Day 5, Dec 27: Long Beach and the Palos Verdes Peninsula


Point Vicente Lighthouse

Last day of this fun little jaunt over Christmas. Dan flies out of LAX tomorrow morning and I will drive home after dropping him at the airport. It’s been a very relaxing trip and we finished it in a similarly relaxing way – not a lot planned beyond walking through pretty scenery.

We went down for breakfast at 6am then back up to the room around 7am to finish packing. Dan had to get his prints secure in a box he will check into the plane. We left the hotel around 8am and stopped up the road at Porto’s bakery in Glendale to pick up some items for lunch later.

We had walked by this Christmas Eve morning and it was a madhouse – completely packed inside and lines down the street. This was much more reasonable. This bakery has a huge selection of savory and sweet things and is clearly very popular. Also very cheap – we picked up 7 things total and it was under $9.

Above is the whole thing as you walk in, with close-ups of some of the display cases below.

 

 

From there we headed to Long Beach. It took us over an hour to get 38 miles on 4 different freeways – and that’s making good time in LA! Traffic was moderate, we didn’t have any major slowdowns. We first went to CSU Long Beach to check out a Japanese Tea Garden, but it was closed for winter break and they were doing maintenance. Darn. So we went on to downtown Long Beach to see what there was to see there.

Long Beach has a population of almost half a million and is the 7th largest city in CA, 36th in the US. It’s primarily industrial and is a huge harbor town, with lots of trucks hauling cargo off of ships. Its downtown area is definitely not a top tourist attraction, but it was worth spending a couple of hours, which is all we did.

The harbor is pretty, with a little bit of downtown in the background.

 

Long Beach is a decent place to come if you plan on taking a harbor cruise, a whale watching cruise, or a cruise to Catalina Island, some of which we’d discussed heavily, all of which we ruled out for well thought out reasons when we were planning this trip; ditto the Queen Mary, which you’ll see below. So after a couple of hours we were done, we mostly just wanted to check it out.
 The trip to the lighthouse at the end of the harbor was worth it to get a closer shot of the Queen Mary below.

 

The Queen Mary has been permanently docked here since 1967. We had a long discussion last month about whether or not we would do this and decided not too for a variety of reasons. But it’s pretty from a distance, too bad there was so much haze (smog!) today.

From Long Beach we drove through San Pedro, another industrial town, on our way to the Palos Verdes Peninsula where we would spend the rest of the day.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is that little part of LA county that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, as indicated in the map above. There are four little towns on it, also indicated above. We weren’t interested in the towns so much as we were in just the drive and the views. And this drive would lead us directly into Torrance, as indicated at the top of the map, where we would be staying at night.

Our first stop was Wayfarers Chapel. Above is a fountain in front of it as you enter from the parking lot. Below is the view you have of the Pacific just before you enter it.

 

The Wayfarers Chapel was built in 1951 by Lloyd Wright, son of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. he conceived it as a tree chapel. It is one of the foremost examples of organic architecture and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. [Don’t know who the kid is, just didn’t feel like waiting for him to move…]

Emanuel Swedenborg was born in Sweden in 1688. He became a highly regarded scientist in many disciplines. One of his inventions, a small aircraft, hangs in the Smithsonian Institute. In his mid-50’s, his desire for scientific knowledge found a craving for religious understanding. He studied the Bible in its original languages and wrote volumes on numerous portions of it and other subjects of Christian theology. He examined the relationships between body and soul in an attempt to discover the nature of the spiritual being residing within the human personality. After his passing in 1772, a small group of his followers formed a reading group. The first Swedenborgian Church was established in London in 1787. The Swedenborgian Church of North America was established in Baltimore Maryland in 1792. Wayfarers Chapel is sponsored by the Swedenborgian Church.

 

 

 

 The carillon tower, above and below.

From there we went literally across the street to Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. We brought out our baked goods we got from Porto’s in the morning and had lunch at a picnic table by the ocean. Kinda nice.

 

Two meat pies, two chicken croquets (not shown – already gone!), an almond croissant, a guava cheese strudel, and an almond sponge cake with chocolate. Not exactly the most balanced lunch but it sure tasted good. To help a little with balance, Dan had an orange and I had a banana which we’d lifted from the breakfast buffet at the hotel the other day but hadn’t eaten yet. So there.

We went for a beach hike after. This is the beginning of our walk just past where we were sitting. See the area where that tip of land meets the ocean and some rocks in front of it? That’s where we ended up, which you’ll see in the photos below.

 

 These are at the point I referenced in the earlier photo.

 

 

 Dan was playing with the sea life in the tide pools, terrorizing hermit crabs.

 

Next stop was Point Vicente Lighthouse. Built in 1926, it is still a functioning lighthouse operated by the US Coast Guard. It is closed to the public except for tours provided one Saturday a month. The closest I could get was through a fence, which was how I got the shot below. 

 

There is also a little whale watching center there, with some exhibits on local marine life. You can borrow binoculars, which you can see in the photo below some have. There were 4 whale sightings today at the time I took the photo about 2pm. There are roughly 3200 whale sightings a year in this area.

 

We’d walked along the bluffs for awhile then decided we were done and it was time to check into the hotel. One last shot of the lighthouse as we left.
We made it to the hotel about 3pm probably. We are staying at the Doubletree in Torrance where we stayed the last 5 nights of December, 2016. Well, I stayed 5 nights anyway; Dan flew out that last night and I drove home the next day, which was New Year’s Day 2017. So we’re ending this year in a very similar way. We are even returning to the same Japanese restaurant we had dinner at last New Year’s Eve for dinner tonight. It’s about 5:30pm now so we should be leaving for that in a little while.

——————–
It’s now approaching 8:30pm, we are back from dinner. It was as good as we remembered it from last year. It’s called Irifune, and is a funny little shopping center with even odder parking. Luckily, just about 2 miles from the hotel.

 

The meal started with a simple salad, and this little egg dish that Dan really enjoyed last year, and it was just as good tonight. It’s a warm egg custard soup sort of thing, and will leave it at that. Tasty and comforting.

 We shared a roll with yellow tail (Hamachi).

Dan had the black cod, above; I got teriyaki chicken and tempura, below. Side dishes were slightly different but nothing worth going into a lot of detail over 🙂 But it was an excellent meal all around.

 

And that’s it for us this round. Dan will be coming to San Diego later in January for a conference and will head up to Sacramento for a long weekend after that, much as he’s been doing all year. He made it to Sac about once a month in 2017. It’s hard to make plans past that given the limbo of his work. My boss has offered to let me experiment with working from Raleigh a week a month to see how that goes, so we may look for a time to play with that in first quarter. We will return to Europe sometime this summer we hope, just can’t plan anything just yet. I’m thinking something Alps like – maybe Zurich, Munich, Salzburg. Would provide some great hiking! We’ll see. Regardless of where we end up, we’ll be back here. Thanks for coming along and Happy New Year!

 

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