Thursday, November 15, 2007

California Road Trip: Trader Mort's

I’m back from an incredible adventure along the California coast. Arriving on Halloween, I started in LA, dipped down to San Diego for Tiki Magazine’s “Tiki Island at the Bali Hai” art show and then cruised up to the Bay Area for the Tiki Central Tiki Crawl with all sorts of memorable pit stops along the way. Most of the time, compatriots Tiki Racer and Chongolio (who’d flown in from Kauai) were by my side. In retrospect, the whole trip seems very Wizard of Oz, with fascinating characters, new and old friends making appearances and plenty of lessons learned. However, when it came time to fly back, I was clicking my heels wishing I could stay just a little bit longer.

After two nights in LA, Tiki Racer and I headed down the 5 for Tiki Magazine’s “Tiki Island at the Bali Hai” art show. The show was to be held at the Bali Hai restaurant on San Diego's Shelter Island. Developed in the early 1950s, this tiny "island" (it's actually a man-made peninsula) is chocked full of mid century modern architecture set against the backdrop of downtown San Diego's skyline across the bay. Among the most notable of Shelter Island's buildings is Trader Mort's, a liquor store on the main drag. As a liquor store, it's just okay with a decent selection. What makes this place fantabulously special is the shop's Polynesian Pop design. In particular, there's a huge cartoony Tiki out front with a big red tongue and hypno-goofy eyes. Lots of carvings by artist Bosko on the exterior and interior of the building add to the visual splendor.

Click here to view my Flickr set of photos of Trader Mort's. Expect more about the art show and about my Tiki time in San Diego in upcoming posts.

Photography by Chris Osburn © 2007

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