By Caitlin Kelly
I loved stumbling into a farmer’s market in a suburban mall parking lot.
OK, I cried. It’s hard to drive an L.A. freeway while crying!
But it was painful to leave California and its stunning beauty and weather — I didn’t have even one rainy or cloudy day in 29 days in June, and I faithfully wore sunscreen but came home quite tanned!
I loved seeing 11 friends, in North California and in Southern California, some of whom I had never even met in person (Twitter, online writers’ groups, Facebook) and others I’ve known for decades. I “wasted” two sightseeing days (one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles) with friends — just sitting for hours catching up and, of course, with lots of discussion about our work and goals in journalism. No “sight” could possibly have pleased me more.
I had 12 days — June 10 to 22 — completely alone, which never for an instant was lonely or boring; I’ve been traveling the world alone since I was 22, so I am not only used to it but really enjoy it.
Jose and I, like many people (and those with small children and pets) have been working in a one bedroom apartment since March 2020 and COVID — making the normal free options of our local large library impossible.
I needed out! I craved solitude! I wanted adventure and independence!
My late mother’s beloved Mousie, a perfect travel companion — at Julia Pfeiffer State Beach,
I stayed in six different kinds of lodging, none of which was disappointing — two renovated/attractive motels, one with a gorgeous, lush interior garden, free breakfast, laundry and a pool — and savored the luxury of a five-star hotel for my final five nights, The Langham in Pasadena. Its nightly price was less (!!) than my motel in Santa Barbara and worth 100 times the value: valet parking, multiple restaurants, pool, spa, concierge…you name it. My room had a fantastic view over their enormous gardens and the city below.
Looking down from impossibly twisty Route 1, Big Sur
I loved the foliage!
I was also a terrible tourist — in Los Angeles, arriving with ambitious plans — I didn’t visit a single museum or sight. I did see glorious Union Station, had dinner at Musso & Frank, (open since 1919), and visit multiple neighborhoods: Little Tokyo, Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica, Pasadena, the Arts district. I loved seeing how people just live, driving around different neighborhoods; most middle class houses are small and one-level, but many have spectacular gardens and often are painted in delicious colors: deep blue, mustard, pale pink, olive, soft gray.
home in Oakland.
I was also a terrible non-hiker. With daily temperatures at 90 degrees or more, it felt like an unhealthy choice and, warned about ticks and rattlesnakes, thought better to return with proper hiking boots! I did a few flat hikes (2 miles) and that was good.
My tiny perfect bedroom at Deetjen’s
At the astonishing Monterey Aquarium
I can’t wait to go back.