Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The great outdoors

I do miss Chicago (really! I swear!), but can't help having a grudging appreciation for LA, a la my last post. The entertainment industry is what bugs me most about it (even though I have friends who work in it for whom I continue to have a good deal of respect... particularly when they complain about the idiocy of their coworkers), followed by traffic and the fact that you can't avoid it. Both have silver linings. Yes, traffic too. After living in LA for awhile, you begin to have a tolerance for spending a lot of time in the car. A half-hour seems like nothing compared to that hour-long commute you used to make. An hour isn't too bad when you think about that time it took you almost two hours to get from Dodger Stadium to USC. Two to three hours is tolerable in comparison to the drive to Vegas, particularly when you know In N Out is there for you next to the freeway when you get hungry. And when the radius for a day trip extends up to a three hour travel time, there are a lot of places you can go. The entirety of the California coast is a worthwhile destination, but there are plenty of places inland as well. The San Gabriel Mountains. Death Valley. The Valley (yes, there's stuff there worth seeing). There are gardens, museums, national and state parks full of forests, rivers, waterfalls, and even islands (ok, that last one is on the coast). I should schedule a trip to Catalina soon, as I haven't been there in at least 10 years. There's a diving center there, and dive sites include a kelp forest and a shipwreck. There are loads of good hikes (as outlined in an excellent feature in the LA Times today). In general, I'd have to say that there's a lot to do.

Those are all just future plans, to be undertaken when I can afford them (a tolerance for drive time, unfortunately, is not synonymous with being able to afford all the gasoline required). Closer to home, I have continued with my efforts to learn golf and surfing, both with decidedly laughable results. I've had one lesson in each and have managed to regress, if that's possible. I practiced putting the other day and became so discouraged that I didn't even get to chipping. And I never learned driving--I seem to recall that when I was forced into lessons at the age of 8, I thought driving was really cool until I tried it and missed the ball completely on three out of four swings. When I did make contact, I topped it. Hardly the smooth, solid swing I'd envisioned.

And then there's surfing. I gave it a shot again today, down at Manhattan Beach. I borrowed a foam board from a friend (the first thing ever that was so big I couldn't fit it in my car) and spent maybe 45 minutes in the water. It was a perfect day. Cloudless, close to 70, 1 to 3 foot waves. I even found a place where, when the waves got closer to shore, the bottom suddenly dropped down a few feet to really soft sand, which is much friendlier to fall onto than 6 inches of water covering sand that had slightly less give than rock. I caught a few waves, and even attempted to stand up a few times (it was one of those that led me to make that last assessment). However, I remain convinced that there's some error in how other people assess the height of waves. Most of the time I was dealing with 3 to 5-footers, but then every so often (actually far too often) this massive 10-foot wave would suddenly form. And I was inevitably where it broke. In the overall scheme of things, that's a very bad place to be, even with respect to waves that are shorter than you are (you haven't felt like a jackass until you've eaten it because of a wave that only came up to your chest when you were standing in two and a half feet of water). What I used to think was pretty--the crest of a wave rising up and sparkling in the sun shortly before it crashed into white foam--now strikes terror into my heart. Because it sucks to be under that thing when it crashes. I have a headache and a rash on my left ankle from where the leash kept pulling.

Nevertheless, I shall persevere. I'm sure that when I actually undertake some of the other outdoor activities mentioned here with such zeal, I'll have similar-sounding tales of defeat. I think it's safe to say that, in almost anything I attempt outdoors (and probably most things indoors as well), Mother Nature has me beat. But hey, it builds character. And it doesn't cost too much. I mean, can you really put a price on dignity?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Whole27: Seven (Eight?) Months Later

Breakfast this morning was cinnamon rolls. In fairness, I'm sick right now with something resembling that monster flu--hopefully it...