"Why did they all come to Topanga? The musicians, the actors, the weirdos, the hummingbirds? Nature. Surrounded by parks, conservancy land and the Pacific Ocean, Topanga is a Golden State sampler of rugged mountains, shady creeks and cold, salty surf.
People ride horses through it. Mountain bike in it. Hike it. In just under an hour you can disappear into the shade and raw beauty of the canyon and then come out the other end overlooking the Pacific. From there you can head next door to scope celebrities in Mailbu or continue 15 miles up the beach to Zuma, a whole other vibe and the title of another Neil Young album worth listening to." - Via CNN's article on Topanga: Malibu's Hippie Cousin.*
The last time I visited Malibu was back in college. Mike and I went for a long drive one weekend in the opposite direction of our normal route on PCH and stopped for coffee and lunch and then hung around the outer ridge of PCH and browsed the furniture shop on the corner with antique rugs and Acapulco chairs on display out front. Fantasizing about being able to afford such stately pieces, especially the Spanish goods that suited the old Spanish bungalow we had just closed escrow on. I remember being surprised by how low key the town looked. With all the money and the movie star homes I had long associated it with, I remember expecting something much fancier to define the downtown of such a wealthy city. The shock though, a refreshing surprise.
Good news is, all these years later, Malibu looks exactly the same. Mom and Pop General stores on every corner, health food haunts, and strange vintage shops dotting otherwise sparse strips in between. Rich hippie folk mixed with your standard hard core surf crews. Aged country charm that helps suck the pain of yet another traffic clogged beach highway right out of your bones so that suddenly you don't notice (or care) that you've been stuck at the same traffic light for the past 12 minutes.
For this get away, probably one of the last of our summer season, we rented a treehouse cabin in Topanga last week just a few minutes from the beach that I fell in love with online after reading how it was formerly a Japanese Teahouse transplanted here in the canyon next to a handful of other hippie houses lining this lush wood planked commune nestled in a green swim of old Oak trees. Where the deck extends the length of the house and the upstairs loft, accessible by ladder and entered through a hobbit style door frame which proved an instant hit with a house full of kids. And then there's the simple glory of that tree swing out front that throws you clear out over the brush below. A thrill I was quick to remember the first time I hopped on. Combine that with the secret tree house in the Oak out back and you realize how simply kids are still entertained by the allure of school outdoor draws. We had 9 kids at one point and not a single complaint. Even the frogs coming up in the drain from the bathtub in the shed were met with squeals of delight. Country living at it's finest.
Most of our time was spent on deck. Eating Olive bread and goat cheese. Drinking beer and reading. We made it to the state beach for a few hours and also squeezed in some second hand magic at Hidden Treasures - the local shop dedicated to outfitting Burning Man participants. The kids were more than impressed. And I hope I never forget the sight of stumbling into Rex helping Iris pick out a metal studded bra she was legitimately hoping to own.
Anne came out for the day and lugged her camera down to take a tin type photo of the canyon that turned out spectacular. I've never seen the process in person so it was amazing to watch it come to life on a metal plate once the solution set. Like a polaroid on acid. An image born there in the shaded trunk of her car as makeshift dark room.
- In which we had to explain the g-rated version of Burning Man and then discovered what all of our children would look like in costume should they ever decide to make it there.
Topanga State Beach
- in which Iris sweetly dragged the decaying shell of a full lobster for me to appreciate
By the time our three days were up I had grown a whole new love for the canyon side. How it can make the heart of a life long California girl swell in new ways despite countless days spent on so many beautiful beaches along the coast. This one holds it's own, an air inherit in the kinds of thing West Coast day dreams are built on.
We're planning on coming back around Christmas. Maybe a different cabin next time. With friends and good wine. To celebrate the holiday in the trees. Kids in the dirt. Beach down the street. Magic in the air.
Where California Dreaming becomes reality.
Cabin Info HERE
*read the whole article!