Escape

Central Texas weather in July is positively inspiring. This year it inspired me to leave for an entire month rather than my usual two weeks.

White Point

Mary and I spent a great deal of time at White Point this year. It’s a place of high cliffs, an interesting history, and a sea breeze that often sent me back to the car for sleeves. http://blogs.dailybreeze.com/history/2010/06/02/white-point-hot-spring-hotel/

If you look to that last distant sweep of sand you can see Royal Palms, where for a brief moment in the early 20th century there was a terrazzo dance floor, a stage for the band, stone benches and fireplaces, and what I imagine to be very glamorous flappers and their brilliantined gents drinking cocktails, smoking cigarettes, and dancing the night away under the swaying palm trees.

Now there are mere remnants left, and the majority of customers are people coming down for a picnic lunch and Ah Youth coming down to smoke weed in cars, positive they are the first youth ever to be so daring and cool. I wanted to tell them stories about things that used to happen in cars like a certain Chevrolet before their parents were even born.

1952 Chevy Deluxe

One afternoon we walked over to San Pedro High to get a late glimpse at the classic car show. Although the one I squandered much of my adolescence in was green and cream, you get the idea. Having to stop at the town dump on our way to the drive in to steal an old transmission to get through next week was way more fun in the telling than the doing, but to be honest I was a teenager with a certain thirst for adventure.

But back to White Point.

These gulls are perched in front of some of the ruins left behind by the hotel and hot springs resort. An earthquake blocked up the sulphur supply and ended the hot springs part, and it seems the resort didn’t last very long after that. I’m fairly sure we’re seeing where the saltwater swimming pool used to be. Now it’s an area with calm clear water and scrambling kids – the kind of place I would have to be dragged out of when I was a kid.

There had been an earthquake or two in the days just before my trip. Mary experienced them much as she does with those few she actually perceives. When the long metal tubes of her doorbell began to chime by swaying into the statue of the Infant of Prague, naturally she first thought raccoons were in the attic playing with the doorbell mechanism.

We didn’t see much new damage, but as we walked steeply down along the high cliffs beside the road down to White Point, we saw one disappointing alteration in the landscape. Up until January the section I’m talking about looked like this:

We just loved that beautiful swirl of rock, narrative of centuries of events for someone who knows how to read them. Now that spot looks like this:

So many details on the left have had enough of pressing one another together and have collapsed in a huge pile of rock and rock dust. Here it is from a little distance away:

We were glad to see the road down has been beautifully repaved and a stout curb poured into place on the cliff side of the road, but every day when we visited there were more and more rocks piled up between the curb and the cliff. Time for helmets when walking down the hill?

On many evenings we walked down to Point Fermin. If you have ever watched the opening scenes of “Chinatown” or a recent series on Netflix or Amazon about a young widow (“Dead to Me.” Thanks, niece Chris!), you have seen Point Fermin. Even though the TV show claims to be set in Laguna Beach. As we walk toward the park on Paseo Del Mar, first we would see the place where peregrine falcons nest and people with expensive-looking equipment photograph them.

This guy looks like he really wants to join his comrades in flight way down there, but it’s a big leap!

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

High atop the cliff face, people come to watch the falcons. I was never able to get a good shot with just my phone (my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

That concrete structure is one of the many gazebos set along the broad sidewalk leading to the old lighthouse and finally the point itself. Every time we went walking, there were kids and families and lovers taking advantage of the fresh air and the views.

The concrete wall between the gazebos is pretty decorative itself, and as they will do everywhere, wildflowers enhance the situation.

Walking back from the point to the car, the broad lawns and palm trees along that stretch of Paseo are enough to put the stupid stupidity of our current world right out of my head. Let’s hope beauty wins.

I suppose nothing need be said about flowers in Southern California. Mary’s back fence:

Little spots of beauty seen on every walk:

I could go on. I saw hedges made of geraniums

hedges made of lantana

hedges of roses, hibiscus, rosemary – what could be better than that?

I should have taken a photo of the delicata squash plant that came up from seeds Mary had tossed out after her meal prep. We ate roasted squash one night, but she has plenty more where they came from; just before I left, one vine seemed to be heading straight for the house.

It was lovely to savor long mornings with no need to get out and exercise before the day’s thermostat is set to Broil. We bought paint early in my visit and I did many, many pours. On canvas, on plywood, and on an old glass table top.

I even used leftover pouring paint to cover a table on the back porch that had nothing but some cracked white tiles to say for itself.

Since Mary has a book on how to paint with watercolors, I thought that might be fun.

A little more piano practice, the mastery of a few modern languages, and I’ll qualify as one of Jane Austen’s accomplished ladies.

We ate out often enough to still feel on vacation, but we ate on the back porch most days. Suffer, suffer.

Don’t let me forget to get the recipe for that cauliflower soup!

Of course there was time to get over to Hermosa Beach and get myself into those waves. The water this year was very mild, temperature-wise.

I decided to be a bit of a tourist and take a few photos I would have taken in Italy as I walked around Mary’s neighborhood. I think it helps.

I also had to get a photo of one of Mary’s three kitties. They were, um, bequeathed to her years ago when an old acquaintance left them because she couldn’t take care of them any more. Mary resisted as long as she could, but they basically never left her yard and now rather own the house as well. I give you Baby Kitty, who will hiss like mad if you pick her up but then start to purr and get all drooly once you start the petting. She is the sweetest thing ever.

As always, I was homesick for San Pedro before I even left.

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