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THE GREAT OUTDOORS / GETTING AWAY

The Beach Isn't the Only Place to Hang When Playing Outside

June 26, 1996|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

They are usually stuck indoors, eager to bust out of fluorescent-lit offices. They can't wait for the weekend, or a spare moment to get away from their day jobs (or night jobs, as the case may be) and bolt for their favorite places to hang.

Where are the best places to go this summer? Well, it's subjective. Do you like to people-watch or do you watch too many people as it is? Do you want to get away, or do you want to be seen?

It all depends.

Tim Ryan works inside the Pond of Anaheim, but when he gets a chance, he heads for the creek in Dana Point. Salt Creek, he says, is where the good fishing is, and so he goes there to cast his rod and reel for dinner--usually in the form of fish tacos--while standing thigh-high in the surf.

"Fishing is the antithesis of what I do for a living," said Ryan, 39, assistant general manager of one of the nation's most successful arenas. "It's total solitude. No crowds, no agents, no phone calls, just a chance to think about parts of my life that aren't associated with the arena business. I love to surf fish. I've never been shut out at Salt Creek."

Someone who is used to spending much of his time riding ocean waves--and writing about it, too--is Shawn Manning, assistant editor of Bodyboarding magazine in San Clemente.

Manning, 22, loves bodyboarding, but when he's not doing that, he heads south to Encinitas--to skateboard.

It's all part of the lifestyle--you have to learn to skateboard to compensate for those days when the waves are flat.

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Manning says it's worth it to him to make the drive from South County to the Magdalena Ecke YMCA Skate Park in Encinitas [200 Saxony Road, (619) 942-9622] for about three hours on the 23,000 square foot layout at $10 a session.

Getting to Encinitas, after all, might be less trouble than getting through the El Toro Y to reach the skateboard areas at Murdy Park or Huntington Beach High School.

Is it really worth the drive?

"Oh yeah, of course," Manning says, "because they made the place for skateboarding and it has the most stuff to skate--a bunch of ramps, a street course--and they give you pads with your admission."

Aaah, a skater's heaven.

But not everyone can negotiate a skateboard.

Someone with a typically pastoral job is Jane Calloway, managing editor of Cat Fancy magazine. When she's not curled up in front of the fireplace with a ball of yarn, she takes evening walks in her neighborhood.

Calloway, 35, 8 1/2 years removed from North Carolina, has a real appreciation for Southern California's lack of humidity and recommends life's simpler pleasures when "the air is cool and the sky is that really wonderful, rich shade of blue before the sun sets."

"I can exercise without having to drive somewhere to exercise," she says of her 1 1/2-mile route through the neighborhood. "It's a great way to see your neighbors and get to know people who live in your area.

"It's a nice way to feel a part of the neighborhood and community because I don't work in Aliso Viejo."

She has become friends with some of the people she has met along the way, "but I still haven't found the love of my life," she said.

Michael Ditolla might also be found at the beach when he doesn't have his hands in someone's mouth. Ditolla, 31, a dentist in Tustin, has been heading four lifeguard stations down from the San Clemente Pier every summer Sunday since he was a kid, spending a half-day in the water and a half-day playing beach volleyball.

But on those other six days of the week, there's nothing like finding an empty parking lot at Rancho Santiago College for some roller hockey, or making early-morning runs through Peters Canyon in Cowan Heights.

"I like it for the sights and smells," said Ditolla, who also recommends Irvine Regional Park. "In the morning you'll see jackrabbits and roadrunners, and there's even warnings about mountain lions, which I'm hoping to see so that it will make a better story, but I haven't had to do any hand-to-hand combat yet."

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