The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Malibu, California

I wasn't sure if Los Angeles was going to land on my map, but I am so glad I braved the sprawl and congestion - because now I have a first-hand idea of what it's actually like to be there. It helped tremendously that I stayed in Malibu, away from the crowded craziness of the city. On the way there from Napa, I stopped for an overnight at Pismo Beach, where I happened to be parked next to Tina and Ralf from Alaska, with their 19-foot Airstream Safari. Turns out we had the same plans to head to Palm Springs and would likely see each other again.

The next day, after a quick stop in Solvang for a nice walk and some tasty Danish treats, I landed at the Malibu Beach RV Park, situated high above the Pacific Coast Highway with tremendous views of the sea and sky.


Long-time friends from Portland, Seth ( and Shamus were having Thanksgiving dinner at their house in Venice. And, wouldn't ya know, everyone at the feast was from Maine. Brian, the resident chef, cooked us up a super-delicious dinner, with the help of Shamus's super-delicious stuffing. I hadn't seen these guys in years and it was really great to see that they haven't changed and that L.A. is actually a pretty cool place...especially when you have cool friends there, and especially when those cool friends live in cool, vibrant Venice.

Venice is full of friendly, smily people walking their dogs and riding around on their beach cruiser bicycles. The famous boardwalk is a mash of touristy, trinkety stores, tons of pedestrians, and lots of colorful characters to entertain you. The beach itself is huge and was fairly empty this time of year. I took my shoes off to walk barefoot in the sand...but not sure I would recommend this. It IS an LA beach, after all - you never know what might be hiding in that sand...It's beautiful in its own right, but nothing like the secluded beaches of Oregon.

Here's an interesting tidbit you may not know: When Venice was developed, in 1905, it was modeled after Venice, Italy, complete with a network of canals and gondolas to tour them in. There are still some of these canals around now, and even at least one of the original bridges. There's a pretty neat mural at the roundabout that gives you a first-hand perspective of what that exact area was like when the roads were canals.


So, since I was in LA, I had to drive around and see Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, and all that good stuff. Beverly Hills seems like a nice place to live. Santa Monica seems okay too. Hollywood, I am not impressed with. I avoided the city highways and I only got stuck in ugly traffic once (in Hollywood), which I was fortunate enough to be able to get out of fairly quickly. Malibu was a nice place to stay, away from the fray and all, but it didn't really impress me all that much, either. If I had to live in LA, I'd probably pick Venice - it's just got that artsy-beatnik vibe that I dig, man.

My photo-journalist friend Bridget was on assignment in the area, which gave us an opportunity to meet for lunch in Beverly Hills. Haha. "Let's meet for lunch in Beverly Hills." We're Maine girls. We've both been traveling on the west coast and were finally able to be in the same place at the same time. So, at a sidewalk cafe in Beverly Hills, we ate well, drank really well, and Bridget did her best to be a high-maintenance socialite. ; )


And do you think, in my week of tooling around Malibu, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Hollywood that maybe I got at least ONE celebrity sighting? Nope, but I did get to be neighbor's with Matthew McConaughey's Airstream (read about it in Architectural Digest: here's the pdf). I think I just kept forgetting to be on the lookout.


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All images and words © Sharon Pieniak
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