This week I feel incredibly luck to be living in Southern California. The weather here has been wonderful. Beautiful blue skies and a certain warmth to the air that instantly relaxes your shoulders the moment you step outside the door. This is weather it’s hard to stay bent out of shape in, its just too soothing. The past few years I haven’t had a chance enjoy Spring between USC cram sessions and wedding preparations so this year I am making an extra point to soak it all in and be thankful for everyone who makes my life Spring-y all year round (sappy, but true!).
The story of this week actually started on Wednesday when Michael and I bought a scooter! And with Passover on Friday, Steven’s Birthday Barbeque on Saturday, and Easter on Sunday, this weekend was a kaleidoscopic journey through great food and friendship as seen from the back of a motor scooter!
Vehicle: Honda PCX Scooter
Where did we find it? I can’t take credit for this one, Michael did all the research. And took the California Highway Patrol safety class, and spent over a year talking me into the idea.
Details: The Honda PCX is a 125cc scooter topping out at around 55 miles an hour. It seats two comfortably and weights about 260 pounds. It also has around 18 inch wheels, which makes me feel a lot better when we’re going over potholes. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it gets 75-100 miles per gallon (mind you, it only holds 1.6 gallons in its tiny tank). We bought this one at Honda of Glendale, a little motorcycle shop that we never knew was three blocks from our house. It’s family owned and has been in business 43 years.
Cost: Around $4,000, dealer fees, license, registration and tax included.
You’d probably like a Honda PCX if you geek out about: Great gas mileage, Vespas, taking the scenic route, motorcycles, seeing Los Angeles from a whole new perspective.
Why its Awesome: My parents have never been big motorcycle people and quite honestly, I don’t entirely blame them. I thought is was fair that they forbid me to ride one until I got my own health insurance plan. So I did. And then I did. Still, I am a little nervous about taking one on the freeway. So when Michael suggested we get a Vespa-type motor scooter to save on gas and let us put one of our ailing cars to rest I was a little hesitant. But this weekend when I hopped on the back of our new shiny red scooter for a ride across LA to a birthday barbecue I was an instant convert. Not that I’m not still nervous–hitting the pavement at forty miles and hour instead of eighty can still kill you–but I’ve found that riding a scooter, especially as a passenger, can be a very zen experience.
When you’re riding a scooter, the first thing you need to do is relax. Don’t lean with the driver, don’t lean against the driver. Just let the vehicle and the driver take you along with them. I’m not very good at relaxing, but when the alternative is splatting on the pavement you learn a few meditation tricks very quickly. As a result I felt increasingly relaxed and invigorated as each ride passed. Neat little trick, huh?
On Friday we were invited to the home of our friend Misha for a Passover Seder held by Misha and Mel. Several of the guests were surprised to hear this but, although I am not Jewish, my family has been celebrating one night of Passover every year for over fifteen years. So, although this was one of my first Jewish Seders, this wasn’t my first Seder. That being said, I have to say that the camaraderie, good cheer, and celebration at this Seder was absolutely wonderful. One thing that I especially love about Passover is how it brings people from different generations and different walks of life together to share wine and a meal. Although you may not know someone well enough to invite them to a regular dinner party or a Thanksgiving dinner you can always invite them to a Seder. Also, between the brisket, the fish, the roast potatoes slathered in butter, the matzoh (I’m sorry, I’m probably the only person on the planet that actually likes matzoh), the matzoh crack (like peppermint crack but with mazoh and toffee and chocolate and almonds), and the flourless chocolate cake I could barely totter home.
On Saturday we packed up on our scooter and headed toward West Covina for Michael’s brother’s birthday barbeque, taking surface streets through El Monte and Alhambra and getting wonderfully lost near the Alhambra mission. On surface streets without a car, and air conditioner and a radio to insulate you from the outside world you are able to take in so many more details of the world around you–the people waiting at a bus stop, the little shops around your house that you never noticed and would like to go to (we’ve got a date at the Baklava Factory on Colorado next week). At the barbecue we were again surrounded by food and friends and strangers. Steven’s wonderful girlfriend Jessica has a huge, welcoming family and her younger brother, Tony, is a professional chef. Needless to say his pork ribs with homemade barbecue sauce were to die for. Stuffed, we trundled our way home in the evening and I made a mental note to eat less next time. Nausea on a scooter is not a great feeling.
Sunday dawned absolutely beautifully and I woke up to Easter morning church bells. Religious or not, you must admit there is something mystically wonderful about the sound of church bells. Early afternoon we hopped on the scooter again–this time to Monrovia to visit Michael’s mom and stuff ourselves some more on Easter candy, ham, and sweet potatoes with bunny shaped mashed potatoes on top. On the way over we took the scenic route, going along Foothill past all the lovely homes in Arcadia. Not only was the weather beautiful and the breeze refreshing, but each mile was a different smell journey of Easter barbecues, fresh cut grass, and, I must admit, the fast food chicken smelled pretty good too. At the house Michael’s sister Amanda concocted a apricot bourbon ham glaze that made your mouth rejoice and after dinner we lounged on the couch watching a movie and nibbling on chocolate through the evening. Then back on the scooter to head home.
This weekend was a perfect example of enjoying the little things in life. Old friends and new friends, new foods and old foods, seeing the city I have lived in all my life in a different way. I could be happy with more weekends like this one.