reconnect with good friends from Seattle and long lost Binkley cousins, and to take in one of the storied cities of the world.

We had four days to spend quality time with some very good friends from Seattle who are living in Venice Beach for the next few months. The added bonus is that Dave has first cousins he has not seen since 1974….. yes, 1974, and he wanted to see them.

So—this weekend was not about L.A. but about friends, family and building relationships. With that said we did get out and see a bit of the area so our story will intertwine both. And the part about a guy knowing a guy? Paul knew a guy who could get us a deal at a very nice little boutique hotel just a couple of blocks from Venice Beach, which is perhaps one of the greatest locations for viewing what is the greatest freak show in America, if not the world. More on that later.

What pops into your mind when you think of L.A.? Hollywood? Movie Stars? Glitz and glamour? Opulence at a level seen in few places? Endless summer? The Beach Boys? OJ Simpson or Rodney King or the Hillside Strangler? Or how about the magical land of Disney, traffic jams, the Rose Bowl parade? L.A. has it all. It is the land of concrete and strip malls as well as where many a dream has died. There’s no telling how many have come here in search of fame and fortune, but failed to find either. The city where one does not measure how many miles to a location, but how many minutes as you need to figure in traffic based on the time of day. The LA area has over 17 million residents, all of whom have an automobile and treat the speed limit as a mere suggestion.

Many movies have used Los Angeles, the city of angels as the back-drop. The movie industry has its roots here. It would take months to explore the city and surrounding towns. As in most large cities, each neighborhood (or in this case, suburb) has its own personality.

As one drives from Santa Monica to Laguna Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway one has to wonder how so many people have this abundance of wealth. How can so many people afford multi-million dollar homes? If you have the answer please let us in on it….. we would not mind having a McMansion along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Let’s talk about family….

Since we moved to California a year ago Dave has been wanting to give his cousins a call and see if they would be interested meeting. Growing up in the Midwest, California was 2500 miles away and made it difficult to have a relationship with these family members. Dave’s cousins left Toledo and moved to L.A. (Torrence ) over 50 years ago when their father got a job with Hughes Aircraft. In the spring of 1974 Dave met his cousins for the first time on a family trip to California. Memories have faded but he remembers his family and the trip with fondness. His Uncle Howard passed away in the 70’s and sadly they all lost contact over the years.

Imagine having first cousins that you don’t know. They have grown up, married, had families as your family has done and neither side has a clue. They lost contact and he didn’t have any idea what any of them had done with their lives. We chuckled because we love to meet new people. This was going to be fun. It’s not everyday you meet family.

When Dave made the call to James about a month ago, he was very receptive about getting the family together while we were in town. We were invited to a BBQ at Jon’s house where all four siblings, wives, children and one grand child. At age two Riley is at the center of attention, which is well deserved. She is also a pretty fair shot with a disc gun, just ask her grandfather.

When we drove up there were many cars in the front of the house and we saw a couple of people looking out the front window as we approached the house. From the minute we stepped
Sandy & JerrySandy & JerrySandy & Jerry

Lunch at Las Brisas
in the house we were welcomed. Everyone looked at each other for a family resemblance. Dave’s cousin’s says he looks like his father. Dave’s cousins look more like the Sullivan side of the family. We talked for hours and had a great time talking with Mike, Trish, James and Jon and their family. We spent a warm sunny afternoon sipping drinks and enjoying a wonderful BBQ. The afternoon was filled with warmth and sharing family stories and getting to know one another. We felt like we made a real connection and feel certain our paths will cross again.

Let’s talk about great friends….

Our friends Sandy and Jerry are living in Marina Del Ray for a few months and so we enjoyed catching up with them. It was good to be back in their company and we miss them greatly. We picked up where we left off… was if we had never been separated. We explored several beach areas and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Steeped in tradition as only Hollywood can convey. The center of the celluloid universe. We are ready for our closeup Mr. Demille. The theater is a shrine to the great stars past and present and it continues the myth and magic of this industry. Crowds walked in circles looking at handprints and signatures in the cement. We guess it may say a lot about a person when you see which stars were important enough to photograph. Everyone has their favorites and we’re no different. On this strip of sidewalk, you’ll find the famous stars. MJ was very excited to find Tom Selleck. She has been in love with him for over thirty years.

Venice Beach

The boardwalk at Venice Beach is a place unto its own, and has been for well over 50 years. If you want to people watch or express your uniqueness this is the place to be. This was Dave’s first visit to this part of California and MJ’s second. MJ and several friends took the bus to see the famous Venice Beach before they headed to Antarctica in 1989. Today’s Venice Beach is much cleaner, structured and organized. The number of shops and restaurants has grown ten fold. It is a circus-like atmosphere with street musicians and performers, roller blades a plenty
Sumo WrestlersSumo WrestlersSumo Wrestlers

Venice Beach
and an abundance of police officers walking, on bikes and horseback. Beggars and panhandlers a-plenty sleep on the beach. They are well tanned, of course. They are in competition with the beach volleyball courts and well-cared for bike paths. George Carlin once said the whole world is a freak show and America has a front row seat. Venice Beach is proof. Only the most aberrant and outlandish draw a stare here due to the variety of strange. A people-watching paradise.

For those of you who know us you know we lost our dog last year. Miss Lillie was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and we were thinking of her a lot this weekend as we ran into 3 Corgi's at Venice Beach. They were having a great time walking the boardwalk.

Laguna Beach

If you are in the area, a lunch at Las Brisa’s is well worth the effort. We walked along the beach, enjoyed a bit of music from a band that played John Phillip Sousa and dipped our toes into the cold Pacific Ocean.

We drove the Pacific Coast Highway from Laguna Beach to Venice Beach. One beach community after another.
Dave & Merry Jo Dave & Merry Jo Dave & Merry Jo

Laguna Beach
We were surprised to see a couple of oil derricks drilling in an exclusive beach side community. Only here….It was a holiday weekend and all the beaches were packed with swimmers, sun bathers and surfers.

And now we head back up I-5. LA to SF is a 6½ hour drive through miles and miles of hills and farmlands. Not much going on in that stretch of highway. Most people’s impression of California is not of the farmland and wide-open spaces you encounter while making this drive. The tan colored rolling hills are lovely in their desolate way with a few trees and scrubby bushes until you get to all the orchards. Thank goodness for the rich soil and sunshine so all of us can enjoy oranges, lemons, cherries and the all mighty California grape.

Additional photos below
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Easy RiderEasy Rider
Easy Rider

Venice Beach
Cycling Around the WorldCycling Around the World
Cycling Around the World

11 years on the road

30th May 2012

Love it when travel involves friends and family - this was fun to read.
30th May 2012

Thanks for reading along. Can't wait to read your next adventure.
30th May 2012

I'd love to visit the Golds gym on Venice beach, I've missed reading your blogs :-)
30th May 2012

I'm sure many would be willing to watch
You need a trip to Venice beach. We are getting ready for a 5 month trip so you will have plenty of blogs to read!
30th May 2012

California Dreaming
It sounds like you had a great trip down South. Meeting family was just the icing on the proverbial cake. I just hope Brutus didn't get car sick. lol Thanks for posting such a nice blog.
31st May 2012

Too funny
Brutus loves car rides so no problem.
30th May 2012
Dave & Merry Jo

Awesome Photo
What a super great picture of the two of you. You both look so happy and relaxed.
31st May 2012

visit my blog please. :)
4th June 2012
Dave & Merry Jo

Looking fantastic!
4th June 2012
Dave & Merry Jo

I've been reading some of your older blogs recently... you've had some great adventures.
12th June 2012

Love the Blog!
I finally got the time to check out your blog. (Retirement is a busy time in one's life.) I'm hooked! What a great job you guys are doing. Is it a joint venture in the writing? I already know who the photographer is. I also feel that our paths will cross again and the friendship will grow stronger. Have a terrific adventure!
13th June 2012

Hello Trish
So good to hear from you. Dave and I write the blog jointly. We enjoy doing it together. We try to do it so no one is certain who wrote what. Dave does take photos from time to time but I do take most of them. I am better at outdoor photography than indoor. It was great meeting the family. We hope to get together again in the near future. We are looking forward to our trip.
23rd June 2012

The L.A. Connection
Great to read and see photos from an 'insider' so to speak. Thanks for leaving a comment on my forum entry about Paris... you're right, tourists can say they've seen L.A. after a couple of hours at the airport! like me once waiting for hours underground somewhere in the transit area... I've been to L. A. ha! ha! lol

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