California is amazing. As we drove through most of the state, we learned that it basically has everything—beach, sun, warmth, desert, farms, wine country, mountains, snow, forest, fog, cold if you like it. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t live there. Now that we’ve seen it, you could easily convince us to move there. As soon as we crossed the state border, I felt like it just got greener and bluer, especially since we had been driving for hours through dry, barren sand-colored dessert.
Los Angeles, I like you. Given the stereotypes about you, I wasn’t expecting to, but I really enjoyed what I saw of you. Both of us did. The more we saw, the better you became.
My good friend Kyoko, whom I haven’t seen in 5 years or so, lives there now, and I was super excited to get together with her. We drove into LA in the evening, and there surprisingly wasn’t too much traffic. Kyoko and Jake drove us around town to see some sights, including the 1932 Olympic stadium – The Coliseum (we went to the 2012 Olympics in London, so this was really cool for us) and the USC campus. Even downtown LA was nice, and we saw a bunch of runners at an evening run club, which we love to spot when we travel.
They took us to dinner in the Arts District near downtown, a funky, up-and-coming area with a bunch of unique restaurants. We ate at Wurstkuche, “Purveyor of Exotic Grilled Sausages.” They serve an assortment of sausages, including rattlesnake & rabbit, duck, and buffalo. L. Smith got the Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeño Peppers and the Buffalo, Beef & Pork with Chipotle Peppers, while I tried the less exotic Mango Jalapeño chicken & turkey sausage. We all split 2 sides of Belgian fries (my favorite!) with a couple of dipping sauces (including a selection of Chipotle Aioli, Pesto Mayo, and Curry Ketchup), and downed it all with some of their great list of Belgian and German beer. Sadly, we were too full for dessert after all of that good food, which is a shame because right across the street was a place called Pie Hole. I can only imagine the delicious slices of pie they serve.
Our LA trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the LA November Project outpost. Our good friend Orrin, who used to live in Boston, started the LA tribe when he moved back there. They meet at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday mornings at 6:30am. (The Hollywood Bowl is an outdoor concert venue that looks like it would be a great place to see a show!) We partnered up and ran some steps, did some burpees and pushups, took some fun “yearbook” photos, and had a blast with the LA tribe. Everyone was awesome and welcoming, and so much fun to hang out with at 6:30am.
Later that day, I took a walk through the Hollywood Hills neighborhood we were staying in, right down the street from the iconic Hollywood sign! It was pretty hilly, so I got a good workout in just by walking, and the view at the top was worth it. There was a body of water nestled down among some green trees, and it was just such an impressive oasis right in the middle of the city. It just added to my delight with the city.
For lunch, we went and checked out some fish tacos, finding a place called “Best Fish Taco in Ensenada.” Original, eh? But they were pretty good, although they were fried, while I prefer grilled fish. They came with an assortment of salsas, including a spicy mango, a radish, and an avocado version. I think the salsas were the best part, but they were spicy enough to remove some car paint it you needed to.
Our LA trip also included a visit to Santa Monica to touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time! This was really important to L. Smith. So gorgeous—the beaches and the view. It was an incredible thought to think that we had made it all the way across the continent. We also loved Santa Monica – there were a lot of shops and restaurants, palm trees, and a promenade with street performers. But man, were they ruthless with the meter maids—we were sitting in our car looking up directions for our next stop as our meter expired, and a meter maid pulled up,blocked us in, and would have written us a ticket if we hadn’t put in another quarter!
On our way out of town, we stopped in Malibu to visit the beach again, this time at Zuma Beach. So lovely. On one side is the beach and ocean, and on the other, hills and trails, perfect for running. How great to live in a place with such diversity of geography and sunshine almost all year round! #jealousifyoucanttell
We grabbed some food and drinks during happy hour at a “beach shack” called The Sunset. It was a bar and lounge right on the beach, with a DJ, open windows with a great view, and delicious, fresh food. (We found that all of the food in California was super fresh. The benefits of year-round nice weather and farms down the road.) Even though I had just had fish tacos, I got another plate of them, and this time I really loved them because they were made with grilled fish, and a really tasty cumin-lime crema. We also tried the ahi tuna tartare, which had a great presentation and again had a nice fresh taste, with plenty of avocado, yum.
As we headed up the coast during sunset, we just fell in love more with California. You can’t beat the view of sunset on the water. Next up in the roadtrip series: the Pacific Coast Highway, aka PCH, aka Highway 1.