Sunday, November 27, 2011

Here We Go Again

This post is about 6 months after the fact. I wrote most of this while we were on a trip in July 2011, but never got around to cleaning it up and posting it until now.

So, for the 2nd time in roughly 6 months, we spent a week in Los Angeles. After trying to plan a trip to the east coast to visit Charleston and Savannah, we suddenly changed our minds, and had everything booked for a trip to L. A. within 24 hours. See, ironically, it's easier to get to L.A than it is to get to the east coast due to availability of direct flights.

Crystel is drawn to this area for obvious reasons. Her grandmother lived here for much of her life, and her mom was raised here. While she was growing up in England, this was where she came when visiting the states. America for her was pretty much California.

The real question is why do I like it here? Most people I know wouldn't choose Los Angeles as a repeat destination. It isn't really a lounge by the beach and relax type of vacation. Even I can't really explain why I'm so drawn to this area. There's the obvious reasons: beautiful beaches, a city with virtually anything you could possibly want to do and the legendary southern California weather. It's more than that though.

Being here harkens back to the glory days of America. Vintage cars can be spotted around every corner, the Hollywood sign lingers in the distance, reminding us of the golden age of film, Art Deco buildings are eveywhee you turn and there's a feeling here that I can't put into words.

On our second day we rode around all day with the windows down, in July nontheless. We didn't break a sweat either. Crystel was actually cold by 5:00. The weather here is incredible. If there is one part of the South that I hate, it's the weather in July and August. Then again, I think it makes us appreciate the spring and fall that much more.

Also, we spotted classic car after classic car in our journey to Orange County to visit Costa Mesa, Balboa, and Huntington Beach. There were too many classic VW Beetles and Buses to count. My favorite of the day was a '69 Camaro with hideaway headlights. It looked to be in mint, original condition when it was pulling up beside me. Soon, however, I smelled the racing fuel, and as it passed me by I noticed the wide pro-street tires on the back. Only in L.A. Just a Sunday drive.

Here are a few vintage rides (mostly VW's, I think the Chevy's were too fast for me to catch) we spotted on our trip.

We finished our travels in my mother-in-law's old stomping grounds of Palos Verdes. She really did grow up in one of  the most beautiful places on earth. See for yourself.

That night we ate at Mucho, an awesome upscale Mexican restaurant in Manhattan beach. While the ambiance and food is decidedly upscale, the prices are actually pretty reasonable for the area. Be warned, the margaritas are strong. The vegan enchiladas were my favorite, made with coconut cheese.

Monday was the 4th, so we spent most of our time close to the hotel and the beach. We witnessed a spectacular fireworks show laying on a blanket on Hermosa Beach. I think we need to make our July 4th California trip a yearly tradition.

On Tuesday, we explored the neighborhoods Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Beverly Hills. Echo Park and Silver Lake are okay at first, but after a while, the overwhelming hipster vibe starts to wear thin. Especially at Silver Lake. There are a few cool shops and restaurants around, and we had a good time (although it was nearly as hot as Memphis).

On Tuesday night, Crystel and I had dinner at La Playita with our friend Shalisha, who just moved to Inglewood from Memphis. Dinner was good, the Margaritas were great and the atmosphere of eating outside and listening to the Pacific Ocean was unbeatable. We stopped by my second favorite Irish Pub (behind only McCreary's in Franklin, TN) afterwards to listen to an awesome duo play for a while.

Wednesday, we headed out to Orange, CA and were mightily impressed by the Old Towne area. Oddly enough, it sort of reminded me of being in the South. It has some of the oldest homes and buildings in the state. We had lunch at the Filling Station, where I got a burger with at least half an avocado, half a tomato, and almost a whole head of lettuce. it was one of the best burgers I've had, though I wound up with half of the avocado in my lap.

As a side note, we passed through Garden Grove on the way to and from Orange, and I've had the Sublime song of the same name in my head all day. Give it a listen.

We finished the day in Cerritos where we visited Crystel's grandmother's old house and gravesite, shopped for a while, and had dinner at Don Jose with her mom (who was in town working on her mother's house). We realized tonight, that the first Don Jose was opened on my birthday in 1972 in Orange, CA. Coincidence?

Today we went to Long Beach to visit Retro Row. We found lot of great vintage shops, and I picked up a few shirts including this awesome vintage Ocean Pacific shirt:

One of the stores we visited had a Retro Stereo section. It's a company in Long Beach that specializes in rescuing vintage electronics and refurbishing them. I'm definitely buying a retro receiver sometime in the future. They are capable of all I need to do, and they look much better than the new ones. I highly reccommend "Liking" these guys on facebook if you're a fan of vintage music, movies and goods. They keep me entertained on my facebook feed daily.

So, another trip to Southern California comes to an end. We decided to spend today soaking up the perfect weather on the beach. We played in the ocean like kids, walked from Hermosa to Manhattan (twice), took a nap on the beach and ate at The Gumtree Cafe for both breakfast and lunch.

I'm always searching for something when I take a vacation. I found what I was looking for today. It sounds cliched, but the salt water crashing into me washed all my troubles away. I feel refreshed, ten years younger. I continue to learn more about the life I want to live every time I come here, and I'm closer to the man I want to be when I return home. Here are a few beach pics.

The Pacific Ocean has once again revived me, and I can go home.

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