Return to Palisades Park

Return to Palisades Park

No trip to L.A. would feel complete without a visit to Palisades Park where I shot this aloe plant at. The park’s north end is on the border between Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades and it stretches thinly along the bluff above the Pacific Coast Highway and all the way down to the Santa Monica Pier sign. The park is meticulously maintained yet never, ever crowded. There are plenty of places for picnics, playing chess or shuffleboard. There’s even a camera obscura somewhere in the middle of the park.

When we were living in Santa Monica during the fall and winter of 2013-2014, Charlotte and I would either together or separately run the park’s entire length, then jog down to the end of the pier, cross over to the bike path and run up the stairs, take the bridge over PCH and then run up the walkway to Idaho Avenue where are apartment was. Can’t remember the distance, but it may be around 5k.

I didn’t run in the park during this last visit, but I did walk up and down its length all the while admiring the season’s spectacular flora. Though I’ve not seen any winter flowers here in Malmö, it’s still unusually green for January. #hopingforanearlyspring


L.A. Rooftop Planes

Back in Sweden again after an uneventful flight over the Atlantic and a short ride from Gatwick to Copenhagen. Saw a couple of pretty bad films on the way over, but one classic and seemingly always current, All the President’s Men with a very young Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

Shot this from the rooftop at H Hotel where we stayed our last night near the entrance to LAX.

Los-Angeles-International-Airport

Back at LAX
We’re packed and just about ready to take the shuttle to the Tom Bradley Terminal here at LAX. It’s raining now, which might just be what we need to readjust to the weather back home.
 
Shot the LAX sign last night after returning to the H Hilton from yet another great family dinner at Culver City’s premiere cantina, Paco’s Tacos. I don’t know exactly why, but that place reminds me somehow of a restaurant Charlotte and I ate at somewhere along Calle Revolucion in Tijuana several years ago. Come to think of it, Paco’s Tacos is a little like a Mexican version of TGI Friday’s – where you almost overdose from all the noise, excessive kitsch, and flare. That said, the food and service at Paco’s are by far superior to what’s served up at any TGI I’ve ever been to.
 
I have been flying in and out of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) more or less annually for the last 50 years. My very first flight was way back in 1966, probably in a SAS DC-8 that flew from L.A. to Torslanda (near Gothenburg, Sweden) via New York, Reykjavik and London. I was three years old and was probably taken by a cabin crew up to see the cockpit during the flight. I might even have been given one of those shiny SAS wing pins to put on the lapel of my little jacket.
 
I go through a lot of airports every year, especially Kastrup which is our local airfield. Most airports I transition through are either super small or ginormous, like Frankfurt, Heathrow, Zürich, and Schiphol. With recent extensions to accommodate an increase in passengers, Kastrup is, unfortunately, losing some of its medium-sized airport charms. It’s still my favorite and nowhere nearly as confusing to navigate through as, say, Frankfurt or Heathrow is. And certainly tenfold nicer than JFK or Newark. While the arrival hall isn’t all the welcoming, I do find Bangkok’s Souvannaphoum International to offer a pretty good airport experience. But of all the Thai airports I’ve traveled to thus far, the outdoor, tropical airport on Koh Samui is without a doubt my favorite.
 
In 2018, I stayed in about 30 different hotels during visits to Santa Teresa (Costa Rica), Stockholm, Chamonix, Lisbon, Goa, Berlin, Palma (Mallorca), La Horadada (Alicante), Phuket, Bangkok, Siem Reap (Cambodia), New York, Stockholm, Los Angeles, Joshua Tree and finally, Encinitas. That’s an inexcusably large carbon footprint that I aim to reduce significantly in 2019. That’s not to say I won’t be traveling at all, just not as much as last year. And preferably more via trains than on planes.
 
Here’s a couple of interesting facts. LAX was founded in all the way back in 1930 and according to L.A. Magazine, there are 1,578 landings and takeoffs here every 24 hours. That means there’s a plane either arriving or departing every single minute 24/7/365.
The Breakfast Bagel at Coffee Coffee in Encinitas

The Breakfast Bagel

Here’s what I’ve been eating for breakfast during the last week. The Breakfast Bagel they serve at Coffee Coffee in Leucadia/Encinitas is among the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. It comes with avocado, scrambled eggs, cream cheese, onions, tomatoes and is perfectly salted and peppered.

It’s almost time to leave Southern California. The sun was out again this morning, but it rained heavily here in Encinitas last night and I heard L.A. received a torrential downpour with some flash flooding, even.

I’ve already packed my stuff, including the yoga mat, wetsuit, camera gear and drone. Not looking forward to leaving. Like my heart, the suitcase now feels heavier somehow. Could be all the sand residue from pretty much every beach we’ve surfed on since arriving almost three weeks ago.

With the amazing family gatherings, great surfing, plenty of sunshine, friendly smiles and all the sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners, how could leaving California feel anything but a bit melancholic? That said, I feel there’s now more than ever an incentive to return soon again.


Sunset at Swami’s
From last night’s sunset at Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, California. Whenever in locations like this, I’m always caught between a creative impulse to film the local surfers or leave my camera gear behind, wiggle my way into the wetsuit and join in on the fun.

I’ve surfed on beaches of Maui, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Miami, Malibu and probably a half dozen other places – including some dubious spots in Sweden. Though I’m by no means a great surfer, at best I could pass for an enthusiastic novice, for years I have been in love – addicted even – to the idea of becoming one with the waves. I used to dive a lot, but today I find that it’s too complicated.

Yesterday afternoon, while in the water waiting for the right lefty to appear, I thought about how similar surfing is to skiing. At least insofar that both provide an epic, adrenalin injecting nature experiences.

At this point in life, carving my way down a steep mountain slope or riding a tall wave to shore, are two amazing ways to keep me young in mind, body, and heart.

Raboff-gathering

A Raboff Family Gathering

Here’s a truly unique group photo from last night’s Raboff Family Gathering. We took it after dinner at the taco shop I wrote about in a previous post and then continued the evening in the cozy outdoor garden of a nearby bar here in Leucadia.

My father Ernest Raboff was married four times and as far as we know, he fathered a total of six children. Through their mother Adeline, my three youngest siblings belong to the ancient Native American Indian Gwich’in people.

In addition to seeing my brother Evon D’Angeles for the first time since he was two or three years old, and my sister Princess Bethany whom I’ve not hung out with since Paris in 2015, the “Swedish Raboff’s” got to spend the evening with the amazing “Alaskan Raboff’s«. The evening could only have gotten better if brothers Nick and Odin with their respective families could have joined us. And Tyko, of course.

I’m really pleased that Elle got to meet and spend time with her cousins and hope she enjoyed hearing at least some of the evening’s many historical accounts and peculiar anecdotes our father Ernest so generously left behind.


Meanwhile at Beacon’s Beach

Given that we live in Sweden, a part of the world where sunshine is a rarity, at least this time of year, the Raboff’s are currently stocking up on natural vitamin D while here in southern California. And aside from a bit dreary weather in Joshua Tree on the 31st of December last year, we’ve enjoyed nothing but beautiful, albeit somewhat chilly weather, during our visit.

After Elle’s an my morning surf at Moonlight Beach and then breakfast, I spent an hour or so just laying on the rocks at Beacon’s Beach, straight up the road from Surfhouse, the place where we’re staying while in Encinitas.

Whenever I watch surfers, after a while I tend to get twitchy and yearn to get in the waves myself. Which is exactly what I did after this timelapse was completed.


At the beach again

At the beach again. I don’t think the year could have started much better. We woke up yesterday in the frosty desert at Joshua Tree and drove west towards the sun – as far as the highway would take us. At the small surf community of Encinitas, just north of San Diego and south of Carlsbad, we checked into a motel located just a few hundred yards from what looks like a decent beach break.


In Awe of California

No matter how much you disagree with the country’s current pathologically deranged leadership, the food frenzy, entitlement madness or shopoholism, there’s just no denying that the US of A offers some of the most astonishing nature experiences in the world. Which is primarily why I enjoy returning again and again.

I am in awe of California. With its forests, deserts, coastline, and mountains – all in close proximity to each other, visitors and locals alike have an amazing buffet of goodness to enjoy in the “Golden State”.

My very first visit to Joshua Tree was 15 years ago and my brother Nick and I camped out there for a few nights. I think it was near the park’s Hidden Valley. I was awestruck by how vast and unworldly the landscape was.

I’ve returned a couple of times since then with Elle and Charlotte and all three of us are just as mesmerized as I first was.

fish tacos

Fine Fish Tacos
In my experience, Mexican or Tex-Mex food tastes best when it’s served at the really simple, hole-in-the-wall places – regardless really where in the world you may be. Cause I’ve eaten superb Mole in Mexico and equally delicious burritos in Bangkok.
 
Good food knows no boundaries.
 
Like Thai cuisine, Mexican food doesn’t get any better just because its served up on fancy plates in a restaurant with vibrant sombreros and ponchos hanging on the walls or even when there’s a colorful mariachi band performing La Cucaracha with an insane passion.
 
To me, if the restaurant just serves a cold draft or bottled beer and offers at least one decent kind of tequila, I’m fairly sure they’ll not disappoint with their food.
 
To this point, we ate wonderfully tasty cilantro-laden fish tacos with thick (but not too smooth) guacamole and homemade tortilla chips for dinner last night at Kotija Jr. Taco Shop here in Encinitas.