Driving down the 405 just past LAX, I spin the dial to 106.7 and turn up the volume, and boom - Scar by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
A perfect welcome back to my hometown.
I am on a quick two week trip from the Rio Dulce to Los Angeles and Austin to execute a bunch of errands (laptop repair, voting, driver’s license renewel, etc) and to catch up with friends and family.
After visiting my parents in south OC, I drove trough the Laguna Canyon to get to Laguna Beach where I used to live with Sean Dumas 15 years ago. Costa Azul, founded and still run by Rod Greenup the pro surfer and board shaper. I stop in to get another pair of board shorts - each of the shorts I have purchased from him have lasted over 10 years. The shop is much bigger now, and with parking.
I turn north and ramble up PCH past my old house on PCH, and on impulse I pull into the local PADI shop to see what they sell. I was not a diver when I lived here before. PADI, 7mm suits, all single tanks and lots of fancy spear-guns. Got it. Now my eyes can size up a dive shop in a minute.
Back onto PCH and past the painfully manicured Crystal Cove, carefully driving through the police trap of Corona Del Mar. Whizzing through Newport Beach and waved to Hoag Hospital where Kyle was born.
Up through Huntington Beach and Seal Beach to Long Beach. Suddenly a craving for California style sushi and I popped into White Wasabi in Long Beach and stuffed myself silly with rolls and nigiri on a mid-day happy hour.
Jump on the 405 again, north to meet up with my Dad, and we spontaneously head out to Sycamore Canyon up along the Malibu Coast. This is the campground the Bethke family has been visiting for nearly 60 years. I recognized most of the great Sycaemore Trees, and we walked the main trail back to the Serrano Trail.
There were over 100 bright green with blue, black-headed Parakeets eating absolutely dominating the canyon and having a grand time eating up the laurel berries. These guys were not here at all when I was a kid, and also new were mosquitoes! Climate change at the micro-scale.
We took the back way through the Simi and San Fernando valleys and my Dad took me to the Highland Park Brewery - another great gastro pub in LA!
Next morning, my Dad did a half-day at his archivist job in downtown LA, and he dropped me off at USC. All the new contruction was amazing, everything fit well in the theme, and yet my old Aerospace building was right where it was, and Dr. Dan Erwin was now the Director of the Astrophyics side of the department. Alas, he was not in, but I took note of the textbooks he was using for the graduate classes and went and dropped $400 at the bookstore so I could do a self study refresher.
Between the beaches, the brew-pubs, USC, the game stores, the weather and all the cool neighborhoods, I was filled with nostalgia for Los Angeles. I want my boys, Kyle and Max, to have some time in this great sprawling city of cities. I started to make plans with my Dad to bring Ad Astra back to Los Angeles after we cross the Atlantic to see Europe and cross back the Pacific to reach the west coast.