[Summer Guide] The Simple Pleasures of an OC Summer

By Daffodil J. Altan, Gustavo Arellano, Vickie Chang, Tom Child, Erin DeWitt, Rich Kane, Ted B. Kissell, R. Scott Moxley, Derek Olson, Amanda Parsons, Dave Segal and Luke Y. Thompson

An afternoon at the horse track used to mean dressing up in your finest and betting big money while smoking sweet cigars, drinking rich bourbon and discussing the weather with other classy citizens. Things are a little less refined these days. Recently, we spotted a man at the track with holes in the bottoms of his shoes and drool seeping from a gap in his brown-gummed smile—but he sure was having a hell of a good time! You could be rubbing elbows with this kind of high-roller yourself this summer—you and your new pot-bellied friend clinking plastic beer-filled cups, as the horse with your dollar riding on it breaks the finish line. It's the stuff summer love is made of. (AP) Los Alamitos Race Course, 4961 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (714) 820-2800;

Who says nothing in life is free? Air conditioning is basically a Freon-filled box of heaven, and it can be yours gratis. If you steal it. Well, not technically "steal it," as in "pry it from your neighbor's window" (although there are a bunch of foreclosed empty houses around these days). But say you were to walk around inside a giant Wal-Mart all day long, no doubt perusing the plentiful selection of fashionable track suits, but never purchase anything. That would be like getting some sweet a/c free of charge. Sure, you may have to hang around with the toothless yokels who shop there (everyone knows the classy people shop at Target), but that cool, glorious air is possibly worth catching lice for. (AP) Wal-Mart locations are everywhere.

Everyone yearns to spend their summer days lounging on the sands of a tropical island. Even poor people. But just because you can't afford a lavish vacation doesn't mean you can't get yourself stuck on a desolate plot of land. For the small price of about $60 (by boat) to $100 (by helicopter) per person, you could head to beautiful Catalina Island, located just 26 miles from of Long Beach. There's scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, camping, golf-cart driving and frolicking in the ocean to be had. Whatever your pleasure, don't discount this local gem that's mere minutes away. (AP) Boats and helicopters leave from Dana Point, Newport Beach, Long Beach and San Pedro daily; visit for more information.

Forget for a moment the inherent ickyness of immersing yourself in water in which countless dubiously hygenic others have splashed about. Focus instead on the simple pleasure of barreling down a slippery dark tube at the fastest speeds nature will allow before finally plunging into the welcoming, cushioning bosom of a splashdown pool. You emerge invigorated, perhaps a little disoriented, but nonetheless ready to do it all over again. Armchair Freudians can have a field day analyzing the parallels between this and the birth process, but the metaphor need not be stretched to quite that extent. Put simply, inside the flume, you are Man Alone, facing an uncertain future, yet confident in the ultimate benevolence of the universe to deliver you safely to the end of your journey. Profound philosophy, a refreshing cool down and a corn dog: How many other summer joys can offer all three? (TC) Wild Rivers, 8770 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine; Knott's Soak City, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 220-5200;

There is no finer a pleasure than a cold drink after a long day at the office. While the less attractive—or just plain unlucky—are confined to the greasy walls of dingy dive bars, Orange County's beautiful people (of which there are many, thanks to plastic surgery) can lounge poolside at the swanky iLum Ultra Lounge. Strip off that confining office apparel and slip into a teeny bikini or Speedo for a quick dip in the pool, or just lie around the private cabanas and look hot. All you need is a perfect body and an impeccable wax job. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. (ED) iLum Ultra Lounge at the Atrium Hotel, 18700 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, (949) 833-2770; Open Mon.-Fri., 5:30-8 p.m.

Cheaper than ice cream, tastier than a bag of ice, more rewarding than a day at the beach are the mango ladies (and a couple of men) around downtown Santa Ana. For $2, they'll hand you a mango preparado—a whole mango sliced into pieces, moistened with lime juice, then dusted with chili powder (the Tapatio comes free, but you have to ask for it). Experience summer in a plastic box—heat, coolness, the custardy flesh of mango mitigated by its toppings. Eat these treasures while you can—if the Santa Ana City Council has its way, those mango vendors are out come fall. (GA) Virtually anywhere in the area of First Street, Broadway, 17th Street and French Street, Santa Ana.

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