We started off the day way early -- too early, some might say. The girls, still jetlagged, awoke before 6AM, an inhuman time by my standards, but they were
good and kept as quiet as possible. We finished watching our movie from the night before, then got ready to hit the beach. First we headed to the Santa Monica Farmers' Market to stock up on supplies for the Hollywood Bowl later that evening. Jessica and Micaela couldn't believe they were actually allowed to sample items, and we spent quite a bit of time at one cheese stall in particular, trying several varieties of gouda, from mild to sharp, jalapeno to herbs & spices (we bought the medium). I also introduced them to the best darn guac in the country, Holy Guacamole, and the two loved it so much that we bought a container for our picnic. Cheremoya, kumquats, and a slew of other fruits and veggies were also sampled.
Although they opted not to try the savory crepes, we did go back to Acadie for dessert (strawberry and chocolate crepes), after trying Baja Fresh, where we lined up every type of salsa available for a taste test. Since we only had a limited amount of time (and energy), I gave them a choice between visiting the Santa Monica Pier, with its overpriced and lame rides, or Venice Beach. All I had to do was say "shopping" and the latter was chosen. After driving around for half an hour looking for a spot (no way was I going to pay $30 to park, even on the Fourth), we left Eartha Kitt in the Venice Canals, where we happened upon a makeshift boat parade, including two women dressed as ducks tossing water balloons at the crowd.
We made our way down to the beach, ogling the weirdos at Muscle Beach and ducking into a few vendor stalls to check out t-shirts. After romping in the waves for a little under an hour, they returned to the blankets where we took a power nap under a hazy Venice sky. Before heading back to Eartha Kitt (my beloved Prius), the girls got henna tattoos, fretting the whole walk back to the car about how much their designs were smudging.
Next stop: The Grove and the historic Fairfax Farmers' Market, where we picked up some bread for our cheese, more cheese (fresh mozzarella), chips for the guac, and a few other sundries. We watched as crowds darted out of the way of the The Grove's two-story trolley ("A lawsuit waiting to happen," says my friend Justin), then headed to Hollywood and Highland, where las chicas stuck their fingers and feet in the prints of every movie star available, even the ones they didn't know. We saw Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta's stars just feet away from each other on the Walk of Fame (yesterday we passed Venice High School, which acted as Rydell High in both Grease
films), strolled past the Kodak Theatre, peeked into the Babylonian Court, then headed to the shuttles, which chauffeured our tired butts up the hill to the Bowl. There las chicas learned what I meant about "stacked parking" and finally understood why I didn't want to park at the Bowl itself.
We picnicked outside the amphitheater, where I knew there would be more space than in the benches, then heard the warning shot of fireworks that announced the start of the show. After hiking further up the hill (they really should give us crampons), we found our seats and settled in for a brisk night under the Hollywood stars. I could tell the girls weren't thrilled by the classical first half, which was dedicated to John Wayne on his 100th birthday. Micaela even cracked, "They keep talking about this 'inspirational' guy, but I have no idea who he is," eve
n though she had her hands in his prints only two hours earlier. I filled them in a bit on The Duke, then gave up when the second half was announced and "Who's Gene Autry?" became the new chant. I threatened them with watching old movies the rest of the trip if they didn't sit still the rest of the concert. They enjoyed the second half more, with Riders in the Sky, the slaphappy cowboy troupe who wrote songs for Toy Story
("Woody's Round-Up") and several other movies, and who had a better sense of humor than the wooden mannequin who'd hosted the first part. Jessica fell asleep towards the end but woke up to witness "the best fireworks ever" (per Micaela).
Needless to say, they were both asleep before the lights went out at home, their final words being, "Are we going to Disney tomorrow?" Uh, no.
________________________________________ Read more travel stories on Jenna's blog.