Los Angeles, California

I’m breaking up the format of these posts a little, when we were staying in one place for a couple weeks at a time it kind of made sense to have them all in one post. But since we stayed in the LA area for a while and every city is a little bit different I’m going to split them into different sections. Obviously I’m not going to give every area a total review, but we tried to hit some major areas around town. Los Angeles is a huge area, it’s really hard to imagine how spead out but still interconnected it is without spending some time here. Like DC, you don’t drive at certain times of day. Since my commute was only from the bed to the front seat, I really didn’t get a view of the famous LA traffic. But that did allow us to explore at different times. Even with all we did, there is still more to see, we will be back.

Carson

IMAG3228.jpgNow I know I just said that every town has a bright side.  But as far as vacation spots go, this one is less bright.  I we just couldn’t find its personality. Maybe it’s because we were staying by the mall and everything was just chain stores and suburbs. But we did meet a nice lady at TGI Fridays who had adopted what seemed like 8 children, some of them with learning disabilities. She also wanted us to know that she was not ‘in it for the money’ like some other people. Which I had never really thought of outside the movie Annie. I did walk over to the mall a few times and went into a depressing Sears department store. It’s also where they launch the Goodyear blimps. But I hear they might get an NFL stadium, so that’s good.

Motel 6, Carson

IMAG3270.jpgIMAG3286.jpgThis was also in the time that the RV was in the shop. We moved over to Carson since it was near the stadium for the USA vs Panama soccer game. Then since it was such a hassle to move the animals we decided to just stay here. It’s pretty centrally located and again, very pet friendly. It seemed like everyone on the floor had some kind of pet. They were all very nice pet owners. I saw the two biggest Pit Bulls that I had ever seen being walked on an actual chain. But again, they were nice, they could have eaten me alive, but they were nice. All Motel 6’s are pretty much the same now, so it was almost the same room. The front desk workers were great, but not as nice as the Anaheim people. Must be some fumes from Disneyland.

USA vs PANAMA

IMAG3219.jpgWe had never been to a soccer game before.  So like most sports things I drug Laurel to it. The stadium is where the LA Galaxy play.  It’s not huge,  but that makes it better because you’re right of top of the action. We saw a sight that I hadn’t seen before, people tailgating before a soccer game. I know! I should get out more. The fans were super nice and we met some nice new California friends.  Hopefully we will see them again,  if only on facebook.

Patricia’s Mexican Restaurant

I found this by myself in my neverending quest for Ceviche. It’s a pretty traditional mexican restaurant, filled with locals, always a good sign. I tried to impress them with my spanish, but I just ended up yelling ‘para llevar’ and mumbling something about ceviche. For the money, 3.99 it’s the best Ceviche in LA. The mole chicken wasn’t bad either.

Cerritos Regional County Park

IMAG3274.jpgI found this little paradise by accident. I was looking for a frisbee golf course and google maps led me here. Watched a little softball, walked around the fountain listening to a podcast, it was just a real good time. LA is full of these hidden little parks.

El Dorado Disc Golf Course

IMAG3262.jpgLaurel was out of town and I only know three things Beer, Ceviche, and Disc Golf. I found this course on DiscGolfCourseReview.com and it looked close enough to Carson where I was staying. Its a very popular course in the area and for good reason. It’s lightly wooded which gives just enough challenge and some holes are very long. I joined up with two local guys and played a round on Saturday. There’s lots of other things going on at the park, skatepark, tennis courts, basketball. But the locals seem to be aware that they are walking in the firing zone, they were running across the fairways protecting their heads. Smart… a shot to the face with a disc would hurt.

Dr. Thomas G. Mills Memorial Park Disc Golf Course

IMAG3259.jpgSomething we don’t have on the east coast is practice disc golf courses. We have 4 withing 100 miles. But it seems like every little park has a few baskets for practicing your mid range game. This park is probably within biking distance of the hotel. The baskets are nice, but the signs should be redone. Which is pretty much the review of most DGCs. But it was a bright sunny day in the middle of winter, so I had a great time.

In and Out Burger

If you come to California and don’t eat here you will never live it down. People will judge you as an insane person. You will be an outcast and it will hinder your life at some point in the future. That being said… the burgers are pretty good. I don’t think its fair to compare them to the high end burger chains (five guys, shake shack, burger 7, smashburger, any other 100s of others) but it is possibly the king of ‘fast food’ burgers. Double Double Animal Style! But the fries are garbage… sorry Californians!

Torrance

Red Car Brewery

This is one of those breweries that seems like it’s only been serving locals for about 30 years.  It just has a real hometown vibe. They brew the beer in tanks right at the bar,  which is pretty cool. Their beers were solid with a couple standouts. But they just seem interested in making safe solid Ales and Lagers, which are good. But a little bit boring. The brewery itself is very cozy and the locals are very nice.

Favorite Beer : South Bay IPA

North Hollywood

UCB Franklin

IMAG2569.jpgContinuing the tradition of doing things that you can’t do in other cities.  I told Laurel that we had to go to a taping of ‘Doug Loves Movies’  a podcast hosted by comedian Doug Benson. The best part is that it’s free and really funny.  Just line up on front of the UCB Tuesday nights and see some free comedy. They had the directory of Guardians of the Galaxy, his brother (who plays a role), and Actor Michael Rooker. It was great to see all of them in such an intimate environment, it’s almost like they’re real people. We were also introduced to a new LA phenomenon, Comedy Nerds. They know all the insider info on the comedy clubs and open mics. They’re good folk.

Franklin & Company

IMAG2566.jpgThe perfect LA dinner, Before the show we decided to get dinner at a little restaurant.  We sat outside next to these two loudly talking guys. Since they weren’t exactly trying to be quiet I was able to determine that one of them was a producer and one of them was the director of Crank and Ghost Rider 2. They spent the next hour talking about their next project and discussing if they should make Crank 3. The answer seemed to be ‘Yes, if we need some money’. Perfect introduction to Hollywood.

Meltdown comics / Nerdist HQ

IMAG3435.jpgI was actually kind of nervous to go here. I’ve listened to so many podcasts that were recorded here.  But to my surprise it was much more relaxed atmosphere.  Part of it could have been because I was going there alone and I’m never sure how to act without Laurel. It’s just a comic store,  you know the familiar smell of dusty comics and displays of collectible items. There’s a little room in the back overlooking the comics,  that’s where they tape the podcasts.  Most of the time reality is boring. I did catch a glimpse of Mike White leaving the store… Hollywood.

Griffith observatory

IMAG3414.jpgIMAG3412.jpgIts one of those LA landmarks that you should actually seek out. It’s a nice drive up into the Hollywood hills and when you get there it’s a pretty spectacular view of downtown in one direction and the Hollywood sign in the other. It’s also cool to see some of the historic Astronomy equipment. We always like astronomy museums, it’s a reminder of how vast the universe is.

Downtown Hollywood

IMAG2597.jpgWe had to do it.  We could not visit LA without going down to the Chinese theater and walking on the walk of fame for a while. But again reality is boring. This is like times Square without the tall buildings and neon. Just a bunch of tourists and the industries that have sprung up around them.  Panhandlers,  street performers,  and people wearing superhero costumes.  I guess you need to do it once.  The lone bright spot is that Cabo Wabo Cantina makes the best margaritas.

Santa Monica

IMAG2603.jpgUpscale mall shops, Rich people, spoiled teenagers. I did see a pair of special edition Converse All Stars selling for $175. So I guess that was worth the trip.  Also the most fancy Steak and Shake I’ve ever seen. I also beat Laurel 5 times in a row at connect 4, highlight of the trip.

Santa Monica Pier

IMAG2613.jpgOnce again filling both our love for piers and amusement parks.  I kind of appreciate parks that let you just pay cash for going on the rides,  sometimes I just want to walk around and enjoy the carnival without feeling stressed because I’m not getting my money’s worth.  I was too tall to ride the insane looking robot arm ride. But we did go on the Ferris wheel and take some good pictures. So it wasn’t a total loss.

San Dimas/Pomona

IMAG3364.jpgI’m not going to lie, we stayed here the first time because of Bill and Ted. Laurel was out of town and the Huntington Park had filled up for the weekend. So I moved the whole thing by myself a hour north to San Dimas. It’s an older town in some rolling foothills. San Dimas seemed to have more going on than Pomona. But it’s mostly just your basic suburbs. I did stop by San Dimas High School to take a picture, because SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!

Pomona Antique Mall

IMAG3337.jpgIMAG3323.jpgI found myself in the ‘Antique District’ of Pomona one night. It reminds me of downtown Fredericksburg VA in that it seems to have been a bustling little town at some point in the 50’s or 60’s but now it’s storefronts are dedicated mostly to selling remnants of the past. But the intersting thing for me is that this isn’t just stuff from my parents day. It’s a little different that you can rent a glass case and sell all of your collectables and the store just takes a cut. I found SO MUCH STUFF that I remembered from my childhood, or even High School. If we hadn’t just gone through the process of selling most of our stuff and really looking at what was meaningful and valuable to us… I would have spent 100s of dollars on nostalgic plastic junk and empty beer bottles.

East Shore RV Park

IMAG3315.jpgI actually only booked this park because almost all of the other parks in the area were full for the weekend. We hadn’t been staying at parks that lacked WiFi because we didn’t have any other way to get on the internet at the time. But it was the weekend, Laurel was out of town still in Virginia, and I needed to move the RV. So I took a chance and got a spot here. They put me in a spot down by the lake (Puddingstone). It was fantastic, the sunsets are AMAZING here. It was great to take the dog for a walk down by the lake at sunset. It was also significantly cheaper than the Huntington Beach park. This ended up being one of the most memorable parks in the country.

The Rookery

IMAG3347.jpgIn downtown Pomona I found a great little gastropub/beer bar. They have a strong eclectic selection that includes sours, barrel aged Belgians, and strange smoked ales. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable. I had the IPA battered pickle spears with SPICY mayo… so damn good. If you’re in the area and love beer, this is THE place to go.

Favorite Beer : Seek & Destroy Smoked Quad

Long Beach

IMAG3231.jpgWe didn’t really explore much of Long Beach, we pretty much just stuck to the waterfront and the little downtown area. Not as much drama in the LBC as we had been led to believe. But there is a giant ship and some nice nightlife.

 

Congregation Ale House

IMAG3242.jpgOnce again visiting a religious themed bar. The building is pretty small but there is a good sized outdoor area. The bartenders are all dressed like Catholic schoolgirls and I think they try to stock beers with a religion theme. There were lots of abbey ales and Saints in the name.

Favorite Beer : Pliny the Elder

Yards Ale House

IMAG3238.jpgThis was the first one of these we found in the area, I looked up paces to get good beers in the area and this came up. We actually visited 3 or 4 of these while we were in California. They’re pretty good, they have a lot of beers and they have good food. But they’re a big chain, so they lose a little bit in atmosphere and charm. But they did have a variety of Beers.

Favorite Beer : Petrus Aged Red

Beechwood BBQ & Brewing

We didn’t go to this place the first time because we were so tired from walking around Long Beach. But I came back by myself when Laurel was out of town. It has a really relaxed atmosphere. It was really busy, but I found a single seat at the bar and got in a few tastes before it got REALLY crowded. I didn’t have any of the food, but it must be good. This post being written months later, I don’t remember any of the beers being spectacular. But they did have a good selection of their own plus about 10 guest taps.

Favorite Beer : James

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