... and finally get to meet a dog!
One of the really nice and interesting things about blogging is meeting other bloggers. I met my first blogger in real life only two years ago and since then, I have had breakfasts with groups of Ottawa bloggers and even met a Brooklyn blogger in Paris! Back in 2005-6, I kept a blog chronicling my raising of a puppy for Guide Dogs. Other puppy raisers found me and we read each other's blogs and created a sort of online community. One puppy raising blogger in particular stood out, in part because of the quality of her writing. We became friends and when I announced I would be in California on a pilgrimage to see Cesar, we decided we had to meet.
Jenny knew of a restaurant near where she lived south of LA, which actually allowed dogs on the patio and we agreed (through an exchange of emails, mostly on Facebook) to meet there for lunch.
We checked out of our motel in Santa Monica that morning and set out to find some free internet access. Peter had looked up the address of the library (the branch nearest us, in any event) and we drove over there first. He parked while I went to see if it was open, which it wasn't. Then I spotted a man emptying the external book return box and asked him about the wifi. Most people until then had faked knowing whether there was free wifi. When asked, they would look around at the air and mumble something about how it should be over there, somewhere. This fellow seemed to know what he was talking about. He said that the library was actually going to be closed for renovations for some time, starting today! But he then said that down the street was a restaurant that offered free wifi if you ordered something there. I must have looked skeptical so he gave me directions and encouraged me to try.
We ended up having a perfectly decent breakfast at Panini Garden on Main Street, not that far from our motel or the library. It was a little place with only two fellows running it. We asked about the wifi and once we figured out something we had done wrong with our computer, we got on line and were able to read and respond to emails. I think I had finally written one of these entries (I was probably still on day 2 of our trip!) and I uploaded it from there. Peter had eggs with spinach and I had yogurt with fruit and granola and we both had coffee and relaxed.
It was just down the road a piece and if we had been staying longer in the area, we would have walked there from our motel. Instead, we drove down Main Street for a short while and then turned right toward the ocean, parked the car and got out for a short walk. Not only were we running out of time to get to Torrance, but as usual, the morning was very cool and there was a lot of fog obscuring the sun and so not many people were out and about on the beach anyway.
We did run across a large bunch of people all gathered together, with someone talking to them. They each had an empty plastic bag in one hand and as we watched, they dispersed and began to pick up litter from the beach! We didn't find out for sure but they looked like volunteers. Maybe they were from some social club? We saluted them, took their picture and left.
Then we set out to find the place where we were to meet Jenny. We had looked up the street address of the restaurant but we also knew it was in a mall. What we hadn't counted on was the mall being so HUGE. Even our trusty GPS seemed flummoxed by where we wanted to go. Eventually we did find the place and we knew it was the right place because we saw Jenny, sitting outside on a bench with Truman. Even though I am now an old hand at meeting fellow bloggers, it is still a bit of a thrill to see them looking so much like they do in their posted pictures. Truman in particular had reminded me so much of Rockwell that it was even more interesting to meet him in real life. He was quite the intense little yellow dog and focussed on Jenny, as she asked him to wait before he greeted us. He is only 3 (2 and some) so we are pretty sure he will mellow as Labs are wont to do, as he gets older.
We had a lovely lunch, marred only by the fact that Jenny's husband had to be at work. Truman sat obligingly under the table and only licked my toes when I asked him to. As usual, there was too much food but this time, we were able to ask for a doggie bag, not because we had a dog but because Jenny could take it home with her, as we couldn't because we were driving and didn't really have a home. Up until then, I had tried to only order just what I could eat, knowing leftovers would have to be thrown out, which I hate. I had brought Jenny some Canadian souvenirs for fun and we talked about everything under the sun and it was a real pleasure to get to meet her. Then it was time to go.
We had planned to drive back to San Luis Obispo for the night, because the next morning we were due at Hearst Castle at 10, plus we had read in the guide book that SLO had a big Thursday night street market that was worth seeing. We drove on the infamous 405 north through LA and out the north end, connecting with the 101 heading to SLO. Traffic wasn't bad but it was only about 1 pm and rush hour traffic hadn't started. One thing we noted that we had never seen before were traffic lights on the on ramps. Your GPS would tell you to take a particular on ramp to get on the freeway and when you got there, the car ahead would stop at a red light on the ramp and then when it turned green, that car would spurt ahead and you would find yourself facing a red light. The sign even said "one car per green" or words to that effect, so it was for controlling access to the freeway. It does seem to me that there has to be a better way of getting people around LA.
Don't forget - Peter is still putting up pix in sets at Flickr, so you can go and have a little slideshow of the things already written.