Day 126 – 1/3/21 Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice Beach

We had a really nice day visiting Malibu, then Santa Monica and Venice Beach.

I didn’t have any alarms set this morning so I ended up waking up around 8:30… wow. That’s a record for me. hahaha.  I think I’m all caught up with sleep now.  Bella was up right away too, then Carol… Bia woke up after 9.  I got highlights written for yesterday and this morning… and got us going so we can leave asap.  One of the things I wanted to do in the morning before we left was to check on the propane tanks, and remove the empty one (if any) and get it exchanged.  I don’t like that process much because to remove them I have to remove the bikes from the rack, and remove the bike rack, so I can pull the black cover from the tanks, to then get the tanks.  Quite a process.  When I was about to start that today, I realized maybe if instead of taking the bike rack and all that down, I could try to push the rack with the bikes and all back into the receiver a little more, I might have just enough clearance.  The bike rack goes into a receiver that has a pin hole, and the rack itself has a pin.  So it stops in the exact right spot as the pin stops, so I pushed the pin in, and pushed the rack passed that hole, and it went another 3 inches or so, and voila.  It was just enough to let me pull the tank cover out, and I was able to remove the tank without the whole work.  Yay!  So I got the one tank that was empty out, and took it to get replaced with a full one while the ladies got ready.  I was also glad to see the new valve was working properly and showed a red flag in the window, and as I switched the lever to the other tank, it cleared the red appropriately.

On my way to the closest gas station to get the propane tank, I also called SiriusXM to get the truck re-activated.  We normally don’t listen to XM much, but since we started the trip it’s been great as we can listen to the same few stations non stop, no matter where we are, mountains, big cities, etc.  As the year flipped, whatever came with the truck was over, so we didn’t have XM for a few days, and regular radio around here is so bad, we really had nothing on.  I was on the phone for about 20 minutes, and ended the call with a full access subscription, they gave me a 90 day free trail, then 6 months for $30 after the free trial, so I basically got 9 months for $30.  We are all happy to have XM back! hahahah… and now with a proper subscription, we can listen to it online, via Alexa, etc.  Maybe this time we’ll get more hooked.  I am not sure what came with the truck, but it was not even showing up online on the RAM website, so I never touched it.  I’m thinking it was left over subscription from the previous owner.  Anyway, we have it now.  The bad thing is that as we got it back we learned the Disney channel the girls liked to listen to is no longer operating, so we’ll have to find another one.  They do not like the KidzBop channel.

The gas station here was close by, and I got in and asked for the propane exchange, it was $25 and I put my credit card in and the guy said they only take cash or debit.  Glad I had the debit card with me, so I put that in and the screen asked me to ok a 35cent charge to use the card, which I did and it was all done.  Only reason I’m mentioning this is that this is now the second time I try to pay with credit and they only accept debit and charge me 35cents.  Not sure if it’s an LA thing or what.  Anyway, I got the full tank and drove back, listening to XM, loud. Hahahaha

When I got back, the ladies were almost ready, so I got the tank setup again, and returned the bike rack to its proper spot, and locked it in place while they finished getting ready.  Carol got some fruit cut for the trip, got the left over pizzas from yesterday, and a few other snacks packed.  We were able to leave just after 10:30.  The day was looking great, and it was warming up nicely.

Our drive towards Malibu was not bad, mainly larger highways and not as much traffic flow as the other days.  We headed to the first beach south of El Matador beach in Malibu, and got there within about an hour and 20 minutes.  When we got there, we found a place to park on the road, without needing to go into the paid parking.  It was conveniently next to the restrooms and just by the beach.  We got our stuff, lunch bag and went to the beach.  We setup the beach blanket, and had a nice lunch there, enjoying the view and watching surfers in the water.  After I finished eating I was trying to see if we could spot anything further out in the water, and sure enough… we saw dolphins.  There were a few a bit far away that would pop up here and there, not easy to see them completely, but we could see enough here and there to make out it was dolphins.  The girls were excited.  By time I felt it was time to go, so we could see the other beaches, the girls were playing in the sand and didn’t want to go. hahahahaha… of course.  I told them we’d be heading to some nice beaches and we’d stop so they could play, so they finished up and we left, heading south on PCH1.  We drove through the rest of Malibu, but didn’t stop again.  There were quite a few entrances with lots of cars on the road, and we saw a lot of surfers in the water.  It was nice to see the rest of the Malibu beach front, and all the surfers, etc.  

Our next stop was at Santa Monica Pier.  Their parking lot was not full, but as I pulled in, I could see the actual pier was closed.  We paid the $10 for parking, and walked towards the pier.  We took a picture by the entrance sign, then crossed under the pier and went to the sand towards the water, pretty much across from the kids playground and restrooms.  We were in a straight line from those, but close to the water.  We setup the mat and the girls started playing in the sand right away.  We picked a spot that was far from other people, so they could play freely and not have to have the mask covering their faces the entire time.  They kept the masks on their chins, so they could pull them up as needed, if others approached.  I decided to go find some beer since we were going to stay there for one to two hours, and we had time to relax.  So, I walked towards the sidewalk, which has the bike path right next to it.  That’s the usual spot where it is cool and fun to be, as you see all kinds of people and action going on.  People coming by running, on bikes, on scooters, all kinds of stuff.  Interesting to just people watch there.  I walked towards the street hoping to see some store, or place selling beer and ice cream, but was not finding any.  I walked passed the playground, and next to it is an adults workout section and there was a big group doing some type of Yoga acrobatics.  That was pretty cool, and more and more people were arriving and using the equipment there.  They had a bunch of high up rings some guys were swinging around in, they had ropes to climb, all kinds of acrobatics.  I watched for a bit and continued on.  It didn’t look like I was going to find anything by the beach, so I opened up the map and found a gas station convenience store a few blocks away so I went there.  I got a couple of beers and two popsicles the girls had asked for.  Again, when I went to pay, cash or debit only.  I paid with debit and they again added 35cents.  Note to self and others, always carry cash or your debit card around here.  I tried to walk back as fast as possible so the popsicles would not melt.  I saw more interesting people on the way back, this lady with a kitty costume on roller blades stood out.  She was just skating around with her headphones on and enjoying herself… we later saw her in Venice Beach as well, which is 3 miles away.

The girls loved their popsicles, it was these Minions Strawberry and Banana swirl popsicles.  I got Carol some Pacifico, and I got myself an IPA as well.  We just sat there, enjoying our drinks, talking, and relaxing in the sun.  The girls finished their popsicles and continued playing in the sand.  They were making a bunch of holes, and mounds, it looked like they were prairie dogs. Hahahaha. After we had enjoyed that spot for a while, I started getting us ready to move on so we could go to Venice beach, our final spot for the day.  Everyone needed to use the restroom, so we headed that way first.  While we each waited for the other, we enjoyed watching people in the workout areas, swinging, balancing, etc.  Bia walked on some low bars too, and was enjoying that.  Carol lucked out that there was a janitor person cleaning the toilets, and she got to use it right after they were clean.  I’ll tell you, using these is usually a literal shit show.  All the other times I’ve been to Santa Monica or Venice, and needed to use the restrooms, they were horrible.  Often the stalls had no doors, etc.  This time, it was better.  Still crazy dirty and full of garbage inside the men’s ones, but the doors were still on.  After we were all done, we went to the truck and headed towards Venice Beach.

I had picked a parking lot just south of the Muscle area, whatever that’s called, it’s the lifting area right at the beach.  When we parked, there were a bunch of people with kids sliding down sand.  There was a 4-5 foot tall sand barrier that was nice and easy, and the fine sand made it great to just slide down.  We didn’t have anything for the girls to slide down, but they spent a few minutes running up and down, pretending to fall, pretending they were sliding and seeing which one went further, etc.  (Bella was sore later, and next morning from all the crazy running).  We let the girls burn some energy there before we headed to the side walk to check out Venice Beach’s finest artists and people. 🙂

With the girls ready, we started walking towards the sidewalk, and then north from where we were towards the area where the street vendors are.  We had already talked to the girls about all the different things they’d see, different people, artists, and all that, so they did not need to be afraid or alarmed, it was all just expressions of freedom and that kind of stuff.  It was a bit of a walk before we got to the vendors area, but pretty much all along you see cool stuff.  From the amazing view of the sunset and beautiful beach front, to the people dancing in the parking lot, etc.  Pretty much early on we saw a guy just wearing a speedo, very tan, dressed as the devil, with horns on and everything.  The girls seemed a bit suspicious about that guy, and I could feel them walking a little faster. Hahahah.  But, little by little we started seeing cool stuff.  A kid singing and dancing.  A guy who made an octopus with sand.  Lots of paintings and hand crafted art.  Lots of weird people, crazy people and homeless, all mixed in.  For them it was a big mixture of interesting, cool and a bit scary at the same time.  They had us stop at this spot where two guys had a machine with a bar and a timer, and if you could hang holding the bar for 2 minutes, they’d pay you $100.  I didn’t see how much it cost to “play”, but the girls were entertained by that.  We watched like 3-4 people, and no-one made it past 1 minute.  Right around 5pm or so, it was getting dark and vendors were starting to pack up.  Then, a very cool parade started where people with all kinds of funky bikes, full of lights, were riding together.  That was pretty cool.  People dressed up in lights, with lights around the bike tires.  A guy had a completely made up bike that was like 2 stories high, but the wheels were maybe bmx size, also full of lights.  Just really cool stuff.  We watched the whole thing, which lasted less than 2 minutes :).  As it got darker, we started heading back.  I asked them what they liked the most, and they both said the Octopus made with sand.  And the least was the homeless people.  They were impressed by that, especially as sometimes people were digging in the garbage for food.  Great opportunity for us to talk about how lucky and fortunate we are, etc.  I think they get it. :). Carol got some Ben and Jerry’s and also some change to give to the sand guy, but by time she left the store he had already packed his things and left.  Bummer.  The problem with getting food, like ice cream, during this pandemic and out and about, is eating it.  How do you eat it with your mask on?  How do you keep the food from getting contaminated while you walk around?  Carol had gotten an extra cup for each of them to cover the ice cream, and then we looked for empty areas to stop here and there so they could have some.  It’s a bit of a pain, but we made it work.  Bella asked if we could return to Venice Beach tomorrow, she liked it here!  Bia said she liked it too, but was a little more impressed with all the different things she saw.  As things were all closing up, we got to the truck and left.  It was about 6pm when we left, and our drive would be an hour, so not too bad.

Our drive back was easy, from Venice Beach we hit a major road right away, then just moved to other major roads.  We didn’t have any canyon roads to take, and traffic was moderate and flowing fast.  We stopped at the Acton Jack in the Box before heading home, and were home by 7.  With it being the first school day since the break, I wanted to make sure the girls were in bed by 8:30 at most, so we ate, showered and the girls were in bed by 8:40.  Caro and I showered, cleaned up the trailer a bit and went to bed earlier as well.

We had a great time at the beaches today, and especially at Venice Beach where the girls got to see some very different things.

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