One of my training assignments took me to one of the many suburbs of Los Angeles, where I was to teach a three-day class. As luck would have it, the class only took two and a half days. I had booked the first flight out of LAX the next morning, and I now had a ton of time on my hands, unless I could get a flight home that afternoon. One of the guys I was training said "Hey, if you can’t find anything else to do, why not take a drive to Santa Monica and hang out at the pier?"
Now, back in the days when our western regional office was in West LA, I used to stay at a hotel in Santa Monica, and always had good time when I was there, so this was tempting. Still, I felt a responsibility to try and get back to Atlanta, so I went back to my hotel to change my clothes, pack, and contact Delta about a flight home that day. On the way, I started to think, you know, I’ll get hit with a huge change fee to get home. And I’ll probably have to pay extra at the hotel for checking out late. And, it’s a gorgeous day, and I don’t know if or when I’ll get out here again. And, with my luck, if I do get back out here, it’ll probably be raining. And, screw it, I don’t want to go home. Santa Monica, here I come. I changed into my "play clothes" back at the hotel, checked the directions, and left for Santa Monica.
I got out to Santa Monica Pier and hung around there for about an hour, had lunch and did some people watching. I felt antsy. I looked south and saw there was a paved footpath (the Ocean Front Walk) along the beach, so I decided to start walking and see how far I got.
I was, by no means, in the best physical shape, it was hot and the sun was beating down, but I had nowhere to be. I took it slow and enjoyed the view, including some attractive and physically fit people (men and women) engaging in the sort of activities that attractive and physically fit people get involved with. A few were on bicycles, a few on inline skates, and a couple of kids were on skateboards.
I made it as far as Venice Beach. I stopped in a used bookstore (on the beach; is this a great country, or what?) and wandered among the shelves. I got into a discussion with a guy I figured was about my age about Ayn Rand. We went our separate ways, a couple of strangers now friends, at least for that short time. A caricature artist buttonholed me and talked me into posing for a picture (which, unfortunately, has been lost). I liked it and asked him "how much?" "Whatever you think it’s worth," he answered, and looked surprised when I handed him $20. I figured, if he’s out here doing caricatures, he needs the money more than I do.
I noticed the sun was getting lower in the sky, and checked my phone. It was 5:00 (this was late September), and I had the walk back ahead of me. I followed the Ocean Front Walk back to Santa Monica, a little faster than I had gone. I still managed to enjoy a glorious sunset, and got back to Santa Monica as dusk was turning to evening. I decided to have dinner there before going back to my hotel at a restaurant I knew on the Third Street Promenade. I’m sure I looked rough after a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) walk, but the staff didn’t seem to mind.
Needless to say, by the time I got back to the hotel, I was ready to sleep.