Thursday, June 30, 2011

A walk in Crystal Cove

My friend had a great idea to hike the Crystal Cove State Park bike trail today with our dogs. Although we usually go for a more strenuous route, we decided that it was such a lovely day, and it would be great to be close to the ocean, so off we went.

We were greeted by the most gorgeous views of Pacific meets golden So Cal coastal chaparral. Just amazingly beautiful...

We couldn't have asked for a more picturesque day. Birds, lizards and squirrels were everywhere, darting about looking for shade, or a little morsel of food. We even saw a couple of endangered birds, but heck if I can remember what they were.

Here's the part of the park where the old cottages have been restored. It's a really cool place to stay if you are lucky enough to get a reservation through the California State Parks.

We walked past the old Date Shake Shack, which is now owned and run by Ruby's Diner.
Ruby's has restored the shack, and painted it in the old familiar yellow paint.
Here's a pic donned in white, from a few years ago.

Photo by: JaimeD.
Originally, it was painted yellow, then somewhere along the way some brain surgeon painted it white. Here it is today.

We walked right past, noticing that the place was opened for business, but not ready to slow down for a better look.

Here's a view from the highway, looking down on The Beachcomber Restaurant and the beach goers enjoying the park and beach.

Onward we trekked. We took the stairs beside the Date Shake Shack down behind the Beachcomber, then back up to the trail, just for a little leg-work.

Here's the view from the cottage that is now where guests register for their stay at the park.

Too many of the original cottages are crumbling away, waiting for renovation.

Intrepid hikers that we are, we kept up our pace, and kept moving forward. We saw a momma quail with   her brood. See the momma on the left? Yea, I know, I'm an amazing photographer!

And, check this out! A young Roadrunner, couldn't quite figure out where to dash off to, so stayed around for a lame photographer to snap a couple of pics.You're not going to like this, but that's a lizard in it's mouth. Lizard for lunch! Hey, roadrunners have to eat too, y'know.

At the end of the trail, we turned around and went back the same way we came, appreciating views from a different perspective.

That's when I felt my stomach begin to grumble and gurgle, a little reminder of just how damn hungry I was. We were still pretty far away from the car, so I was hoping I wouldn't faint dead away before we got back. That would have been just a little bit awkward for my friend.

As we walked past the Date Shake Shack, some nice person told us that it was free to eat today. That they were kicking off opening day by giving away free food and drinks. Really? We looked at each other, no joke? The fact that I was literally starving, and dreaming of something greasy to eat, I couldn't believe my luck! Yay, free food!

Here's the deck. They've just expanded it to fit 60 people.

The Park Rangers were in on the deal, too. Smile, guys!

Here's my friend's turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce, it looked delish. I'd show you my BLT with avo, but damn I was hungry, and I ate the whole thing with nothing to show for it except greasy napkins. 

The good news? I love free stuff, and food is about the best free stuff there is. The bad news? I'm so stuffed, I need to go home and take a really long nap. Ugh.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fly away

I put the heir to the throne on a plane bound for Mexico yesterday. It felt strange, like someone was cutting off my left arm. I think it will grow back someday.

He'll be gone for about a month, and I'm sure he'll have the time of his life working at a surf camp. Now I'm regretting that we've kept him so sheltered. But I guess its time for him to break free of our cocoon and fly away. Fingers crossed that he won't go too far away.

I miss him already. But after I clean out his disgusting room, and even more disgusting car, I'll get back to you on where I am emotionally.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fond memories

Throughout our lives there are the moments that are burnt into our memories. Last night was one of those moments that will forever be emblazoned in my mind. Good thing, because if I had to rely on the photos that I took, I would be in very hot water. Have I mentioned to you guys that I am a really, and I mean really, really a bad photographer?

 I just thought I'd share the pics of my son's high school graduation that will hopefully, someday jog my aging memory and remind me just how special this night was.

He walked right past us. There he is...

Hmmm, actually, these pics are kind of artsy.

Here he is getting his diploma.

That's his baby picture on the big screen. Pretty cute, right?

So, that's it! These are my pics of this amazing milestone. I'm a pretty amazing photographer, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer solstice

Ah, summer at last. Even though our mornings here are still laden with thick fog, it's good to know that today kicks off the real summer season. I love summer. The sunshine, the beach, the long days... it doesn't get any better than that.

The art festivals are getting ready to open, too. These festivals are the true meaning of summer here in Laguna. Tonight is the pre-opening, locals night party at the Sawdust Festival. Hands down, it's one of the best parties of the year. Great art and music, along with seeing old friends, it's what Laguna is all about!

Then, on Thursday, my oldest, the heir to the throne, graduates from high school. Although it's impossible to imagine that time has played a nasty trick, and passed way too quickly, I don't feel overly emotional yet. It leaves me to wonder, will the flood-gates open up at a completely inappropriate time? 'Cuz, that would be really bad, but very likely from you-know-who. All's I know is that it did go by way too fast. All that worry, discipline, gobs of love, oh, and just a teensy amount of shouting over the years, and then, *poof*, it's over. Good thing I still have the second in line to keep me busy! But, I'm warning you right now, the blubbering will be out. of. control. when he graduates in 2 years. I guess we dust ourselves off, and just keep stumbling through this crazy life. And if we're lucky, we gave our kids just the right amount of worry, discipline, gobs of love, and just the teensiest amount of shouting to help them navigate all the craziness for themselves.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The best new thing in town

As a former employee of The Beach House Restaurant, ( I waited tables there for 5 long years, waaayyy back when! ) I was thrilled when I heard the buzz about The Deck opening up at the ultra mod Pacific Edge Hotel, with the Beach House as their supporting kitchen. Knowing the location all too well, I couldn't wait to try it. So when my friends were planning a little girls catch-up evening, we jumped at the chance to go on opening day.

We entered through The Beach House Restaurant, but there is an actual entrance to The Deck.

I had forgotten just how quaint and lovely The Beach House restaurant really is. And I even got to see some of my old friends who are still working there, which was a real bonus!

It wasn't easy to make reservations, I ended up making mine through The Beach House, which wasn't the right thing to do. I even called The Pacific Edge Hotel to make sure that The Deck would have my reservation when we arrived, but they didn't seem to know, and said it would be fine, which it was. I'm sure these are all just little kinks that will work themselves out, it was opening night, after all.

The real entrance is just south of The Beach House on Sleepy Hollow Lane.

The first glimpse of The Deck from the hostess desk.

Ok, it just gets better from here. The Deck is a dream! It is right smack-dab on the sand, you couldn't get any closer if you were building a sand castle.

Stand up paddlers paddle by, and a surfer performed for us right out front.

This is an amazingly special place, with the waves crashing, the gulls overhead, and a chill beach vibe, it is a place I'll go back to over and over again. And even though it was a bit overcast and chilly, our waitress, Lauren, was there with blankets ready in case any of us needed one.

The Beach House Restaurant has been owned and run by the Pike family since 1968, which is ions in restaurant time. The building itself is the former home of 1920's hollywood star, Slim Summerville, it is so steeped in local history, that the ghosts nearly greet you at the door.

Our waitress Lauren, manager Noah Pike, and chef Michael Ingino pose against the perfect background.

 We ordered a little champagne with our appetizers. The food and service were just great, but truly, you cannot beat that ambiance!

A sampling of the appetizers that we noshed.

Here's the northern view from our table.

The Deck is an extension of a home that was built by the previous owners of Vacation Village Hotel, which has since been more appropriately renamed Pacific Edge. So when you head to the ladies room, you pass through this cozy living room area that makes you wish that you had brought your favorite book.

A stand-up bar is creatively made from a stand up paddle board from Suplove. Very clever.

The Deck is definitely worth a visit. If you go soon, while it's still a bit of a secret, maybe you won't meet up with the projected throngs of tourists and locals vying for a table. I know I'll be back, for sure!

I'm still not entirely sure how to make reservations, but try Pacific Edge Hotel's phone line:


Pacific Edge Hotel
647 South Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA  92651

The entrance to The Deck is on Sleepy Hollow Lane, just south of The Beach House.

The Beach House Restaurant
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA  92651


Monday, June 13, 2011

Isamu Noguchi

The much awaited installation of Isamu Noguchi's California Legacy finally opened to the public last Sunday at the Laguna Beach Art Museum. I even convinced Mr. R to come with me! We were very near the first in line for the curatorial walk-through, hoping to gain any tidbits of info about one of my design heroes. But sadly, I found the exhibit uninspired. I know Noguchi was very thoughtful about his sparse ideas, but I felt that this exhibit was lacking in showing us his inspiration, his passion or even a glimpse of what made him tick.

However, I did learn that he loved rocks out in Joshua Tree, and that his California Scenario was a true labor of love between he and developer, Henry Segerstrom. The two of them worked side by side to complete the sculpture garden that is now 30 years old. I used to take my kids there when they were little, but I must admit, I'm very overdue for my next visit.

This is the model Noguchi presented to Segerstrom to convince him to pay for the sculpture garden. He must have been some salesman!

Photo: The Noguchi Museum

Knowing small bits about his timeless furniture, his etherial lighting and his impressive rock sculpture, maybe my expectations were just too high. And although he was born in California, he did spend most of his time in New York when he was stateside, so his California legacy would undoubtably be limited.

What salvaged the installation for me, was the room devoted entirely to his lighting designs. It was stunning. The room was lit only by his creations, with no harsh light shining from above or below.  The effect was warm, lovely and meditative. I took these snaps, although I got scolded for it soon afterward.

Which leaves me to wonder why it's ok to take pictures in European museums, but not American. I figure, if I can take a picture of the Mona Lisa, at the Louve, why not Noguchi lights at LAM?

 If you miss LAM's installation of Noguchi's California Legacy, just get yourself over to the Costa Mesa and visit his California Scenario. Hopefully, you'll come away with reverence for this hero, Isamu Noguchi. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Ocean Day!

Hey, What are you wearing today? Blue?

Today is World Ocean Day. Wear blue and tell two... that's why I'm telling you!

Today is the day to remind ourselves to take care of our oceans. To make a commitment to protect and keep our ocean healthy.

To celebrate our ocean, and appreciate all the ocean gives us.

To admire the sheer beauty, the awesome power, the undeniable magnificence.

To remember that everything that runs-off into our rivers, finally makes it's way into our ocean. 

I'm wearing blue today, in hopes that my kids, and their kids will have a clean, healthy ocean.

Spread the word, and tell two!

Happy World Ocean Day!