Arriving in L.A. was like watching the movie "My Girl" for the first time. That oh-so-seventies moment of a girl getting off a plane and driving beneath the lined palm trees. My full time job just ended and I was free of responsibility and pressure, truly basking in the California sun.
First fact about L.A.: you have to uber everywhere. There is even less public transportation in L.A. than there is in Denver. It was actually in an uber when I realized this fact, and laughed at that classic line from the movie 'Clueless' when the dad says, "Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes." It's mostly true. I can't tell what's more realistic financially at this point: to rent a car or to uber everywhere. I guess it depends on how many days you're going, what you're doing, and if you know anyone in the area who will drive your ass around.
I got off the plane and got an uber straight to the beach, of course. Technically Lyft, but uber sounds better as a verb, especially after the hip-hop song made it so catchy. Freakin' Venice Beach Baby! I walked along and saw a bike rental shop and figured why not?
Rented a bike and rode up and down the beach, saw the pier, bought some cool orange neon sunglasses, got in the water, and met a guy who at first glance seemed homeless (this did not deter me from asking him to watch my camera while I got in the water to swim). Turns out he used to drive limos in the 80's for celebrities. He now spends his time retired on the beach, playing guitar in the water, and hoping to make it on people's snapchat stories. I also want to mention the cool orange sunglasses I bought within the first 20 minutes I was in L.A were swept away from me and forever lost due to some aggressive ass waves during the last 20 minutes I was in California before heading to the airport. Fuckin' Malibu. I asked a child with goggles who was playing next to me in the water if she could find them. She could not. *RIP sunglasses*
Some of my first-day M.O.'s while traveling include: finding a rooftop pool bar, spending time walking around different parts of the city, any free or cheap museum, discovering a badass coffee shop, landmarks and/or historical spots, optional ice cream purchase, finding (or hoping to find) weed, and buying a souvenir (or at least window shopping). The rooftop bar I found was LIT. This is such a good travel tradition, and something you might not think about, but the view is definitely worth it (even if it's too cold to swim during the month you're traveling). The bar I happened to come across was actually ACE Hotel. [Side note: I only know ACE from a trip I took in 2011 to Seattle in which every room was a little industrial and unique from every other room, and we met an older man named Sam who sold us weed in the lobby restaurant. Point is, I recognized and trusted the brand name.] Either way, the cheapest drink, and my favorite imported beer were one in the same, and the rooftop bar & building was attached to an old church! The view + sunset was amazing and beautiful, so calming. Although I was alone in the hot tub just sitting there drinking and not talking to anyone, it was probably one of my favorite hours of the 5 day trip I was on. The more and more I'm alone on trips, whether I'm traveling alone or just having a moment when I'm by myself, the more I come to love and appreciate those experiences.
Finished up the night at the Griffith Observatory. I'm really into physics, science, and space, so that place was very interesting for me. Got a good view of the city at night, and talked with a woman who worked there about the possibility of aliens. I always love a good, intelligent conversation about aliens.
The next day I headed off to the train station for San Diego. I always feel like making the most geographical use of my time when I'm traveling, and I'm not necessarily the type of person who can stay in one spot for very long. That and there isn't much to actually 'do' in L.A. The train station is beautiful, I'm in love with historical buildings and places that store an overwhelming energy throughout time. The train ride itself was something so vintage it just felt good to be traveling in a different way. Since this was a day trip, there was a limited number of hours and a limited number of things I could do before I had to head back.
I decided to visit the island of Coronado that a friend told me about, however looking back - although it was cute, I personally wouldn't recommend going because it seems like a small version of a retirement beach in Florida; and you get just as good of a beach at La Jolla. That being said, the time I spent taking a bus around the island and putting my feet in the sand wasn't necessarily bad... just a bit boring and crunched for time. I probably would spend time walking around the city if I went back. I definitely wanted off the island and back to main land, and I definitely missed the ferry by 2 minutes. So I had to wait an hour until the next ferry, in which I was overcharged for a pizza and missed out on happy hour drinks because my server wasn't very communicative. I tipped her well anyway and finished my pizza on the next ferry.
Getting to La Jolla was an adventure in itself. The Lyft driver I got was oddly calming in demeanor and for some reason we got onto the subject of drag racing cars. This led to a conversation about how a buddy of his died racing cars (but probably wouldn't have had it any other way, being a speed demon); and from there some how we got onto the subject of past lives. I always enjoy and subconsciously seek out people who are willing to talk about past lives. Aligning energy. He dropped me off at the beach and instead of leaving, he waited for me to swim and enjoy myself and then offered to take me to the nearest train station to catch the train back to L.A.
Watching the surfers and the sunset was so ~cali~. Can't describe how good the beach makes me feel. For me I'm assuming it's the childhood memories and fondness I get when I'm at the beach, reminding me of yearly summer vacations with my family when everything was still good and happy and easy. Growing up in Texas, although it wasn't California, was still a nice state because it's not land-locked and beaches are easily do-able. Although I wouldn't go anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico now days, especially after the oil spill and whatever else is stuck in that non-moving body of water that we've all polluted the shit out of. Being at the beach by myself was beautiful. I took photos, got in the water for a little bit, and felt oddly safe with my Lyft driver 100 feet away just watching over me and my things. it's weird the connections you have with people when you're not expecting it.
On the way to the train station we talked about his out of body experience, being able to leave his body during a nap and watch what was going on in the house. He was very serious about his accounts and even told me that he recounted what happened in a different area of the house while he was sleeping to his sister, and she confirmed it was true. We talked about telepathy and communicating without words, and practiced sending signals to each other through thoughts only. When I left we had a long hug and decided that we were either a past life combination of lovers or father/daughter. Either way it was definitely a calming energy, and we had way too deep of a connection for just being my Lyft driver.
Back in L.A. it was midnight and I was wide awake with no where to go. I met my friend and L.A. host, Karla at a fancy party at an old hotel. By the time I got there we left shortly after, however it was a neat spot for some photo ops.
The next day Karla and I took off to do some inner city hanging out. We went to the museum and saw some artists' work I've been meaning to see for a while, including the balloon animals by Jeff Koons and some feminism pop art by Barbara Kruger. Later that night we took off to spend the night and next day in the vortex of energy that is Joshua Tree to alter our reality for a bit.
The Airbnb we booked was average. The advertised hot tub was currently not working properly, and thus the house lost the basis of it's appeal. We woke up early and hit the park around 9am, drove around and took photos for a few hours, and went on small hikes. We found a nice spot in the skull rock formations to do a little meditation practice. This was another one of my favorite moments on the trip. By the time we realized what time it was, we were definitely ready for food. Ended the day with Mediterranean cuisine and called it a night.
The next day was my last day. Staying outside the city by an hour, I had to take a morning train into the city center just to have some actual time to spend hanging out before my flight. I decided to go to Malibu since I've heard the name since childhood (i.e. Malibu Barbie) and have never known what lies there.
Turns out, Malibu is quite a drive and holds nothing more than a stretch of beach holding overpriced restaurants and rich ass houses off the highway. I made the most of the decision since 1. I was already there and 2. didn't have time to go anywhere else. This was to be my last beach time for a while, as I currently live in a land-locked state, so I wanted to make the most of it by playing in the water and soaking up the rays. This is also the beach where my sunglasses were swept away by unnecessarily aggressive waves, and at that point I was 'over it' and just wanted to go. Pro tip: don't go swimming in the ocean before a flight when there is no chance of a shower in the near future. I found out the hard way, aka the stupid way, and didn't think about the fact that I didn't have a towel or a shower to wash off the sand and Pacific Ocean. Forever sorry to anyone who smelled me on the way home.
All in all I'd say L.A. is a hell of a time, just make sure you have hella cash, provided transportation, and a plan for logistics. The main thing that hung me up was not knowing where I was going and spending money to get from point A to point B, just to figure out there was nothing really appealing there and I wasted the cab fare. That being said, if you're good on your finances you can pretty much wine and dine anywhere - the food is bomb and the city provides a plentiful array of conceptual restaurants to choose from. There is definitely style in that city. Not one of my favorite cities I've ever visited, and I don't think I'd live there longterm, but after this trip I'll forever be in love with the state and energy of California.