Paul Frank - Going Back to Cali

When I was about 14 I had a yellow cruiser. This is a low speed, high style bike. Meant for cruising a beach boardwalk, the bike's fat comfortable seat and easy-to-reach handle bars give you a mellow, lay back ride. Walking into The Paul Frank Store in Nolita, NYC brought me back to my cruiser days. It was weird to be in this store on Mulberry street because I associate the brand with all that is California. The label began in a garage in Huntington Beach, CA, very near Irvine, where I grew up. Paul Frank's poppy graphics just make you want to hang five or ten; toes over skateboard, or surfboard, or how about fingers around a La Sirena taco or margarita! The designs are for all ages, although tweens and teens probably feel a little more at ease sporting that silly (but cool) monkey.

I'm planning a Style Tour to Nolita in early spring and I may try to fit The Paul Frank Store into our itinerary. It will still be cold and it might be a great way to dive into sunny California (if even for a moment)!

Can you tell I'm already tired of winter...?

Ladera, Above and Beyond

I feel like my life is something out of "Where In The World is Waldo" book. Today I'm on the island of St. Lucia, the Ladera resort, to be specific. This hotel's tagline is honest and accurate. It is way Above the bay below, situated on a steep hillside (small mountain, really) with views of St. Lucia's iconic Piton Mountains, left and right. It is Beyond any Caribbean fantasy I've ever had. Perhaps I'm not dreaming large enough! I've selected a few photos here to give you an idea of what this open-air hotel is like, but they don't compare to the real thing. Below are just a few reasons why I'm loving this spot on


• No need for moisturizer. The air has a smooth, thick velvety quality. You can get a real lung full of oxigen. Why? It's tropical, essentially a rain forest. I'm staving off a cold and
the air quality seems medicinal. Not to mention the Black Water Baths. (Ac
tually I will mention them another time!)

• I did say tropical. Flora, fauna and fruit of exotic varieties are hanging

and winding and boasting their way throughout the resort. The word paradise comes to mind.

• GM, Warren "Waddy" Francis said Ledera is "... different than what has been coming on the island the last couple years. We're authentic and we want to remain authentic." The tree-house experience of the multi level "artisan" villas coupled with the "treasure island" views is almost u
nreal! But it is authentic, actually just what you might expect, but at the same time, you kind-of can't believe it!

• Taking an "open air" shower, no doors, just two walls, seeing the cove below and a cloudy sunset beyond the horizon, gives a whole new meaning to outdoorsy. Oh, and the shower has mosaic walls. One, is of a giant tulip, the other, a daisy. Cheerful.

I know I've been blogging about Italy lately and St. Lucia is a 360. They are entirely opposite, but both pallets are full to bursting with visual bounty... Here comes a big rain...The tree frogs' song is high-pitched and chirping...
Must get ready for dinner. Would love to get some comments! Caio, or later my friend?

Surf Fashion, USA

In the O.C, Orange County, CA, where I'm from, there are several "required Cali" visits that my kids will not let us skip. One is to Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City, USA. My nephew explained that you have to include the USA part or the location will be confused with Santa Cruz. Apparently, there was some frenzied politicking by both local governments to get the official name. For me, it will always be Huntington Beach, home to Huntington Surf & Sport–mecca of surfer cool stuff.

HSS is the real deal. Absent is the blaring music, fake driftwood signage, nightclub lighting, model surfer chicks and dudes out front (except for the real ones walking to or from the beach). Unlike the store, Hollister, the only way to experience a "live feed" from Huntington Pier is to walk out the door and look to your left across the street. Hollister will always be the want-to-be of HSS. Like a store bought sea shell, their products promise the California dream, but once home, they are more reminiscent of a heavily marketed brand, admittedly a successful one, conceived by suits not surfers.

HSS is a must for anyone attempting to authenticate a surfer lifestyle, or style. They carry all the great surfer brands as well as their own house brand. And if you need to pick up a surf board and not just flip flops, well they have plenty to choose from!

Huntington is a fun place to beach, shop and surf. A hodgepodge of pacific beach humanity, it has great people watching.

To find out more about this favorite Cali destination read GoNOMAD editor, Max Hartshorne's article, Huntington Beach: A Surfer's City.