A local offers her tips for surviving the crowded summer streets of Laguna. – By Cynthia P. Jenkins | Illustrations by Rob Donnelly
When I was asked to share my point of view regarding how to survive a summer in Laguna, I was like, easy … “Move to Idaho.” But then they told me I had two pages to fill. Move to Idaho, move to Idaho, move to Idaho.
But let’s just say not all of you have in-laws in Boise with a spare bedroom and a fridge full of beer … all hope is not lost. For I am the self-proclaimed “navigate-your-way-through-town-in-the height-of-summer” ambassador, crowned while nine months pregnant no less!
True story: My husband and I lived in south Laguna—and still do—and were due to have our first child in August of 2001, one of the busiest summers Laguna has seen.
At Hoag Hospital. In Newport Beach.
It didn’t take either of us much past June to figure out that we basically had two choices regarding where this baby was going to be born: We either wasted our precious time in Lamaze class, visualizing things and breathing loudly together, only to end up giving birth outside of Ralphs on Cleo at a dead stop; OR, we could be proactive by conducting dry runs through town at all times of day, with alternating routes, and have this kid in a bed, surrounded by flowers and people who love us.
And now, for the first time ever, I am sharing our findings. You’re welcome.
1. HAVE A MANTRA Mine was “Tourists R Nice.” I would chant this in my head every time I pulled out of our driveway. Nice tourists. I love you, tourists. This was an essential inner dialogue for me, as, logically, I understood that sunburned vacationers help make our little world go ’round and that many of them have floppy hats that make me laugh. But, pregnantly, they were always in my way, stealing my parking spot, smacking gum in my grocery line—seriously, where AREN’T these people June through September?! Niiice tourists. I love you, tourists.
2. DO NOT GET SUCKED IN to this cut-over-to-Glenneyre-to-avoid-traffic nonsense. That’s where all the boobs looking for the parking spots are, gawking, waiting in the middle of the driving lane, wasting your precious time. Stay the course on Pacific Coast Highway, enjoy the scenery, and turn up the music … which brings me to my third tip.
3. FIND A SUMMER SONG. Pick one tune that will take you away while sitting in the aforementioned traffic on Coast Highway. Blast it really loudly in order to drown out the other locals doing the same thing. Note: No need to over think this. By some spooky summer phenomenon, it will always be something by Kelly Clarkson. In fact, scratch what I said before—blasting your radio is totally unnecessary, as all of you will be listening to the same song.
4. LOWER YOUR TROLLEY EXPECATIONS. Yes, they are convenient, free and do wonders for your hair, but they will also pass you by when half-full, late, or whenever the driver doesn’t like the looks of you. However, for those instances when you are fortunate enough to hop on one, embrace the drunks. Come on, they’re being super responsible by not driving! So let them stink up the bus and teach our kids bad language. It’s summer.
5. LEARN HOW TO PARK. I’m sorry, but did everyone here grow up in a JC Penney parking lot? Parallel is the new black, my friends. Inch your vehicle in as tight as you can between the car in front of you and in back of you, and make some room for the rest of us to squeeze in on the block. Lots of 13-point turns to get out of parking spots are not only perfectly acceptable during these three months out of the year, but expected.
6. IXNAY THE PHRASE “JUNE GLOOM” from your vocabulary. Most people don’t know this, but every time someone utters those two words, he or she has just jinxed us for one more day, causing a fleshy riot of angry tourists who can’t enjoy their margaritas on the hotel balcony they just paid an extra 900 bucks for. Which means … there will be that many more boobs on Glenneyre looking for a parking spot near a restaurant with heat lamps.
7. PACK FOR THE DAY. There’s no “running to the market” or to coffee, or even a quick jaunt to the beach during this season. Once you’ve landed anywhere in town other than your couch, you’ll need to commit to your destination for several hours, meals and oftentimes for impromptu keggers at the house whose driveway you just blocked. So it’s imperative to pack sweatshirts, snacks, a toothbrush, as well as a hostess gift—a lovely gesture in exchange for all that free beer.
8. TWO WORDS: CROWN. VALLEY. Pretend for these three months that Laguna Canyon Road stops at the Sawdust Festival, and get that toll road on ramp out of your mind. It may feel like backtracking, but if you’re trying to get out of town in a vehicle that will actually move, sorry, but the only way is the way of the ’burbs.
9. SUPPORT THE SAWDUST ART FESTIVAL and Festival of Arts. It’s just like living in New York and refusing a hot dog. The arts are part of who we are, it’s what Laguna stands for, plus who can ever have too many temporary tattoos or toilet paper holders anyway?
10. DON’T GET PREGS ANYTIME IN THE WINTER and risk having a baby in Laguna Beach during the middle of summer. Kelly Clarkson will make you nauseous, 13-point turns are impossible, you’ll trip and fall in the woodchips at Sawdust, and you can’t drink anything good, let alone all that cold beer from a keg. All that said, much to the joy of my husband and myself, on Aug. 13, 2001, we welcomed our first son, Jackson Thomas Jenkins, into the world via a pre-scheduled C-section, precisely at 6 in the morning in an effort to avoid traffic.
That was the last summer we spent in Laguna—see you in Boise, Idaho. LBM