A few weeks ago I was itching to go somewhere. I wanted to go somewhere far and experience something new. Los Angeles kept coming to mind. I have friends there and it was somewhere I really wanted to visit after reading so much about it for many years. Back in 2006, I had been there for 4th of July and it was epic, so I wanted to go back, as an adult.
It was like it was meant to be: I found a cheap ticket, non-stop to LAX. Wow, I was really doing this. I have traveled a lot, but this was the first trip I was doing "solo." It was exciting and nerve-racking but I was ready to do it. It was what I needed to do.
I flew out on a Wednesday and arrived to 90 degree weather at LAX. My friend Dylan picked me up and I experienced California traffic on the freeway for the first time on our way to Studio City. I fell in love with Studio City as soon as I arrived. It's adorable. It's exactly the type of city neighborhood that's my speed. It's spread out (for the most part) and colorful.
Dylan had only been in CA for a few months, but we explored everything on my wish list. I wanted to go to Griffith Park and hike to see the Hollywood sign. Let me tell you, the "hiking" trails here in MD have not prepared me for this hike. We were going on a 75 degree incline at one point, holding on to branches to get to the top. When we got to the top, we found out we did go on a unusual route, as we found ourselves on the other side of the fence. After picking the dogs (yes we hiked with the dogs) up over the fence, and surprising myself on my agility, we turned around and there it was. The sign. It's a funny sign. It's not really that cool, but it has been so iconic for so many years that it is cool. So many other people have seen it, worshiped it, and had it be the destination of their dreams.
When I was planning this trip, I decided that I really didn't want to do this alone. I wanted my good friends to come along. I knew that not all of them could, but my friend Lauren has access to plane tickets and she was only in Tulsa so she wasn't too far.
I invited her for the weekend to meet me and hang out in LA. She arrived late Friday night and spent all day Saturday in Santa Monica. Now, Santa Monica is my new favorite place. It's beautiful. The promenade is fun, the beaches are lively, and the food is to die for. Lauren and I walked sooooo much on Saturday but got everything we wanted out of our day in CA. One of the most surprising places we ended up was in a neighbor hood called, Abbot Kinney. We were on our way to see the TOMS flagship store when our Lyft driver told us that Abbot Kinney is the neatest neighborhood. When we got there, we felt like we had found home. This place was awesome. There was an ice cream sandwich truck on the block and it was delicious. We shopped for hours and the people were so nice.
As the evening went on, the sun was starting to go down. We ended up back in Santa Monica next to the pier to watch the sun set. Watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean was a bucket lister. Then we grabbed a late dinner at an Italian restaurant where our pizza was truly Californian with avocados all over it.
I want to thank California for being so welcoming. I had never done a trip like this before and it was everything I wanted it to be. I explored, I relaxed, I ate, and I had a wonderful time.
The question is, however, where should I go next?