We left at a ridiculous hour, because I didn't want us to spend part of one of our days traveling, and true to that desire, we arrived at LAX at about 8:30 a.m., got our car--a stylish Suzuki something or other, black--and drove confidently down Sepulveda to Hermosa Beach, where we got a burrito at Java Man and then went to the beach.
Exhausted and exhilarated. I loved this beach because it seemed to me, in the seventies, that it was countercultural in a way that the two beaches closer to me, Torrance and Redondo, were not. I probably went there like three times, but it is utterly vivid to me. Its symbolic value is somehow huge. Some of what I loved about it has changed, but not all.
You can see the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I went to high school, in the distance. To the north, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo (where my dad worked), then LAX and parts north (more about this later). I know: those of you who grew up there, you know this. Those of you who live there, you know this. But I lived there for four years, and made only the sketchiest mental map of the place--the place broadly construed, the Greater Los Angeles area. I think of each trip as penciling in a few more details.
We came back down to this beach each day at one point or another, in our little meterological, demographic, naturalistic and oceanographic studies. We learned a lot: