SLO and Santa Monica

The morning after the wedding we slept in and then had a nice buffet breakfast at the Hyatt before packing our bags to head south. John’s parents picked us up and after dropping his brother George at SFO we hit the road towards San Luis Obispo and our ultimate destination; the famous (infamous?) Madonna Inn.

Now I remember hearing about this place back in 1996 when I attended LACon III with my friend Laurie. I have a memory of driving through the central valley in the pitch black middle of the night and her waving vaguely at the darkness to the side of the road as she described this unlikely sounding hotel. Obviously I’ve heard a bit more about it since then but it always has had mythical proportions in my mind, associated as it was with my early memories of fandom and being in the States. In any case I was pretty excited about finally seeing it for real, but also a little worried it’d be a letdown. Happily it was anything but! The place is ridiculously over the top in all the right ways, no irony or hipness here, just glorious pink everything and a very mid-century California sensibility. But all of it well made and with a lot of thought and care put into the construction and design. The pool area in particular is a wonderful throwback that makes you feel like you’re on your way to a party at Jayne Mansfield’s pad.

John’s parents were kind enough to book us into the Yahoo room, which was cattle ranch themed and decorated with pictures of the Madonna family. The bed was made from a wagon and the ceiling painted blue with sparkles to look like the night sky, there were dozens of other great little details as well but the standout was the waterfall shower. We ate in town at a really good BBQ place called Firestone on the first night and on the second me tried the Madonna Inn Steakhouse, whose menu was thematically old-school; meat and vegetables and big fluffy cake for dessert, but equally well done. The restaurant decor was if anything more insane than the rest of the place, like dining in Liberace’s bedroom.

It was a relaxing couple of days, spent mainly in the pool or hot tub with a morning off exploring Morro Bay, home of a big rock, a small skateboard museum, and a deep sea rescue vehicle. On the third day we set off south again to spend the rest of the week in LA. John’s parents got an AirBnB in Hollywood while he and I stayed at my sister’s place in Santa Monica.

On the Monday we had to head to downtown LA to get my purse from John’s parent’s (I left it in the car as we carted our luggage up, oops) but Ashley took the opportunity to show us some landmarks. First we visited the old Hollywood grandeur of the Biltmore, and then we headed over to The Standard which is a modern place done up in an amazing seventies style. Unfortunately the famous rooftop pool at the latter was closed for repairs, but it was still pretty cool. After parting ways with his parents the rest of us stopped for some amazing tacos at a place called B.S. Taqueria. So damned good.

Tuesday we went to Disneyland with my sister’s boyfriend Andres. Neither John nor I had never been before so it was all new to us. I intensely disliked Space Mountain (well, I enjoyed the lead up) because the ride takes place mainly in the dark and was just stressful, but enjoyed the rest of the rides. My love of crazy old weird stuff meant I was fascinated by the weird time-capsule that is the Tiki Room, wished there was more original Tomorrowland stuff to see, and enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion quite a lot. Star Tours and the Indiana Jones rides were both good as too, and as a Tarzan fan I liked the tree house even though I know it’s just the retrofitted Swiss Family Robinson attraction. I was surprised that the park felt smaller than I expected, though maybe that was partly because we didn’t really want to dine there or do much shopping aside from t-shirts.

Wednesday we explored Venice Beach with John’s parents, starting in Santa Monica. We stumbled across the carousel, which I never knew was there and has a great retro soda fountain and ice cream counter called Soda Jerk USA. We got drinks and then stopped at the original Hot Dog on a Stick for a corndog before walking along the beachfront to Venice. I insisted on making everyone gawk at the Bordello Alexandra and then we got pupusas and chips for lunch and watched the skateboarders do their thing for a little before heading back to meet Ashley for a cocktail at The Bungalow. That evening was the central event of the visit; a dinner with John’s parent’s and all my local siblings. We ate at an upscale Mexican restaurant which was nice but unfortunately sat us far too near to the live music despite there being plenty of other available tables. Still, the drinks were plentiful, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and the desserts were tasty, so the evening accomplished its goal nicely.

Finally Thursday rolled up, John’s last full day here. John’s parents picked up up and we heading up to the Getty. Now I love the building and grounds of the Getty, but unfortunately our visit coincided with the only day of rain in the year so far, so of course most of the beauty of the place was lost to us and the flaws in the signage and layout of the museum were more evident than I remember from my first visit when I was distracted by the scenic views and splendid gardens. Still, we saw a decent photography exhibit that included Chris McCaw (who it turns out is the brother of Fanboy Planet’s Derek McCaw) and a wonderful Turner one that included unfinished works and watercolors. When we had our fill, John’s parents dropped us off at Ashley’s and we cuddled, moped, and watched Community until we got hungry. Dinner was at a slightly pricey but delicious burger place called Pono. We forgot an umbrella and got rained going and coming back but it was worth it for the milkshakes alone. Back at Ashley’s we polished off a bottle of champagne to cap the evening off.

Then Friday dawned and it was time to say goodbye. We had breakfast with Andres before he went off to work, John wrote some postcards on the balcony, and we idled away out last couple of hours together before his parents whisked him off to the airport. I moped about till Ashley got home and cheered me up with some wine, ice cream, and Netflix.

Saturday was my  own last day in Santa Monica and after an abortive attempt to go see Mad Max: Fury Road (it was sold out) I spent the morning reading and relaxing until Ashley got home. We had planned to go out for drinks but found ourselves entirely unmotivated so we repeated the previous evening’s formula to great success. Pistachio ice cream is the best y’all.

Then Sunday morning rolled around and it was time for me to go home, or back to San Francisco anyway.

And that’s the honeymoon (or the proto-honeymoon, I think we’ll do something more coupl-y and romantic later on). Now we wait until its time to file paperwork and get me to the UK!

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