Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Day on the Beach

Faux pas number one occurred over breakfast today. Having had a bit of a chat with a couple of girls from New Zealand, I then busied myself on the laptop (writing yesterday's blog post, in fact) while idly whistling 'Kiwi' by Maroon 5. Suddenly I realised what I was doing and stopped, looking guilty, but either they didn't notice, or didn't recognise the tune, or didn't remember the lyics... or just chose to ignore it. Those who are familiar with the song will understand why this is a faux pas, otherwise listen to it (and read the lyrics) here:

Anyway, after that, I decided that today would be beach day. I therefore donned suncream, sandals and shades and strolled across the road (yes we're that close) to Santa Monica pier. From there I headed south, initially on the boardwalk but soon walking down where the waves were breaking. One thing I have learnt now is just how scorching the sand is! I can take about 10 steps barefoot before it feels like I'm walking on coals. But down where the sand is wet, it is quite pleasant.


While walking along the seafront, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. As each wave receded, water was spurting out of the sand from hundreds of small holes. I guessed this was wildlife, but only when I saw a few people catching them did I discover what the culprit was. Ladies and Gentlemen; I give you the Sand Crab:

This crustacean is a bit weird, I have never seen anything like it before, it's somewhere between a scarab beetle and a hermit crab. Size-wise, it ranged from about 5mm to 1 inch, with the average being about the size of a thumbnail (no I don't care about units of measurement any more). So I endeavoured to find the biggest!

This was the biggest I could find, and I believe is described as a Berried Hen (ie a female with eggs). I discovered that they actually bury themselves into the wet sand in reverse, they can't right themselves if flipped, and if held in your hand for more than a few seconds, they cease seeking the gap between your fingers and go quite docile and seem to enjoy being stroked gently.

I love it when something completely new and unexpected turns up like this. In fact, I would say that the Sand Crab has made my day :-)


Lots of aviation out and around the bay. Parascenders, low-flying helicopters, even lower flying Cessna 172s towing banners. Everything in the USA is sponsored - my beach experience today was sponsored by Avion (or Ahh-vion). Readers, you can pick up the world's best tequila at a liquor store near you.

I was enjoying myself so I just kept going until I hit the end of the beach, about 3 miles away. There is a marina here, so I enjoyed oggling the yachts before I turned tail and started walking back to Santa Monica.

What I had completely missed on my way down the beach was the excitement that is Venice Beachfront. And to think I was considering getting the bus home! I have never been offered Marijuana so many times in one afternoon. The shops repeated between fast food, clothing/sunglasses, and drugs/smoking equipment. For at least a mile. Eventually, I gave in... and bought a cheese dog. This is a hot dog covered in nacho cheese. Novel (and sticky).

Eventually I got back to the hostel, kind of dehydrated but not at all burnt (which was a relief). So I sat outside with a drink and caught up with a couple of friends on Facebook before heading out to the beach again... this time armed with swimming trunks, towel and not much else. The rest does not need explaining but, suffice to say, was warm and wet and quite exciting.

So now I'm typing this in the Hostel kitchen. I've just finished off my pizza from last night (and burnt my mouth again) and helped a couple of girls I've met at the hostel here catch a bus - a handy skill now that I understand the Metro network. On the way back I caught a glimpse of 3rd Street (remember the Tesla store from 2 days ago?) which really seemed to come alive in the evening and there was an excellent trumpet player seranading us with 'Summertime' from Porgy & Bess. I also popped into the British store to collect a couple of items.

A lot of this trip is about discovering more about myself, as much as it is about discovering the world. That sounds a bit cliche and of course might be of little interest to you dear readers. I'm getting a lot better at being spontaneous, but am still deeply annoyed at missing an opportunity of any kind! I spent the day walking on the beach and swimming in the sea on my own because I missed a pearl of an opportunity to invite someone else along. I don't mind being on my own - in fact sometimes I prefer it - but I like being around other people as well and I might have enjoyed today more if there was someone to share it with, and was a bit annoyed as a result. I hope I won't miss that sort of opportunity again (who am I kidding?!) but at least I had a few hours of introspection.

Anyway, tomorrow is an exciting day because I'm picking up my hire car and making my way down to San Diego. But for now I'm going to watch some live comedy here at the Youth Hostel. G'night.
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  1. Well, you've certainly been keeping busy m'lad!

    Have a great trip down the Freeway to SD. Watch out for an amazing (huge) white Mormon cathedral right next to the freeway as you approach SD - darn impressive!

  2. Good Morning CJ. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your affiliation with the sandcrabs (takes one to know one eh?) Also jealous about you exploring such a gorgeous beach and am sure it won't be too long before you are sharing experiences with other travellers. Thanks for the link to 'Little Kiwi' - there was me thinking it was about our topping on breakfast cereal! Have a good trip south. AML Mum xxx

  3. Hi Col, sorry for taking so long to catch up on the blog but at least it means that I can digest a good amount of storytelling all in one go!

    Really enjoying the read so far, your wit and clear excitement makes each entry as exciting as the next!

    Keep it up!

    P.S. I'm very jealous of your Cheese Dog, that sounds SO NICE! :D

  4. I too am very jealous of your cheese dog :)