Irvine, aka The Bubble
If you are feeling a little too edgy and hip these days, I recommend a trip to Irvine, CA. Located in Orange County, 20 minutes inland and an hour north of San Diego, Irvine is a haven of beige stucco tracked homes, well groomed parks, and abundant strip malls. This 1971 planned city is about a 40 min- 1 ½ hour drive from LA depending on traffic.
Note: My favorite time to drive to Irvine is between 10:30pm and 2am when there is zero traffic. But if, unlike me, you do not have permanent no-matter-how-old-you-get-there’s-a-bed-for-you-here lodging there, then I recommend breaching the Orange Curtain between 10am an 2pm for optimal driving conditions.
Irvine is fun to explore as a ‘social experiment gone wrong’. In an effort to increase convenience, build strong communities, and limit driving, Irvine was built with “self-sufficient”, rustically named villages such as “Woodbrige”, “Deerpark”, and “Northwood”. Each neighborhood was equipped with its own schools, strip malls, and parks so no one would ever have to drive again.
Human nature being what it is, however, residents ended up driving across town to go to Trader Joes over Albertsons, or In N Out over McDonalds. If the well funded public high school on the other side of town had a better
football team or math teacher than the local well funded public school, then parents drove their kids there instead. And so the sidewalks of Irvine are now deserted. In fact, if you try to walk anywhere, the Irvine Police will stop you in their swat car and demand to know why you are acting so suspiciously.
While in Irvine, expect to see:soccer moms, soccer, students, coffee, parking lots, tech parks, soccer parks, Costcos, SUVs, killer geese.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Woodbrige Lakes–Two large man-made lakes can be found in the “Woodbridge Village” section of Irvine. This is the one place you might catch sight of pedestrians. Wishful citizens started ‘beach clubs’ for each of the lakes with manmade lagoons for kids, paddle boat rentals, and beach volleyball courts. A great place to spend 4th of July! As with everything in Irvine, the lagoons are gated, so practice your fence jumping before you come.
Turtle Rock Nature Center–Great for kids. No stucco allowed!
UCI Campus–A lot of stucco and smart people. Check website for interesting symposiums such as the Religious Diversity Conference open to the public.
Irvine Meadows AmphitheaterA state of the art outdoor venue that, unlike the rest of this post, might actually get you to drive down to Irvine someday.
San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary:Take a peek at what’s under all that stucco.
The Spectrum– From teenagers to retirees, everyone comes to hang out at the Spectrum. Go shopping, play in the fountain, enjoy dinner & a movie all surrouned by faux Moroccan architecture. (and stucco!)
Arts Cinemas:One thing I love about Irvine is the Arts Cinemas. Since Irvine has a high population of college students and old people, this town of 200,000 is able to sustain two whole cinema complexes that show only documentaries and art house films. WOW. Combine this with the ample parking, and you have a winning combination that beats the Laemmle near the Santa Monica Pier any day. So when you see in the CALENDAR section that the latest limited release French flick is only opening in LA, NYC, and IRVINE, you’ll know why!
CAUTION: At Woodbridge Lake, be on the lookout for above mentioned “Killer Geese”. While sitting in gazebo or strolling around the foot path, do not attempt to eat a sandwich because you will be swarmed by menacing brown headed jumbo geese with 4ft wing spans. Do not try to share the sandwich; they will fight to the death. Drop sandwich and run.
THEORY:The reason there are so many SUV’s in Irvine is not because the residents love rugged terrain driving or because they are a bunch of rich, tax-hating, real housewives of Orange County who hate Mother Earth, but rather because they live in fear of these killer geese and their potential for world domination.