Time to play catch-up! I skipped over a few adventures because I was so excited to tell you all about Yosemite. Between Yosemite and my last post after Christmas, I’ve had another friend come visit for a week, a few more beach days, a handful of mountain hikes in LA, a Korean spa day, and a trip to San Diego.
Just like when my other friend visited, the weather was less than spectacular for my second friend for his week here. We thankfully had one day of partial sun and warmth, so we spent that day in Venice at the beach (and maybe enjoying a margarita or two as well). We spent another day exploring a chunk of downtown I hadn’t throughly explored yet. Our hunger at dinner time led us to my FAVORITE alleyway in the nation, Saint Vincent Street. This tucked away street is a dead end that has been transformed into Italy/Armenia. My first time eating at a restaurant in this alley resulted in seeing the Armenian Mafia at a table tucked far into the dead end. I’m obsessed with The Sopranos right now, so I’m still really excited about that even though it was two years ago. This time around we didn’t see anyone so obviously in that culture, but we did eat outside a cute little Italian pizza place.
Next we walked another mile and ended up at The Little Easy, a New Orleans themed bar in the historic Alexandria Hotel. We enjoyed southern foods like fried okra, and ended up staying a few hours to hear live music. The next day we were feeling sushi and ended up at a Tiki-style restaurant in the San Fernando Valley, where we tried all the different types of tuna, salmon, jellyfish, and uni. If you’ve had uni, your nose probably just scrunched up at the thought. Uni is sea urchin, and although I’m happy I can say I’ve eaten it, I will never eat it again. Sea urchin is very mushy and has the consistency of baby food, and tasted like a gross part of the ocean. The jellyfish was interesting to eat, tasting like fish and having the texture of rice noodles.
After my friend headed home, I met up with my girlfriend for a day of biking on the Santa Monica beach (of course the sun had come back out now). Later in the week I did two different hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the grass was as green as Ireland. Although the rain has been less than ideal for the outdoors activities I’ve been doing, it has made Los Angeles a much more beautiful place. I also did a hike in the Verdugo Mountains, a small range in Burbank that I didn’t know existed (that’s how small it is). I did the most challenging trail with an elevation gain of 1500 feet in 1 mile (very steep). The trail altogether was about 5 miles of hiking, and ended at the top of the highest peak at radio towers with a view of the entire San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. Out of all the hikes I’ve done in LA, this was probably the best workout.
In the last full week of January I took an overnight trip to San Diego with a friend of mine. We stayed at a beach hotel in Ocean Beach, a small beach community 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. I LOVED the layout of San Diego, as it is a beautiful small city right on the water. San Diego ruined LA for me, because driving around was so easy (even during rush hour) and the city felt very relaxed. After driving around all of the San Diego area, we headed to the Mexican border to see what it looked like. A lot of people don’t realize that there’s already a wall on parts of the border. We found the wall and drove by it a little bit to figure out if the buildings we were seeing were part of the U.S. or Mexico (it was a big city in Mexico). Eventually the Border Patrol came over to us and politely told us to get away from the wall. I guess we looked suspicious, driving alongside the wall for a few miles and stopping to take pictures of it. The interaction with the Border Patrol was my favorite part of the whole trip. Next we enjoyed dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown, a historic area turned trendy. Not ready to call it a night, we drove around the peninsula we were staying on, stopping to take a million pictures of the beautiful downtown skyline.
The next day we went back to downtown to enjoy a 2 hour cruise on a 500 passenger vessel. The tour brought us around Coronado Island, by the peninsula we were staying on, and past all the different military vessels. It was very informative and it was just nice to be back on a boat since that’s what I do for a living. After the cruise we headed to Seaport Village for lunch and walking. We returned home to Los Angeles after, getting stuck in hours of traffic once we entered LA territory. That’s when I started banging my head on the steering wheel, wondering why anyone would live here. Don’t get me wrong, I love LA and all that it has to offer, but I am sick of having to plan my life around the 20 million people on the road at the same times during the day.
Although I did enjoy my trip to San Diego, it was difficult going with someone else. I am so used to my solo traveling and adventures and exploring a certain way, that it was difficult accommodating to my friend. We didn’t end up going to Coronado or the Midway, so those are on my list for another trip someday. It was nice having them along however, because I received news of the death of a family member during the trip and had a loving hug to help me along. I absolutely loved the city and area, so the trip was productive in adding a new place to my map of cities I’d love to live in.
My trip to Yosemite was about a week after San Diego. That trip began with a detour to the Sequoia National Park. I’ve seen Sequoias as a child on a family trip, so it wasn’t a new experience, but awesome nonetheless. I drove up and through the mountains to Eagle Rock and the General Sherman Tree (largest tree in the world). I wish I had more time to explore, but this was just a detour on my way to Yosemite. Someday! On the way to my Airbnb I stopped by a cute little town called Kingsburg, which claimed to be a Swedish village. Sure enough, they had an adorable downtown with Swedish shops and designs. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m Swedish, so I loved hearing the music and browsing the stores. Next I checked into where I was staying, and rested up to plan for my Yosemite hike.
I believe we’re all caught up now on a month worth of adventures. Next on my radar are Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. I’ll stay a night or two by Death Valley this week and check out Joshua Tree with a day trip next week. Wednesday I have plans for whale watching off the Los Angeles coast, which I’m SUPER excited about. Whales have always been a favorite animal of mine (even with Great White Sharks), so being able to see them in their habitat will be amazing. Hopefully next post will be full of whale-tales.