California Here I Am
Post and Photos by Kay Nelson
I am a native Minnesotan and have never lived any other place. Finding myself in the now or never stage of life, I decided to experiment with living in another part of the country. Since I love the ocean, the mountains and I have family in the Los Angeles area, California seemed a logical and desirable choice. It was time to sample the lifestyle of a snowbird and escape the end of our Minnesota winter.
After sifting through the Vacation Rental by Owner website, I narrowed my choices to Santa Monica and Ventura. Since I didn’t want to deal with the challenge of driving and parking my car, my requirements included being within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean and being able to bring my cat Beau along as well. Success! Citrus Suites in Santa Monica fit the bill perfectly and I rented a 1 bedroom apartment for the month of March.
California Here We Come
My plane reservations were made with accommodation for Beau who would make the trip in a padded carrier under my feet. Never having traveled with a cat before, I had some apprehensions to say the least. What if the plane were delayed? Would he manage? How would he take to flying? Thankfully Beau is one of those bomb-proof little guys that just take everything in their stride. He didn’t utter a peep meow the entire trip! The flight took off and landed right on schedule in LAX where my son awaited. We were ready to begin our adventure!
Citrus Suites is right across from the Casa Del Mar Hotel and turned out to be a hot people watching place. It was also a bustling area with lots of business activity so I appreciated the building's security. Ditto on being in a community and having neighbors, and a business center so it was not necessary to drag a computer with me.
By the Beautiful Ocean
Amenities included a charming patio and heated pool at 70° which was a bit chilly for my bones! Best of all, the Pacific Ocean and a lovely beach was right behind the hotel so most evenings I would join the throngs of people who came to experience sunset over the ocean. It almost felt like a religious experience. While enjoying ocean and beach I noticed it seems to bring out the child in everyone as they twiddle their toes in the soft warm sand and do a calculated chase with the surf.
One evening I experienced high drama. A seal was swimming quite close to shore holding what appeared to be a flopping fish in his mouth. However, that was not the case. A flock of seagulls were dive bombing the seal because he had grabbed one of their own. One young man ran out into the surf with his camera and got a great shot that made me very jealous!
The Santa Monica Pier was about 6 blocks down the beach and provided a venue of entertainment. At one time there were many exotic animals on the Pier, but to ensure the safety of the public from animal bites, the City of Santa Monica set up restrictions. Now the snake handlers stay on the periphery. There were many street musicians, Muscle Beach supermen and women, yoga classes, trapeze artists in training and wonderful restaurants. Also, there was a seal who would beg and bark at the fisherman demanding a tasty morsel. And of course swarms of sea gulls stealing the night’s dinner from abandoned plates.
Every Wednesday and Saturday morning the city has a Farmer's Market that stretches along a number of streets on the Promenade. The fresh oranges, avocados, and even flowers were great buys. While I ate my fresh fruit and enjoyed the scent of lilacs, I thought of how fortunate I was to be escaping the ice, snow and blistery weather!
Being fairly social, I joined the local senior center. What a good decision that turned out to be. With this group I went on two day trips. One to Huntington Gardens where an amazing cactus garden is featured and the second to the Queen Mary at Long Beach for an exhibit of Princess Di's memorabilia. Best of all, I signed up for two classes, memoir writing and comedy improvisation.
Minnesotans Always Return Home
All too quickly the month was coming to an end and I experienced mixed emotions when it came time to head home. Although I loved my time in California living by the ocean, long term it would be quite expensive. Even if I managed to squeak by I'd have to give up my travel adventures and I still have a lot more locations on my bucket list. When March 2016 rolls around, I plan on escaping Minnesota again. Beau and I know how to do it now!