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Santa Barbara Malibu Creek State Park

9th August 2010

Art Appreciation Before Walking the Glamorous Beaches in Santa Monica

    My mind was made up to head nearer to Los Angeles, more to find something fresh to occupy my mind than anything else. Arriving in the area five days ahead of schedule was something I hadn't planned for, and I needed a fresh place to ease the boredom of killing time until Thursday. Unusually, the skies were blue in the morning; perhaps that was a good omen.
    I also wanted to take Marcia up on her offer to see her artwork, and since she lived in Carpinteria which was on the way, I gave her a call and arranged to call round. After saying goodbye to my hosts from Leicester, I was on my way. Her instructions on how to locate her were impeccable, and she and Toby, her 18 month old dog, came out to greet me. She lived in a 20' x 48' demobilised mobile home in one of the mobile home parks in the town. This form of accommodation seemed to be fairly popular in California.
    My first impressions as I entered her home was that it was a dedicated artist's residence. Artwork was everywhere, either on display, in production, or in storage. A painting was on the go on an easel in the living room, and her studio was brimming with art in progress, and enough materials to fill a shop. Here lived a dedicated artist.
    Marcia showed me here work that she had described to me a couple of days earlier. Her decoupling of base from the standard rectangular format to the shape of the painting she wanted to achieve was quite original, and she stamped her own individuality in strong bright colours on the shapes. The emphasis of subject matter was plant life, and she diversified her style to add texture with acrylics, and also exploited the shapes to include mirrors within her work. A Colorado mountain scene had been painted on a two handled saw, and a range of subjects had been painted on tiles and rounded stones. She certainly wasn't afraid to experiment and push the boundaries. She was very talented. She also had a collection of her late husband's paintings, and he too was a capable artist.
    She made us a light lunch, and we chatted about families, and this and that. She had suffered ill health with cancer in the past, but had survived. When I thought about it, we had an awful lot in common, which made the conversation flow easily. It crossed my mind at one point that perhaps I reminded her of her late husband; I'll never know.
    But it was now afternoon, and I still had to move south and find a place to stay for the night. I thanked Marcia for lunch, wished her good luck with her ventures, gave her a hug, and took my leave. As I was leaving, she gave me one of her paintings of an Echeveria, a kind gesture. She was a talented and charming lady with many varied interests.
Agoura Hills from the Campsite
    I continued my journey south, and the maps indicated one campsite this side of Los Angeles, in the Malibu Creek State Park. From my experiences further up the coast, I had more or less written this site off. However, since I was passing by, I thought I would go through the motions of checking it out. I was totally flabbergasted when they said they could squeeze me in. Boy was I a happy man. The downside of the site, they shut the gates at 10pm, so if I got back late I would be locked out.
    Having spent the best part of 3 months sleeping in a van in often primitive conditions, and then having spent two nights in the relative luxury of a hotel, it might have seemed a retrograde step to return back to sleeping in the van on a campsite again. In actual fact I was quite looking forward to it, and I couldn't put forward a logical reason behind that statement. Perhaps I had become accustomed to the rough way of living and the associated uncertainties. The van had become home.
    The camp was in a lovely setting, in the foothills of the Agoura Hills in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The 10,000 acre Malibu Creek State Park contained forests, meadows, waterfalls, picnic areas and hiking trails. Much of the park was owned by 20th Century Fox until 1974. M*A*S*H, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Tarzan were all filmed here. It was too late to do any hikes today, but I was determined to tackle some in the morning.
Malibu Beach
    I drove down the creek towards the coast, and headed south along the coast, passing the Malibu Lagoon State Beach. This nature reserve had once housed the largest village of the Chumash Indians in the 16th century. Further down from the lagoon lay Malibu. The Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit was bought in 1887 by Frederick and May Rindge. The family fought with the state for many years to keep their property secluded. They failed and had to sell much of Malibu to film stars such as Bing Crosby and Gary Cooper. The entertainment fraternity now lived there in a private, gated compound. As I drove along the coast by Malibu, I glanced up the hillside at properties whose best distinguishing features were the figures leading the six zeros of their price tags. Another world!
Beach Volleyball
    Across the bay I could see Santa Monica, and without a moments hesitation I headed along the coast road towards it. The city sat above the beach on a high yellow cliff. It was at one time a sleepy coastal town, and once it was linked via trolleys to Los Angeles in the 1890s, it became the place to go for beach parties. In the 1920s and 30s, movie stars such as Cary Grant and Mary Pickford bought land here, creating "the Gold Coast". It was also Baywatch country.
Yellow Lifeguard Station
Purple Lifeguard Station
Multiple Lifeguard Stations
Santa Monica Beach and Pier
    I didn't have time to venture into the city, I just walked along the shore up to the Santa Monica Pier, the West Coast's oldest amusement pier. Just as in Baywatch, a lovely sandy beach with coastguards placed every 100m or so, volleyball courts, and people just enjoying themselves; a lively place.
    As I drove back to my campsite, dusk was upon me and I knew I wouldn't be cooking in the dark, so I decided to stop off in Malibu and find a restaurant. I came across one which had an enticing menu, but when I looked in the restaurant it was so dimly lit, with a tiny candle per table illuminating the setting. I told the head waitress that the menu looked good, but I wouldn't be able to see inside the restaurant. "You won't be able to read the menu?", she asked. "No it's not that", I said, "I won't be able to see the plate". She looked at me as if I was a complete idiot, so I left. Maybe I should get my eyes checked out. I found a decent Italian restaurant in the end.
    I returned to the campsite before curfew, happy that I had found a campsite so close to my destination. I spent a while gazing at the stars in the heavens before tiredness caught up with me and I turned in for the night.
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Santa Barbara Malibu Creek State Park

Uploaded from The Coffee Bean, Calabasas CA on 10/08/10 at 14:30

Last updated 10.8.2010