South Bay Scenes – December 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017

The chilly temperatures of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day continued in the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles. With family visiting, I did not make it to the beach and outdoors as much as I normally do, but I was able to venture outside a few days and take some pictures while out walking the dogs.

Our walk on Thursday night, December 29th started late, and soon we we were walking in the dusk and then the dark along the Strand. But with so many houses displaying Christmas lights, there was something to enjoy. I realized I had not taken any photos of the decorated Manhattan Beach Pier, so I made sure to walk on the pier to capture the pretty lights.

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Strands of white lights lead the way to the “tree” atop the Round House Aquarium

Manhattan Beach Pier Round House Aquarium Christmas tree lights

The Pier Christmas Tree in lights

My phone could not focus on the lights with the darkness, but I still thought they were pretty even though they are blurred.

Manhattan Beach Pier holiday lights

On the Manhattan Beach pier looking east to downtown Manhattan Beach

Looking from the end of the pier back to Manhattan Beach

The Season’s Greeting sign hanging across Manhattan Beach Boulevard was there as usual.

Season's Greeting lights over Manhattan Beach Boulevard

Looking west on Manhattan Beach Boulevard to the Seasons Greeting sign and the Manhattan Beach Pier

Seasons Greetings in Manhattan Beach with pier in background

On New Year’s Eve, we were determined to take the dogs for a long walk on the Strand. They needed to stretch their legs, and we wanted to tire them out before the inevitable fireworks at midnight that scare them.

It was a cold and windy day. I brought their rain coats in case it started to rain, and not ten minutes after we started walking, the rain came. It was a steady rain, so even though the boys do not enjoy wearing their rain coats, it kept most of the water off of them.

Koa and Lau Lau dogs wearing raincoats in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

Heading down a walk street to the Strand in Manhattan Beach

Wet and rainy Manhattan Beach

It was very gray, but the sun is peeking through on the horizon.

There was hardly anyone out on the Strand. The wind made it feel colder than it was and my hands felt very raw. Luckily I had a good rain jacket that kept me dry.

Manhattan Beach strand and flowers on New Year's Eve

Looking through the flowers to the sun on the horizon

Dogs in raincoats on the Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve 2016

Koa and Lau Lau making the most of the wet, cold and windy weather on New Year’s Eve along the Strand.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve with ships in the ocean

Sun on the horizon lights up the ships in the ocean

Snack shop on El Porto Beach in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

This snack shop is normally busy no mater what time of day you walk by.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The wet and windy Strand on Manhattan Beach on New Year’s Eve. No one was out!

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

The sun setting with the gray clouds overhead

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

It was sunny on the horizon but not where we were! Look at the light catching the tips of the plant.

Final sunset of 2016 from Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve

Last sunset of 2016

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The boys sporting their rain coats.

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

Lau Lau in the front and Koa in the back.

The next day, the storm and the clouds moved on, and we were treated to a bright, clear day at the beach. The Strand was very crowded, especially compared to the day before, as everyone was outside enjoying the day and the first day of 2017!

Manhattan Beach on New Year's Day 2017

What a difference compared to the day before!

Manhattan Beach Strand looking north on New Year's Day 2017

You can see on the far right the snack shop is busy compared to the day before! And you can see the mountains near Santa Monica and Malibu

South Bay Scenes – Week of December 12 – 18, 2016

I have not posted any South Bay Scenes in a while, and this week’s scenes all come from this past weekend. But the skies were clear and the golden hour light beautiful when we walked the boys late on Saturday afternoon, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

Earlier in the week, there was rain and then high winds, so it was not ideal for nice walks along the beach. By Saturday the rain had moved on, and it was a glorious day.

beach volleyball in El Porto beach in Manhattan Beach California

Beach volleyball in El Porto, Manhattan Beach

looking north from the walk section of the Strand in Manhattan Beach California golden hour

Looking north from the walk section of the Strand in Manhattan Beach

Looking south on the Strand towards the Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach California

Looking south from the walk section of the Strand toward the Manhattan Beach Pier

This group was playing beach volleyball while the sun was setting.

Playing beach volleyball in Manhattan Beach California

Playing beach volleyball as the sun sets

Beach Volleyball north of the Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier, a setting sun reflected in the water and beach volleyball

Manhattan Beach Pier with Catalina Island in the distance

The Manhattan Beach Pier with Catalina Island in the distance

The sun getting ready to slip beyond the horizon.

The sun sets in Manhattan Beach California

Even as we walked away from the Strand, I kept taking photos of the pretty sky.

Manhattan Beach walk street as the sun sets

Walk Street Manhattan Beach

walk street in Manhattan Beach with street lights decorated for Christmas

Pretty street lights decorated for the holidays

The weather was beautiful, but it was also cold. When I went out to my car early on Sunday morning, there was frost on my windshield! I do not think that has ever happened here in Redondo Beach. I took a picture of it after I scraped it off so I could see where I was driving!

frost on windshield in Redondo Beach California

Frost on my windshield

It’s time to turn on the heat!

cold temperatures in Redondo Beach California

 

The Manhattan Beach Open: Beach Volleyball’s ‘Wimbledon’

Stands south of the Manhattan Beach pier for the Manhattan Beach Open in 2006

Stands south of the Manhattan Beach pier for the Manhattan Beach Open in 2006 (in the foreground are players and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists Phil Dalhauser and Todd Rogers).

Today qualification play begins for the AVP Manhattan Beach Open in Manhattan Beach, California. Match play continues tomorrow and Saturday with the finals on Sunday, July 17th. Known by players and fans alike as the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball,” this is the tournament all US players want to win at least once in their careers. Held in Manhattan Beach for the 57th year, this year’s tournament features six of the eight United States beach volleyball players heading to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio in August.

If you are in Los Angeles this weekend, make your way to Manhattan Beach to catch some of the top volleyball players in the world compete! Players who win the tournament have their names immortalized on the Manhattan Beach pier a year after their win.

MB Open Pier fog

The Manhattan Beach pier, as seen in October 2013 during the #FoggyPierPressure Instameet. Plaques for the winner of each year’s Manhattan Beach Open are embedded in the pier.

The Manhattan Beach Open's 1960 winners plaque for

The Manhattan Beach Open’s 1960 winners plaque for Mike O’Hara and Mike Bright.

Usually, the Open is held in mid-August, but since the Olympics will be happening at that time, the tournament was moved to this weekend in July. In years past, the Open was held after the Olympics and it was a great chance to see US Olympians compete after returning home from the games. Many of the players competing this weekend live in and around the Beach Cities/South Bay area of Los Angeles, so this is also considered a home tournament for them.

During the early rounds of the tournament, you can wander from court to court, and watch different matches with your beach towel or chair. There is always a crowd, but during play on Thursday and Friday, it is easier to get a courtside seat.

Olympic volleyball legend Karch Kiraly serving during an early match in August, 2006.

Olympic volleyball legend Karch Kiraly serving during an early match in August, 2006.

Karch Kiraly and Larry Witt play during the 2006 MB Open.

Karch Kiraly and Larry Witt play during the 2006 MB Open

Local papers The Beach Reporter and Easy Reader News both have articles about this year’s tournament, and more information on the schedule, draw and athletes competing can be found on the AVP tour website.

As we have been out of town the last two years, I am excited to head down to the beach and catch some of the action this weekend. If you are not local to Los Angeles, you can watch the final matches on Sunday on NBC.

MB Open big court 2006

Play on one of the large courts during the 2006 Manhattan Beach Open. In the far court are teammates Stein Metzger and Mike Lambert.

A women's match during the 2006 Manhattan Beach Open.

A women’s match during the 2006 Manhattan Beach Open.

MB Open 2006 Phil blocks Kevin Wong

The 2006 Men’s Final of the Manhattan Beach Open. (Left) Stein Metzger and Mike Lambert against (right) Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers. Dalhausser and Rogers upset top seed Metzer and Lambert 22-20, 21-23, and 15-11.

MB Open 2006 Phil blocks Stein

Another shot of the final match in the 2006 Manhattan Beach Open between Stein Metzger/Mike Lambert and Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers. On the elevated stage, right under the Crocs logo you can spot Laird Hamilton bent over with his hands on his knees watching the match.

 

Reflecting on the “Best” of Instagram 2015

Here are my best nine Instagram posts from 2015:

Best Nine

A week or two ago, I noticed people posting a photo collage on Instagram with the hashtag #2015bestnine. I googled and soon learned how to discover your best nine photographs you shared on Instagram that garnered the most likes.

It is quite simple – visit http://2015bestnine.com/, type in your Instagram user name, and the site searches your posts and compiles the top photos in a collage you can post to Instagram, share to Twitter or save as an image. The site also compiles your total number of likes (5,332 for me) and the total posts you shared in 2015 (299 – almost one per day!).

I was surprised to see my results – all the photos are from right here in southern California – and it was fun to remember the story behind each one.

My most liked photo (in the top left of the collage) is from a calligraphy workshop this fall in downtown LA at the Design Love Fest studio. I have followed Lauren Essl’s feed, @BlueEyeBrownEye, for a while, and I was excited to be able to participate in one of her workshops. I took the introduction to calligraphy class, and I learned enough to address all of my Christmas cards this year with calligraphy!

From Lauren Essl's Blue Eye Brown Eye introduction to calligraphy workshop at Design Love Fest in Downtown LA

From Lauren Essl’s Blue Eye Brown Eye introduction to calligraphy workshop at Design Love Fest in Downtown LA

The middle column of my photos is from right here at home – almost daily walks along the Strand in Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach are always Instagram worthy. The middle photo is with a Paradise Bowl – delicious acai and pitaya bowls that are perfect after a long walk along the beach! Sometimes it feels redundant to keep posting photos of the beach at sunset, but every time I am there, the scene is so beautiful I have to take another picture!

Below the calligraphy post in the first column are coffee photos, both from Two Guns Espresso in Manhattan Beach (they also serve coffee at the Manhattan Beach Yacht Club at the end of the Manhattan Beach pier). Nothing makes me happier than a delicious espresso, and Two Guns makes the best Flat Whites around! These photos make me miss visiting Caffe Luxxe in Brentwood – my office used to be close to their San Vicente location, and I enjoyed stopping in for a cappuccino (and sharing it on Instagram) before going to the office (n.b. they roast the beans for Two Guns).

The column on the right is food – the top is a chicken sandwich from the Free Range LA food truck. They were in front of Stumptown Coffee in downtown LA, right around the corner from the Design Love Fest studio where I took my calligraphy class! Since Free Range LA says they are #ChickenGawds, I had to try one of their sandwiches. I had the “classic” but they allowed me to customize it by adding some of the “original” slaw. Mmm, mmm, good!

The original sandwich from the Free Range food truck. It was huge - I didn't have dinner that night.

The classic sandwich from the Free Range food truck. It was huge – and oh so good – I didn’t have dinner that night.

The bottom two photos are from a blogger gathering at Gloria’s Restaurant and Bar in Huntington Park. Thanks to Chef Turok (Brian Menendez) for organizing the event and inviting me. The food was delicious, the margaritas yummy (they created three different ones for us to sample), and the mariachi music was fantastic!

2015 was so much more than these nine photos, but it is fun to share things daily and then see what resonates the most. It will be interesting to see what I post this year, and which ones become favorites. Have you discovered your #2015bestnine? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2016!

Manhattan Beach Pier Lighting

Last week, Manhattan Beach hosted their 21st Holiday Open House and 26th Annual Pier Lighting. It was a relatively warm night, so I threw on a sweatshirt, put the boys in the car and drove down to join in the festivities.

Local streets were closed in downtown Manhattan Beach, and as we parked and started walking, we saw many other people headed downtown as well.

Most of the stores were open until 9:00pm and were decorated for the holidays. Many had snacks, treats and drinks inside, but since the dogs were with me, we were only able to window-shop.

It was a festive atmosphere as the streets were filled with adults and children of all ages enjoying the shops, carolers, and music playing outside.

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York Town on Manhattan Avenue. I liked their wood houses and white light display.

The window display for the Rolling Hills Flower Mart featured a ‘living’ flower dress, but all these children cared about was the snow that was falling outside.

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It’s snowing!

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Snow dance.

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Carolers wandered the streets singing holiday songs. Here is a group in front of Manhattan Beach Creamery.

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I reached the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard and saw the traditional “Season’s Greetings” sign across Manhattan Beach Blvd., but the tree and the pier was yet to be lit.

SBS Nov 18 2015

Looking west toward the pier – waiting for the tree lighting.

 

And then, promptly at 7:00 pm the lighting began – it took less than a few minutes, but you can see there was a large crowd to watch.

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Looking west and there are no lights yet…

Then the trees lining the pier and the ‘pier tree’ were lit.

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And then everything!

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I continued walking around to see more of the holiday windows.

A snowy window-scape at Dacha.

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Lush and festive floral displays at Growing Wild.

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The windows at Udderly Perfect featured an old-school TV.

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In the Metlox complex, Waterleaf had pretty stars hanging in their windows.

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I love Fringe, the new store on Manhattan Avenue. They also have a location in south Redondo. How cute is this oven display with cookie ornaments?

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Bo Bridges Gallery seemed to be having quite a party inside the studio. This striking photograph of the Eiffel Tower was touching in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

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Manhattan Denim decorated their windows with disco dancers. They kept moving so it was hard to take their picture. I want a wig like that!

At Katwalk there was a large elf blowing kisses to all who passed by (and obliging selfie-takers).

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Prizes were awarded to the best window designs, detailed here in The Beach Reporter. Rolling Hills Flower Mart won “Best Overall.”

There is a beautiful photo gallery, also by The Beach Reporter, with more images from the tree lighting.

It was a fun night to be out enjoying downtown after dark, although I wish the holiday season started after Thanksgiving!

 

Taking Flight for #FriFotos

Last week, the theme for #FriFotos was FLIGHT. Finally I was able to share some of the photos I took from an airplane! I used to always want to sit in an aisle seat when flying, for easy access to the bathroom and to be able to stretch my legs. But, once I was seated at the window after a long-time of aisle-only seats, I saw that being by the window was fun – looking at landmarks, seeing the airport during take-off or landing, and spotting other planes in the sky.

Here are some of my photos from last Friday (May 30th). This week’s theme is colorful, so get your photos ready to post on Friday, June 5, 2015!

Aer Lingus planes in Dublin.

Aer Lingus planes in Dublin.

This bird is taking a break from flying and resting on the Manhattan Beach Pier.

Resting on the Manhattan Beach Pier, January 2015.

Resting on the Manhattan Beach Pier, January 2015.

Here is a view from my seat flying from San Diego up to San Francisco. Whenever I fly up the California coast, I try to sit in a window seat on the right side of the plane.

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Flying San Diego to San Francisco in October, 2013.

Leaving Los Angeles (LAX) and going east across the country, most planes bank to the south and then fly over the Palos Verdes peninsula. It was a beautifully clear day in December when I took this photo (en route to Newark).

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Beautiful view of the Palos Verdes peninsula. Torrance, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach – the “South Bay” are just up the coast.

Arriving into Los Angeles, the approach is from the east. Here, as the sun sets, you can see downtown LA in the distance and the beautiful mountains.

Approaching LAX, December 2014.

Approaching LAX, December 2014.

One of my happiest views from an airplane is when we fly to Hawaii, especially when we visit Kauai, our favorite island. Even though it was overcast and rainy the day we landed, we were excited to return for a relaxing stay.

Arriving into Kauai, December 2013.

Arriving into Kauai, December 2013.

Do you have any fun photos from your flights?

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.

#FriFotos – Signs

The theme for this past week’s #FriFotos (July 18, 2014) was SIGNS.

I take photos of signs when I travel to remind me of the different languages I see and hear when I’m in a different country. The words look beautiful.

Here are the “signs” that I shared.

Do you take photos of signs when you travel? What signs have you seen?

About #FriFotos

Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and two guest co-hosts that change each week. Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.