I decided that I must at least cycle to the very beginning of the Marvin Braude Track and do the bit I missed out. So I once again set off from Dave’s house in Redondo Beach, navigating my way through the suburban back streets. I met a guy in a big UPS delivery truck and stopped to have a chat to him. ‘Stay safe, have a wonderful day!’ were his parting words. I still can’t get over how friendly and happy people are here in California. I cycled off wondering if California is the happiest place to live in the world, it certainly feels that way.
Before I had set off on the bike, earlier in the morning I’d set off on foot to find the nearest Target shop. I was on the hunt for a spanner so I could fix the seat on Dave’s bike before doing any great distance on it again. Sitting down still hurts after the last run out a couple of days ago. And to see if I could find a cheap tent! Doing this trip to America on a shoestring, I was going to need somewhere to sleep once I left Dave’s place. After walking for about 15 minutes, I found the shop down a side street. Less of a shop and more of a ginormoustore! When I arrived at the top of the elevator after entering, I just could not believe the size of the shop inside. As big as a city, this shop, I thought to myself. Off I wandered up and down the wide aisles in amazement. I eventually found the cycle section, but there was no sign of what I was looking for, which basically was a nut wrench to alter the bike seat that was currently sloping uncomfortably backwards. A couple of shop floor assistants walked past, so I asked them if they had such a thing. I don’t think they call them spanners in California, because they didn’t have a clue what I was on about. I quickly demonstrated what I was trying to do using one of the bike seats that were hanging up before us. The penny, or cent must have dropped.
So off I was guided to a land far far away, which was the other end of the shop. I had another happy conversation with the assistant on the way. I think the Californian accent also contributes to the joyful vibe these folk emit. I really like the accent; it’s bubbly and full of optimism. Even talking about how unnaturally cold it had been recently sounded like a good thing. Right in the corner there, was the tools section. Given the size of the shop, the selection was pretty poor. I must have spent about twenty minutes perusing what was on offer in possibly the minutest division in the store. The only thing I could find which contained exactly what I was after was a mechanics kit. I was told that the shop has an open return policy. This meaning that even if I had opened the goods, if they didn’t serve the purpose, I could return them. I thought this was amazing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about fixing the seat and then returning the kit, I only wanted the spanner, not to set up a new mechanics garage. It was an expenditure I could have done without, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. I supposed, if things did get a bit constricted, I could always consider another brief career change. I’ve done anatomy and physiology; surely fixing a car is roughly the same principle?
Walking back from the shop I was stopped by a man in a huge rusty old pickup truck, wheels too big for the body. He was asking me what I was doing with a mechanics kit. I was thinking about the fact he had no teeth while I proceeded to tell him about the bike seat. Again, another lovely person! As thoughts constantly drift through my mind, I was thinking, I wonder if I met a really bad person here, I’d still think they were lovely. Could get me into a bit of bother. I didn’t accept his offer of a lift. Only kidding. His parting words were, ‘have a great day!’ So with the mission complete, I walked back to Dave’s house lugging the cheapest tent I could find, a mechanics kit and a cap. The cap was a sheer necessity as it is just so bright in California, you walk around with a screwed up face as soon as you go outside, without one.
So, back to the bike ride! Feeling like I had got my bearings now, it wasn’t long before I found the beach. I landed at Hermosa Beach and instead of going right towards Venice Beach; I took a left to Redondo, another gorgeous ride along the ocean. As I peddled my way along, I marveled at the beach properties. Some were a bit dated, but others were architecturally amazing. I did have a look at prices a few days prior to this, to get some kind of an idea. The houses here started at about $2 Million and went up to $22 Million. That’s right, $22 Million spondoolies! Bit steep, but not if you’ve got it! And what a place to live! I cycled from here through to Redondo Beach. On the way I saw that the Beachlife Festival had just started and would be on for the weekend. I slipped up there! I had no idea this was going to be on while I was in town, but was now sold out. Still there were plenty of people listening to the music from the other side of the fence, as it were. And there were plenty of colourful characters mooching around too!
Redondo Beach was another nice surprise, quite different from all the other ‘beaches’ on the Marvin Braude Track. Here I found Redondo Pier and I really liked this place, so much going on. On the pier, I had real authentic Mexican street food in the form of a shrimp taco. I can’t remember having a taco since having one in Chiquito’s in London decades ago. A bit too bready for me, I probably thought at the time. But this taco was the taco to crown them all, the flavour was just absolutely amazing, and hardly any bread, just a really thin slither enough to hold the contents. I will actually never forget eating that taco on Redondo pier, it was that good.
I walked around the pier a few times, you could do a circuit around which gave you a 360 degree view of ocean and land. There were pelican’s flying over my head, such graceful birds in flight. There was a chatty sea lion playfully lolloping on it’s back in the ocean below the pier. It almost sounded like it was laughing, looking up at all the faces looking back down at it. There were dozen’s of Mexican fishermen dangling rod’s over the side of the pier. They were sat either side of a sign that read, don’t risk your health by eating contaminated fish. Followed by a list of fish that are now considered toxic, Barracuda and Bass amongst the list. Seeing this made me feel incredibly sad and angry. I also thought, if one fish is toxic, then all fish must be, they’re all floating about in the same pond! It’s just that some will be less toxic than others. What have we done?
I could tell the weekend had arrived, it was Friday and there were more people out on the boardwalk and there was a definite buzz in the air. There were buskers and people just sat with their friends, drinking beer and playing guitars. Something else that seems to be the going thing here too, is the need to play music out loud at all times. No matter what you’re doing. On a skateboard, blast it out man. On skates, hear this beat man. On a bike, pump up the jam man. Even people walking can’t seem to resist attaching a stereo to them and turning up the volume louder than you ever would if you had earphones in. I thought this was so funny, but actually doing this kind of suits California’s sunny lifestyle. In England walking along with a Sanyo beat box on your shoulder and your trousers half way down your arse doesn’t quite have the same cool.
I spent quite a bit of time at Redondo pier doing one of my favourite free pass times, people watching. I had a homemade ice cream, made out of coconut and pineapple and it was finger licking good. I saw a collection of bright miniature flower windmills poked into the flowerbeds on the boardwalk and they just embodied California for me. Free spirited and colourful.
I never expected to love Los Angeles so much as I do, but if it wasn’t so difficult and time consuming trying to get a visa, I’d definitely consider living here for a bit.
From Redondo Pier I cycled the relatively short distance to Torrance Beach where the cliffs to Palos Verdes begin and the Marvin Braude Track ends (or begins depending on which end you start from!) I love the Southern Californian lifestyle and love the area. It wouldn’t be too difficult for me to write a book called… hang on, better keep that one to myself! That’s another book that needs to be written, by me! As far as recommendations go, The Marvin Braude Track and all it’s destinations along the way offer such a fantastic experience, all for exactly no dollars… Unless you have a Venice Ramen, a shrimp taco and an ice cream, but they won’t break the bank and I highly recommend those too!
Keep on Living the Life you Deserve