January 16, 2010

Santa Monica Sunshine

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I've been for a walk on a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA...

If the song California Dreaming is playing over and over in your head, then visualize sunny Santa Monica as a dream destination.

Like most gardeners in winter, I get a serious case of cabin fever if I can't be outside. This has been one of those cold winters where I was cooped up in the house for too long. Fortunately, my husband had talked me into reserving a winter break in California long before we knew just how cold our North Carolina weather would be this year.

We were in the warmest spot in the US while even Florida was suffering from the record cold temperatures. We were grateful for each day of basking in the glorious sunshine! Our week-long stay rewarded us with 70+ degree temperatures. The only day that it drizzled rain was the morning that we flew home.

This was my first trip to the Los Angeles area. Santa Monica is like a piece of paradise parked on the edge of sprawling LA. With over three miles of wide beaches, pretty neighborhoods and manageable traffic, I would definitely stay in Santa Monica again (maybe next January).

Santa Monica is a place for fitness. I can imagine that if I lived there for one year, I'd whip this old body into shape! All along the flat beach there are paved walking paths and two-lane paved biking paths. You can see where the tax dollars are spent. Why, even the public restrooms were clean!

One afternoon, my husband and I walked six miles and were proud of it - until we were passed by an elderly lady, probably in her 80s, roller blading past us. We could only laugh as an elderly gentleman, seeing our astonished reaction, said "never give up!"

Okay, we got the message as we passed by the famous "Muscle Beach" and watched the acrobats at the Trapeze School up on Santa Monica Pier. We felt like slackers!

If the pressure from those fast-paced fitness buffs in tight yoga pants gets to you, there are the higher, street-level parks above the beach paths where you won't look out of place wearing jeans and walking at a normal pace with the rest of the human race.

Through the parks of green grass, palm trees and tropical flowers are two more paths and the street sidewalk. One of the paths is paved for strolling and another is soft gravel for jogging.

The views from these bluff walks are gorgeous, especially at sunset. There are benches everywhere if you want to hang out for awhile, read a book or people-watch.

This is were you'll see just about every kind of dog in the world being walked by just about every kind of person in the world. Speaking of which, street people sleep on the green grass. The lush grass does look like a soft bed and waking up each morning in the middle of a pristine park with breath-taking ocean views must be heaven.

There's more to Southern California than the weather...to be continued...

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel; Location: Santa Monica, California; January 2009.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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