Visiting OC: Not the happiest place on earth

21 Oct

My early pleas for visitors from the Bay were met with barely convincing assurances of, “Yeah, sure, I’ll visit someday,” and the ever-encouraging, “Hmm. Yeah. Well, you know I don’t get down there much, but maybe I’ll try.” I pretty much gave up on the idea of anyone visiting me, so I’m quite pleased that I’ve had 5 sets of visitors in just 3 months.

The first visitors were driving back to Oakland after going to a wedding in San Diego. These were the types of visitors I expected to get – people passing through Orange County en route to somewhere more glamorous. They came at the tail-end of a family party, so I didn’t have anything to offer them except a shower, leftovers, and cousins playing video games. I kicked myself for not having something more inviting to ensure a repeat visit.

The second set came last month, a couple on a much-needed vacation and I offered up my apartment as a homey place to crash. I later found out they were driving to Los Angeles every day, fighting traffic all along the way. I felt so guilty and actually wanted to discourage them from staying with me so they didn’t have to waste all that time and gas on the freeway. I tried to entice them to hang out in Orange County, but quickly ran out of attractions after the beach and a Starbucks in walking distance.

The third couple was visiting family who happen to live ten minutes from me, so we had dinner at The Lab, which is OC’s effort to appeal to people like me. It’s billed as an “anti-mall” with alternative stores like…Urban Outfitters. But we were able to get vegan-friendly Cuban food seated around a fire pit on an outdoor patio, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

The fourth couple is cheating to count because they’re family, but they live in San Francisco, so I’m counting ’em. All I could offer them was close proximity to the airport, a nearby Kinokuniya, and a large TV. We did go for a walk along Newport Beach during sunset to help make up for it.

My most recent visitor was staying in Garden Grove because she had a conference at the Disneyland Hotel, so I met her after work. Her one request was a non-freezing beach and my heart sank. That’s normally the one thing I can offer, the one shining glory of living in OC, but at 8pm in October, the beaches cannot be described as warm. True, 60 degrees is probably better than anything you can get in the Bay, but it still fell short. She was a good sport, though, and I took her to Ruby’s at the end of Seal Beach pier for an OC diner experience where she can get a decent veggie burger and fries.

I’m feeling a bit embarassed. I begged and begged for people to visit me, believing that no one would. Then people actually do visit, and I have nothing to offer them except cold beaches, chain restaurants, and traffic. So, I’ll be honest: if you’re looking for something to do, don’t visit. If you’re looking for some down time and to just chill, I got you covered.

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