Tag: los angeles

Travelogue: LA and Rose Bowl 2012

I made my third trip to LA the past few days and found myself changing my opinion a little bit. The previous two times, I didn’t really like LA that much and actually disliked it for a number of reasons.  I had fun both previous times, but mostly because of the people I was with, not what we actually did.  This trip, I found myself warming up a bit to LA. Its hard to dislike a place where you can go running on the beach in shorts and a tshirt in the middle of winter.

I still can’t see myself living there. It’s too spread out, traffic is horrendous (1 hour backup getting into LAX at 11pm on a Friday) and its very status conscience. I still don’t like those parts of LA, but I started to discover some of the more laid back, interesting parts of the city.  As my friend Weber put it, “LA is a magical place that gets a bad rep in my opinion from a little bad traffic and a few fake people.”

This trip, I mostly stayed in Santa Monica, Venice and Marina de Rey, with a quick trip south to Long Beach and a day in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. I really enjoyed Santa Monica: its reasonably priced, has great restaurants and interesting places to go out. I went to the 3rd street promenade and had some creative food at Misfit. The highlights were a lobster slider with fresh tomato and a creamy aoli and a spicy chorizo mussel dish. Another big plus: most restaurants and bars have GREAT beer on tap. Much bigger variety than in other big cities I go to.

I spent new years in Marina del Rey at a friend’s beach house, then went out to a great bar with over 50 interesting beers on tap at decent prices. I went out in Santa Monica and found people to be more laid back than downtown or Hollywood, which is much more my style.  People seemed much more approachable and willing to just have fun.

On new years day, my parents took me whale watching. They’d gone on the same trip last year, but they only saw dolphins. This year, it was a beautiful sunny day and we headed out of Long Beach. We saw huge pods of dolphins as soon as we cleared the breakwater and were steaming out looking for grey whales. The captain sighted a grey whale off in the distance, but got a radio report that there were a group of killer whales five miles away. The passengers voted to go chasing them. 45 mins later, we found them.

We found a big pod including a mom and a young baby. It was incredible to see them up close, surfacing, coming close to the boat. The captain said he’d been doing these tours for 10 years and had only seen killer whales one other time in his life. I apparently have very good luck looking for animals: when I was in south Africa we saw the ONLY cheetah in the national park, and the ranger who was taking us out had never seen him before in his year-plus working there.

On Jan 2nd, I organized a pre Rose Bowl party for 25 friends and family outside the game. We set up shop around 945 in the golf course that’s just north of the stadium with thousands of other tailgaters. I really liked the setup, even though there were thousands of cars, they spread it out enough so that we each had our own spaces. The weather was perfect an it was great to see my friends from all over who I hadn’t seen in a really long.

We spend the day eating, drinking and playing games, then headed into the stadium. I ended up sitting in the Oregon section with two of my friends and although we were the only red people in our section, all of their fans were really nice to us. We had a lot of fun talking back and forth and besides for the final result, I couldn’t have asked for a better game. Just like last year, a few badger mistakes cost them the game. I’d love to see a Wisconsin-Oregon series again like from 2000-2001. We hung out in the golf course for a few hours after the game waiting for the traffic to clear; the weather was perfect.

Although the Badgers lost for the second year in a row, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for LA and am excited to check it out again sometime soon.

Travelogue: LA

I went to LA around New Years to go watch Wisconsin play in the Rose Bowl.  It was a great trip, besides Wisconsin losing in the last minute to a very good TCU team.  Spending four days in and around LA confirmed that it’s not the city for me.  I had never been to LA before since business/family usually takes me to San Francisco and the valley.

LA is HUGE.  I knew it was big, but coming on the airplane, you can see it stretch for miles and miles.  You need a car if you want to go anywhere.  Even in places like Santa Monica, which I enjoyed, require car trips to get anything.  We went out two nights in Hollywood and I really didn’t like the vibe.  People were so concerned with image, which is my polar opposite.  I really don’t like the focus on money, appearance and wealth.  Everyone is keeping up with the Jones.  Some guys skipped the line at a club because the bouncer said they spend $10k per week at the bar.  That’s insane, probably stupid and potentially wrong.  It’s foreign to me.

I got the chance to hang out with my friend Won, who I had not seen since college in Madison.  Won is from South Korea but decided to keep his US citizenship when he turned 25 when Korea made him choose between the US and Korea.  He joined the air force and now helps manage advanced satellite programs out in LA.  We had a great dinner in Santa Monica, then went to the Rose Bowl, where I had the chance to see my friends Bryan and Melissa, who I hadn’t seen since their wedding.  Luckily, the two tailgates I wanted to go to were right next to each other!

The Rose Bowl is an amazing setting, but the facilities are really old.  The sun setting over the san gabriels was amazing, but it was really hard to get there, the wait for beer/bathrooms was really long and everything was EXPENSIVE.  It was still completely worth it.  After the loss, Won took me to an amazing Korean restaurant, which helped ease the pain.  We had noodle soup, korean bbq ribs and other delicacies.  It was a perfect end to the day.

I can’t see myself ever living in LA, because I really value living in a walkable city and I really dislike the image you need to project in LA.  I’m sure I’ll be back to visit, but I much prefer San Francisco.

Rachel, Won, Melissa, Bryan and Me