Gone to California

As has been the case throughout most of the country in recent weeks, it has been super hot in Arizona, even up in our high-ish (4300 feet above sea level) home village. It’s also monsoon time where we live, so that the days and our plans can be suddenly knocked awry by torrential, drenching storms. Knowing in advance that these sorts of weather phenomena were likely in late July and early August, we planned our summer vacation to miss at least a bit of the heat and rain, heading off to California, again.

Last summer, we spent our time on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. The trip before that, we traveled from Sonoma County up the coast through Northern California, Oregon and Washington, making it almost all the way to the Canadian border. So for this trip, we’re filling in the gap in our Pacific coast experiences, starting in Los Angeles, and ending in Marin County, just adjacent to Sonoma. As I type, we’re in Santa Barbara, which has been lovely for the first few days of our travels, sunny with temperatures in the 70s, with cool sea breezes keeping the humidity at bay. From here, we will be traveling to Monterey, then up to Marin County, then into San Francisco for the flight back home. I’ll do the usual trip report with photos for the whole thing when I get back.

Today, I’ll just write about our “bonus” vacation day that got tacked on to the trip at close to the last minute. We had planned to leave Phoenix mid-day Saturday, giving us time to make the drive down from Sedona to the airport (about two hours) without any inordinate effort. But United Airlines had other ideas, and moved our flight to a 6am departure instead, which would require a night in a hotel, since I’m not fond of the high speed drive down I-17 in the dark. We decided to bump our flight to Friday, and to stay at a hotel immediately adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), then get our rental car at the scheduled time on Saturday.

The revised travel all went well (though it was 115F when we got to Phoenix, oof!), and we had a bit of time for a walk and dinner on Friday night. As you can imagine, the pickings that close to a massive international airport were a bit slim if you didn’t want hotel or chain restaurant food, but with a little bit of research, we found what looked like an interesting Greek restaurant a little over a mile away. We ambled over, and were delighted by the quirky little urban gem that we found: Aliki’s Greek Taverna. It was located smack between a car wash and a residential motel, directly below the flight line for arriving planes into LAX. We sat in a little courtyard, were served by the delightfully convivial owner, and had an absolutely dynamite meal: gigantes, dolmades, hummus, pastitsio, and excellently fresh pita. Should your travels leave you with downtime near LAX, we would most heartily recommend paying them a visit.

The next day, being an early riser, I decided to take advantage of our proximity to the eastern ends of LAX’s runways to go get some plane nerd photos and bask in the glorious fumes of aviation fuel in the morning. Then we got our rental car and headed up the Malibu Coast, with a nice lunch stop detour into Ojai. As noted above, I’ll post the “regular” trip photos in an album when I return, but today, I’ll share some of my LAX area shots, somewhat atypical of normal vacation images, sure, but still fun to snap, in their own weird way.

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