Friday, October 30, 2015

Santa Monica Pier

Okay, back to California - and btw, the locals don't call it Cali - since I'm leaving in a couple of days to head back to Vegas. There will probably be more CA posts later, I haven't covered everything yet, but I don't expect to be back here again before the New Year. 

So...Santa Monica Pier. It's an institution in these parts, been there forfreaking ever, but I'd never been. I came to the beach in Santa Monica exactly once when I lived in Los Angeles so long ago. I believe I've mentioned often enough here how much I hate sand, but I do love the Southern California climate, so the first thing I did when I bought a house here was put in a swimming pool. 

Yes, I know it's not the same experience, but neither did I have to pay to park or drag paraphernalia from the parking lot across a wide expanse of sand to a spot where I will remain because the water is too freaking cold to go into. And my kids were too young to enjoy the pier, so I just happily stayed home.

Having said that, the Santa Monica Pier was not a bad place to hang out...once. It's very well kept up, and they've done a nice job with it. But like others we visited, the rides and the mediocre food are both too expensive, imo. Unless you are resident. The annual passes are surprisingly reasonable, so if I still lived here with young kids, maybe I'd get one.

In fact, if we would have gone to spend an entire day there, even the daily pass wasn't too bad. Except for the fact that I've suddenly become nervous about watching one of our kids on almost every single ride, so it wouldn't have actually been worth it for me even then.

I don't know if I was just having an anxious day, or what, but I usually just forbid roller coasters or violently twirly rides, that my imagination too easily pictures a small body being flung out of. Now, I can barely watch any of them, so I think this Pier is probably the last one I'll be visiting. I don't see why I should want to pay exorbitant prices to make myself a nervous wreck.

Not to mention, all that sand. Seriously, the things we do for our kids, because these are not high on my list of things I actually want to spend time or money on. Just for an example, food for one adult and one skinny young girl at Taco Bell was $15. Taco Bell! The place people go with change they've scraped out of the seats of their cars or living room sofas! No dollar menus at these piers, that's for damn sure.

I've learned, since I've been here this trip, how to enjoy the beaches. I know now, how to find and stay in the shade to keep from getting hot and burnt, and how to keep too much sand from sticking to me and my stuff. That one turned out to be easy, just don't get wet and use bags with slick fabrics that sand rolls right off of. Since the Pacific is almost always too cold for me, I have no trouble staying out of it. Plus, there was a shark sighting our last day in San Diego, so yeah, no.

Back to the Pier. In spite of my complaints, it was mildly interesting, and Peri enjoyed it. So it was a mostly successful short expedition.

Although there were the usual souvenir shops, they somehow seemed in better shape than I'm used to seeing.

And there were a couple of things I haven't seen in other places like this. One, was the police station right smack in the center of the Pier. It was really cool, almost cartoonish. I liked it a lot.

Even more amazing was the actual trapeze school they had, right there on the pier. It was a real working school, we got to watch while people were learning and practicing. That was pretty wild. They were out of New York, but there are a few different branches.

Everything was nice and brightly painted, it all looked pretty clean for a place like this.

And they had it decorated for Halloween. 

Away from the rides, the Pier had the same Victorian styling as in Brighton. I swear, you couldn't tell the difference between the two from looking out at the beach.

And, of course, I have to tell you about the bathrooms. It's not just my fixation with bathrooms, these were the best beach rest rooms I've ever seen. And I've been seeing a lot of them lately. But just look at this, the lavatories are all outside, as well as water fountains, and kept very nice.

And you see all that mesh screening above them? That is the tops of the actual stalls, that are behind the sinks, so that all the odors can escape. Pure genius

The stalls themselves are like the European ones, actual little rooms with walls and doors that go all the way to the floor. They're kept pretty neat, and that mesh really lets all the fresh air in.

Another thing I've never seen before is that, with the sinks outside, you get to stay out in the fresh air until you go into one of the stalls. That makes such an amazing difference. 

It was starting to get late when we were done with the rides, but Peri wanted to go down to the water, just to look. And that's when we found out they had something else we've never seen before. From the Pier, there is a wooden path to where some benches are stationed in front of the water, so people can just sit and look. 

Of course, some sand still got on the path, there is no way to avoid that. But it was still a huge difference from slogging through the sand. There is a big circle, right off the Pier, then the path leads to the ocean. 

So I have to give it to Santa Monica, though it's not my favorite type of excursion, they've done a really excellent job on their Pier.

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