So alone now – what is Bryan going to get up to??
First job – find somewhere to stay.
First it was about budget, so Bryan checked in to an AirBnB, it was in the “E-Z to UCLA-USC Best Area in LA”, whatever that means…! A small apartment, holding four people Alayha, her mother, a student and Bryan. The bed was comfortable, in fact so comfortable that Bryan slept a full 12 hours on the first night. The problem for Bryan was this apartment was a bit too far from the sea and he needed to be closer for his training. So back to the internet – more online research was needed.
As Los Angeles is full of actors, actresses and wanabees, you are bound to bump into one or two of them whilst you are here. Bryan got invited to a screening of the big Lebowski, a neo-noir crime comedy film from 1998, loosely based on “The Dude”, and this screening was being hosted by the dude himself, Jeff Dowd.
It was quite entertaining, they had a live band who played the music of the film which was quite original.
The following day Bryan had found an AirBnB just 50 metres from the Venice Beach. The host was Josh, chilled out, and about to have his birthday. A great lad pad! Bryan was Josh’s first guest from AirBnB and as such got a good price for the room. So Bryan decided to stay for the whole two weeks leading up to his swim. And he thought Jody would be ok with the room and get on well with Josh and his dog Tarvey too.
Venice Beach is just beautiful, lovely soft sand all the way down to the sea. The waves curl along the water into perfect surfers waves and there are lifeguard huts about every 200 metres. All this makes for a perfect training location, or so he thought. More about that later.
As the PADI headquarters was so near, Bryan had arranged to visit the office, which turned out to be about 90 minutes away by car. Any how, Rosie was more than capable of getting him there and when he arrived he had arranged to see the Project AWARE team – which was the team he was supporting in his swim.
They took him out for lunch, took photos and a gave Bryan a personal tour of the Project AWARE team and PADI offices. Bryan spent a long time chatting to the video team, as he very much liked this aspect of diving.
So with Jody now away, Bryan had a plan forming; a visit to Tiffany’s to look at rings!
No-one else knew about this plan yet but he gave his best friend Paul a WhatsApp message to say I was in Tiffany’s but the penny didn’t drop with him. Blokes eh???
Aided by the lovely Mary and a few other members of staff, Bryan looked at a number of beautiful rings, but then thinking ahead we were going to South America. Not really a place for showing off diamond rings he thought. Ummm. He needed to go away and think about this.
So ia few days later Bryan went back to Tiffany’s and opted for something more simple; an infinity band ring. It was kind of symbolic in itself and would not look too flash when we were in Bogota or Quito which are rumored to be high crime areas.
So next came the question; how can Bryan deliver the ring? It needed to be something Jody would never imagine or suspect. Bryan had the perfect answer – to ask her the big question at the end of the swim.
So next how was this going to work, after much thinking and asking the support crew and a few fellow swimmers who had completed the Catalina swim, it was sorted. A banner it had to be from the shore. So after a bit of internet searching again this time for a company that could make banners, Bryan got it made and the planning was done.
One of Bryan’s key people who helped him through the long distance swims, was Lynne Cox, the writer of “Swimming to Antarctica”, just an amazing book for anyone who is in to marathon swimming. So Bryan knew Lynne was from Long Beach California and had arranged over Facebook to meet up with her for a coffee in Starbucks near to Long Beach. Of course Lynne knew nothing or very little about Bryan so she brought her boyfriend just for a little security. After meeting they both got on really well and were exchanging stories and laughing about their experiences. Then Lynne gave Bryan some advice for the Catalina swim, the kelp and the darkness. It’s not often that you get to meet someone who inspires you, this was one of those moments for Bryan.
One of Bryan’s jobs whilst in LA, was to see if he could sell Rosie our beloved Nissan Pathfinder. Days went by with no interest from Craig’s list or Auto Trader so it was time to visit some car dealers. He got some interest and others were just taking the Mickey!
Each day Bryan was in the water, he spoke to the lifeguards first to let them know what he was up to as he would be swimming further out than most swimmers or surfers go. The entry through the surf was quite an ordeal though. The waves were so huge, not only in height but in terms of going across them too. Once you got past the surf though the water was much calmer with a slight swell, but following the beach line was quite easy.
One day while swimming between Santa Monica Pier and Venice Pier, two dolphins swam up to Bryan and set a pace he could follow for about five minutes, just swimming along side him enjoying the ocean. It was marvellous and made the training in the sea so much more enjoyable.
When it was time to get out the swell had increased and the onshore wind had picked up. This caused some huge surf and some under currents. Bryan headed in to the beach, swam under a wave, holding his breath. When he got up from the wave another much larger wave hit him right away pulling him underwater and held him under, being smashed around, goggles came off, and he had to hold his breath for what seemed to be an eternity, finally coming up for breath he quickly swam to the beach before the next wave could come crashing down on him. Goggles were well and truly lost though.
A few days later he met up with Kimberly Chambers, an Ocean’s 7 swimmer and soon to be world famous celebrity, to go for a swim in the ocean. They decided to go for a 90 minute swim, but Bryan was to find out that Kimberly had a fear of waves. This was not the place to have this fear so Bryan helped Kimberley as much as he could even though he was a bit wary of these ones himself after what happened the other day. They both survived the waves ok though and they had a good swim. It was great to meet Kimberley and swim with her as she is a real professional!
Bryan also managed to join in with a meetup group at Tower 26 for a shorter swim on another day, and had fun in the waves with them too.
Bryan tried swimming in the early evening to give the training variety, only to find out that in the afternoon the wind picked up and as such the waves did too. He tried to swim in the sea but these waves had beaten him, too large and too many. What Bryan did not realise is that that session, which only lasted 4 minutes would plague him in his swim.
Finally the day had come Bryan had to sell Rosie, he went back to a friendly dealer and the deal was done. The dealer said we could keep Rosie until the day we had to fly out of LAX. He even offered to drive us to the airport so we didn’t have to get a taxi. Perfect. Job done Rosie is sold.
Finally the day Bryan had been looking forward to again arrived – Jody was flying back to LAX to see him again.
And once the swim was over, we could get back on track with the travelling.