Ah to be out

LA is a strange old place. Probably in general. Certainly to many people and probably in a different way for me.

As a country bumpkin who, save for living on the edge of Sheffield at University (during which time I spent most weekends in the Peak District), I have pretty much lived in villages or country, I’m used to walking out my back door and being in the rolling fields of Britain in less than 5 minutes. LA is surrounded by outdoor pursuits from the mountains to the ocean to the desert. Yet it’s sprawling mass of urban life makes it hard to really get the feeling of true serenity found in the isolation of Mother Nature, which somewhat bothers me.

Despite slight bothersomeness I always feel more at one when I do get up into the hills. This week in an act of insanity I double committed to hiking in one day. A morning trail run/ walk followed by an early evening hike with mini run. In the latter case the run was simply in aid of hiding from our fellow hikers behind a lone toilet, to give the illusion of having disappeared.

Both gave a sense of calm. Well mostly, save for the excessive crowd of other hikers on a narrow trail in the sweltering mid-morning heat during hike one. Many of whom were clearly negatively affected by said heat and thus acted as irrepressible assholes. One lady barked for my friend and I to come past her and her fellow hikers ‘well are you coming past or what?’. ‘Well madam I was waiting for the two young ladies passing in the opposite direction to get through rather than pushing them to the ground and running over them.’ Still we had fun and felt accomplishment and ate delicious food, including dairy free pancakes (always a winner), at Cafe Vida in the Pacific Palisades afterwards.

The afternoon hike was far more relaxing – very few people, wide sweeping paths and save for an initial half hour of steeper climb it was all rolling ridge line. The fact that in typical LA style we began an hour later than planned, did put us into an unplanned return element of hiking in the pitch black. Why would you risk hiking in the dark you say? Well it does make for somewhat more adventure – see if we can’t track down a wiley coyote or mountain lion. As it happens neither of those but several low flying bats that nearly made for a close acquaintance and the odd cleverly placed and imperceptible in the dark stone made for some good trips. Nothing like a strained ankle to start the week right, hey?

And now today is Monday. And I’m not broken. And I’m not sure about the use of the word ‘And’ at the start of the sentence. However, I ate lunch today at a lovely place called Rosines in Monterey and was served by the loveliest of ladies ever. I tipped her extra because she actually deserved a tip, unlike so many people who you have to tip but don’t deserve it, save for the fact that actually the base pay isn’t really base pay, it’s a joke. So really a tip is not a tip in the hospitality trade in the US, it’s just allowing people to live.

Now I’m in Santa Cruz for the night having hit San Jose, Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove and Sand City this fine day. Tomorrow – Saratoga here I come! Then home. Then bed. I got up 4.30am this morning. At some point between 24 and 31 I lost the ability to handle an early morning with charm and grace.

The evenings aren’t actually much better….


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