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California Dreaming

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California Dreaming | story.one

I have travelled to a variety of destinations and fallen a little bit in love with them though I always felt ready to return home at the end of my vacation.

The exception to this was a trip to California, a place I had certainly dreamed of, and where I really did want to stay. The sun beamed reliably every day and Santa Monica bustled with an exciting, exhilarating vibe.

Young, fit bodies jogged and rollerbladed, cycled and segwayed with an energy so infectious it was tangible. The lithe young men of Muscle Beach demonstrated their prowess, effortlessly swinging between the hoops of a torturous metal frame. Nearby, the adult-sized swings called to me. Higher and higher I soared, my hair tangled in the salty air and my child-like joy was rekindled. I could really thrive in this wonderful climate and live my best life here.

The music that pumps out from the surf shacks adds to the vibrant atmosphere and you will be tempted to stop for ice cream or a cold beer, or maybe both. If you are feeling peckish then I can recommend the perfect venue for some heavenly cuisine.

Rusty's Surf Ranch, a seafood restaurant, can be found on the Santa Monica Pier boardwalk and is a fun place to chill out. Turn up at the weekend for live music, sip cocktails and have some fun! I received more than I could ever have wished for in a tuna steak sandwich with salad, crunchy coleslaw and fries. It was absolutely fresh, perfectly seasoned and pleasantly pink. That simple though special dish has achieved an immortal status in my bank of marvellous food memories.

As you walk along the pier you may have a sense of deja vu. I wondered if I might glimpse Bette Midler who starred in the film ‘Ruthless People’. Perhaps Tom Hanks, “I ran clear the ocean” might be here, reliving his Forrest Gump road trip along this wooden strip. This iconic location is marked by the Route 66 ‘End of The Trail’ sign and must surely be a film director's dream. Remember to pick up some memorabilia, unique beach crafts or sea shell jewellery for the folks at home.

You can also visit the ‘Heal the Bay’ Aquarium to glimpse the sea life that exists beneath the pier. Check out their touch tanks, see the rocky reef and kelp forest environments at close range.

The West Coast’s only amusement park is here. Pacific Park has a solar-powered ferris wheel, so if you have a good head for heights you will be rewarded with the most amazing view of the beach and ocean. By evening the park rides illuminate the pier and its reflections dance over the water.

Whether you are here with a lover, or even a significant ‘other’, you will view the sunset in wonderment. The ochre, russet and violet hues painted over the ocean will fill you with wonder at this natural sun-down show. Visit California, it's calling you!

© Angela Craddock 2021-11-28

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