I had the day planned out, as usual, but at a more leisurely pace. I got up when I felt like it (around 9:30, mercifully still waking up on East Coast time despite going to bed at West Coast times). I got my things together and headed off for the beach. After managing to turn around on Wilshire Blvd by doing a loop on some residential streets to the north, I drove west toward Santa Monica.
I was able to find a parking lot pretty quickly, right by the beach, but the machine didn't want to take my money. A van was parked next to the machine, and the owner of the van was getting ready for a day of teaching surfing lessons. He helped by trading my two fives for a ten and (when that didn't work) telling me to call the number on the machine to get someone in about two minutes. I called, and sure enough, the person on the other end promised to be down in two minutes. While I waited, the surfer left, and his younger partner stopped by in his wet suit - tan, blue eyes, curly, sun-bleached hair - and said that machine was always out of order, but that the owners of the lot were really good at handing out the tickets.
The guy showed up, fixed the machine, and I started my walk. First I headed for the water, which was much more difficult than I remember it being on the East Coast. The beach at Santa Monica goes on forever. To my right was the pier, which I decided to save for later. I smooshed my way through hot sand. Once I got out to the harder, saturated sand, I headed left toward Venice Beach - I could see their (less fancy) pier in the distance.
On my walk, I saw sunbathers, lifeguards, people playing in the water, and lots of surfers. At one point, I ran across loads of adults in the same shade of dark red and tons of kids in color-coded shirts. Surf camp! So freaking cool. I want to go to surf camp. It was a long walk, but I knew when I reached Venice beach, as a stone jetty separates it from Santa Monica. Venice has its own little cove of sorts. So I headed for their "boardwalk".
Venice Beach was fun. I stopped and got an overpriced coconut-pineapple smoothie. I was there on a weekday, so it wasn't quite as weird as usual, but there were certainly some characters. I walked along and looked at some shops, considering buying something to wear that night, as I was having second thoughts about the outfit I'd packed. Once I reached the end of the paved walkway for Venice Beach, I followed the bike trail back to Santa Monica. I went back to the car, got my towel, and set up on the beach for a while. I was totally ready to get in the water, and after the long walk, it felt so good. Also, cold. Maybe it's just because everywhere I've been is a city, and therefore has city water, but I'm used to turning on the cold tap and getting genuinely cold water. Here, it's just kinda cool. So the Pacific Ocean was nice - not freezing, but satisfying.
After playing in the waves for a while, and trying not to be in the way of the two surfers nearby, I went back in and packed up my things. I changed, returning my swimsuit and towel to the car, and headed toward the pier. Over half of it is taken up by rides - ferris wheel, roller coaster, all the good stuff. The other half is little shops, overpriced places to eat, kitschy stands, and people walking and fishing. I walked out to the end of the pier, took some pictures, and walked back around the other side. I waited in line at a seafood takeout window for about five or ten minutes before deciding it was a little absurd. I walked back to the bike trail and street beyond, and ordered a corndog (which I've always found pretty gross, but I was hungry), and a freshly squeezed lemonade. I sat and ate in a little area with chess tables, though no one there was playing chess.
I drove back to the hotel, showered all the sand and sunscreen away, and lounged for a few hours in one of the hotel's zebra-print bathrobes. I spent the next few hours getting ready and playing on the internet, and eventually decided it was time to get dressed for the play I was going to see that night at the Geffen - Farragut North. After fretting over my outfit and how early I should try to be there one last time, I headed down to the taxi line. As I'd figured out the previous night, the distance was walkable, but the summer sun was still up and I was wearing heels.
I arrived at the Geffen and loitered around in the pretty little courtyard until it was time for the play to start. Being a Chris Pine fangirl post-Star Trek, I knew I was going to enjoy the play regardless. It also starred Chris Noth and Olivia Thirlby, and was about a presidential primary, so all those were points in its favor as well. And it was good - definitely not happy, feel-good good, but a good night of theater. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session with the actors which I was glad I stuck around for. My favorite question came from the head usher, who wanted to know why so many young people had come to this play, and if they'd be back. "Star Trek!" someone called from the back. Funny cause it's true, but given the brochure of this season which I'd browsed before the play started, if I lived closer, I probably would make an effort - everything looked interesting.
Once the Q&A was done, I hovered around, and got a picture with Chris Pine. I pranced my way back to the hotel, ordered room service, and sat down to write about my wonderful evening.