A journey from Los Angeles to Seattle on Highway 101, seeking out view spots for picnics… and old car junk for Clark.

Day One
May 18, 2014
Seattle, Washington to Redondo Beach, California

So why Los Angeles to Seattle, for our second road trip? We kicked around the idea of going north into Canada, or east to Montana (can’t go west, obviously; it would be a short, wet ride), but there were compelling reasons to go south and start the journey in L.A. First, we’d get see friends Harry and Susan Squires, in Redondo Beach. Second, Clark can do a site visit for the conference he organizes, which will be hosted by UC Irvine. Once we settled on L.A., I told my old friend Kirk that we’d be in town and suggested we get together for lunch, and he surprised me by offering a very big reason #3 for coming to L.A.: he set up a pitch session for me at Paramount Animation, to pitch the kids’ book I’m working on.

I am, of course, crazy excited to do this. I know the chances of anything coming from it are about .00001%, but for a little while I get to dream, and I get to have a Hollywood day, including – Kirk promises – a tour of the Paramount lot in a golf cart. And lunch at a trendy raw vegan restaurant, with guaranteed star sightings. After all that, I’ll meet up with my agent, whose office is only a few blocks away. More on all this later: the pitch is scheduled for the 21st.

The Lisa & Clark Expedition II got off to a more luxurious start than Expedition I, two years ago. This time, instead of loading up the aged Subaru and setting off southwards from Seattle on I-5, we were picked up by a town car and brought to the airport for a flight to Los Angeles. We’d decided that the ’98 Subaru, while a valiant steed, has bones and ligaments too aged to put through another long journey; it would be the death of the car to take it all the way to L.A. and back. Better to fly south and rent a car for the trip up the coast.

Added benefit: twice as much time enjoying places along the road, half as much time zipping through them, trying to cover miles.

So off we went, leaving a lovely sunny spring day in Seattle and landing in a sunnier – and browner – L.A.

On our flight to Los Angeles. Off we go!

On our flight to Los Angeles. Off we go!


Goodbye for now, Puget Sound.

Goodbye for now, Puget Sound.

Hello, Los Angeles. That’s Marina del Rey in the bottom right; I lived there for six months, while in grad school for writing at USC.

Harry and Susan met us at the airport; they said they knew when the Seattle flight got in because a lot of plaid flannel shirts started appearing. Clark may have been wearing one of them.

I met Susan early in my writing career; we both wrote romance for Dorchester, and she, Melanie Jackson, and I hit it off online, and later in person at conferences. Susan moved on to bigger publishers, and now has left them and started publishing her books herself: and she’s damn good at what she does.

Harry and Susan are owned by two Belgian sheepdogs, Blitz and Belle. Susan warned us that they’d bark at us for five minutes, settle down, but then the moment we stood up or left the room, they’d get excited and bark at us all over again. And so they have been doing. Apparently, “Lisa and Clark sitting down” is a vastly different creature than “Lisa and Clark standing up,” and the household must be alerted to the fresh threat.

Keeping an eye on the shifty strangers.

Keeping an eye on the shifty strangers.

Anyway. In between all the barking they demand petting, which seems a warped sort of emotional relationship.

Harry is the villain who first introduced our circle of friends to tiki drinks, via Beachbum Berry Remixed. Oh, evil Harry. The fun of making the drinks in that book lead me down a steep and treacherous path into the world of cocktails. I never was much of a fan of them until I learned how to make them, and discovered the wide world of possible flavors.

Harry’s wicked influence continued today, with a lovely purple drink called a Captain Handsome, originally from a now-defunct restaurant in Seattle (of all places) called Vessel. Gaze upon the wonder:

The Captain Handsome.

The Captain Handsome.


My own Capt'n Handsome. Sorry, sweetie. Couldn't resist saying it.

My own Capt’n Handsome. Sorry, sweetie. Couldn’t resist saying it.

He followed that with others of his own devising, before moving onto wine with dinner and port for dessert.

Harry and Susan, watching the sunset from their upstairs balcony.

Harry and Susan, watching the sunset from their upstairs balcony.



Dessert was a trio of sorbets, made from scratch: mango, strawberry-champagne, and a killer blueberry.

Harry made all the sorbets as well as the biscotti.

Harry made all the sorbets as well as the biscotti.

I did tell Harry before we came that I needed to eat lightly if I was going to fit into my dress on Pitch Day… but I scarfed that sorbet. And the wasabi-potato crusted tuna before it, and the miso-sesame green bean salad… Oh, Harry. You are a very bad man, to tempt me with such irresistible edible goodness.

It was a lovely meal with lovely people, and a lovely start to the trip.

Next Day

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