I drag the kids out of bed at 9:00. Well, Lexxie, at least. Andrew remains semi-comatose for a while.
We have a plan for today. Visit USS Iowa. One of only two preserved dreadnaughts. We went around the only preserved pre-dreadnaught, the Mikasa, when we were in Japan three years ago.
It's out in Long Beach. Which is quite a way from downtown, where we're staying.
There are some strange smells in the hotel. Ones I'm not inclined to investigate. The lift smells a bit like bread. At least that's what I think.
A fellow lift traveller says: "It smells like pizza. Cheap pizza."
Not so sure it’s that nice, myself. Let’s not start on the smells in the lobby. No wonder the staff are wearing masks.
We Uber it out to Long Beach. Which takes a while. Though I suppose part of the LA experience is being stuck in traffic. And on a seemingly endless motorway, in a sea of cars.
USS Iowa is impressive. Especially the enormous main guns. We tag along with a group of scouts taking a guided tour.
“It’s a shame they didn’t preserve the Yamato. Those guns would have been even more impressive.”
“It was sunk, Dad.”
“I know. They could have salvaged it.”
“Don’t be stupid. That’s totally impractical.”
“The Nagato, then. They just blew that up in some stupid nuclear test. One of my favourite battleships.”
“Shut up. You’re weird.”
The lads have to be really careful not to bang their heads. The ceilings are very low. Too low for me, let alone the kids. We mostly go through the crew quarters and messes. There's even a bakery. Like a self-contained town, really.
I have to bite my tongue a couple of times. Like when D Day planning is described as a totally American affair.
Andrew is quite hot by the time we're done. It's warming up, though there is a cooling sea breeze. We still have a plan. Walk to San Pedro Brewing and have some beer and food.
It's only 4 or 5 blocks, luckily. At least that’s what Lexxie says. I’m not so sure myself. How does he measure blocks? I suspect not the same way I do.
We don’t get too sweaty. Though I wouldn’t fancy walking much further. Especially as the kids already have a half-block lead. If they hadn’t needed to stop for lights at crossings, their lead would be a couple of blocks.
Inside it's quite pub-like, with the brewery tucked away in a corner. We get a seat by the window. Andrew, obviously, looks half-melted.
The beer list is quite long, as they also sell beer from other breweries. It's a Battleship IPA for me - what else? Andrew has some Lagery thing, while Lexxie is still on his cider kick.
We've learnt from previous lunches not to go over the top. I've ended up having to box half my food pretty much every time. We take a different tack today and get two starters to share: buffalo wings and gyozas (or potstickers as they call them on the menu). Andrew, as usual, isn't hungry.
The beer is fine. Though, unfortunately, I can't see the baseball game from where I'm sitting.
“I can’t see the baseball.”
“You could try talking to us.”
“I hardly ever get to watch baseball. You two are always hanging around. I can talk to you anytime.”
“Just being honest.”
We hang around for a few beers. We're in no rush. It's Venice Beach next. Somewhere Lexxie is keen on visiting. He reckons early evening is the best time to show up there. So, that’s what we do. With a plan, as always.
We rock up around 18:00. Our planned destination is packed. So, we head a little down the beach to another bar, Venice Ale House. The music is booming, but there's some room for us to squeeze inside.
It's very lively. Possibly too lively for me. With people dancing and the like. Definitely too lively for me. Damn these young people. After one beer we move further down the beach.
We don’t have to go far. Barely the length of two cricket wickets. To Candle Café. And are lucky enough to find seats on the first floor looking out over the beach. A band is playing just outside.
"That's brave, taking on a Hendrix song" As the guitarist strikes up the Voodoo Chile riff.
“Because Hendrix was a fucking genius.”
To be fair, the guitarist makes a pretty good job of it. The drummer, not so much. He keeps missing beats. Not so much missing, as completely ignoring.
“You’re so negative, Dad.”
“Me? I’m positivity itself.”
“Realistic, but positive. When warranted,”
“You’re as negative as fuck, Dad. Just admit it.”
Fuck off. I am positive. Did I say that aloud? I think not, as Lexxie has stopped shouting at me. Maybe he’s just tired.
As the band pack up, the sun begins to set over the hills. It's all rather beautiful. As are most of the people walking, skateboarding or roller-skating along the beach.
"It's just like in films." Lexxie says. And he's right It really does look like it does in films. Not a disappointment at all. Now there’s a surprise. I’m a bit disappointed at my lack of disappointed.
“I didn’t come here to be appointed.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Dad?”
“I was supposed to be disappointed with Venice Beach. I feel cheated.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
We have a couple of beers and a couple of tacos. It's all dead relaxing. Exactly what you’d expect from a California beach.
As we head towards our Uber pickup point, we come across a shirtless, fat, middle-aged man ranting incoherently. No-one is paying him any attention. A bit like the kids with me.
After being surrounded by beautiful people for a while, it’s reassuring to see someone less together than me both mentally and physically.
It's still as depressing and filthy when we get back downtown. How do they get those stains on the pavement?
“Do you think they ever clean the pavements?”
“Don’t be stupid, Dad. Of course not. That’s years of filth.”
“I’d rather not think about that.”
“Or what it was that made the stains.”
“I’m feeling sick just at the thought.”
Despite the grime, we’re still a bit peckish. Well, me and Lexxie are. What to eat?
“We could get some sarnies at CVS.” I suggest.
“That’s boring. What about that Japanese place?”
So, we nip down to Suehiro Mini again for some take out Japanese. No ramen, this time. That’s a bit too messy for hotel room eating. Gyozas, of course. Who would order Japanese food without gyozas?
Jim Beam is my partner in slumber.
San Pedro Brewing Company
331 W 6th St,
Venice Ale House
2 Rose Ave,
Candle Cafe & Grill
325 Ocean Front Walk,
642 N Broadway #5,