Southern California

Back in the late 2000s, I spent some time living in southern California.  It has so much to offer and I had a great time when I was there.  I was due for a visit since it had been over two years since the last time I went.  I had a lot planned and I spent a little over two weeks there.  Surprisingly enough, I actually did everything I planned to do with a little time to spare.

I stayed with my old friend Rick in West Hollywood.  I knew Rick almost ten years ago when my hard clubbing days were coming to an end.  He did a lot for me back in the day.  A LOT.  I could never even begin to repay him for everything he did for me.  It’s hard to fathom it’s been almost ten years.  He didn’t seem too comfortable in front of camera but I did manage to get one shot of him when he didn’t know he was being photographed.

I spent a lot of time driving around to different parts of town to take pictures.  You need a car to get around most of Southern California.  If I still lived there, I would choose to live close to where I work so that I could walk or take the bus.  Driving around is still fun as long as you don’t get stuck in traffic.  Luckily, it was reasonably clear a good portion of the time so getting good pictures wasn’t too difficult.

Pacific Coast Highway
Hollywood
Doheny Dr, West Hollywood
Echo Park
Beverly Hills
Santa Monica
Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu

I met a friend, Khanh, in person who I had been communicating with on Facebook for some time.  It was good to meet him in person.  We hit it off and got along really well.  We hung out, went for food, and went to my favorite clothing store on Melrose Ave: The Congregation of the Forgotten Saints.  Now I think it’s just called “Forgotten Saints”  Good to know I have a new friend to visit in Los Angeles.  He even let me take a few photographs of him.

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The day after I got to Los Angeles, Barry, a friend I knew from Maui who had recently moved to Palm Springs, messaged me saying he was in the area.  He picked me up and we went to lunch before driving to the Griffith Observatory for some pictures.  The view was nice but it wasn’t clearest day.

On a couple evenings, I met up with my old friend and roommate James.  We went to Club Tiger Heat one evening and karaoke in West Hollywood a week later.  It was good to see him.  No pictures when going out to the clubs.

Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica Blvd

A few road trips were taken while in California:

AMBOY

Amboy is a very small town on the old Route 66 in San Bernardino County.  The area was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but has become somewhat of a deserted ghost town since the opening of interstate 40 in the 1970s.  Roy’s Motel and Café is a historical landmark located in Amboy.  The site has been used as a scene for several productions.  One of which is the music video to “This Is What It Feels Like” by Armin Van Buren.  I’ve liked that song since I first heard it while in Australia, and I figured since I was already in southern California, why not go visit the town that the video was filmed in just so that I can say I’ve been there.  I did just that.  Rick came with me.  It looks exactly the same in person as it does in the video, but I could tell that the area would be somewhat haunting and creepy to visit at night.  Maybe next time.

Unaware he’s being photographed

 

VENTURA

I had an errand to run in Camarillo one afternoon that left me an hour from Los Angeles(without traffic) during rush hour.  Rather than sit in traffic for three additional hours, I drove to the beach in Ventura to take pictures and kill time.  That was a great idea.  Part of the reason I went there was because I had never been.  It’s a nice place.  Back before I ever went to California, I had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  Los Angeles didn’t disappoint but didn’t exactly live up to that notion.  Ventura is calmer, more peaceful than Los Angeles and is generally more representative of what I thought Southern California would be like.

Ventura Pier

 

SAN DIEGO

To keep travel costs to a minimum, I flew in and out of San Diego.  Rick picked me up and we drove to Los Angeles when I flew in.  I took the Amtrak back to San Diego when I flew out.  I also took a road trip down to San Diego after I was done with a previous engagement in Orange County.  San Diego is definitely a beautiful place.  I don’t blame anyone for wanting to move there.  I stopped by the Lot at La Jolla to see Angel, from Maui, so that could give him a small care package from Hawaii.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t around when I stopped by so I left it for one of his coworkers to give to him.  Hopefully I’ll see him again one day.

La Jolla Shores
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Oceanside, Just north of San Diego
Santa Fe Station, San Diego

 

Along with a few road trips, I ate at a number of different places.  Some places I’d been to many times before.  Some places were new and had never tried before.  Some of the best ones include:

THE ABBEY

The Abbey is a casual place to dine during the day.  Then at night it becomes a popular bar/club.  Khanh and I went out dancing at the Abbey one evening.  I had fun.  I think he did too.  On one interesting note, calamari is one of the very few things in the world that I don’t like.  I had a bad experience a long time ago when I ordered calamari at Joe’s Crab Shack in Austin.  Khanh ordered calamari and asked me to try it.  I actually did like it.  I liked to the point where I helped him finish his plate.  Who would have thought?

Raspberry Martini/Chocolate Cherry Martini
Crab cakes with an avocado and mixed vegetable topping
Calamari

BOSSA NOVA

Bossa Nova is a Brazilian inspired restaurant in West Hollywood.  I had been there once before when I lived in Los Angeles but it was so long ago that I didn’t remember much about it.  The food was great.  The plates were big enough that I had leftovers for lunch on the following day.

Chicken Lasagna

EL COMPADRE

This is probably my favorite place to eat in Los Angeles.  Back when I lived in California, Rick and I spent many nights eating at this place and drinking their flaming margaritas.  After I got back to Hawaii, I realized that I didn’t get a picture of my dish.  I always get the same thing though:  No. 7 on the menu – two chicken tacos with a side of rice and refried beans.    I’ve probably eaten at El Compadre over 100 times so it’s unlikely that I’ll ever forget what I ate there.

Flaming strawberry margarita

ROCK SUGAR PAN ASIAN KITCHEN

I have eaten at this Asian fusion restaurant many times.  The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into this place is how impeccably styled it is.  Every inch of this restaurant is extremely detailed.  The food is not bad either.  Many places in Los Angeles have come and gone.  I’m glad Rock Sugar has managed to survive….so far.  I even got carded when I ordered a passion fruit cosmo.

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Rice crackers with tomato chutney
Passion Fruit Cosmo/Blood Orange Sangria
Foreground: Chicken Tempura, Background: Carmel Cashew Chicken

 

BLUE RIBBON SUSHI BAR AND GRILL

This was a new place that I had never been to because it wasn’t around when I lived in Los Angeles.  I have taken a strong liking to sushi since I moved to Hawaii.  It looked cool from the outside so I thought I’d try it.  Truth be told, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the best sushi I’d ever had.

California Rolls

OLIO WOOD FIRED PIZZERIA

Olio is located at the Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles.  I went there with Rick after he let me up to the top of his office building to get an aerial shot of the city.  For the price, this place is great.  Would definitely go back again.

Margherita

I did a lot while on this trip.  I saw old friends.  Met new ones.  Ate out.  Drove around.  And I loved every minute of it.  The worst part was the ending, but one thing that life has taught me is that all good things must come to an end.  Incidently, eventually all bad things come to an end too.

 

Union Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

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