A Mild-Mannered Retreat
After our brief visit to Palm Springs, we settled in Santa Monica, where we enjoyed a softer sun. The mornings were warm but breezy, with a gray fog cover from the Pacific that broke by noon as the sun reached the top of the sky.
We stayed in a lovely little boutique hotel, The Palihouse. The place overflowed with personality and history. With ample space and eclectic finishes, our room felt more like an apartment than a hotel room. Also, the prime location downtown was a plus.
We found the foggy mornings a nice time for strolling and exploring. Breakfast at Sidecar Doughnuts became our routine. The Huckleberry donut was our favorite but there are many fun flavors to choose from.
Santa Monica works well on foot. We mostly hung around the area like locals. Having the lovely beachside Palisades Park within walking distance of the Palihouse provided an ideal landing spot for watching sunsets. It’s perfect for strolling, bike riding, and roller skating.
Scars in Malibu
When not on foot in Santa Monica, we drove to nearby Malibu. Honestly, it was the best excuse to get on the Pacific Coast Highway. Less than an hour away from our hotel, the beautiful beaches, eye-catching architecture, and beachside grub lured us back more than once.
I favored this face of the sun the most- sparkling on indigo waves, fueling colorful succulents, and setting in honeyed shades of sorbet on California’s southern coast.
But even here, among the lush surroundings, I noticed scars on the earth- scorch marks from fires raging not long ago. The same evidence scatters across the west coast. And by the time we had returned from our journey to chase the sun at the end of June, the U.S. had experienced more wildfires in 2021 than it had any other year since 2011.
We chased down the sun in a heatwave and met a different side of it, one I’d never seen before; not in humid Tampa, dewy Oahu, or inside Chicago’s Wrigley Field midsummer on the hot metal bleachers. This was a sneaky and relentless heat, a dangerous animal I wasn’t familiar with.
The experience left me thinking about how climate dictates our lives unequally and that we revolve around the sun, not the other way around. The sun is neither our enemy nor our friend. And I guess the same could be said about rain.
Would I follow the sun to California again? Absolutely. But after this experience, I’d also think about braving Colorado in a downpour if given another chance.