August 2nd – Serendipity

Though the love sack was pretty comfy while awake, sleeping on it was really starting to take it’s toll on my back. I woke up a little stiff and sore, but after the morning smoke I was feeling much better. We made plans to go to lunch with Gianna’s aunt Amy, though we only woke up about an hour before she was to pick us up, so it ended up being more like brunch for us. Her aunt lived in Ventura, some 60-70 miles away, but was going to come meet us in town.

Prior to meeting Amy, Gianna’s mother was the only member of her family I have met, so I was a little nervous. As is nearly always the case, the worry was needless. Amy was very friendly and welcoming, plus she was buying us lunch. Buying me lunch is a great trait in nearly anyone. She left it up to us to decide where to go, and after a bit of research, decided on a trendy local food cafe by the name of “forage.” We’ve made a point of eating locally whenever possible, even while camping. When possible, we still shop at farmers markets, and otherwise usually at small local grocery stores.

We all started lunch off with a delicious kale and feta salad with olive oil, lemon juice, and breadcrumbs. It was as delicious as it was simple. I particularly liked the use of breadcrumbs instead of croutons, as it gives a more even distribution of crunchiness throughout the salad. The greens were very fresh, and of course who doesn’t love feta? Gianna had some fairly rare flank steak that was very good. I went with a pork belly sandwich which while good, was not as good as her flank steak, nor was it the best pork sandwich I’ve ever had. Honestly, that salad was a pretty hard act to follow. Amy asked us about the trip, and it eventually came up that we were pretty much stuck in LA until I could get my suspension replaced. Turns out her brother-in-law is a huge motor-head, and had a well stocked motorcycle garage, and probably good connections for parts. I took down his number, planning to call when I got back to the apartment.

From lunch, Amy offered to drive us around for any errands we needed, and since we did need to go grocery shopping, we ended up at a whole foods. Of course this time it was our fault for going to whole foods, but we quickly racked up $50 on a pretty small basket of food. While we were there, Amy tipped us off to Trader Joe’s, which is where did pretty much all of of our grocery shopping for the rest of the trip. Even better, Amy ended up picking up the tab on the groceries, though she swore me to secrecy of this fact. I shall take it with me to the grave. A day of free food is a good day.

We arrived back at the apartment sometime mid-afternoon, and profusely thanked Amy for keeping us fed. Once inside, I began a long game of phone tag with Amy’s brother-in-law, Mark. It’s not that our schedules weren’t lining up, it’s just that AT&T has really inexcusably bad coverage of California, especially every single place we’ve been, and all the spaces in between. We were apparently caught in non-overlapping waves of intermittent signal for several hours, and had to communicate almost exclusively through voicemail. Eventually, Mark helped me figure out which exact part I needed, and gave me the name of a parts supplier in Santa Cruz to call. I called, and dropped Mark’s name, to receive an impressive $250 off my new Ohlins shock. Ohlins appeared to be the best shock around, but even after this discount it would be $855 shipped. I had it shipped to Mark’s house in Ojai, where we made plans to install it over the weekend. $855, by the way, is hundreds cheaper than even the best price I found online in several hours of searching. As usual, it’s all about who you know, and who knows you.

While I was busy on the phone trying to get my motorcycle parts arranged, Gianna had prepared a meal from the ingredients we’d bought earlier. Though she had been out of town when we arrived, Amy’s roommate Betty was now home, and we were getting to know her a bit. She seemed very nice, and like she worked way too many hours. Amy would somewhat ironically be traveling to Austin the following day, but we had been invited to stay with Betty until we got the bike sorted out. After dinner and a few bowls, it was time to head to Tuesday night burn with Burn Academy, Amy’s fire spinning group in Los Angeles. For those unfamiliar, fire spinning is a flow art making use of tools such as poi(wicks on chains), hoops(wicks protruding from a hoop), staff, and pretty much anything else you can reasonably light on fire. The practice itself is quite fun from my own limited play with fire juggling balls, and it’s practitioners are almost universally chill, interesting people.

The event was taking place in Long Beach, and as you can probably guess at this point, it took over an hour to get there. Fucking LA. So big. We eventually arrived, and Amy split off to practice a group routine for Burning Man while we mingled a bit. Gianna did her usual hoopy magic, while I fiddled around with a staff for probably the second time ever. Finally the sun finished going down, and people started lighting up. Gianna did her double hoops a couple time, much to the amazement of everyone. I’ve seen fire spinners and flow practitioners all over the place now, and I have to say Austin has some of the most talented, Gianna being one of them.

Amy had to be at the airport very early the next morning, so we headed home from Burn Academy relatively early, perhaps 11 or midnight. Upon arriving, we smoked some bowls, and said our goodbyes and thank yous to our most gracious host before her early departure.

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