I'm not sure if I'll ever be a "West Coast" girl, but I like visiting! One of my friends from high school, Nan, was getting married in Rancho Palo Verdes, CA, I knew I had to be there and get some sunshine during the dreary NYC winter.
I added in a few days, so I could see other friends and enjoy some great food. So, here's a few things that I did in Los Angeles and Southern California.
Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
I flew into LAX on Thursday afternoon and arrived in LA in the evening. I accidentally booked my rental car at an off-site hotel, so I had to wait for a hotel shuttle, get to the hotel and pick up the car. Due to delays, I was late to pick up my car and they had released my reservation! (This trip was off to a great start!) Luckily, this rental was still much cheaper than renting from AVIS, so I forked over $20 more a day and was on the road to meet my friend, Courtney (we were Madewell buddies a few years ago and have stayed in touch). I was very fortunate to get to stay with her and her husband in LA and save lots of money on a hotel room. By the time I got to her apartment in Los Feliz, it was fairly late, so we drove nearby for tacos and went to sleep.
Friday, March 23rd, 2018
On Friday, Courtney had to work, so I drove to Buena Park to pick up my friend, Chung (we also used to work together at Madewell) and hit up some of the more touristy sites in Downtown LA. Chung picked out breakfast for us at Porto's (Some amazing egg sandwiches) and we were on our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I'm lucky that Chung is such a good sport, since I had to find RuPaul's newly minted star on the Walk of Fame! We walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard, looking for famous names and then to the "Boy Band Section:" New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, New Edition and Backstreet Boys. (I would miss the *NSYNC star by about a month, since they received their star on April 30th for "It's Gonna Be May" Day!") After finding all the pop stars I could handle, we walked over to Amoeba Music; where Chung had never been and is closing down!?
I had one mission: to find random Broadway cast albums and rare pop music for my ridiculous CD collection and I succeeded.
- Flower Drum Song with Lea Salonga & Jose Ilana
- The Boy from Oz with Hugh Jackman
- OBC of Falsettoland
- Gypsy with Bette Midler
- Broadway Divas
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Megan Hilty
- Annie Get Your Gun with Bernadette Peters
- OBC of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
- The Light in the Piazzai with Kelli O'Hara
- No More Games: The Remix Album by New Kids on the Block
- Tonight by New Kids on the Block
After a thorough hunt through all the things at Amoeba, I was finally read for some lunch at In-N-Out! We walked to the nearest location (which was right when the nearby high school was letting out) and were able to place an order and find a seat. However, we sat with two teenage boys, who were visiting from Canada and I had to keep telling Chung that I was old enough to be their teenage mother! Oof. Anyways, we got our food and then it was time for me to get her back to Buena Park, no big deal, right? Wrong.
We spent almost 3 hours, driving the 30-ish miles back to her apartment. LA traffic, you're no joke and another reason I'll stay on the East Coast. After that nutty trip, I didn't want to drive all over again, so I met up with my friend, Molly (another former Madewell co-worker) at Grand Central Market. I don't have any photos to prove it, but I had some delicious vegan miso ramen, even it was too much food for me at the time. Then it was back to Courtney's to sleep.
Saturday, March 24th, 2018
Usually when I come out to the West Coast, I spend part of the time near LA and part of the time near San Diego. This time, since I couldn't get down to San Diego and Solana Beach, where my cousin, Liz, lives, we met halfway in Laguna Beach.
I spent the morning, adjusting my weird mid-day Tuesday flight to a Monday night red eye and figuring out why JetBlue customer service really is the best. Then I grabbed a snack at bakery nearby and started the drive to Laguna Beach.
I got to the beach a little before Liz & her husband, Jeff, so I took the time to relax in the A/C of my car. We were planning on a little hike (I was prepared in workout clothing, cut I didn't have the best shoes...Converse, my go to, are a little hard to grip the various parts of terrain in), but I didn't know how steep the incline actually was going to be!
We started out on the path, the Valido Trail, and soon saw that the first half mile was the steepest; almost a 40 incline!? Oof. I was breathing heavy and exhausted, but once we reached the top, the view was unbelievable! A bonus: seeing LC's house from when she was on Laguna Beach and The Hills and then making a short video while playing the theme song to The O.C.
After our hike, we found a place to sit outside, eat and catch up before both driving our separate ways. Back in LA, I helped walk Courtney's pups and caught up with her husband.
Sunday, March 25th, 2018
Finally, it was wedding day! Since the wedding was about a 30 minute drive away, Courtney & I got up early to get ready. I had purchased a cute new skirt and heels, but opted for sneakers at the last minute, when my friend said it was a casual wedding. Well, it was not. Everyone else was dressed up; suits, dresses, heels...and here I was in a skirt, t-shirt, jean jacket and sneakers. Oops.
The ceremony was beautiful and partially conducted in Mandarin (oof, are my Chinese skills rusty). The guests were able to enjoy some drinks and snacks while the wedding party was taking their various photos. Finally, we were called to come in and sit in the venue, where I was seated with Nan's parents and some other friends. The crowd was very Chinese, in that when Nan and his newly minted wife, Julie, entered; there was polite clapping and then mine & Courtney's whooping and hollering. We were served course after course of delicious food: New England Clam Chowder, Caesar Salad, Roasted Branzino with Mushroom Risotto and Blueberry Cheesecake. (Oh, don't forget the amazing wedding cake!)
Then it was finally time for some games! Even though I'd known Nan the longest (20+ years), I didn't win, because his Mom had already "won" a prize at our table. Boo. Well, the next game up was a sort of "musical chairs" where we had to complete tasks: run up and give Nan a kiss, run up and give Julie a kiss, bring back a shoe from someone at your table, bring back $20 from your table...I lost on the bring back a child from your table, because the little girl looked terrified. However, I did make it to the last three and was the only girl participating. I might have had a chance to redeem myself in the last game, but the numbers were all announced in Mandarin! Then the DJ/Host heckled me with "Your parents should have taught you Chinese!" I got him right back with "I was adopted!" I probably made a lot of the more traditional Chinese guys embarrassed, but at least we had a great time.
After the food and games, we each got a chance to take a photo with Nan and Julie. Then Courtney & I got her car out of the valet (fancy) and made the drive back to her apartment. We were pretty exhausted from all the excitement, so we changed clothes and chilled for a bit before heading out for dinner and hitting the hay.
Monday, March 26th, 2018
I didn't have anything planning for my last day in LA, so I decided to do some shopping. I went back to get a pastry from the bakery near Courtney's house, wandered around a book & record shop (what's up with this The Residents album cover!?), took her dogs for a walk, put them in their kennel and packed up my things to head to the airport later that day.
I decided to drive to Glendale and check out Americana. I was wandering around, in search of a place to eat, when I passed by Din Tai Fung. Oh how I wanted xiao long bao from there, but as one person, there was no way to really enjoy all the food there without someone else to help me eat it. However, as soon as I looked across the street and saw an Eggslut, I immediately knew where I had to go! (Especially after being at the Grand Central Market and having that location be closed for dinner.)
I couldn't resist getting my favorite dish from there, "The Slut" and enjoyed the chance to sit for a bit before wandering back through the shopping center. When I had finally walked through all the stores I could handle, I made my way back to my rental car's hotel/home. Since I still had time to kill before getting to LAX for my flight, I chose to eat dinner at the hotel's restaurant before hopping on the hotel shuttle to LAX, to my flight and heading back to NYC.