A quick jaunt to Orange County last weekend brought me 2,781 miles away from my lovely little island of Manhattan to palm trees lining the pristine streets of Balboa Island, the perfectly cold and crystalline waters of Long Beach Harbor, phenomenal pho, and In-N-Out Burger.
And of course there’s the ever present sun and surf, and catching up with my grad school bestie Brendan, who I met whilst studying at University of London together (6!) years ago, and his girlfriend, Sapira.
We ventured out Saturday morning to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park for a swift and slightly uphill 3-mile hike across desert-like landscape. Although the terrain itself was not too strenuous, the sweltering heat certainly was, and at the end of the hour, I was certain that I had sweat out most of the previous night’s In-N-Out cheeseburger (with onions) and vanilla shake.
We then re-consumed all the calories we had burned at a local Newport Beach crab shack by way of crab nachos and blue curacao-concocted cocktails (ick), before dropping me off at Balboa Island.
Our Sunday was relatively lazy by Fu standards (I was jetlagged, and Brendan was overworked and underslept), starting with a superbly satisfying vegan brunch in Costa Mesa, and finishing off with Brendan’s first stand up paddle board lesson in Long Beach Harbor. I was rather impressed with Bren’s SUP expertise, as he stood up like a paddle board pro within minutes of landing on the board. We then paddled out to the Queen Mary, an allegedly haunted transatlantic ship (think Titanic, but larger), and back against the current, for about 5ish miles total. Our arms weren’t as jelly-like as anticipated, and the après SUP coconut mojitos and ginger martinis certainly helped.
I’ve always regarded the OC (and particularly Laguna and Newport Beaches) as a slice of paradise, but was pleasantly surprised to find Long Beach Harbor to be a solidly hidden SoCal gem.