Tag Archives: California

5 Ways To Tell I’m Not A Native Californian

These Top Lifestyle Differences Stand Out To  A Southerner

Hermosa Beach sunset volleyball Goodyear blimp
In California, they play volleyball on the beach, sometimes under the Goodyear Blimp.

Despite living in California for 20 years, there are way to tell that I am not a native of the state.

I am from the South and there are just certain differences that to me – and others who know these things –  always make it apparent that I  am definitely from somewhere other than here.

1.) I Don’t Clean My Porch With A Water Hose

This is one thing I’ll never understand about Californians. They clean their porches and decks with a water hose.

They bring out the hose, spray the deck over and over, side to side, get everything wet within a half-block radius, then roll it up and do it again the next week. This, in a drought-stricken state where water is at a premium, mind you.

I’m not a native Californian. I use a broom.

2.) I Don’t Eat Avocados Or Guacamole

Californians consume avocados – and guacamole in particular – the way Canadians consume beer. Which is to say a lot.

They put avocados in salads and dishes at house parties and serve it as a side dish. Eating guacamole with Mexican-style chips is a true element of California lifestyle and people also put blobs of it on things like burritos.

When you mention the fact that avocados and guacamole are fattening, a native Californian will look at you as if you should be locked up in an insane asylum. Then they will say, in a low breath but definitely defiantly, “well it’s GOOD fat.”

3.) I Don’t Eat Artichokes (Especially The Raw Leaves)

Soon after I moved to the state, I got a girlfriend who was a true native Californian. When we went to restaurants, sometimes all she would order would be an artichoke. It’s a big, leafy thing that looks not unlike the big onion thing they serve at Outback Steakhouse.

She would pull off the leaves and scrape off something from the inside of them with her front teeth. This would be her entire meal.

That’s one of the first signs I knew that no matter how long I lived here, I would never be a true Californian.

4.) The Beach Is Used For Exercise Not For Partying

In California, people go to the beach to exercise. They run on it, play beach volleyball, even do yoga. They party after all this activity.

Not so in the South. There, the beach is for partying! Taking coolers full of beer and drinking in the sunshine. Hitting the dive beach bars after drinking on the beach.

Of course, in the South it’s legal to drink on the beach and not so anywhere in California.

5.) I Know About And Care About College Football

People in California have too much to do rather than to worry about  and follow their college football team on a year-round basis, as do people in the South. Why, they are scarcely aware there’s even a recruiting season, let alone spring football.

And when their teams play, they think the Pac-12 is the greatest conference in every sport, has the best football teams and always point out that it has won way more national titles than any other conference.

True on that last point, but how many other conferences play spots like water polo?

Halloween Weekend Hot In The Los Angeles Beach Cities

Hermosa, Manhattan & Redondo Beach To Reach Into 80s

Hermosa-Beach Halloween Spider House
This house along The Strand in Hermosa Beach is fully decorated for Halloween.

Is this Halloween or a summertime weekend party?

From a weather standpoint it’s more of the latter in the Los Angeles Beach Cities of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach. In fact, t’s that way all up and down the California coast, from San Diego to Santa Monica to Santa Barbara.

The area is under what locally is known as Santa Ana conditions, which means warm winds from the deserts are blowing westward toward Los Angeles.

Inland in places like Fontana, this means raging winds hitting 70+ mph. This makes for dangerous driving conditions on “the Grapevine,” the section of the 1:15 freeway headed to Las Vegas.

But at the beach, the Santa Ana winds bring temperatures in the 80s, little to no breeze and, because it pushes all the smog out over the ocean, spectacular sunsets.

The high in Hermosa Beach is to hit 85 on Halloween afternoon.  And there’s not a cloud in the sky.

So those wanting Halloween-type weather of rain, howling winds, even a little lightening, this is not the place to be for it. However if your costume involves bathing suits, surfboards or anything you wear in the summertime, then you’ll be in the right spirit(s).

Refugio State Beach Recovered From Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Campers Enjoying Pristine Shoreline On The California Coast

Refugio State Beach California
Refugio State Beach has recovered from the 2015 oil spill.

Here’s some good news.

No, make that great news.

There’s no evidence of the oil spill that tarnished and closed Refugio State Beach and neighboring El Capitan Beach north of Santa Barbara  just prior to Memorial Day Weekend.

Surfside Sam knows this first hand because I stopped their on my way driving from Los Angeles to Monterey.

I wanted to see for myself what damage may have been caused and what remained and am glad to report that you would never know anything ever happened to the place.

The campground was nearly full and it was a weekday (this despite a rather ambitious $40 fee just to put down a tent, let alone a camper).

Refugio State Beach California
Looking south at the rocky shore of Refugio State Beach in California.


Refugio State Beach California
Refugio is a tropical, pristine setting along the Southern California coast

This was actually my first time at Refugio, despite having driven by there dozens of times in the past. It has camp spots, a small store, a basketball court and picnic tables and BBQ grills right at the ocean.

What it doesn’t have is much of a beach – the shoreline is comprised mainly of rocks, far bigger than pebbles but a lot smaller than boulders. Those rocks did not show any sign of oil on them.

So naturally, the cleanup crews are to thank for getting this beautiful part of the California coast returned to its natural beauty. And in such a short amount of time, which a remarkable achievement.

Wine Tasting Tours On A Bicycle In Hermosa Beach, CA

Beach Cities Bike Tours Has Special Tour For #WineLovers

Baleen Kitchedn Redondo Beach wine night
The final stop of the wine tasting tour brings cheers King Harbor marina.


Wine Lovers have something to celebrate in the the Los Angeles South Bay.

But instead of being on the popular #WineWednesday hashtag, it’s on Thursdays.

Beach Cities Bike Tours, which gives guided tours of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach, also has a wine tasting tour on Thursday evenings.

The tours starts at 5 p.m., at the Hermosa Beach Pier.

From there, it’s onto wine tasting at Uncorked in Hermosa Beach, followed by wine tasting at The Bottle Inn just off The Strand in Hermosa. It finishes at BALEENKitchen in King Harbor, Redondo Beach, for its half-priced wine night which includes live music.

The tour lasts two hours (you can stay all night at Baleen if you chose, of course) and is the price $50 for groups up to 4 people. Each additional person is $10, plus it’ s$10 for each wine tasting and the wine consumed at Baleen Kitchen, of course.

You must supply your own bike; rental shops can be recommended. Tips are accepted.

Here’s how to contact Beach Cities Bike Tours:
• E-mail: kwilkersn@aol.com
• Facebook: Beach Cities Bike Tours
• Twitter: @CABikeTours
• Phone: (310) 990-4020

The Story Behind Noble Park Along The Strand In Hermosa Beach

Site Of Former Biltmore Hotel Is Prime South Bay Real Estate

Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
It was a noble effort to put in Noble Park, but there’s no rooftop bar!


If you are going along The Strand– the beachfront walking/running/bicycling path – in the Los Angeles beach town of Hermosa Beach, you may wonder why there’s a patch of manicured dirt with a few palm trees just north of the pier.

After all, with a full view of The Strand, sand and Pacific Ocean, this is prime real estate. You might expect to see a business there, say a small hotel or big restaurant or bar.

Well this is the (short) story of why there is not a hotel there and why it is instead humble Noble Park.

There used to be a hotel on this site. It started out as the private Surf and Sand Club in 1926, then became The Biltmore Hotel in the 1930s.

It was an elegant place – it seems as if most elegant places back then were called “the Biltmore” – that attracted celebrities and political dignitaries. It had a fancy restaurant, an Olympic-sized pool and a bar with rooftop dancing.

Rooftop dancing!? How did they have that back then when today we can’t even have a rooftop bar in Hemosa!?

Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
The park contains palm trees and a small dirt bike path.


Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
Noble Park is two blocks from the pier and right on The Strand in Hermosa Beach.


Hermosa Beach, CA Noble Park
A small, almost hidden plaque, shows a brief history of the Biltmore Hotel.


Eventually, the hotel fell into decline and became home of a Mexican restaurant, La Playta. That place was great; it was pretty much a slab of concrete where local singles would go for beers on sunny weekend afternoons.

Well one day in the late 80s, a developer came along and wanted to build a hotel. So La Playta was moved back a few yards – it’s almost hidden now but it’s still there – and plans went ahead for a modern version of the Biltmore.

This was supported by some locals and fought by others. The city was as divided over this as it was recently over an oil drilling issue.

Eventually it passed, was contested, went to court and it eventually ended in a tie!

Since the developers had to win the measure, it lost in the tie. The hotel was defeated by a single vote.

Now not knowing what to do with the property the city entertained other ideas and eventually, almost by default, settled on a small park.

It’s a nice park, to be sure, but it would generating a lot more revenue as a hotel or some other business.

A rooftop bar with dancing would, of course, be as popular at night as the beach is during the day.


Southern California Has Some Of The World’s Widest Beaches

In Hermosa Beach, It’s A Long Way Across The Sand To The Pacific Ocean

Hermosa Beach, CA
This is just half of the distance across the sand to the water in Hermosa Beach, CA.


I’m coming to you while sitting on the sand in Hermosa Beach, one of the little beach towns in Los Angeles County.

But I can barely see the Pacific Ocean, even though it’s right in front of me. That’s because Hermosa – like most of the beaches in this area – are so wide it’s the equivalent of three city blocks from the sidewalk to the water.

In fact, Southern California has some of the widest beaches in the world.

In other places, you can step on the sand and be steps from the water.  Here, you could put the Rose Bowl on the beach and still not reach the ocean.

The only other beach I can compare it to is Siesta Key on central Florida’s Gulf Coast.  A couple of places on Siesta make for long walks to the water.

But here, every beach is wide – Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, etc.  It’s only when you get down to Laguna Beach do things become more standard.

In San Diego, the beaches are not wide. Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are a Frisbee throw from wakway to water. But they are in L.A. County. And also in Santa Barbara.

A wide beach has its advantages, of course. In Hermosa and Manhattan, there’s plenty of space for two-wide volleyball courts and they don’t come close to sunbathers and surfers.

Hermosa Beach, CA The Strand
You could put the Rose Bowl between The Strand and the shore in Hermosa.


The sand is not crowded, either. There’s always plenty of room to put down your towel.

The disadvantage is that you can’t sprint from the sidewalk and make a dramatic plunge in the ocean. It’s too far of a run; you’ll be worn out long before you get to the water.

Plus – and here’s another thing about these beaches – they have the deepest sand in the world. So trying to run on it is a truly exhausting experience.

Manhattan Beach Honors Volleyball Stars With Pier Walk Of Fame

The Birthplace Of Beach Volleyball Serves Up Winners

Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal, April Ross and Kerri Walsh-Jennings get their plaque on the Walk of Fame.


Some cities erect statues or monuments to honor their heroes.

Manhattan Beach, CA, has something else to recognize those who have served – quite literally – this city.

The Walk of Fame on the pier is a series of plaques of players who have won the Manhattan Open, a sporting event that is so revered to those in the sport that it’s known as “the Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.”

That is because the sport was born in Manhattan Beach and the city recognizes the winners of its more recognized event with a series of plaques on the pier.

It’s Manhattan Beach’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame some 30 miles to the northeast.

The Walk of Fame is a series of plaques with the names of the Manhattan Open winners.


The Manhattan Beach Open has been going on for 56 years and there’s a lot of plaques. They are  lined up side-by-side and it’s a good thing Manhattan Beach has a long pier.

The tournament, put on by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) is held each August (usually the second weekend) and it starts with a ceremony on the pier to honor the previous year’s winners.

In 2015 that involved two Olympic gold medal winners, Phil Dalhausser and Kerri Walsh-Jennings.

Among others on the pier are the stars from the beginning of the sports: Sinjin Smith, Randy Stoklos, Mike Dodd, Karch Kiraly…

Hit the link to learn more about the Manhattan Beach Open and its colorful history and importance to this Los Angeles area community.