And now for something entirely different. We left Death Valley on a blessedly overcast Friday, and made our way to the coast. At one point, we had to travel several miles on an unpaved gravel road. So, it was a bit disconcerting to finally find ourselves on a seven-lane freeway where we were definitely not the only car as far as the eye could see.
Yes folks, we have made it to the promised land – the place all those pioneers and dreamers struggled to reach – Orange County. What a contrast this bright, shiny, all brand-new-feeling world is to the dusty, rocky, lonely terrain we have been travelling. We felt a bit like the Joad family, pulling up in a car long-overdue for a wash.
But it’s funny how you adapt. The main attraction of Orange County for us is that it is home to my niece and her husband, as well as my brother. We had a reunion dinner evening in Newport Beach, and a lovely dinner at Megan and Jim’s home last night. It’s easy to see why they live here and love this area. (Contrast that with my feelings about the inhabitants of Death Valley.)
And it was no time at all before I had shaken off my personal collection of dust, had a pedicure, and found my way to Nordstrom’s at South Coast Plaza. Okay, this may sound like the shallow part of our trip, but I am officially declaring shallowness to be a good thing once in a while. Our heads are aching from injustices done to Indians, pioneer woes, and the indescribable natural beauty we have seen. Malls I can manage.
Yesterday was perfect in terms of weather (the standards for weather are high here) and we tried to make good use of it. We started at the Orange County Art Museum, which was small but interesting The fun started with Richard Jackson’s Bad Dog – proving he was naughty by peeing on the entire building. Not sure what kind of art commentary he was providing, but that was one huge dog!
The feature was a show of work by Paul and Peter Sarkisian, father and son. Both were interesting, but the video work of Sarkisian the Younger was quite good. An eye on the heel of your shoe, a dead guy in your coffee cup, a man on his hands and knees cleaning the pages of your dictionary – all great fun. And a video projection of what looked like a cross between a Navajo shape shifter and a transformer blended past and present nicely.
Next, a pilgrimage. We went to the Orange Inn, which has achieved a degree of fame by claiming to be the home of the original smoothie! Yes, culinary history was made in this tiny place on the Pacific Coast Highway, where you can still enjoy the multitude of ingredients – including bee pollen – that started a world movement to health and happiness, along with a bump in blender/juicer sales. Add in an avocado sandwich, and you know you are not in Furnace Creek any more.
Organic food needs sated, we turned to the west and walked down the steps to the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. And what better place to experience it than Laguna Beach!
Imagine our delight to learn that we had fortuitously arrived the day of the Laguna Beach Kelpfest. This celebration of the return of kelp to the ecosystem here was naturally cause for great celebration, which added a festive air to the naturally festive air here. Such a relief to see that hard young bodies are still sharing themselves with the world as they play volleyball on the beach.
We stopped in at the Laguna Beach Museum, which was also small but interesting. The current exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud’s work was great, but off-limits to photographers.
Next on our to-do list was the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. As they so modestly claim, “Worth a visit.” Full disclosure: We haven’t felt the same about the Spanish missions since we learned how they treated the Indians, while we were touring New Mexico. But let’s just enjoy the architecture – mostly restoration – and the gorgeous flowers that grace this lovely corner of the world. And yes, the swallows do return every year. Find some of their nests pictured.
So, you can see that we have been busy and productive in this idyllic world by the sea. More to come.