Traveling alone is one of my guilty pleasures. I love the anonymity of being in an unfamiliar place, exploring new surroundings with no agenda to follow and no one to answer to. Being alone forces me out of my introverted bubble; I find that I'm more outgoing, talking to strangers and connecting with new people. I'm often asked whether I have friends or family in the area, and I answer with, "I don't know a soul, and it's glorious!" This causes plenty of raised eyebrows, and that's alright; we all march to the beat of our own drum.
This is my second year to stay in the hills of Malibu. I've explored the beaches, my neighborhood and its steep trails along hillsides and canyons. Thursday, I drove down to Laguna Beach because I'd never been south of L.A. Laguna Beach was beautiful and picturesque. The traffic to and from Laguna Beach? Not so much. I've never seen such a sea of brake lights in my life. Get stuck in L.A. traffic: I can now cross that off my bucket list.
Malibu has an ongoing identity crisis: part affluent community, part ranch acreage, part artists' haven. With the gnarly Santa Monica Mountains spilling right into the Pacific, you get a good sense of why it's a gamble living in this part of California. The landscape is rough and unforgiving, and is no place for permanent structures; houses are built either on steep hillsides or in flood-prone canyons. The arid climate makes the scrubby plant life look like it could ignite at any second. Even the dirt looks scorched - ashen, gray and powdery like it's the remnants of a long-ago fire. But these elements also make up the beauty of the area, and are what draws flocks of tourists like yours truly to the sun and fun.
Today, I headed inland, winding my way through the hills of Topanga Canyon. I ate at the metaphysically hip Inn of the Seventh Ray, visited the library, sped through plenty of hairpin turns and devoured an ice cream sandwich. Tomorrow, more fun!