Those of you who fly the Los Angeles-Sydney Qantas flight with any frequency are probably familiar with the late night departure from LAX. Last time we did this trip, Carolyn was working on the day of the departure, so we headed to LA and explored some areas we hadn’t seen before, like Venice Beach. This time, too, it was a work day for Carolyn, but Sue’s online bookgroup friend Trudy had said she could take that day off, so our plan was to catchup up with her and Carter in the Redondo Beach area. We had spent time exploring the Getty Museum with them during our last trip, so knew they were a great couple to spend time with.
Chez Trudy and Carter
They have a very pretty house with a wonderful scented garden that Carter developed essentially from scratch over the last 5 years. It accommodates their many critters, pet and wild. The pets include two cheerful and friendly dogs (Scout and Harley), a cat, and various turtles and tortoises, including a 25-year-old sulcata tortoise named Sith. The wild include many birds, butterflies, squirrels and, perhaps a little less welcome, raccoons. The dogs are gorgeous, and we had a fun time with the turtle in their backyard (which he apparently keeps perfectly mowed). He is very friendly and loves following people around. Just gorgeous.
Those of you who have seen Trudy’s comments on this blog will know how much attention she pays to our posts. So, when we arrived she sat us down and produced multiple gifts for us out of a bag, each one with a note related to things she knew or had read about us, such as a sudoku book because Sue had mentioned doing a sudoku on a plane trip, a book of recipes from famous fictional characters because she knows Sue loves reading and we both love food, some gorgeous felt ornaments and brooches she’d made including her signature “Love Ewe”, an Eisenhower silver dollar “for luck” to go in Len’s new Canadian wallet, and many many more. Amazing. We still have the silk California poppies she gave us last time.
Trudy had also researched coffee shops that might sell a Long Black! She figured that Manhattan Beach was pretty hip so googled “Manhattan Beach Long Black” and turned up a newish coffee shop called Two Guns Espresso run by two Kiwis! That was, of course, our first stop of the day – and it was good.
Palos Verdes Peninsula and the California Coastal National Monument
Before we left Australia, Trudy had suggested several wonderful sightseeing options for the day but, having read in our blog that we also enjoy just spending time the way locals do, suggested that they take us to some special spots in their neighbourhood. So, after our coffee fortification, albeit Trudy had a hibiscus kombucha and Carter abstained, we set off on a mini-road-trip. First stop – partly because Trudy had noticed some mural photographs in our blog – was the Wyland Whaling Wall titled “Grey Whale Migration” at the Redondo Beach marina. The mural was painted in 1991, but apparently he added some additional features more recently. As well as whales it included a few local native fish, the Garibaldi.
Then we drove around the coastal road, popping out to look at the view along the way and finally stopping at Point Vicente Park and Interpretive Centre on the Palos Verdes Peninsula where they go with their dogs every weekend. The local volunteer whale watchers/counters were there, and had marked on their board that they’d seen 16 Grey Whales that morning.
We were given a tour of the little Interpretive Centre/Museum, and learnt about the geological, human, and ecological/biological history of the area. We’ve gleaned quite a bit of California’s history over the years, but always enjoy reinforcing our knowledge with local details, giving life to our knowledge, and helping (hopefully) to make it stick! One of the Centre’s special exhibits is a giant mako shark fossil found during a local construction project. However, it was nearing 2pm and members of our party were getting hungry so Trudy politely extricated us from our friendly, enthusiastic guide!
There is also a lighthouse (1926) on the point, and tide pools below, but we only had time to see these from afar. How time flies when you are having fun on a perfect California day with great people.
Trudy had also researched suitable lunch places, giving us three or four options. As it seemed like a perfect fish day, Sue couldn’t resist a Manhattan Beach restaurant called Rock’n Fish. We got there around 2.45 pm and Len was relieved to find the place still serving lunch, forgetting for a moment that this was coastal Southern California, not (admittedly smaller) Canberra where lunch service usually finishes at 2pm.
Trudy and Carter had fish and chips, Len went for nostalgia (that is, chowder and gumbo), while Sue opted for seared Ahi tuna. It was served with little pots of wasabi and soy sauce, and a choice of sides. Sue chose sweet potato chips and grilled asparagus. It was a yummy meal, made even better by our gorgeous patio table and the company. Time flew.
Before returning to the car, we walked out the little Manhattan Beach Pier which has the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab & Aquarium in the 1928 octagonal building at its end. Most fascinating, to Sue anyhow, were the eels and the funny little frogfish. She can’t recollect seeing one of those before.
By this time it was nearly 5pm and we needed to hit the road. Returning hire cars to LAX is a complicated business involving shuttles, and navigating check-in and security at LAX itself can be time-consuming.
Trudy and Carter are warm people and good fun. They ensured that our last hours in LA were not spent on time-filling activities but filled with real enjoyment!
What a great time we’ve had with people throughout our trip.
Films on the plane
Our plane flights home were uneventful, with both planes running pretty much to time. Len noted that the Captain identified himself as David Evans who had to be, he felt, the check pilot on Qantas Flight 32 which suffered potentially catastrophic engine failure in 2010. That made us feel extra safe, as the crew on that plane (also an A380) did an amazing job of getting it down safely. We confirmed that it was indeed that David Evans when he happened to be standing next to Len on the International-Domestic terminal shuttle after we landed! He told us that we were within 15 minutes of being diverted to Brisbane because of fog, and that they’d had a crew on standby to fly us later to Sydney.
Sue watched four very enjoyable films on the plane – Gloria and The secret life of Walter Mitty, which she’d missed when they were screened in Canberra, and two that were unknown to her, Short Term 12 and Healing. She managed about three hours sleep, which is pretty much a record for her. Len caught up with two films that Sue had seen before, The Monuments Men and Saving Mr Banks, enjoying the latter well enough but joining the rest of us in not being too impressed with the former.
And the final slideshow …
And the movies of a large turtle and some barely visible birds and porpoise …