Monday, May 4, 2009

That's Just Half of 16 Reasons...

...why I Long Beach.
I lived in Long Beach last year, and I still miss the blasting honks that the Queen Mary sends out across the bay at 11 and 5 everyday. One time Bobby and I wandered around the ship until honking time and then stood right by the honker up top. It was terrifying! The sound went on for longer than I expected. My profile picture shows me standing in front of a bright red vent on a deck of the Queen Mary.
Anyway, now that we live in LA we don't make the trek across the basin too often. So it was fun visiting on Saturday.
Here's how you get to my favorite part of Long Beach via bike-transit:

View LA to Long Beach in a larger map

1. Get to the Blue Line. We did this by taking the Red Line to 7th & Metro station, which is the LA terminus of the Blue Line.
2. Ride it all the way out to Long Beach. This takes about 45 minutes, and you travel through South LA. It's a bit weird to ride through the most challenged part of our city on a train and look out the window, but there you go. You pass the Watts Towers around 103rd Street station, too. Alternately, the LA River Trail allows you to ride all the way from Vernon to downtown Long Beach.
3. Ride your bike south of the Blue Line to Alamitos Beach, where we used to live and home of Retro Row.
This is a stretch along Fourth Street that includes Portfolio, a very pleasant coffee shop, Open, the finest bookstore I've seen in So Cal (and I've got high standards, which include a. lookin' good and being a nice place you'd want to sit and look at books [so strip mall Barnes n Nobles don't count] and b. having used books you ACTUALLY want to read, not the paperbacks time forgot and old science books whose outdatedness is somehow not charming). We also saw Jonathan Richman perform at Open last December. Really, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Open is fantastic beyond belief. I should go to Long Beach more often.
Retro Row gets its name from the many vintage stores on the stretch. My favorite is the Vintage Collective, which makes you think that maybe, just maybe, a $400 midcentury couch is a bargain that shouldn't be passed up.
Up on Seventh, really good tacos are sold in the parking lot of a Big Lots out of a shack called La Michoacana.
As a former resident of LB, I enjoyed revisiting the place. I realize now that Portland is a tough act to follow, and I was judging Long Beach pretty harshly when I lived there. I will visit Open again soon.