West Coasting


A couple of weeks ago, John and I ventured across the country to the great state of California for a week-long vacation. The timing was perfect in a lot of ways– the holidays were (sadly? finally?) over, and it had been almost two years since our last extended getaway to the same wonderful coast. The timing was also crappy, however, as I had a lingering, phlegmy cough thanks to a round of strep throat that had me below 50% since Christmas day. But I was determined not to let it get me down.

So when we got to the airport on a Wednesday morning, I was in high spirits. We had just enough time to grab some breakfast before our 11:30 a.m. flight without waiting too much longer to board. But then we remembered, Oh yeah! This is Southwest Airlines! It sucks. What we thought had been perfect timing ended up leaving us with “C” boarding passes, and John and I had to sit in two separate middle seats for the entire five-hour flight. So I ordered a $5 plastic cup of wine– because, screw it– and I talked pleasantly with the aged roadie-type next to me, who was nice enough. Until I realized I was stuck next to a man who, encouraged by my politeness, would continue to talk throughout the entire trip. High spirits, indeed. Even my nasty cough wasn’t enough of a deterrent for him, and I learned why he didn’t have kids, what I should do with my life, and that he’s actually a millionaire. (Flying coach on Southwest. Sure.)

Aside from this annoyance, there was no other turbulence on the flight, and John and I were soon on the road headed for sunny San Diego. And, oh, was it lovely.

During our first couple of days there, we enjoyed the highest temperatures in the country. We wore bathing suits. On the beach. In January. Why doesn’t everyone live in California?

We spent three days in San Diego checking out the Gaslamp District, watching a crazy man mount a street light, and eating a fair amount of burritos. We also checked out the famous San Diego Zoo, where we made friends with pandas and gorillas. After we said goodbye to our wonderful hotel room to make our way north, we stopped to see hang gliders take off from a rather impressive cliff.

This was also where I experienced the tragedy of losing an entire roll of film. I’m still a novice with my 35-year-old manual camera, and the film apparently never caught on quite right. It didn’t rewind properly, and I exposed the whole thing. I had a moment of silence, and I might’ve cried about it.

We made our way up to Encinitas, a small town along the coast, where we drank a pitcher of beer, discussed vegitarianism (“I like cow too much”), and eventually ended up browsing the quiet neighborhood streets of cliffside homes at midnight. Several of these houses– ranging from modest to snazzy in style and size– were up for sale. And I learned that the difference between oceanfront and almost oceanfront is about $700,000. So there you go. We ducked under the window of one home as its owner did dishes to catch a glimpse of the night ocean, and I temporarily lost John as I made a phone call to a real estate office “inquiring” about “a house… I don’t know what street I’m on, but it’s in Encinitas. Thank you.” When my phone rang bright and early the next day at 9 a.m., I cursed my formerly drunken self for getting Gary Martin, Oceanfront Specialist’s hopes up of making a $2.6 million sale. Sorry, Gary.

John and I spent the second half of our week in Los Angeles where we met up with some of John’s friends from high school and college. We spent time in Redondo, Venice, and Santa Monica where my thoughts ranged anywhere from I could totally see myself living here to Wow, these people are freaks.

Thanks to all these photos, my John the Wanderer shrine is almost complete.

One of the many highlights of the trip was making the pilgrimage up to the Griffith Park Overlook, where we could see all of foggy L.A. I also spotted this guy:


I freaking grew up watching Star Trek AND Reading Rainbow! Not that I told him that. I didn’t want to make the TV star whose name I couldn’t even remember feel old, so I just stared at him instead. The trip was a success overall, and John didn’t kill me despite a serious lack of sleep due to my incessant coughing.

After we got back to the frigid East Coast, John read that a decapitated head was found right near the Hollywood sign (behind us) within days of us being there. Meaning it was probably there while this photo was being taken. I still treasure this photo.

Our trip made me think hard about where I want to end up in a couple of years. Having never lived outside of Maryland, I feel long overdue for an adventure– one that lasts longer than a week. I love traveling and excitement too much to stay put forever. And while I won’t be going anywhere any time soon, I’ve had the seed planted for awhile now of considering a move somewhere down the road. But I have to remind myself sometimes to be in the moment and not get too caught up in California dreamin’, because time spent focusing too much on whatever “the next step” is is time wasted. But it does help to envision a different kind of reality for myself and actually take steps to make it happen by saving money, researching out-of-state graduate programs, and not acquiring too much physical crap that I can’t take with me wherever I go. It’s fun to think about. It’s nerve-wracking, too, when I consider how huge of a step it would be to, you know, pick up everything and move cross-country. But bold moves are necessary in life. And the more prepared I am for whatever bold move I eventually decide on, the easier it will be. Hopefully.

For now, I’ll reminisce about my vacation, feel lucky for being able to take one without going broke, and think about a getaway for springtime. Nashville is on my list for possible living, too.

***UPDATE 1/27***

Upon further Googling, I have discovered this photo from LeVar Burton HIMSELF the day I saw him up at Griffith Park! So for those of you who doubted whether it was actually him, see for yourself. I feel so validated. Levar, if you’re reading this, sorry for staring. I should’ve said hi. You’re just like everybody else. It’s just that I used to wear a headband across my eyes when I was a kid pretending I was just like Geordi on Star Trek, so I was a little Star Struck.

@LeVarBurton: Shooting video assets today for the #ReadingRainbow App… moby.to/jd2ky9

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  1. the pictures came out lovely-ly. 🙂 i’m happy for your happy travels!

  2. You’re not allowed to leave the interweb for so long again. I require your witty sense of writing on a regular basis. I was feeling all meh before, and now today is way better. I don’t often read humorous writing that clicks with me. But since we both like poop and boobs and anything with an “oo” in the middle, you maketh me laugh. And it’s nice to read about your dreams. Maybe one day when you’re all published and rich and living in a quaint waterfront cottage with tropicalish flowery vines all over the place, you can buy me a plane ticket and I’ll come live with you for a week. I don’t know anyone else from school who’s made such a bold and exciting move, so when you do, it’s going to be awesome and I can live vicariously through you. 😉 In fact, I sort of feel like you just need to do it one year soon. Otherwise you’ll end up with alpacas and an inseparable connection from a particular region. You have so much flexibility! It’s exciting! Oh and your pictures are really sweet. And the new layout.

    ps. I promise not to leave such a long comment next time. Maybe I should have emailed you, but “screw it.” I’ll call you soon.

    • McKenzie, if I live out there, I will gladly buy you a plane ticket (’cause I’ll be rich), and you can stay for a MONTH. MMMkay? Hopefully I’ll have a balcony of some sort where the ‘pacas can sleep.

      Glad you like the layout– I think it’s so much better. I added a tagline that’s kind of making me crack up. Going to change the header image soon, too.

      I love long comments, and I will await your call!

  3. I really liked Venice Beach when I visited LA and I could totally see myself living there, but the rest of LA? Kinda weird.

    I’m sad that you didn’t get a photo of the decapitated head. That would have been some memento! Lovely photos, and glad you had a good time. Next time you visit Cali, come to Nor Cal!

    • Oh, I will be back to Northern Cali for sure! John and I visited up there last time we came out two years ago, and realistically, I could see myself fitting in way better there. Plus, you just can’t beat the landscape.

      Talk about someone who’s made the bold move! Philly to San Francisco, correct? So awesome. I admire you for it. Next time I’m out that way, I’ll look you up. 🙂

  4. Love the pics here! I love LA and all its weirdness ^_^ Also, I can’t believe you saw Levar Burton!! I probably would’ve freaked out and stared at him like you did. Not sure if you watch the show “Community,” but I think you’d appreciate the episode with him in it.


  1. […] to sum up the year than with a few of my favorite shots? Some 2012 highlights: John and I took an epic trip to southern California that even a phlegmy, hacking cough couldn’t ruin. I got bangs and then […]

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