A few days in Cali

How I got a mental map of El Lay

It”s something of a tradition of mines to take my sons on birthday trips.

I’ve taken them them both to San Francisco, and I took the little one to Lake Superior one year, but during the pandemic those trips were shelved. Dorian’s birthday is Feb. 8, so last month I had plans to go to L.A. with the boys to get some sunshine, but he brought COVID home from school and we all got it and had to move the trip forward to March. Annoying and costly, but we made it happen.

It went … ok.

We stayed in Huntington Beach and also the sand there is bright and soft, it felt like a strip mall attached to an ocean. There was very little there for us to connect with, and we found ourselves kicking shells along the strip, industrial architecture mixing with blocks of condos and the people who inhabit both.

The first night we went and hung with one of my best writer friends. We had a blast, laughing and enjoying the respite from the snow. The trip to her place also gave me my first mental image of the city – something I try and do with every city I roam. We took the bus from the airport to Union Station, and then an Uber to the Turo spot to pick up the car, stopped by one of the oldest In n Out Burger joints in the state, and then drove a piece up the road to my friend’s house. I thereby understood the route from the airport up toward Granada Hills.

I lost my beautiful wallet filled with cash and cards that first night (Update: a beautiful soul sent it back to me!!!!), and an injury I have been rehabbing flared up something fierce cuz I was sitting on my ass for hours – on the plane, on a bus, in a car – and cuz I hadn’t really slept well. So that first day or two was not so yummy.

But it got better. Another friend of mine gave me some tips: go to this cool beach outside of Santa Monica, and hike Los Liones. We did that and it really changed the trip. My injured ass felt better, we got some good sun, and the beach was fantastic. I was able to play with my camera a bit and get a couple decent shots.

The next two days were smooth, as my nephew spent time with the boys and I was able to link up with my main spirit homie out there, Alex the Green-eyed Dragon. Dinner with him was filled with good energy, if not good food.

My big takeaway from the trip, aside from the fact that I have good friends and I now know them a little better, is a newfound knowledge of L.A. I drove up and down the 405 on this trip – hours and hours spent driving from Huntington to Santa Monica and the airport and back. I had no idea how massive L.A. is and how vital and alive the highways are. It’s a highway system with a city attached lol. Knowing that – the scale, the way things actually move, how people navigate both of those things – gave me a greater understanding of the city, as well as the friends I have who live there. Now I know why they say, Nah, I ain’t gonna make that happen.”

I was also reminded that a large part of traveling is … traveling … and it’s important to maintain Buddha Palm energy whilst in flux. I tend to be pretty good at that. The lost wallet rattled me, but I recovered quickly. Thanks Apple Pay!

Here some pics from the trip:

Sascha Matuszak
Sascha Matuszak

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