I have never had any interest in visiting Los Angeles. All I have ever heard is that the traffic is horrible. And I really dislike traffic. I actually have a pretty bad anxiety problem with driving or riding on busy interstates. I have to remind myself to breathe. So why when one morning my friend Laura asked me to come join her for a long weekend there I said “sure!”. She was there for 3 weeks for work and wanted some company. And I desperately wanted to get away. Laura and I have fun wherever we are. We have taken weekend vacations together in San Francisco and Austin. I checked the flight prices and when I saw how low they were I booked right away.
As my flight got in and as she was making her way to the airport, she called me and said, “OK, I just want to warn you, the traffic is crazy. People are going to be whipping in and out on the roads and you may just want to close your eyes.” She knows how nervous I get on a busy interstate.
She picked me up and we made our way down to the Santa Monica pier area to walk around. We stopped in at this sushi restaurant with a lively bar crowd to have a drink and use the restroom. At the bar we met Gavin from New Zealand. He was on a layover on his way to Central America. He would be traveling alone for 5 weeks in Panama, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Colombia. We ended up having a few drinks there and then the three of us headed over to walk out on the pier and the beach. We spent several hours walking around, having more drinks, and eating dinner. Laura says that Gavin is the male version of me, and I had been thinking the same thing. Except he has a selfie stick. It does my soul well to meet other people like me. He lives the same way I do- simply; with no fancy house or car because he prefers to spend money on experiences and not things. All money he earns goes to travel.
We spent a little more time walking around on the beach and stopping in bars before making the drive out to Calabasas where her hotel was.
Saturday morning, we met up with Laura’s friend Lucas and went on a Hollywood sightseeing tour. We got to drive by all of the famous sights and saw several celebrity homes. Our guide admitted to being a celebrity stalker. We stopped in front of some of the celebrities’ homes and just waited. That felt really strange.
Back in 2012, I had done a weekend hiking trip with REI and had met Steven and Charles. I had remembered they lived in LA so I reached out to them in advance so they could take us on a hike. We met up with them in the afternoon and Charles had picked out a really cool hike that went to the Hollywood sign and the Wisdom Tree. Legend has it that the Wisdom Tree on the summit of Burbank Peak was the only tree left standing after a devastating wildfire fire in 2007 burned more than 817 acres in and around Griffith Park. Steve and Charles brought several friends who were all really nice and we all had a great time walking and talking. We finished just as the sun was setting, which was absolutely beautiful. We could hear the coyotes yipping in the hills. After the hike we went out to dinner at MASA at Echo Park, where we had some really tasty deep dish pizza.
On the way back to Calabasas that night, there was some pretty heavy traffic. I did have to close my eyes several times.
In the group photo below, we don’t know the black guy in the back. When we got to the wisdom tree peak, there was another group of guys hanging out there smoking weed. He totally photobombed us! 🙂
On Sunday morning, we headed over to Malibu to walk through the farmers market. Here in Georgia, the neighborhood farmers markets with organic vegetables look pretty pathetic. I have never seen more perfect, large, organic fruits, vegetables, and berries. I wished I could buy my fresh veggies there every weekend! I bought some raspberries and munched on those as we browsed.
We started making our way over to Matador Beach. We stopped at a Starbucks on the way and saw a woman pitching a fit because it was taking them too long to make her drink, and then because her drink did not have the correct count of Espresso shots. It was absolutely hilarious. Who knew someone could get so upset over coffee.
Matador Beach was absolutely beautiful, but there was a dead seal on it, so it smelled pretty bad. I love beaches with lots of rocks and natural features. When I have imagined the Pacific Coast Highway, these are the beaches I envisioned. We walked down the beach a bit. I almost lost my flip flop once and got all wet from a rogue wave.
We headed over to Venice Beach so I could see what it’s like. We parked and walked by Muscle Beach as we made our way down to the pier. There are some pretty nice houses sitting right on the beach, but I cannot imagine living somewhere with that many people always walking by at all hours. I know that Jeb Corliss lives somewhere here. Jeb is a famous extreme athlete- he does base jumps, wing suit flying, and slack lining. I’m secretly keeping an eye out for him as we’re walking around. We passed a few medical marijuana clinics. Venice Beach is an excellent place for people watching. I saw a guy pushing a stroller. There was not a baby nor a dog in the stroller. He had a Bart Simpson doll in the stroller, just walking around.
We went over to one of the restaurants facing the pier and had drinks and a light lunch. Day drinking is so much fun!
Lucas was coming back out to meet us to walk around and have dinner with us, so we left that place and walked into a little beach clothing/ flip flop shop. We were having a chat with the shop clerk, and he asked us, “did you Ladies have cocktails for lunch?” We must have smelled funky.
On Monday I flew back to Atlanta. Laura was due back at work, so I used UBER for the first time. Why have I not been using this before?! I requested the car from my room and immediately walked out the door and the car was already arriving as I waited on the elevator.
When I got to the gates area of the airport, there was a spontaneous “Sweet Caroline” sing-along going on. I was really confused at what I was walking into, but it was a fun little way to send me home from a super fun weekend!
I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I want to return to LA some day. There is plenty of good hiking around there, lots of good food, and there is always something going on. Oh, and Atlanta traffic is so much worse!