SPRING BREAK: We're like a honey badger when it comes to money. We simply don't care about it. Of course, it helps to have a mountain of it. And it never stops coming in. We're making money just typing right now.
Given our utter lack of regard for money, you can only imagine the sort of extravagant vacations we take. We just got back from one: a little three-night jaunt to an exotic hotel. Waterfront room on our own little beach with a fire pit and couches and overstuffed chairs.
We'll come right out and tell you that we didn't go very far. Why travel to faraway lands? It's still winter almost everywhere else.
So we packed up on Friday (iPad, iPod, iPhone, Kindle basic, Kindle Fire, laptop, jug of gin, cocktail onions, cocktail shaker, some clothes) and drove clear across town to the Hotel Maya, about as far away as you can get from our house and still be in Long Beach. We traveled to the south waterfront over the Queensway Bridge to Queensway Drive on Queensway Bay (near the Queen Mary). After all that, we had an odd urge to dress up in gaudy women's clothing and perform a musical tribute to the lovely Miss Judy Garland.
The room itself? Semi-opulent. Free soap! Little things of shampoo and conditioner. Complimentary hair dryer. Coffee maker, mini-fridge, color TV! You could tell just by looking at it that it's gotta go for three figures a night, easy.
But the grounds and the view are what's cool about the Maya, and the south waterfront in general. The thing about the view from Long Beach proper, you can't see Long Beach.
Waterfront hotels along Ocean Boulevard have great views of the Queen Mary, the Reef restaurant and the Hotel Maya, whereas from the Hotel Maya, you get a great view of the beautiful Long Beach skyline - including the building where we work. There's something fairly satisfying about looking at a building where your co-workers are laboring like North Korean zinc miners while you're lounging on a couch by a fire ring summoning waiters to bring you drinks named after monkeys.
What is there to do for fun at the Maya? What, the fire ring and the view isn't enough? We went for walks. Lots of blue herons, tons of dive-bombing pelicans, a little town of feral cats living in plastic storage containers with holes cut into the sides.
We walked past the Queen Mary to the Carnival Cruise terminal to watch hordes of people being herded aboard the ship. It looked awful. We feel sorry for people who have to take cruises.
We hopped aboard a Long Beach Transit Passport bus with our daughter and shuttled over the bridge to Long Beach's downtown on Easter Sunday. We walked down to the old Press-Telegram Building, where we worked for a brisk 30 years, then down to the East Village to buy some stuff at Fingerprints (Hannah: Mumford & Sons. Us: John Prine), and then back to the warm embrace of the pit and the pelican, which is either the name of an Edgar Allen Poe story or a pub in Wales.
Mornings are as great as the evenings on the south waterfront. We woke up each day to see a California sea lion resting on the end of the marina wharf. Several times a day Mr. Seal (that's what we called him; we don't have all day to come up with a fancy name for a sea lion that we're only going to be hanging out with for a couple of days) would roll into the bay, snap up a mess of mackerel and then heave himself back on the pier.
OK, this doesn't sound like much excitement for you sophisticated city folk, but it kept us occupied for hours. Even kept us away from the color TV in the room.
Drawbacks? Not many, except several hotel guests threw Easter egg hunts for their kids ON OUR BEACH! We had to run after them with a rake. Plus, we got a flat tire from running over something that looked like a railroad spike, though that might not be the Maya's fault.
On Tuesday, we went back to work, our shoes still full of Mayan sand. As we drove in, we came to the end of the 710 Freeway. One turnoff led to the south waterfront, the other to downtown Long Beach. We did what Yogi Berra advised doing at a fork in the road: We took it.