Family Day in Santa Monica/Venice

Yesterday Rebecca and I strapped Hannah to my back and went for a beautiful long walk through Santa Monica and down the Venice boardwalk. For those of you who haven’t spent much time in Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a suburb with a lovely stretch of beach that blends into another small suburb called Venice. Interestingly, Venice was given that name because of the efforts on the part of a gentleman named Abbot Kinney, an early resident of the region and businessman, to create a series of water channels in the area which very much resemble those in Venice, Italy.

We spent about four hours walking around, enjoying the sun, checking out the scene, and even enjoying a little bit of froyo. One of the most interesting parts of Venice is a skateboard park that was built sometime in the 1980’s (I think, don’t quote me on that). The skateboard park has become a bit of a mecca in the skateboarding community, drawing a ton of very talented skateboarders, along with hordes of tourists, interested locals, and other people interested in skateboarding. On any given day, hundreds of people are standing along the railings and watching the skateboarders work their magic.

Something about the skateboarders makes them absolutely mesmerizing to me. Most of them manage to pick up a fair amount of speed as they weave through the skateboard park, and those that are skilled enough often perform a series of tricks which find them launching themselves high in the air. While the tricks and speed is impressive in and of itself, one of the most interesting things from my perspective is the degree to which the skateboarders’ activities are synchronized and integrated, or at least organized in a matter that is not only pleasing to the eye, but functional. In the hour or so that we spent watching the skateboarders, standing there at the handrail, we saw absolutely no collisions between the skateboarders, despite there being relatively little space. It was as though each of them had an internal radar or at least some extra sensory awareness of where everyone else in the skate park was given time. Cool stuff.

Rebecca and I were especially impressed with one young skateboarder named TJ, who we learned is only eight years old. We heard from another spectator that TJ comes to the skateboard park quite regularly and has been skating there for about two years. This blew us away because, at eight years of age, TJ was one of the best skateboarders we had ever witnessed. He was able to skate considerably faster than a lot of adult skateboarders, and pull off tricks that others couldn’t. It was very impressive to say the least, and I envy his parents for raising a kid with such incredible skills. But, at the same time, I don’t know how they can stomach watching him do all of those crazy tricks! I certainly would be pretty nervous sitting on the sidelines watching Hannah do those things, at any age! 🙂

After watching the skateboarders for a while (it was hard to pull ourselves away, they’re so mesmerizing!) we walked up to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is a very popular street with a ton of independent boutiques, restaurants, and other shops. Does the name of the street sound familiar? 🙂

If you recognize the name, you were paying attention! Abbot Kinney was, as noted above, an early resident of Venice who advocated for building canals resembling those in Venice, Italy. I’m sure that Mr. Kinney would be delighted to know that he is the namesake to what many people today call the coolest street in North America!

We popped into a few shops along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and also enjoyed some really delicious crepes from one of the shops there. The thing about Abbot Kinney Boulevard is that you don’t need to go there with any plans; it’s such a great place for people watching, and the people are generally so friendly that you can easily strike up a conversation and make a new friend right on the spot. As usual, Hannah flashed her cute smile at everyone that walked past and made a bundle of friends. 🙂

After having some fun walking up and down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, we headed back to the Venice boardwalk and made our way back to Santa Monica. We’re big fans of transit, which can be a crazy thing to admit in a city like Los Angeles. Luckily, we live fairly close to the metro line, so it isn’t terribly inconvenient to use transit for us.

So, all in all, pretty awesome way to spend the day. Rebecca and Hannah were both pretty tired, but definitely happy. And, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. 🙂

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