A half day in Santa Monica

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 20, 2007

Today we only had a partial free day as we had the AR Conference to attend in the early evening, so I decided that the best way to spend our day would be to visit Santa Monica beach, which is not too far away - well, 18 minutes away according to the GPS, but it took us 40 minutes to drive there in the busy L.A. traffic (and 50 minutes to drive back), which we are getting used to!  Basically, anywhere you go that involves a freeway extends your travel time by quite a bit.

But our handy GPS led us safely to the Santa Monica Pier, where we parked, and is right at the beautiful Santa Monica beach.  The pier is huge and there's even an amusement park on it.  We went up to the pier and the first thing there that thoroughly encaptured Ben's attention was the "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co." - some kind of a seafood restaurant, nostaglically named after the enterprising establishment in one of Ben's favourite movies.  When I got Ben to sit down on the Forrest Gump bench to pose for a photo, it occurred to me then that he does actually look quite a lot like Forrest Gump!

We walked along the pier - it was much like the Manhattan Beach pier from the other night, but larger - and I took lots of nice photos of the beach scenery.  On our way back from the end of it, despite his acute fear of the ferris wheel ride, Ben agreed to go on the ride with me.  I thought it would be a great way to see the beach from above, and it was!

Ben was "starving" by this point so we headed towards our lunch destination at the Real Food Daily vegan and organic restaurant, which was only several blocks away.  Ben had a club sandwich with ceasar salad and $6 freshly squeezed orange juice, and I had some kind of huge fettucine dish with cucumbers, artichokes and other vegetables in it.

Then we started to head back to the beach, and I reminded Ben that he had wanted to buy a camelback backpack in order to keep himself well hydrated, and we found a big outdoor/camping store that sold them and he bought the camelback of his dreams, as well as a pair of polarized sunglasses that he claims you can't buy anywhere in Canada for such a good price as it was selling for there (about 20% of the price they sell for in Canada).  Ben filled his new camelback companion with 3 litres of purple Gatorade and we were ready to go back to the beach.

Time was limited but we managed to enjoy some quality beach time!  And yes, I actually made it into the ocean!  Well, not completely in ALL the way, but in far enough! (like up to my chest)  Ben got some good pictures of that too - my courageous excursion into the ocean, with big waves randomly and unexpectedly crashing up on me at any given time.  We lied on the beach for about 20 minutes - it was gorgeous - hot and sunny - and then headed back to the hotel.  At the hotel I could clearly see that today had made a noticeable difference in the colour of my skin - I could actually see a tan line now!  No more pasty white for me!  I hope we can go to the beach several times more, even just in the evening to relax after the day's activities.  I now need to jump right into the ocean and get throughly wet, and Ben still has yet to do that too.

We quickly got ready (ie. washed the sand off) and headed to the conference and checked in and then had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was a really nice all vegan buffet.  The hotel is providing that for the AR people - all vegan food - and it was quite good.  I had mixed vegetable rice, herbed carrots, tofu, a bit of tomatoey pasta, and then some canteloupe for dessert.  Ben overflowingly piled his plate with tonnes of food, which I was happy to see, of course including lots of fruit and raw cherry tomatoes. 

The opening of the conference (plenary) started at 7:15pm and we got a good seat up at the front.  Anthony Marr was playing tunes on his keyboard (we had spoken to him earlier as Ben had wanted to say hi (he had first met him at an Earthsave potluck last December that we had him speak at on the Bengal Tiger)), and then they started and the evening's programme consisted of a number of prominently qualified people stepping up to speak on various animal issues of the day and addressed the history of the animal rights movement, as well as the state of the movement as it stands today.  I found it to be a really good overall summary, especially as many of the recent accomplishments of the AR effort were listed and described.

After this, we had to go to Natalie's home in Redondo Beach to pick up Ben's walkie talkies, which he had lent to her a long time ago and we had realized this week we could really, really use on our trip here.  So now we don't have to stay attached the whole time when we are off at the beach, Universal Studios, walking down the street, etc. in the fear that we'll lose each other forever, because we have the handy radios now to enable us to keep in contact - for 2 miles at least!
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