Archive for the ‘ America! ’ Category

Pacific Coast Highway.


Highway 1, The Pacific Coast Highway, runs damn near the entire length of California, but there is one stretch in particular that is famously a test of fortitude. The twisty two lane length of road from just south of Carmel to San Simeon is the longest ninety miles you’ll see in the US, especially around Big Sur. It scares people, and rightly so, as the rains annually wash away parts of it down sheer cliff drops into the rocky sea. Every time I’ve taken it you always end up losing people who have to pull over for awhile to gather themselves. I love this highway.


Carmel Mission


Bixby Bridge










Welcome to Ragged Point! You made it!


IMG_6171 Wild zebras of Hearst Castle

Elephant seals are in season at San Simeon

Cannery Row


Cannery Row

Haven’t been to Monterey since…2004? Anyway, it’s been a long while. I first read Cannery Row (Steinbeck) in the 4th grade and it’s been one of my favorite books since (As well as being my favorite of Steinbeck’s until East of Eden usurped it a few years ago).


Doc’s Marine Biology Lab


Palace Flophouse

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Do You Know The Way To San Jose

Friday evening the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted an after hours wine tasting event for members, so early in the morning we set out north to play tourist on the way.

First, I had a little detour north of SLO to revisit what I’ve been told is an old Mercury mine. Years ago in high school I had a marine biology teacher who crafted a photo scavenger hunt for extra credit that extended up and down the coast and featured geological sites among other things. This was one of them, and I try to stop in time to time, but to get there you pretty much commit to having to drive far up the 101 to turn around.


Further up the way is Mission San Miguel, which I hadn’t been to since the California missions unit we all do in the 4th grade.


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Further up the way is the next in line at Soledad, which is…the smallest, I think? Anyway, the docent seemed surprised to actually see anyone since it’s quite off the beaten path.


And, after seeing a billboard for the Winchester Mystery House I decided to do a little detour to San Jose since I hadn’t done it in over a decade. I ended up getting a private tour since it was pretty quite on an early Friday afternoon. Worth it!


Tourist In The Homeland

Continuing on my theme of pretending to be a tourist in my homeland, now that I’m back from my lengthy sojourn in Asia:

We had tickets for The Book of Mormon musical at the Pantages, and decided to make a weekend out of it. There were some things, in spite of growing up here, that I had never done in L.A. It was high time I did something about that.


The Getty Villa is up on a hill Malibu side. It’s not the easiest thing to get to, especially if you’re heading southbound. You have to plan in advance because you need to have a parking reservation in order to get in. The museum itself is free, however.

The Villa is modeled after the Villa of Papyri in Herculaneum (Pompeii) and is dedicated to Greco-Roman classical pieces.

Lansdowne Herakles


Philippe’s has been an staple since 1908 and reportedly the birthplace of the French dip. Also, the mustard is inanely delicious. Would recommend.


The Roosevelt on Hollywood Boulevard has been a big deal since it opened in 1927, and was the first location of the Oscars. It’s been frequented by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe. The latter of which had her first pictures as an actress taken on the diving board poolside at the cabana rooms were added on later. That’s where we stayed.

That section was delightfully retro in a modern sense.

Well worth a visit. I’d done the Pig N’ Whistle in high school, but never made it to this one. Most locals never have. Guess it’s like living in New York and never going to the Statue of Liberty.


The Getty Center along the 405 would rival the National Gallery in London. It’s a big deal, and has works from the masters, including Van Gogh’s Lilly’s. Presently, there’s a special exhibition on fourteenth century Florentine illuminations and panels.

Santa Barbara

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I love Santa Barbara immensely, and I enjoy being a tourist in my stomping grounds. Today I went over via the mountains, which on a clear day, hasĀ  panoramic views of the ocean, the islands, and lake Cachuma on the other side. As it was raining earlier, the mountains were blanketed in clouds which gave it a really cool effect. Topped off the trip with a visit to the mission and the pier.

La Purisima


I like La Purisima Mission a lot. It’s the only one that they don’t currently use a church so it has a more authentic old time feel to it. I happened to swing by int he midst of a Santa Anna, so it was hot and dusty as all shit.

Just how I like it.

We filmed a Western short there when I was taking a film production class at a community college while in High School. I was going through a pretty solid spaghetti western phase then. I guess it’s not really a phase, as I still am.

The chapel traditionally scared the shit out of me. It’s cold and dark, and whenever you go it’s always empty. The floor in the back is warped from an underground stream, which probably doesn’t help. And there’s a guy buried in there. Father Payeras. Granted it’s one grave compared to the many that hang around churches in Europe, but those places are still crawling with the living.

It’s supposed to be haunted as all shit, too. I suppose that helps.

Corn Maze. Maize?


Okay, one more adventure before I head back to California and my around the world adventure officially comes to a close. My cousins invited me to experience the delightful piece of Americana known as “the corn maze” that seems to be the hip thing to do this time of year. This one was in a place called Centerville. I think. I really have no sense of geography in this part of the country.

That doesn’t look like corn…

Well no shit.

I love the fuck out of mazes. It was easy when I was a kid because everything felt bigger. As an adult…let’s just say it’s harder to get the same experience.

When I was in middle school my family went on a cross country road trip, and one of the stops was to have a gander at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota before we turned around. This was back in, what, 1997? ’98? Around then. I was extremely disappointed with Mount Rushmore. Or, I should say, the viewing area. At least back then, you were faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr away so the monument looked small, as things tend to do thanks to the principals of distance and perception. And you had to pay a quarter for those stationary binoculars national parks have.

“Fuck that noise!” I said.

And you say, “What does this have to do with corn mazes?”

Silver linings, brother. Silver linings. That stop in South Dakota turned out to be one of the best in the trip thanks to this MASSIVE wooden maze located nearby. It was a huge outdoor complex with high wooden walls that they changed out occasionally so the paths would be different every month or so. You bought a ticket, and the back had an outline of Mt. Rushmore. There were four wooden towers in the maze, and each one had a stamp of one of the president’s faces. The goal of the maze was to finish Mt. Rushmore and find your way out. It was amazing. I did it at least twice.

This corn maze had a similar task, and I enjoyed that immensely. Brought me back to middle school. The task was located in a smaller section of the maze, so it wasn’t as intense as the Mt. Rushmore one, but it certainly added to the experience.

You were given a card and had to solve a crime, like a game of clue but with walking. The farmer is missing, and you have to make like Horatio. There were pictures in the maze that gave you clues as to who didn’t do it, which weapon wasn’t used, and where the crime didn’t happen.
Spoiler alert:

It was the goat with the stick in the tool shed the whole time!