The phone is ringing, the texts are beeping, my email is flooding. That. Is. It. The phone turns off, the computer shuts down, the silence echoes in sublime relief.
We're off, a romantic two day rendezvous of laughter and adventure where we write the rules. Like being a kid and thinking, I can't wait to be an adult and do whatever the hell I feel like doing. One of those kinds of weekends, where having stress and responsibility are worth it because the flip-side of answering to no one but yourself trumps all of those hair-wrenching moments of life called the real world.
After sleeping in, and downing scrambled eggs with avocado, a gulp of OJ and a sprawl on the couch, we drive the 45 minutes from Marina Del Rey to El Matador in Malibu. The drive along PCH, as expected, is gorgeous yet takes patience. As anyone knows that commutes along PCH, or simply drives up the coast, there is a never-ending line of little ants, filled with boats of families in SUVS, bachelors in Porches and couples in Hondas like mine, crawling along the two-lane path, gradually making way to pit stops along Zuma, Point Dume, Paradise Cove and lastly our destination, the street right past Broad Beach, which is rumored to house celebs like Eddie Van Halen and Pamela Anderson, the entrance for El Matador.
It's easy to miss, but there is a small sign, where you drive your car into the small parking lot that announces it wants $8 for being a state park. The finicky machine holds up the line of patrons waiting to pay, and after battling against it, the credit card not reading, we place an old parking receipt on the dashboard and say, screw it.
We climb down the rusty stairs that twist and turn and walk along a narrow dusty path. Below, we see various large rock formations sticking up out of the ocean, reminiscent of Cabo or a distant location, and for that moment we're taken out of Los Angeles. Of course if you're visiting LA than you've been taken to a rare seclusion, a breath of fresh air. While there are a lot of kids there during the summer and on the weekends, if you get there early, you'll have a moment of solitude amongst the pelicans.
After a brief stint relaxing by the mounds of washed up seaweed we head back down PCH, and stop at the Malibu Beach Inn, where we are quick to confirm with the valet that this is indeed where Entourage was shot. Yes, it's where E proposes, the gentleman tells us. We get a prime seat overlooking the water, and while at first the prices seem high, they aren't that much higher than our normal high-end bars. At $16 a drink you'll get a hefty (and strong) glass of a perfectly balanced mixology. I chose the Sweet Heat, a mix of jalapeno, ginger and pineapple juice. Alex and I share the lobster salad sandwich, which to my delight has huge chunks of lobster and little else. A side of freshly cooked fries, followed by the tres leches drink we have for dessert, and I'm in a delightfully light food coma.
We head back to the Marina and take a stroll. On Washington Boulevard you'll find loads of beach biking babes and the occasional meat-head, but mainly you get the leftover hippies and free spirits from Venice a few blocks over. Back off of Admiralty Way, and by the nicest Cheesecake Factory you'll ever see, is a hidden beach, Mother's Beach, where the boats dock. While I certainly wouldn't go for a dip in this murky water, I do bring a good book or sketch pad and mentally return to the pura vida way of life.
Walking along Washington Boulevard, you'll find my favorite place to get a drink, Mercedes. And although the bartending service has been debatable, the drinks are well worth the wait. Two caipirinhas and the water will feel as warm as Hawaii. Outside you can people watch while munching on tostones. Down the street, if you were to ride your bike, you'd come across the inner workings of Venice, so complicated yet easy to assume, that it deserves its own article.
I come home inspired by the sunset, and pick up a small canvas and paint away. The brush dips in the cheap acrylic paint that I keep on hand, the wand splashes across the canvas creating an abstract mess of blues and greens.
We of course pass up the usual Washington staples (there's no shortage of variety on here), for a quick dinner at Islands. Not glamorous but definitely reliable. An interchangeable marathon of South Park and Breaking Bad ensues.
When we wake, we drive the 15 minutes to Inglewood, to the LAX Firing Range. There's nothing that will get out aggression more than shooting bullets at a zombie target. Traffic getting on your nerves? Bam! Your family annoying you? Bam! For about $40-50 each, we rent three guns (a 9 mm, .45 and .38) and spend an hour and a half there.
With the adrenaline giving me a kick-start that the cup of fair trade French-press coffee I made at home didn't, we head back to the Marina, and take the WaterBus across the marina to Fisherman's Village. Alex and I always like to point out that the banana stand from Arrested Development was filmed there, and it never seems to get old that we point it out to each other each time. Although we go to El Torito, I would recommend the non-corporate Sarpino, for their butterfly shrimp salad, fresh bread and glass of wine.
A weekend of loafing around and eating? Now that puts the "cation" in staycation.
On a budget?
- Rent bikes along the boardwalk for an hour. It takes about 25 minutes to go from the end of the Marina to the Santa Monica Pier
- Take the WaterBus on a long tour (45 minutes) or to Fisherman's Village for free outdoor concerts
- Go beach hopping and cruise along the beaches of Malibu. Stop at a grocery store to bring a picnic (alcohol is not allowed on any beach).
- Buy canvas and paint from a craft store, and paint outside at one of the many parks surrounding the beaches.