Road Trip USA part 3 – Santa Monica, Venice, & Downtown LA

Not sleeping much became a routine thing for the duration of the trip. I averaged about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and never got up past 9AM. The lack of sleep really affected me; I stopped being able to think properly, and often mixed up my words or slurred them together. I understood a bit more of the “baby brain” that affects mothers when their children are young, and they don’t get enough sleep.

We were supposed to go to the Getty museum this day, but it ended up getting postponed until the next day, so we had more time to spend in Santa Monica. First we went to Stout to get lunch. The burgers were expensive, but delicious. They don’t come with sides, so we ordered yam fries, garlic fries, and a pretzel to share.

DSC_0418We then headed over the famous pier. I’d been there before, but it was almost 13 years ago the last time, so it was interesting seeing it again.


There was the “Happy Singing Mexican” who has a lovely voice and appears to be continually ridiculously happy. His buddy just danced in the background. Not like professional dancing type, but more like “Hey, I need someone to be with me all day, can you stand in the back and ‘dance’?”.



DSC_0428My friends and Guapito all went to The Coffee Bean or something like that, and I looked out at the water. Man, it sure is a nice area.


While waiting, I spied these people who had decided to get extremely wet with their clothes on. I wish I knew the purpose of this. It’s not like it was a hot day, but alas they were there soaking wet. Can you spot them?


Rae wanted to go shopping, so we headed to that shopping street, which is actually pretty cool. She really wanted to go to Victoria’s Secret, so I went in with her. There was a lady there with her dog. She was standing at the counter making her purchase when the dog slipped the collar off its head and she didn’t notice. I didn’t see it happen, so I wasn’t sure if she was just one of those hoity toity people letting their dogs run rampant in the store. It wouldn’t be my business. I kept an eye on the pup, but didn’t intervene. When she finished paying, she looked down, and her face paled and became completely panicked. At the same moment, one of the staff came up to her carrying the dog, and relief washed over her. I found it amusing at the time. I guess I could see how it could happen, but I wonder why the collar was so loose in the first place.


After finishing in Santa Monica, we headed to Venice. I didn’t know anything about Venice until this trip, so it was all very new to me.

DSC_0446First we went to the beach. There were some cool people, that looked familiar. I think I saw them on YouTube. There was a big crowd, and I wanted to watch. We had apparently just missed the penultimate part of the show, and they kept saying they were going to do the grand finale. We waited for almost 20 minutes, and they never did it. They seemed obsessed with money and with race, which made me uncomfortable. They wouldn’t move on until they made sure they harassed everyone for a donation, and every time someone donated, they made a huge deal of it, specifying race and apparent status of wealth, then making implied “threats” that if we didn’t donate, they would just take the money by robbing us in our homes. I don’t find that humorous at all. Not interested in the spectacle at all, Rae went to go watch the sunset, and we wasted our time waiting for them to do something. Bored, we eventually left to join Rae, and by the time we finished on the beach and started to head over to the canals, the entertainers still hadn’t done their grand finale.



DSC_0456On our way to the canals, we passed by Muscle Beach. This made me very excited. It reminded me of my favourite ride at Playland “Crazy Beach Party”, that had its final run last summer. I’m not sure where else I’ve seen/heard the term “muscle beach” but I thought it was cool. Someone in my class told me that it’s very exclusive. Not everyone can just go in and work out there.

DSC_0462The canals themselves were super romantic. I think it would be really cool to live on one of them, as long as it’s in an area that doesn’t flood. Despite Venice being a kind of sketch place to be, the canals juxtapose it in a classy way.



I love light decorations. I think that they should be around all year, not just during Christmas time. Recently at home, I got sad when I saw my city take down the lights.

Anyway, after Venice, we headed back to Manhattan Beach to get ready to go out to downtown LA. One of our new friends said we had to dress up nice because he was going to take us somewhere really special. It was not what I expected at all, but it was super cool. It was a rooftop bar with interesting decorations, a pool, heaters, and a dance floor. Despite some drama that happened (instigated by my desire to have a cigarette), I had an absolutely magical time. I danced alone on the dance floor, I got in trouble for standing with one foot on a chair, and one on one of those things you put money in to see far away, I listened to some really awesome music while having brief, deep conversations about life that felt totally epic at the time. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera, but it is without a doubt my favourite memory of the entire trip. We left super late, despite our poor host having to work the next morning, but he still took us to a light display outside of some museum to take pictures.


Road Trip USA Part 2 – What the Hell am I Doing Drinking in LA at 26?

I was super stoked to sleep in. Since I didn’t have the responsibilities of the farm, I thought this trip would be a wonderful opportunity to sleep in. Unfortunately, I woke up at 7:12. I tried to go back to sleep, but someone was snoring, and it wasn’t Guapito, so I couldn’t hit them to get them to stop. I put on some headphones and tried to go on the computer, but Guapito gave me an angry face and told me it was too loud. I then tried to read a book, but I was too tired to hold my phone as a light, and I ended up pocketdialing my dad and leaving a 4.25 minute-long message. A $7.50 mistake *facepalms*. I decided to give up and just lay there with my headphones on. I tried to get comfortable but without any luck because I have big-ass V-MODA headphones. At least they sound good.

The mediocre breakfast was at 9:55, because it stopped at 10, and everyone else got to sleep in till around 9:45. We then walked down to beach. It wasn’t as quick a walk as Rae had been expecting. The walk was beautiful though. The neighbourhoods were really cool, all strung up with Christmas lights. They reminded me of a co-op housing place where an old friend of mine used to live. The beach was spectacular with perfect waves. It wasn’t crowded at all. I so wanted to jump in the water and play, but it was way too cold for that.


Manhattan Beach


Houses at Manhattan Beach. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place to live?


Main Street in Manhattan Beach


Friends ❤

We didn’t get to stay too long until we had to head back to meet some friends for lunch. We went to Panera Bread, which has really delicious soup. I had the fall squash soup that I probably could have eaten 15 bowls of. The two friends we met up with were lovely chaps. After being very friendly and telling exciting stories, they took us to an absolutely gorgeous lookout point.


Lookout in Palos Verdes



Guapito found a tumbleweed and got really excited. He wanted to see it in action, but we all stopped him before he could throw it. Apparently California is pretty strict about stuff like that.


Guapito and the tumbleweed


Old friends and new friends ❤

One of the fellas had to get his car from the shop, so we all agreed to meet later to see the sunset from a pier. The four of us roadtrippers headed to a Starbucks by the beach to wait. The view was incredible. We then went to see the Korean Friendship Bell, which was really cool. It was obvious that we were going to miss the sunset on the pier, so we watched it from the location of the bell.

Korean Friendship Bell

Korean Friendship Bell




Boys are silly

We then met at one of our friend’s houses and made a game plan for the evening. I only had one goal for the entire trip: to be able to sing the Bran Van 3000 song (Drinking in LA), and have it be somewhat accurate. A.K.A. go drink somewhere in LA. I don’t know why I love the song so much, but I always have. It’s one of the few songs that if it comes on my ipod, I have to listen to it, and I’ll enjoy every second of it. I was listening to it sometime last year, and I actually paid attention to the lyric that says “… at 26” I realized I was going to be 26 soon, and that it was the only year in my entire life that the song would be accurate. I made it my mission to visit LA sometime (despite despising LA) before I turned 27. Opportunities came and then disappeared before I could jump on them. So when Rae asked me to go on a road trip to San Francisco, I was hesitant. I asked if she wouldn’t mind heading to LA for a day or two, and she said that they were going for 4 days, so I immediately agreed. It was my one non-career-related goal that I had for 2014.

Anyway… after stopping at the hotel room to grab my ID, we headed to Malibu and had dinner at Moonshadows, which is an expensive seafood restaurant. It was some miscommunication how we ended up eating there, but the food was pretty good, and the view was stunning, even at night. We saw a seal swimming, which just made everything perfect. There were 3 new people who joined us there, and we all feasted together. We were going to get drinks there, but at $12+ per drink, we were all quite hesitant. The non-attentive waitress solidified our decision to leave and go to Zebra Room, a cash-only dive bar instead. It ended up being beyond perfect. It’s a cash only bar, but the drinks were cheap, and they had a jukebox that fortunately had my Bran Van 3000 song. I jumped around the room, traded dimes and a nickle for a quarter and eagerly pressed play.

I had to wait about an hour for it to come on, and I was fairly drunk by then (I never drink, so it really didn’t take long). But when it did finally come on, my eyes lit up (or so I’m told), and I sang my heart out. I made sure not to forget the line: “What the hell am I doing drinking in LA at 26?” because, you know, I’m 26, drinking in LA, and honestly don’t know why.

I accomplished my goal. I was completely content and satisfied. It is absolutely remarkable how things work out in life.

We then went to one of the friend’s houses, and had some delicious Stella Rosa wine that tasted like juice. Neither Rae nor I enjoy the taste of wine, but this was incredibly good. We then played the card game Bullshit, which I was terrible at in an inebriated state. Our host was wonderful for entertaining us at such an hour when he had to work the next morning.

When we finally got back, it was really late. Surely I would get a good night’s sleep this time, right? Nope.

Road Trip USA Part 1 – Washington, Oregon, California

We interrupt your regular broadcasting of reminiscing about my trip to France to announce my most recent expedition: a road trip in the US of A.

Guapito left on the afternoon of December 26 without much of a plan. We knew that we had to meet our friends in San Jose, California, sometime on December 27, but we hadn’t established a time. We both like to make sure the house is clean before we leave, and because we have a hobby farm, we have to make sure that it’s all set up for the people taking care of things while we’re away. It was especially difficult this time because the majority of stores were closed for Boxing Day, but we made do (or so we thought). I had a panic attack about leaving. I knew everything was going to be fine, but I have a hard time leaving everything in someone else’s hands.

Because Guapito is Mexican, he has to get a new $6 visa if 6 months or more passes between visits. While inside, the border guard made fun of my incessant blushing (I didn’t even know I was blushing, which made it worse). Then we stopped at Wendy’s to get some food. Wendy’s in the USA has delicious lemonade, which we don’t get in Canada, so it was an obvious “must have” for us. We soon passed by a recreational marijuana store. I had totally forgotten that pot is legal in Washington. I passed out in the car despite it being early still, and after Guapito got some gas, he wanted to go to the store at the gas station, but I suggested that we get some snacks at Safeway (fruits & veggies… eff junk snacks!), so we did. I looked for bread cheese sticks, but they didn’t have any. We then crossed the street to Red Robin to get some ooey gooey cheese sticks. Unfortunately those do not exist in the USA. We got some regular cheese sticks with thai chili sauce instead to get somewhat close to what I was craving. It was not the same at all, but decently delicious.

We were soon out of Washington and Guapito got super excited when we drove through Portland, he had no idea it was so large. It actually did look somewhat enticing. They have been advertising tourism to Portland a lot in Vancouver, and I guess it has been having a positive affect on me.

We really did nothing in Oregon except fill up the car with gas ($33 in the States compared to $75 in Canada). It was full serve, so that was weird for me.  We stopped at a rest stop just before 2AM. Guapito was tired and wanted to sleep. I was wired and itching to be on our way, so I took over driving. I’m sure the scenery on Mount Shasta was spectacular, but the only thing I could see were the stars, which are beautiful in their own right. As I was driving, I realized that our GPS had us arriving at our location in San Jose at 7AM. I figured there was no point in arriving so early and not getting any sleep, so I pulled over at a rest stop just before 5AM to catch a few zzz’s before the sun came up.

We left our stop at around 8, and got gas not too long after. Guapito got cinnamon buns from Cinnabon that he said were disgusting. The funny thing is, despite the USA and Canada being similar in many ways, you can order the exact same food from the exact same company in both countries and the products can taste completely different.

We stopped in Pleasant Hill to get some breakfast and use the WiFi. Unfortunately the place where we stopped for breakfast didn’t have any WiFi. The breakfast was ginormous. The leftovers lasted me the rest of the day.


Breakfast @ Jack’s

We wandered around the complex until we picked up some free WiFi. I let my friend, Rae, know that we about an hour away from our destination. She wasn’t answering her phone (I called her via BBM), so we left and continued on our way. We spied a Starbucks and stopped to get some coffee and to use their WiFi. I mean, Starbucks should have WiFi, right? Wrong. Luckily the Safeway had WiFi, and I was able to contact Rae. We agreed to meet at Wyndham Garden as soon as possible.

The place is actually pretty nice. If I wasn’t so cheap, it probably would have been a good idea to have headed straight there and gotten a room to have a decent sleep instead of in the car. Guapito was so pleased with the place that he inquired as to the room rates, despite having no use for them at all. We were only there to park the car.


Wyndham Garden

We registered for parking, and then unloaded the car. Unfortunately, I do not pack light.


Guapito and our bags

It wasn’t too much longer until our friends arrived, and we packed up the trunk and went on our way. They had been to Pebble Beach in Monterey the day before and wanted to go back. First we stopped at Stanford University to admire the architecture and have a look around. There were a lot of people there despite it being the holidays


Stanford University



Stanford University

Then we stopped at Paris Baguette, a Korean chain, and they got lunch and some drinks. I still had my leftovers from the morning, so I ate that.


Paris Baguette


We then went to Pebble Beach, but missed the sunset. It was still pretty and we had a good time.


Pebble Beach


Night time at Pebble Beach


It was still about 6 hours to get to our hotel in Manhattan Beach, so we headed out again, only stopping for gas and some dinner. Rae had pizza and the rest of us had burritos and tacos. When we finally arrived at our destination, we had some minor difficulties with our room. You could see marks on our door that had been washed off saying “Nice Try”. We couldn’t figure out the lights, and one of the bulbs was dead. Guapito couldn’t figure out the shower, so he spent his shower holding the pin to make the water come out of the shower head. We realized later, that he just didn’t pull the knob out enough to get enough water pressure. The room also lacked a fridge, and we had items that needed to be refrigerated. It wasn’t until about 2AM that we finally were settled in and ready to sleep. I sure was ready for a good, long sleep after the last two days. Unfortunately, it was not to be.