February 7, 2011

Midwinter Break in Torrance, CA

 I had an unexpected opportunity to take a quick trip to the Torrance, CA area, just outside of Los Angeles, and I jumped on it.  It's been a tough winter here in PA, and I was largely  interested in getting WARM.  I did a fair amount of lazing around in the sunshine, but I also worked in some fun activities.  I took a hike near Palos Verdes and spotted the Goodyear Blimp (above) and ate twice at the Green Temple vegetarian restaurant (below).  I had dined here back in 2004, and was pleased to see that the decor was just as funky, and the food was just as delicious, as I remembered it.  I can personally recommend the walnut loaf with mushroom gravy.
 I visited the Madrona Marsh Nature Preserve, a charming bit of natural land in the very midst of the urban/suburban sprawl in Torrance.  I give them great credit for preserving and managing this bit of wild and rare ecosystem.  It's interesting in that you are treated to scenes like this:
 And this:
 But if you look over your shoulder, you spot this:
 And off in the distance is this:
 They also have a Nature Center, with friendly staffers and helpful exhibits, and a good specimen garden.  This week the lupines were blooming:
 As were the fuschia flowering currants:
 On another day I braved the freeway into Long Beach to go on a whale watch cruise.  At the start of the trip we passed the Queen Mary; it's now a hotel and tourist attraction:
 We were very lucky on the cruise and spotted a young migrating  gray whale, simultaneously with a large group of several hundred common dolphins.  At one point, the whale was rolling in the water while the dolphins were jumping over it--apparently a very rare occurrence, and extremely exciting!  You will have to take my word for it, as I was too busy experiencing the moment to capture it, but just imagine a large whale flipper and some leaping dolphins in this picture:
 We also spotted brown pelicans, cormorants, and sea lions, both swimming and sunbathing:
 Back on land, I visited  the Aquarium of the Pacific and enjoyed it very much.  Among other treasures they have a wonderful collection of jellyfish, like this Crystal Jelly:
 And this Lion's Mane Jelly:
And some fabulous sea horse exhibits, including these Weedy Sea Dragons:
On my final day, I hung out at Redondo Beach:
 Had great fish tacos at Pancho's:
 And watched the sun set over Manhattan Beach:
The sure sign of a successful vacation is the desire to return home.  I'm not thrilled to be back in the land of the dreaded "wintry mix"--there's more in the forecast--but I am happy to be back to my own bed and my studio and my friends and family.  I'm relaxed and refreshed and ready to start work on some projects that have been simmering on the back burner.  Wish me luck in keeping that mellow vacation vibe going forward....

1 comment:

Gerrie said...

We usually need a trip to SoCal this time of year, but we are having a most lovely winter - more akin to our NoCal weather - not quite as warm, but comfortable and no need to escape!!