Introducing South Bay
While we’ve visited the region known as “South Bay” before, somehow it was only on this visit that we discovered it has a name! It basically covers the southwest part of Los Angeles county, and includes 15 cities. The main ones we visited this trip – if I have it right – were Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes and San Pedro, but we did drive through several others to get to some of these. Like Orange County, even this little corner of LA County is diverse – including beautiful beaches, big old trees (such as huge Moreton Bay Figs), some very unstable ground (more on that next post), abundant marine life, and, of course, the seemingly ubiquitous strip-mall suburbia.
We spent the morning of the day we were to first catch up with Trudy and Carter, exploring Manhattan Beach. We breakfasted at Four Daughters Kitchen, where I scored GF pancakes, and then headed down to the beach – quite a descent as it turned out, which meant, of course, quite an ascent at the end! (Highland Rd, the main shopping street, was clearly so named for a reason.) However, it was worth it. There is an excellent path to walk along, as well as a separate bike path, and there was plenty to see – surfers and bathers already out in the water; little private sitting gardens separated, by the walking path, from the front of the houses to which they belong; heavy vehicles on the beach for grading the volleyball courts; pretty gardens, some with certificates for being water and critter friendly; and so on. Every direction we looked there was something worth seeing.
After this walk, we returned to the hotel briefly to sort out plans, and then headed off to lunch, deciding on Redondo Beach’s Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant, which overlooks the King Harbour marinas and is opposite the Wyland Whaling Wall. We had a lovely relaxed lunch, sitting outside on their deck, and then walked around the marina (having checked the whaling wall out more closely last visit). We enjoyed watching the action, including spying a gathering of rays near the water’s edge. We couldn’t work out why they were all there together but they were fun to watch, as they jostled, it seemed, for some sort of position. (Upon researching, I’ve decided they are Round Stingrays, and Wikipedia says they “have been observed congregating near the warm seawater effluent released by coastal electric generators, which may replicate the conditions of estuary environments.”)
We also popped into the Two Guns cafe, for a cuppa, which was established by two Kiwis (New Zealand guys) a few years ago and which Trudy had sussed out for our last visit because they offer a “Long Black”. Three years later they are still going strong which is great to hear – and see.
(Re)Meeting Trudy and Carter
Then it was time to catch up with Trudy and Carter (Trudy having had to work in the morning). They are nature-lovers extraordinaire. You can recognise which house is theirs as soon as you turn into the street – it’s the one with the lovely white picket fence with tall cheery sunflowers soaring above it. They have two friendly dogs, a cat (which we didn’t see), a 100lb African sulcata tortoise, two adult desert tortoises (which we also didn’t see) and their four babies (which we did). (Tortoises apparently love hibiscus flowers. Who knew? Except Trudy and Carter of course.) Trudy and Carter have designed and planted their yard not only for their own critters, but to attract wild ones too – like birds, lizards, butterflies, and so on. It is such a cheery place. The house is a pretty, two-storey cottage built in 1909.
So, we met the critters, and then headed off for some afternoon sightseeing, which included checking out Redondo Beach Pier. It is one of the more unusual piers I’ve seen – and Wikipedia explains why. It was originally a number of disjointed wharves. It has taken a battering over the long years of its existence, and now the old jostles with the more commercial/touristy new. But that’s OK. Silly me, however, didn’t properly photograph it as we were talking too much!
For dinner, Trudy and Carter took us to one of their favourite special dining places. Admiral Risty. Established in 1966, it perches on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in Ranchos Palos Verdes, and is named for its founder’s wife, whose nickname was Risty Wood. We loved the cosy, but sea-faring ambience, including shell lights and chandeliers. The menu of course features seafood – fried shrimp was the go for Trudy and Carter, the fisherman’s basket for Len, and a charbroiled fish for me. The servings were huge – in the American style – and Trudy, who’s a regular reader of this blog was disappointed that we couldn’t fit in dessert. She thought they would be eminently photographable! Another time, perhaps, but we’d have to carefully “strategise” our dining plan first!
A “Ripple” of rays …
One of the four baby desert tortoises…