Left Tempe at 6:20, I was certainly tired of spending the entire day in the car but Los Angeles was so. close. The last leg was only 6 hours or so, and that’s a walk in the park compared to what we’ve been doing.
We started upon one of the giant highway loops that comprises Phoenix and headed west on Interstate 10.
It’s a shitty picture but Phoenix is a shitty city.
The rest of Arizona was pretty uneventful, strip malls and desert. Right before 9 AM we crossed into California. The dry earth became farmland. The radio stations improved rapidly. The good vibes were palpable.
The promised land!!
I was finally there, the golden state, the Republic of California. I’d been told multiple times by multiple people that I would love it out there, and my love affair was only beginning. My goal in 2014 is to move to Cali – or at least out of the cold.
(Play song as you continue reading)
Around 10:15 we stopped in Indio, CA, home of the Coachella music festival, for some gas. The first thing I noticed was in place of a truck stop McDonald’s or Burger King, there was a Del Taco. This reminded me of two things, I’m not in
Kansas Pennsylvania anymore, and I’m in CALIFORNIA (also I had the munchies). The good vibes got stronger and stronger as we made our way to Anaheim, and then LA.
We passed through some mountains around Riverside at about 11:30. We picked up the UCR radiostation that was playing non-stop awesome indie music. Everything, I would soon find out, is better in California.
Passing through Riverside (and great music)
We were still a ways away from Los Angeles proper, so our first stop was in Anaheim at Anthony’s Aunt Corie’s house (actually, Jack-in-the-Box and then his Aunt’s house). It already became clear just how despicable the traffic was in SoCal, it didn’t help that Aunt Corie lived within a literal stone’s throw of Disney Land. Still, every street was wide enough to accommodate tons of cars, though we spent plenty of time idling in gridlock (and we were still MILES away from LA). Good weather = cool, good food = very cool, cars everywhere = turrible.
We sat and chatted with Anthony’s aunt for a few hours (he hadn’t seen her in a while, natch) and I was terrorized by her giant hellhound of a pet. The house was ranch-style, like many in the area, with an open floorplan, swimming pool, and a very dry lawn. I’ve been told you can see the nightly fireworks at Disney Land from her backyard.
Between working from home, Aunt Corie and her husband told Anthony about when they’d moved across the country as 20somethings, as Anthony and his girlfriend were planning to do. His uncle was really proud of him – it really does take balls to pick up and move across the country. At 1 PM on that day, it still felt surreal that we were there and Anthony would be moving out here within a couple of months.
Anthony unloaded some of his stuff. He’d also be leaving his car here when we flew back to PA to pick up when he returned to LA. And we were off to the city of Angels by 3:15.
If you’ve never been to the west coast it’s hard to fathom what type of city Los Angeles is. My buddy Adam described it as a “fake city” because it’s really just a bunch of smaller cities spread out and tied together by a giant spiderweb of freeways (that’s what they call ‘em out there). We were taking I-5 into LA, it was 35 miles away but we were very much in the LA metro area. For some perspective, that’s about the distance between Harrisburg and Lancaster, except 283 would be 10 lanes wide, bumper to bumper traffic the entire way, with houses and shopping malls on all sides. To continue comparisons to central PA, the freeway also smelled like shit (what’s up Lancaster county?).
It took a goddamn hour to reach LA. I could tell because the buildings got moderately bigger and the traffic got considerably worse.
That said, we finally made it to Los Angeles FUCK YES.
My buddy who we were staying with had work, like a normal person who wasn’t skipping an entire week of work. So we were on our own in the city so Anthony could look for apartments. That’s the “main” reason we came out here, Anthony at least.
I balked at the absurd amount of traffic on every fucking freeway, street, whatever. Most cars being driven by a single person, congesting the roads and providing the fine cloud of smog that is known to envelop Los Angeles. We’d wait at intersections for 10 minutes, barely moving a block. Philly may be congested and gross but I’ll take my grid system and public transit over this shit every day of the week (and twice on Sundays).
I was navigating for Anthony as we made our way to the Hollywood part of town, merging, turning, basically being in the car felt like a near death experience. So it goes when you’re surrounded by a couple million, gas-burning agents of environmental destruction. It was actually pretty shocking seeing how everyone was in such good shape despite spending a couple hours everyday sitting on their asses in traffic.
The first apartment building we visited in Hollywood was actually the best we saw during the entire week, and was right on Sunset Boulevard (I think?). Anthony was this close to finalizing on it before some things arose but that’s another story for another day. One thing worth mentioning was the feeling that “yep, this is where entertainment takes place”. Advertisements for movies and TV shows and luxury perfume were everywhere. It was all so corporate, so glitzy, so unlike anywhere in Philadelphia. Weird.
Palm trees = nice
View of downtown LA from the roof of the apartment building
Already I’d begun to miss the row homes of south philly, everything around this part of town was apartment complexes that all seemed like they’d been built in the past 10 years. Like much of Hollywood, it felt extremely fake. But I wasn’t the one moving here, and it was really sunny outside.
We found parking (fucking TERRIBLE to do in LA) and started walking right down Hollywood Boulevard. It was the Times Square of LA, lots of tourists, overpriced gift shops, generally shitty. I saw the stars in the sidewalk, the “HOLLYWOOD” sign, street performers and got hassled to do a celebrity home tour (note: if you actually do this you are the worst kind of person).
Took this one for my dad. Dude loves Jackie Chan
CHEST HAIR LIKE YOU HEARD ABOUT
And a sign that’s much less impressive in person
It was still early, around 5 PM. Adam wouldn’t be off work for a bit and he had a long commute home (no kidding) so we stopped to grab a drink. So many bars to choose from…so which one did we decide on?
Obviously the one with this guy outside
Turns out it wasn’t an Eagles bar, they just had this dude outside. Wasn’t even a sports bar. Mindfuck city. It was maybe 6 PM and Monday Night Football was on TV – totally taken aback by that too.
But it was in this bar that everything became very real – my best friend was actually moving across the actual country to live in actual Los Angeles. Sucks that I’m not going to be able to walk over to his cul-de-sac to play basketball, let alone see him more than once or twice a year. Most of my high school friends didn’t live in Linglestown anymore, but the diaspora was about to truly begin. However will we do a live fantasy football draft?
I got a call from Adam, one of my dear friends from college who I hadn’t seen since our graduation in May 2012, and we started up to his place. He was in Echo Park, a formerly grungy area that was gentrifying rapidly (“You’d really like it, G” he tells me, and he was right). This neighborhood had, at that time, the steepest hills I’ve ever seen. It was completely mind bottling that people would build houses in such inconvenient areas. Narrow streets going up the sides of hills – who’s idea was that? Adam’s house specifically was built into the side of a mountain, with a deck overlooking northeast LA. It felt as though we may die driving up to his house and parking but we’d made it.
Adam was living with a bunch of Temple’s film school grads in a very, very chill space. The house was big and spacious, the people were super relaxed after a long day’s work. Or stoned, but whatever. What a sight for sore eyes this kid was:
- I was so happy when this picture was taken
My friends and I in college never took pictures together. Why would we? We’re just hanging out and playing video games or hackeysack or some dumb shit. When we graduated and realized we have 0 pictures together it dawned on me that I should take the occasional picture with people I care about, if only for reminiscing later.
That night we went to Umami burger, a series of burger joints in Los Angeles. Every place has their own special burgers and the one we visited was my #1 favorite meal of the trip. Don’t remember what I got because I accidentally got someone’s order and I ate half of it anyways. What I do remember is Adam’s roommate, a petite girl, inhaling the burger in less than 60 seconds, unreal. And our desert, it was called the flying saucer and was better than sex. I don’t remember specifically which Umami burger we went to, so if you visit LA just go to all of them and thank me later.
After dinner we went back to Adam’s and hung out on his balcony. Talked about life and shit. Didn’t matter we hadn’t seen each other in 18 months, he’s a friend where you can pick up anywhere without skipping a beat. Keep friends like that around, and be sure to introduce them to each other.
Mileage count: Today – 389 miles, Total – 2,896 miles
This is the end of my consistent bookkeeping. We spent a few days in LA looking for apartments, sight seeing, and catching up with old friends. I’ll try and summarize the rest of my LA trip in the next post. (It’s worth reading, if only for pictures of Adam’s place.)
Thanks for reading.