Monday, May 2, 2011

Leo Carrillo

An hour north of Culver City and lying just beyond the borders of Los Angeles County is Leo Carrillo State Park. Named after a Mexican-American silent film actor from the '30s who later became mayor of Oxnard (or maybe it was Ventura County) the beach has a pleasant mix of rocks and sand, tidal pools and fresh water runoffs.

We drove north to the county line and decided we would get some fish and chips at Neptune's Net on the PCH. I knew from the surf reviews that this was a great spot to catch long waves and Neptune's Net was a bit of a biker hangout but the ocean was flat and thus the board stayed at home. When we arrived at Neptune's Net, the "biker hangout" portion of the surf review was confirmed as there seemed to be nothing but leather clad, unshaven tough guys and Harley's parked out front.

"Urrr, we aren't stopping here for lunch. Do we really want to stop here for lunch?" I asked Lisa as we drove in to the parking lot. She agreed to run in and check it out and came back with a good report. That's right. I sent my wife in and sat in the safety of the car. I'm a damned pussy.

The line was long but the crowd was more than friendly and the service was quick. The line to order  and pay snaked back through the restaurant, past the coolers and ended near a back door. Every few moments you received a polite "excuse me" as a massive biker shouldered his way between you and the person in front or behind you and grabbed another cold beer from the fridge. As we neared the head of the line Lisa left me with Miete and went to find a table. I ordered a couple of baskets of fish and chips and a side order of crab cakes and then went to look for her.

We sandwiched in to a picnic table with two other couples while throngs of bikers came and went and occupied the majority of the spots. Rough looking as they were, all were in good spirits and seemed to know each other. The sounds of  burnouts and harsh acceleration filled the air as we mowed through our meals which were mediocre but welcome.

Down the beach we drove after our meal. As with any State Park you pay to enter and for parking. Not a problem. As a parent, twelve dollars is more than worth it when you are packing three bags, two kids and a beach umbrella. After unloading we made the walk to the beach and set up our spot and then went to play in the water.

Miete has been taking swimming lessons and is getting braver and braver but the waves still scare her. Not a bad thing necessarily as there were some small waves and big rocks covered in barnacles. She mostly stuck to the fresh water run off coming out of the hills that formed a nice little river which emptied into the saltchuck.

I remember playing in the same way at Kye Bay as a kid. Spending hours floating driftwood down the river to see if it would make it to the ocean in a successful kayak run. Or damming the river to the best of your and weak sand's ability. The river always won.

Even Eireland got in on the action. Lisa sat her in mid-stream and she went nuts splashing and carrying on gurgling out baby talk. Even when Miete ran past and splashed her in the face she didn't mind.

After a great time in the sun we packed up and made the drive back to Los Angeles. As predictable as the rising sun, we hit traffic on the PCH and the one hour drive took almost two. No matter, we ordered pizza and relaxed when we got home. 

As we unpacked sand seemed to spill out of everything. I'm sure we'll be finding it for weeks.

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