City of Angels

Let’s hear it for the return of travel!

If I have learned anything from 2020, it is that I am not in control. In my perfect world, I’d be traveling the world. As would you, probably. But here we are, year two of a global pandemic. So, we take what we can get and we don’t get upset. For me, this meant keeping my travels mostly domestic this year. And really, after two years of no travel, it felt so good to be back, even if my passport didn’t get any stamps. Since cities are my favorite I’ll start with this one: Los Angeles.

This trip was a short, two night stay with the primary purpose of visiting my friend Kai. She’s a brilliant friend from grad school and I always enjoy our long talks on everything from speech therapy to diversity to city living to crypto currency. Between her and her husband, I always leave a conversation feeling smarter. They keep me on my toes!

I spent the first morning being shown around her neighborhood, catching up, and petting her cats. We stopped by Frank Lloyd Wright’s glass chapel in Abalone Cove and I awed at the succulent bushes.

While she worked in the afternoon I set out in my own to see Downtown. First stop, the Hollywood sign. I didn’t need to touch it, just see it. Turns out there are some decent views from the Griffith Observatory. The Observatory was closed and it was too hot to enjoy most of the trails, so I just did the touristy thing and took pictures.

From there I headed to Grand Central Market for ice cream, because what is city exploration without dessert?

Across the street I stumbled upon Angel’s Flight Railway, the world’s shortest railway. It looked too fun not to jump on for a lift to the top.

I found a few more skyscrapers and at least one iconic building before heading back to Kai’s for boba on the beach.

We closed out the evening with a sunset walk on the Manhattan Beach boardwalk– beautiful homes and beautiful views.

Day 2 was all about Joshua Tree National Park. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while and God bless Kai for agreeing to face that 100* desert with me. But first stop, brunch. If you’re in the area, I do recommend Crossroads Cafe. Delicious!

Now, all I knew about Joshua Tree was the tree part. What I didn’t realize was it also has some famous rock formations.

And that was it. Oh, except that we also did some outlet mall shopping at Desert Hills Premium Outlets and got take out Korean food for dinner. This is why travel is best when you are visiting people, because it provides a variety that tourists cannot capture.

What I liked about this trip:

  1. Travel is back! I savored the feeling of take off, of stumbling across new things, of being anywhere other than my little routine. Oh the absolute gift it is to travel.
  2. This was my first city trip in two years. Now, this summer I did tell my friends that, “It’s not that I need concrete, it’s that I need real people connections.” I’ll leave the context for that quote for another post, but after 12 hours in LA I realized, maybe I do need concrete? I mean, mountains and lakes are beautiful, but cities give me a different kind of joy. Probably the same joy you get from mountains and lakes, that I don’t get. I’m not sure. But I think it has to do with 1. people, 2. my lack of nature survival skills, 3. my life experiences, 4. how God made me. All that to say, “Yay! A new city!”
  3. The East Coast/ West Coast comparison was interesting to me. I think you need to step a toe into each of the major cities and wade around through the Midwest for a bit to get an understanding of the diversity that is America. As a New Yorker, this is an especially interesting topic as there is always a little rivalry between us. So, it was interesting to see what LA is like. (Spoiler: I still think New York is better.)
  4. Kai time. As you know, when you’ve been friends with someone for almost a decade, it’s a special treat to see them in the place they grew up. So, while travel is coming back and you may be dreaming of all the places to go, I recommend prioritizing friendships. Visit someone. Take them with you. Of all the things we’ve lost in this pandemic, real connection is the one that is probably hurting us the most. It’s up to us to do something about it.