L.A. Vacation 2024 – Day 2

We started today with breakfast at our hotel.  We then drove from Glendale down to Dana Point.  Our first stop was the Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area.  The docent there was very nice and gave us some tips based on what we said we wanted to do.  Our next stop was The Shwack, a restaurant in Dana Point’s Lantern District.  From there it was a short walk to the Bluff Top Trail.  Very reminiscent of Rochester, NY’s Secret Sidewalk, this short trail takes you along the bluff high above the Pacific Ocean.  On one side are the front decks of what must be very expensive real estate.  On the other are magnificent views of the ocean and Dana Point harbor far below.

After taking all that in and lingering in the breeze we drive down the hill to The Ocean Institute on the western end of Dana Point Harbor.  The docent had told us that there is a stairway to the beach behind the Institute and so we went to spend some time on the beach just watching the waves come in as the tide slowly rose.  I’ve never thought the ocean was particularly interesting.  In fact, I find it generally very boring when compared to the likes of Lake Champlain.  But I will admit that I could spend hours just sitting there watching waves come in.  It’s hypnotic and peaceful; and in that respect I understand why people are drawn to it.

From Dana point we made the short drive to San Juan Capistrano and toured the mission there.  I can’t say I gave it the full attention it as a museum deserved, but it was awe-inspiring.  The church in particular gave me pause.  As a lapsed Catholic I do not feel a “call” to my Faith these days.  But the mission’s church, incredibly preserved and still in use today, is a thing of beauty.  My hat came off, my finger touched the holy water and then my forehead, and I just had to sit there for a few minutes and take it all in.  We toured the grounds and spent some time (and a few dollars) in the gift shop and then it was time to head back to Glendale.  Amanda, her Dad Kevin, Kevin’s friend Beata, and I had all been in the same car so far; but Kevin and Beata were scheduled to pick up Amanda’s sister and her husband at the airport this evening, and so we had to return to Glendale so Kevin could get his car.  (In retrospect I guess we should have rented a minivan!) After a bathroom break we drove down to Manhattan beach and had a very nice dinner in a seaside restaurant called The Strand House.  Our table was close to the open-air deck and the propane heaters took the edge off the cool ocean breeze.  The only thing missing was a view of the ocean.  It was right there in plain sight, but invisible in the darkness.

After dinner Amanda and I returned to the hotel.  It’s a good thing I like to drive.  Driving in and around L.A. is an adventure like no other.  I have many comments about the “design” of their highways out here, but I’ll save them, perhaps, for another post some day.  We are having to much fun to let these posts degenerate into a grump-fest! 🙂

Enjoy some pictures from today’s adventures.


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