A WRITING EXERCISE: We live on the move here in Orange County, in America and, to various degrees and in different ways, elsewhere in the world.
We go places.
So: Write about something you saw while going somewhere where you live.
This is a story about an excursion I took, here in the OC, back in the summer of 2003:
TAKING A STROLL ON BALBOA ISLAND
Sit right back and read a tale,
A tale of an eventful trip.
I stepped off the bus, one day,
On a 3 hour tour,
A 3 hour tour........ :-D
Approaching the bridge to Balboa Island , on the east side of the harbor in Newport Beach, the first thing you see is the headquarters of the Newport Beach Yacht Club at the intersection where Jamboree Rd. crosses Bayside Drive and becomes the Marine Avenue bridge over to the island.
Just before 2pm I cross over this bridge and observe the overwhelming number of boats on both shores and cruising the water. Big boats small boats, motor boats, and paddle boats. Some with 1 mast, others with 2.
From million dollar yachts to cheap canoes, it's all on display here.
The American Flag can be seen flying everywhere.
As I stand on the bridge, and gaze around, I see a seagull launch itself from a nearby boat and make a rising bee-line right at me.
I stare into its eyes as it flaps its wings and builds up speed, and I say to myself: "He damn well better NOT take a dump on my new straw hat!"
I look up at his belly as he passes over and heaving a sigh of relief wish the bird a safe journey.
The beach side of Bay Front Dr. is lined with many private piers, as is every side of the island, and as you walk along the paved path you can gaze through the back or front doors and into the living rooms of the many quaint homes you pass.
Some of these homes are fancy, and some are even 2 story. Some are even only lived in during the summer. The same variety applies for residences all over the island.
The architecture is varied and unforgetable.
Each of the beach front homes has its own patio looking out onto the water.
Property lots now go for much, much more than $250. :-D
Very interesting sights for a 2 mile walk around a man-made island. :-D
Locals and visitors mix on the limited sandy beach spots, but I get the impression that alot of the visitors know the folks who live in the houses next to their particular spot on the beach.
As I walk along I see....white people. Lots and lots of white people.
Amidst the no cycling and don't feed the ducks and pigeons signs I overhear a bronzing beauty talking to her friend about her latest pedicure.
Joggers and walkers rule the sidewalk here, and they come in all sizes, though, at least on this day, during this time of day, only one skin color.
I come around the north end of the island and begin to walk south along the west side, and at one pier stands a 6ft. tall turquoise Statue of Liberty holding aloft a white flame.
It's a bit weird to see this symbol of hope to the poor and downtroddin hanging out on such an island playground, but then, I think to myself, maybe not, because those same huddled masses, yearning to be free, also yearn to become something more and can visit this island and its shops, Craft Fair/ Farmers Market, and annual Parade, among other events, for a day, and see what the fruits of their labor can someday bring them and their descendants.
My cat would be envious of what I saw next.
I spot a gray and white cat on a wall and watch a man pick him up and gently lay him in a box in the shade under a chair below a yellow beach umbrella, and then sat down himself.
The cat is obviously living the Life of Riley and, upon further investigation, I learn that he is a 7 yr. old, former stray who has lived on the island all of his life and sort of just "adopted" the man.
As I continue I come upon the FERRY LANDING and a Union 76 Gas Station...for boats.
The 1st ferry was in 1909, and the prices to ride this trip to or from the town of Balboa ranges from 30 cents to $1.50.
It is here that I FINALLY see a non-white person. 2 Latinos behind the counter at the Island Market, a couple of Latinas ordering at the Island Grill, and 2 African-American ladies looking for the bathroom.
Still only white folk sunning, and splashing about on the beaches though. :-D
Local city councilman Dick Nichols, who had been in trouble for complaining about Mexicans on nearby Corona Del Mar State Beach ( "With grass we usually get Mexicans coming in there early in the morning and they claim it as theirs and it becomes their personal, private grounds all day" were his comments. ), would love THIS place. :-D
(To be fair, I did see a few folks of various ethnicities shopping and eating, and not getting a negative glance from anyone, once I got to the shopping district, and I've been told by a Latina Co-worker that she loves to walk around the island and eat there.)
On the island the pigeon is King as much as the cat is.
I stood and watched one brave bird amble along the sand amongst sunbathers stretched out on the beach.
I even saw a Unicyclist. :-D
The island is actually 2 (Little Balboa) with a bridge over a canal connecting the 2.
There is a sign on the bridge admonishing folks not to jump or dive. :-D
It is along the canal that I come across proof that life here has truly gone to the dogs.
It is quite startling to see a huge Pit Bull leap off a private pier, and into the water over, and over, and over again.
For a half hour this dog leaped in, with a joyous bark, paddled to the stairs, climbed up, shook himself off, and dashed over the side once again. :-D
The ducks stayed safely on my side of the canal obviously of the opinion that this mutt was a total nutcase. :-D
The owner said he was 5 years old and did this all the time.
The look of joy on the dogs face as he goes over the side will put a smile on the face of everyone lucky enough to witness the spectacle.
I could sit and watch this all day but reluctantly moved on. :-D
I make my way to Marine Ave. and begin to check out the 2 block shopping district.
St. Vianney Catholic Church sits in the middle of the district, surrounded by small shops of various types.
Ethnic restuarants, donut shops, candy stores, juice shops, help you get sinfully fat or healthy....
There is even a Starbucks if you insist on someplace familiar.
For the sinfully fashion conscious, and unconscious there are more than a dozen shops full of clothing from bras, and shoes to t-shirts, and hats.
If your passion is novelty items from greeting cards to magnets, toys, stuffed animals, and dolls this is the place.
If you like jewelry, sculpture, and artwork then there are stores and galleries.
The prices can be sinfully expensive, or sinfully cheap, depending on your point of view and/or the contents of your bank account. :-D
Buy your dog something at The Barkery.
Eat your fill of Frozen Banana's 2 competing shops and then go to confession at the church, situated right smack between them. :-D
After saying your Hail Mary's for all your indulgences this day go to the local museum for some history before heading home.
One of the pleasures of the island is that nearly everyone has a patio garden of some type, and there are so many variety of plants there that something is bound to be blooming every day of the year.
I spent a pleasant 3 hours on the island, and plan to visit it again, and again.
It has been 2 years since I was last on the island, but I plan to return more than a few times this year.