The search for beaches, basketball

The day again started with breakfast, and goals of going to the beach and finding a basketball goal. Rodney and Tyler went to Target and bought him a basketball, so wherever he went, he could play ball.

BUT, on our way, just a couple of miles away, we took a side trip for Rodney: the real fire station seen as Station 51 on the 1970s show “Emergency.” He was as thrilled as a little boy. I tried to get him to take a tour of the station, but he wouldn’t. We took pictures and a movie, and then headed to his next nostalgic stop: UCLA Harbor Medical Center, the real hospital modeled as Rampart General in the same television show. I’m glad we got to do that so he could be so happy. It’s nice seeing him excited about something.

A very important footnote, and word of advice: Don’t look for a beach on Memorial Day!

We headed up the Pacific Coast Highway and decided to pass on Redondo Beach and Pier, for the promise of more sand and the potential of b-ball courts.

First stop: Hermosa Beach. Too crowded — we didn’t even try to find a parking spot. They were having a beach festival. Hordes of people.

Next: Manhattan Beach. We couldn’t even see the beach, much less the ocean. Couldn’t get that close.

Marina Del Rey: Kinda dirty town, no desire to try finding anything remotely close to a beach.

Venice Beach: You’ve got to be kidding. We inched our way toward the beach. Passed up $12 parking, and then $25.50 parking, only to find the $5 parking where we were the night before was full. So, we turned away from the full parking, headed back around the block in search for the $12 parking. After about 15 minutes and less than half a block, we decided to forgo the beach, with promises to return later in the week. Moods plummeted. Tempers flared. Disappointments aplenty.

We headed south, back to Dockweiler State Beach, that wasn’t very crowded on our way north, and ended up waiting in line for ages, again. Finally! We got a parking spot, and then sat on the tailgate of the SUV eating lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Tyler and Zach) and tuna and crackers (Rod and I). Once we were done, Tyler was upset that there was no basketball court, and he chose to take a nap, while Zachary was introduced to the Pacific Ocean. No fear, he walked right into the water, much different than his experience with the Atlantic Ocean. He wouldn’t go anywhere near the Atlantic, but he was “at home” in the Pacific. He rode the waves, having fun, and I walked some with just my feet in the water. Rodney watched and took pictures. I also dug a hole in the sand and buried my legs. We had fun, but everyone, except me, because I used sunscreen, got extreme sunburn. I felt horrible that I hadn’t insisted on the sunscreen! I guess we just weren’t thinking.

After we left the beach, we headed to find drinks in El Segundo Beach, I asked the clerk where the nearest basketball courts were, got directions and headed there so Tyler could at least shoot hoops. There just so happened to be a few people on the court, and he was able to play a bit with one of the boys. It helped ease his itch.

Throughout the trip, Tyler kept saying he wanted to go to Compton, a rougher neighborhood that some rapper says he’s from and had a hard life there. So, we headed south of our hotel and surprised them with a trip through Compton. It lived up to the hype.

Once back to the motel, I ordered pizza and Rod and Tyler went after it, and I settled in for Everwood, my favorite television show, which was absolutely wonderful, of course, until the end when they revealed next week will be the final episode of the series. YES, I said series!! How could they take off a good drama? They probably plan to put another reality show on, and get the world one step more away from good television writing and drama.

Today was somewhat tense, because of all the heightened tempers from being stuck in the car so long. I think I’m learning that this vacation can’t be about what I want the boys to experience, but what they actually experience for themselves. If I keep pushing them, then their only memories will be bad.