Even on a cool February afternoon, the beach in Santa Monica, California, attracts a few sun-seekers.

Judith Evans, MCT

From the Travel Desk: Rolling with the imperfections of paradise

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • April 11, 2014 - 12:57 PM

As I prepped for a recent vacation to Southern California, I stopped hunting for last summer’s Coppertone to contemplate a fate worse than sunburn. I logged on to the Red Cross website for a refresher on what to do during an earthquake. (Turns out, you basically stay put, get low so you don’t topple and cover your head).

Less than 24 hours before my family of three was scheduled to arrive at Los Angeles International, a 5.1 quake jolted the region. After we landed — and while we were still on the plane, I confess — I checked the Internet for news of recent earthquake activity. A 4.1 aftershock had struck 22 minutes earlier.

Soon enough, the charms of our location soothed my nerves. Palm trees swaying in ocean breezes can do that. Still, when I saw the hotel swimming pool — with no swimmers in the vicinity — ripple, I wondered if the Big One was about to hit, and a flash of panic struck when my daughter ducked under a rock outcropping at the beach to get a closer look at a sea otter. But mostly, to my surprise, the fact that the Earth can shudder with no warning had mostly receded in my mind. Vacations, like life, have their quirks.

As luck would have it, we felt no tremors during our five-night stay. Even if we had, we would likely have been OK, a friend who spent much of his life in L.A. and San Francisco reassured me. Since I hadn’t experienced a big roller during the years I lived in Santa Monica, I could chalk up my fear to the unknown, he said.

This is a guy who has spent recent months trying to convince Facebook friends that winters are worse than earthquakes. I’m still firmly on the side of winter, even though we returned to face the all too well-known. Heaps of snow had just begun to fall.


Contact travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter@kerriwestenberg.

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