Monday, February 19, 2007
Visiting Dean's Hometown
My friend Suzanne once wrote one of the best openings to a personal journalism piece that I’ve ever read. It went something like this: “Last year I ran the Boston Marathon as a bandit, and I’ll never do it again.”
Our small Boston University class was divided during that morning’s discussion, not on the ethics of her actions but the literary device used to tell her story. Honestly, I think I was the only one that understood the magnitude of what Suzanne had done. We became friends that semester and unlike the vast majority of people from my grad school days, she actually did keep in touch. That proved fortunate because she and her husband Jeff a few years ago moved from Massachusetts to Orange County.
We try to get together throughout the year and yesterday we met up in San Clemente. Outside running circles, this place is probably best known for its surfing and as the late President Nixon’s summer home. But now it’s also know as the place where ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes grew up.
We first met for lunch at a nice, casual restaurant right on the main drag, Avenida del Mar. BeachFire is part eatery and part art gallery, and we ended up outside on the back deck to enjoy our grilled chicken tacos, ensalada fresca or sirloin steak sandwich. The prices weren’t bad; the food was good.
From there we walked down the strip to the pier, passing through a weekly Farmer’s Market that was about ready to shut down for the day. Good thing we’d just eaten because I saw a lot of tempting baked goods and bagged treats, not to mention beautiful floral batches.
That section of the city reminds me a little of Laguna Beach, with its residential hillsides bumping up against shoreline. But this place has a killer boardwalk that parallels active Amtrak rails. At one point, the pathway turns into an elevated platform to keep pedestrians a safe distance from the tracks and to offer a different view of the ocean and beach below.
We took the boardwalk out and back and then walked the pier, another nice spot to take in salty air and sun, which we noticed was starting to disappear. On the way back to our cars downtown, we stopped for ice cream and to compare home prices in a real estate office window. Not surprisingly, today you can’t buy hardly anything – from that Realtor, at least – for under $1.25 million, compared to the $200,000s listed in 1996.
We rolled out of town just as the heavier clouds rolled in, happy to have found some time with friends and in a nice seaside town that was as far from Boston weather and surroundings as you can get this time of year.