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L.A. Baby

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Have you heard that Jonas Brothers song? No? Never mind then.

The first stop on my trip was Los Angeles, CA for a 12-hour layover. I was actually really excited about this part of my trip, because I’ve heard such amazing things about California and I’d never been there before. I was also really looking forward to a nice day on the beach, enjoying the last of the summer before arriving in Australia during the winter.

Much like my flight over (which I’ll talk about in my next post), my time in LA was a bit disappointing. First of all, I was expecting the airport to be really welcoming and modern and cool with palm trees everywhere, but the part I was in just felt old and sad and lonely. I also underestimated how much of a hassle it would be to have a too-full carry on bag (with no wheels) to lug around the airport. But I was excited that this was the farthest I’d ever been away from home, and I was excited to see Manhattan Beach, so I hopped in a cab for my first taxi ride ever (lots of firsts today)!

For some reason, I was fully expecting my taxi driver to be an exuberant, friendly, and talkative Jamaican man. Not sure why; probably some movie. Instead, I’m pretty sure my taxi driver said (or mumbled, rather) 3 words to me the entire ride. But I did manage to take an awkward taxi photo of myself.

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Me inside the taxi. I hope this trip will improve my selfie-taking abilities.

I dropped my carry-on off at a luggage storage place near LAX, then I headed to Manhattan Beach Pier with my towel, bathing suit, and sunscreen. I also unfortunately had my laptop with me, because I needed to finish up some work before my overnight flight.

To be honest, the pier and the beach were a bit of a letdown. I don’t think it helped that I was running on 2 hours of fitful sleep, but the day was overcast and a little gloomy, and the pier just seemed lonely. I was also a little hangry and I couldn’t find a restaurant that looked gluten-free friendly, so there’s that.

Sorry, but that's not something to brag about. #bringbackthelard

Sorry, but that’s not something to brag about. #bringbackthelard

Things improved once I found Wahoo’s, a fish taco place that was advertising their new wild-caught salmon bowl. I’m a sucker for salmon, and the sign even said gluten-free friendly, so I jumped on it. The salmon came with citrus coleslaw, which looked yummy, but my small intestine has a pretty strict “no raw vegetables” policy, so I knew I’d regret it later if I ate some. It also came with a fat-free “sweet & spicy aioli,” which continues to boggle my mind. How is it physically possible to make a fat-free aioli? What was even in it? I kept expecting it to disappear into a puff of logic like God did in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, from being an unsolvable contradiction of itself.

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Lunch at Wahoo’s

But I was glad the aioli suffered through its existential crisis, because it was fantastic, as was the rest of the meal. I even ate a decent bit of the coleslaw, and amazingly, didn’t have to pay for it later. Score!

I was feeling better already just from eating, but I also began to really appreciate the environment. Wahoo’s was right by the beach, and hoards of middle school-aged kids with sandy feet and wet t-shirts came in soon after me to grab lunch. It looked like they had all either walked or ridden bikes straight from school or swim practice or something of the sort, and the kids who rode bikes just left them sitting out front by the street, not even thinking about needing to lock them up.

After I finished lunch, I went in search of free WiFi so I could finish my work and then enjoy the beach. I found a little coffee shop nearby and ordered a latte (another first) made with chai rooibos tea, which was really tasty.

My first latte

My first latte

Sadly, I ended up up spending my whole layover working, and didn’t get a chance to go to the beach. I did finish what I needed to though, so that was good! And my towel came in handy anyway, because it was freezing in the coffee shop. (Hitchhiker’s Guide knows what’s up.) After I finished, I had to rush a bit to find dinner, and I was pretty hangry again by the time my food arrived since it took them 45 minutes to bring my food out. And my food was a chicken breast with minimal spices on it (supposedly “apple-ginger chicken”), and plain steamed white rice (they didn’t have butter). I could’ve made that in less than 15 minutes, and it would’ve been much cheaper and tasted better. But, I digress.

Although my time in LA wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped, I did start to get a feel for the Manhattan Beach area. Earlier, while  sitting at my outdoor table at Wahoo’s, I had heard a lady strike up a conversation with three young girls. She was a visiting flight attendant, and she just wanted to tell them how blessed they were to be able to call this their home, and to have grown up here, with this lifestyle.

At the time, I thought it was funny (and a little odd) that she would stop these kids just to tell them that, but after spending a few more hours there, I totally get it. As I was searching around for free WiFi, I saw kids walking, biking, and skateboarding everywhere, and I could just tell they never had to be concerned for their safety roaming these streets alone, unlike so many places in the US. No matter where I went, I constantly saw people running into friends, stopping for a chat, and just generally being a tight-knit, friendly community of people. And of course, everyone was so fit and tan and healthy looking. It was such a drastically different feel from the suburban area I grew up in, where you have to drive  everywhere and most people work in far-away office buildings and don’t know their neighbors or local shopkeepers.

And luckily, I got to end my time in LA the right way: with an exuberant, friendly, and talkative taxi driver. (He was from Africa though, not Jamaica.) We bonded over our digestive troubles (of course), he told me about his kids, and I told him about my travel plans. My phone died before I could get a picture with him, but he left me feeling appreciative of my short time in LA, and excited for the rest of my journey. It’s amazing how big a difference a brief friendly encounter can make.

4 Thoughts on “L.A. Baby

  1. Awesome blog…I feel like I was there the whole day :). What’s up with “hangry” tho…is that LA slang you picked up in your short time there?

    • Haha thanks! I always feel like I’m writing too much, but then when I go back later I’m usually glad I wrote everything down. Hangry = hungry + angry. Not LA slang, just a useful word for when you’re so hungry that you become a bit of a scary version of yourself. 😉

  2. Clint on July 5, 2014 at 7:44 pm said:

    Try not to judge all Californians by LAX people, for that matter, L.A. People. There a lot of us warm and friendly people in CA. 🙂

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