“I’ve been singing you this song, inside a bubble, been zorbing through the streets of Cali” ~ Stornoway: Southwestern America Road Trip, Part 3.

Let’s continue with the adventure!

We left CCMAMC University College on Sunday evening heading west to the coast to stay at my friend Mark’s place in Santa Monica. Having never been to LA, I was expecting it to be a labyrinth of interstate road connecting different areas, constantly full of traffic. Yes, I imagined LA to be a pain. The fact that we left Claremont, which is on the far eastern part of LA County, and then drove more than an hour (Wikipedia tells me that it’s 33 miles to the center of downtown LA) to Santa Monica seemed to confirm at least part of that suspicion.

Mark had a lovely place that felt like home midway through the trip. Especially if when you think of home, you think a place full of vulgar language and rampant cursing. I say that because my strongest memory there is the night we played Cards Against Humanity. This game is basically “Apples to Apples” though with answer cards seemingly written by a sociopath with tourettes. The game encourages everyone’s inner devils to make an appearance. Mark, his now fiancée Ali, Reid, Jake and myself were none too saintly. One answer may have been, “My favorite lifetime movie of the year was, ‘The ____________ Story: ______________________.” Winning answer: Michael Jackson, kids trapped on leashes. Yep.

Santa Monica (image from Google)...

Santa Monica (image from Google)…no pictures with Mark…oops.

Mark’s crib was right near the beach and promenade of Santa Monica. Our first morning there, I acted like a grumpy nomad and went for a run by myself on the beach while Jake & Reid went together. This is when the appeal of ‘SoCal’ started to show: really beautiful weather, some really beautiful people out walking dogs or walking their tans, the big thing of water doing what that does, etc. etc. Later on in Santa Monica, we went shopping along the promenade and I found a pub that was kind enough to show the Ottawa Senators blow a game against the Boston Bruins. Some things do not change no matter where you are.

Other activities during Monday and Tuesday day included visiting old Bush school alum Jess Y. at a sweet outdoor restaurant. Jess is an LA-expert cause she is from there. Yet, before we even met up with her, we got the full LA experience by bumping into a celebrity!

That's right: Reid & I met Paris Hilton!

That’s right: Reid & I met Paris Hilton!

Jake didn’t get his photo-just a video. . .We thought we were funny.

Good Eats In LA...here.

Good Eats In LA…here.

Anyway, the place we ate was delicious and I guess an “in” place. After, we made a trip to the observatory for some good overlook shots of the city and the Hollywood sign. One fun fact I picked up: the sign is not made of crushed hopes and dreams, but instead metal. Now you know.

Jess and Us

Jess and Us



Some other day-time highlights included walking along that whole street full of stars on the ground (dumb), going into the Amoeba Music record store (awesome…this didn’t happen when we were there, but worth a watch if you like Flight of the Conchords), and checking out Venice Beach & boardwalk and that entire groovy area. How groovy was it? It was so groovy that there was some denim shop where you could buy $800 jeans (I may have exaggerated that price-I wasn’t there for this part) where Reid and Jake got a business card made out of leather. LA=groovy.

Venice Beach Area/Tony Hawk Hangout

Venice Beach Area/Tony Hawk Videogame

The boardwalk itself was pretty dope. I say ‘dope’ being because there were signs for medical marijuana everywhere, not to mention the smell. Additionally, though the weather wasn’t as Sunny D{elightful} as Southern California is promised, there was something very neat and relaxing about the beach. Kids on their skateboards doing the tricks, the sound of the ocean doing that thing, seagulls that weren’t criminals (i.e. Aberdeen, Scotland). All of that jazz, and these two looking poetic out towards the Western sky. I liked it very much, I did.

The not so old men and the ocean...

The not so old men and the ocean…

On Tuesday afternoon, we got Jake’s friend ______ (I don’t remember his name…) from the airport. Our plan evolved into going with ________ to San Diego for our concert, but first we took him home and got his motorcycle so he could drive down there. This involved going up the Matterhorn/the street he lived on with my car. Now, the ol’ Camry had reason to complain over the last few days: snow, heat, carrying around a Hello Kitty toaster, etc.: but it had not complained once-and thankfully it was not about to start.

The Matterhorn/Sharp Hill...okay it was steeper than it looks...

The Matterhorn…okay it was steeper than it looks…

And despite the fact we had to go a bit down the hill, stop, and use it to jump start ______’s motorcycle, there were still no real problems.

The sparks flying out mean we know what we're doing.

The sparks flying out mean we know what we’re doing.

So, we get down the road of death and started heading for our concert in San Diego with all of that taken care of and no problems!

…Right? Well, the ol’ Camry I was just defending had a slight problem before we got too far. _______ comes up to us on his motorcycle and points out that the Camry’s trunk, well it isn’t really closed. So, the trunk is open on the interstate. At 5:00 pm on a Monday in LA traffic; people are stopping for 15 seconds and going for 10 seconds…Reid takes this as a chance to act and runs out during a pause to see if there was a way to close it.

Once more, we are in the middle of an interstate.

Sadly, the report comes back that it’s not going to close but will keep popping open. I think this took two trips running out and pulling over to the side of the highway to figure out.

Eventually, we get off the highway and MacGyver ourselves a solution in record time. Partially because we are talented graduate students…but also partially because I think we were 3-4 blocks from the more ‘interesting’ parts of LA.

That's how you close a trunk...

That’s how you close a trunk…

So, then it was south to San Diego (actually Solana Beach, close enough)! And that’s where I will conclude this, the penultimate installment. But, five questions to keep you interested in the last piece are:

  1. What does a flying shark have to do with a frightened rabbit?
  2. Is it ever a good idea to try and drive from San Diego to College Station in one day?
  3. What color is sand?
  4. Is my estimate on how long it takes to drive 900 miles to Carlsbad before it closes that much different than Reid’s and Jake’s?
  5. Austin?? Austin??

Answers to those and more in the final part of the Southwestern Road trip, coming soon.

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