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.