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AirBnB in Santa Monica, CA


I was pleasantly suprised when I arrived at this Santa Monica AirBnB late at night. There was parking space in front of the complex within the street so I didn’t have to pay for parking. Henry greeted me outside after I parked and showed me to my room. The room was very spacious and I had my own bathroom and shower.

The room even featured a cool new Daewoo Retro Compact Refrigerator. The simple design of this fridge really caught my attention. It totally gives off a Santa Monica vibe.

My AirBnB was a little over a mile walk to the beach. The first morning I decided to run to the Santa Monica Pier. It was a perfect day outside and there were plenty of runners and cyclists out on the boardwalk area. The boardwalk is currently being widened to accommodate all of the traffic. Once I got to the end of the pier I saw there were little monument plaques. These plaques had names of many different individuals who wanted to be enshrined on the pier. I thought what a cool idea.

Afterwards, I needed groceries so I ran from the Santa Monica Pier to a Von’s that was a few blocks from the AirBnB. What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Surfing in Malibu

On Christmas Eve, I stopped by the Rip Curl in Malibu off the PCH and talked the Matthew. Since my confidence was up from surfing in Hawaii, I decided to rent a surf board from him. He gave me a board and some roof straps for a $35 daily rate. I thought that was a bargain for a days worth of surfing. When I got to Nicholas Canyon Beach I saw there wasn’t a life guard on duty. Was it a good idea to go surfing when there wasn’t anybody at the beach?

I texted Ryan with Kiteboarding Experience and he was going to be there in a half and hour for a kiteboarding lesson. When he showed up I felt more comfortable going out into the water. After spending some time working up the courage to get into the waves, I found myself just boogie boarding the waves rather than surfing on them. The board felt too small and hard to gain my balance. So, I just decided to boogie board and just get comfortable being on the water.

Body Dragging

Ryan later included me on the group kiteboarding lesson. We all took turns facing our fears of controlling a kite powered by the wind. When Ryan gave me the control bar to manuever I was still nervous. A few minutes later we all began doing some body drags after Ryan demonstrated the concept. When it was my turn, the waves made it difficult to breath and see the positioning of the kite. Kiteboarding instructors say it’s important to remember to breathe because you forget when you’re paying attention to so many things. Soon I saw how the concept of body dragging works. I continues to make figure eights with the kite to generate power and it pulled me through the water.

I was thrilled after doing my first body drag. The experience drove out the fears I had. Finally, I could come away from a trip with a feeling of accomplishment.

A Day at Big Bear Lake

After the high I got in Malibu Beach, I trekked my way up mountains to Big Bear Lake, CA. It took 2 1/2 hours driving from Santa Monica. Along the way there were plenty of places to stop for lunch. I took an exit and got a few chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A in Upland, CA. I was really impressed by their service. Every employee in the dining room had a smile on their face, they opened the doors for you and took your tray to the garbage after I was finished eating.

Next, I continued onward to Big Bear where I found that it’s best to watch your speed going up mountains. There were many times I had to watch myself around corners. It was interesting to see cars with snow on their roofs driving down the mountain. Signs indicated I’d need tire chains or a four-wheel-drive vehicle if I wanted to continue. Luckily, I rented a compact SUV from Fox Rent A Car in Los Angeles that has four-wheel-drive. The SUV handled well the entire trip. Soon, I came upon an area where there were cars pulled off to the side and motorists were putting on snowchains. This made me nervous. I rolled down my window to speak with someone who was selling snowchains. He told me I’d need them in about 5 miles before hitting the town of Big Bear Lake.

As I continued to the next small town, I stopped at a snowboarding shop. After talking to the salespeople they said I wouldn’t need snowchains with the 4X4 SUV I was driving. They told me people are out looking to make money and take advantage of tourists who don’t know any better. Just before I got to Big Bear there was a decent snowfall but no different from a Michigan winter back at home. The steep mountain slopes could make things dicey, but I didn’t have any problems. I saw amazing mountains and pine trees covered with snow. Everybody looked like they were having a good time at packed snow lodges. Snowboards and ski lifts were incredibly busy. This was a place I wanted to come back to on future trips!

Finally, I made it to Big Bear Lake. It has a small town atmosphere. I went and walked around The Village Shops and Courtyard. I grabbed lunch at the Himalayan Restaurant and stopped at a few shops. Afterwards, I walked through the snow-covered streets to my car and started heading back. I wanted to do all my mountain driving before dark.

The Original McDonalds

On my way back from Big Bear Lake, I stopped by The Original McDonald’s in San Bernadino, CA. It was dark by the time I got there and I wasn’t sure if it was the right place. Google Maps shows it as the first “McDonald’s Museum,” so I wasn’t sure if this was the site of The Original McDonald’s. Upon further investigation, this is the historic site, although it was turned into a museum.

Charles Ellison

Author Charles Ellison

I create digital paintings of pop culture, movies, icons and anything that inspires me. Time flies when I’m creating something that begins to take shape. It’s been great transitioning from traditional pencil and paper to work digitally. A tablet and stylus has really brought my artwork to life!

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