Saturday, July 15, 2006

Southern California Adventure, Day 2

Tuesday, July 11

My destination today is Laguna Beach, my first time there. I have a ticket for tonight to Pageant of the Masters, a live show that re-creates famous paintings. The show starts at 8:30 and lasts 1.5 hours. That gives me about 45 minutes to get on the last bus out of Laguna Beach to Fashion Island in Newport Beach, where I'll have to take a taxi to get back to the motel. I've been assured that the theater is close to the bus stop. If I miss the bus, I'll have to take a taxi--megabucks for the 11-mile trip. As it is, I'm expecting to pay $20 for half that distance.

After continental breakfast at the motel I stop by the front desk to double check the taxi's phone number. Out to the bus stop to catch Bus 55 to Newport Transportation Center near Fashion Island. OCTA, the Orange County bus system, doesn't issue transfers. It costs $1.25 to ride each bus, but All-Day passes are $3.00; I buy one of those. When I get to the Transportation Center I transfer to Bus 1, going South to Laguna Beach.

I get off the bus in Laguna Beach at the Bus Station downtown. First order of business is to pick up my ticket so I board one of the free shuttles around town which goes to the Pageant. The driver assures me that it's an easy walk from the Pageant to the bus station--just 1.5 blocks--and I shouldn't have any problem tonight. Along the way to the pageant we pass Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Festival, two art exhibitions. I may check into those later.

I pick up my ticket at Will Call. Sure enough the walk back to the Bus Station is nothing. Now to discover the town. The area I'm concentrating on is small, just a few blocks square. I stroll up and down Broadway, Pacific Coast Highway, Ocean, Third, Forest and Beach Streets. There are plenty of art galleries, stores and restaurants to be found. The highlights are below.

Jamba Juice -- sip my Mango-a-go-go at Main Beach, just across Coast Highway
BJ's Brewery -- nice little restaurant where I have fish and chips for lunch; recommended by my friend Debbie
C'est La Vie Restaurant -- coffee and fruit tart on the balcony with great view of the ocean
Tivoli Too at Art-a-Fair -- enjoy iced tea near the beautiful, lush waterfall area
Hapi Sushi -- rainbow roll to go, ate at Main Beach
Cedar Creek Inn -- also recommended by friend Debbie, but looked too nice for the way I was dressed
Zinc Cafe and Sundried Tomato Cafe -- from Rachael Ray's $40 a Day; nice-looking, but I don't feel that I'm dressed well enough

Lumber Yard -- little mall, nice place to rest a while at the umbrella'd tables
Laguna Drugs -- lots of pretty decorative items
Thrift Shop -- near the Bus Station; bought turquoise pin for $2.50
Art For The Soul -- colorful, creative items
Wild Oats -- natural foods grocery store; good place to buy picnic items to eat at the beach
I love the ocean, but there are lots of people at this beach, and I miss the relative solitude of Pacifica, just below San Francisco. Nevertheless, I'm very happy to be here.

In the late afternoon I take a shuttle to check out Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Festival. I learn that Art-A-Fair gives free admission to people who have a ticket to the Pageant. Sawdust offers a $1 discount. I don't have time to see both, so I choose Art-A-Fair, a maze of booths displaying original art. I buy a watercolor notecard from one of the booths.

In the evening I catch a shuttle to the pageant. Once in, I look around at the art on display, then make my way up to my seat. I may have time to look at the art again after the show. The show takes place outdoors, and I'm glad I've brought my sweater. The show is enjoyable, certainly worth seeing. My favorite scenes are the statue and figurine pieces. I'm amazed at how much the people look like bronze, gold and porcelain. There's a live orchestra, which interests me since I'm a professional pianist.

When the show ends I look at my watch. It's 10:30! The show is out half an hour later than I was told. I've got 15 minutes to get to the bus station. The problem is that there are hundreds of people all trying to get out through one set of doors, I'm near the top of the theater, and my part of the line isn't moving. I'm starting to panic now. When the line finally moves I hurry as fast as I can, and get to the bus station at 10:45. The station is empty, and there's no way to tell if the bus has come yet. Thankfully Bus 1 shows up a few minutes later. What a relief! I call a cab to meet me at the Newport Transportation Center, but none shows up after half an hour. After a second call, the taxi finally comes and takes me to my motel. The taxi fare is about $15 and I give the driver a $5 tip.

I make my plans for tomorrow, watch TV and go to sleep.

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