I wake up with 150 miles between me and the intersection of one of the Top Ten Traffic Torment Towns of the United States – though these usually equate to the best walkable places too – with Portland and NYC equally just as easy to get around on foot. At 5:40 am Uncle Ed is questioning the traffic in/around/through LA. I assure him all times are equally bad, but I am highly mistaken.
The best time to be in LA is when businesses are closed and people are sleeping from 2am – 10am. I will get to experience an hour of quiet. There are still cars herding me down the road. There will be no braking for pictures, U-turns are difficult and pointless, and there are signs for no stopping, no parking, and if you try – it’s into a garage that’s prepay. The smog can be seen from 100 miles away with some mountains to block it temporarily if it’s not unusually heavy that day.
As I near the city, the smog looks like a tsunami wave about to crash down on the highway and kill us all with our own exhaust fumes and factory waste and other negative production externalities caused by our need to want things. I drive a car that gets 27 miles to the gallon. I’m not saying that I don’t contribute. And to think this is an improvement on California’s environment from the 70s and 80s – the world needs more ridesharing.
I thought I would have a plan coming into town so that I wouldn’t lose track of time needed to get home that night. I would stop at Oki Dog for a jumbo veggie burrito and a tray of fries and then spend the day walking off some of the calories. I also thought about Six Flags and realized I’ve never been to a theme park by myself – eh, maybe next time. I call my dad for some ideas – Beverly Hills, Little Tokyo, Hollywood, Bel-Air, and Santa Monica. He calls me back and tells me I should try a place called NY Snow.
I find myself on Sunset. I passed the houses that looked like businesses or museums – they are called estates. They all have lawn ornaments, fountains, manicured grass; and gates, fences, and guards (or butlers, maids, house-sitter) to help keep their property there. I would want help cleaning if I had a place that size, but keeping it locked away from tourists, crazies, and thefts in a large city seems like too much a burden. I would prefer mine with more green acreage and less security codes and safety bars.
I park near Sunset Plaza at first, but then decide to drive closer to this NY Snow place, park there, and walk around until they open at noon. I end up in the Aiso Street parking garage – $5. The ice cream place is on third, so I decide to explore second, fourth, and Little Tokyo – selling what Japan is most known for – sushi, Hello Kitty, tea sets, oriental tattoos, sake, and Buddha. Once out of the tourist area the scene changes.
There are lots of neighborhoods in Los Angeles and each one of them has plenty of sides (imaginary railroad tracks, if you will) that offer plenty to see – whether you want to or not. I’m used to seeing the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and 3rd St Promenade. Today will be an introduction to a part of LA that reminds me of Tijuana. Most of the shops have garage-like doors on them and hall-long rooms packed with things for sale.
People ask if I feel safe in Mexico. I think safe doesn’t depend on the country and the way they choose to run their government – not always. It partially depends on where you find yourself anywhere on the planet and how those citizens choose to behave. There were BMWs on the same block as human feces and a whole block with glass front doors dedicated to the wholesale and distribution of anything smoke related.
There are a few other shops in the area selling hooves you can drink out of – no thanks, stuffed animals, dishes, religious icons, plastic toys, lawn decorations, belts and buckles, sports gear, and airsoft pistols. It’s no wonder then that when I asked about the location of NY Snow I was asked if that was cocaine and if I had any marijuana too. For not using drugs, I am doing well to keep up with the current street names.
What I’m not aware of is why there is a line that goes down one street, around the corner, and down that street. I happen to pass by the entrance and the bouncer/ticket agent informed me that it was a sample sale (people leaving with coats and smiles) and that I would have to get in the back of the line – duh. I get that LA is a fashion district – along with New York and Las Vegas in the U.S., but I’m glad I don’t have to be a part of the drama – though I do wish I would’ve taken more pictures of the outfits I saw.
I found out that NY Snow was under construction at their new location. I had saved my appetite and was getting hungry. I went into Ozero Tea & Desserts and got a taro tea – one with real taro root, not purple powdered flavoring, and added boba. It was gritty and I loved it. I will have to try fasting at some point and return to large cities to sample all their food options available to vegetarians – which is more vast than some meat eaters believe.
As more places open, the live music begins to play, the imagawayaki starts to cook, and the crowds seem to conglomerate as if on cue. This is my sign to leave. Home seems to be calling the closer I get. I still have one more stop on my to-see list. After noon, I will be on the 710 south heading to Hwy 1 that will take me to Huntington Beach – it has the second largest pier on the West Coast.
I’m sidetracked on the way at Sunset Beach where their weekend market is being held in the parking lot of a shopping plaza. I park down the street – ample space to do so, and walk by the vendor booths. I get samples of cookies, fudge, and fruit. There are lots of sweets, tons of eats, and some baby clothes, jewelry and mini-plants – terrariums and bonsai. I will get some bath salts (Butt Naked) that are strong-scented enough to work as potpourri and two flavors of fudge.
Usually this dark and sugary substance is left for someone like my sister (who also drinks gin out of the bottle). I usually find fudge too sweet, but liked the blackberry Merlot and Habanero chili enough to buy some though now I’m sure there are healthier alternatives should I get another craving. There are some goats at the end and I ask if they are for petting or eating. The lady replies – ‘We’re closed.’ And not just her, I got there in time to see everything. As I walked back booths were being taken down.
If only I had a teleporter that could have given me a lift home. I was looking forward to Huntington Beach – as was everyone else there. I had to wait more than once at red lights because there was nowhere for the cars to go as they waited in line to find parking along the street and in full lots. The sidewalks and streets were full of people too. It was probably only a 15 minute delay, but the travel time from Laguna Beach to Dana Point doubled.
I thought it would be better on the 5, but its traffic would also cause me to take twice as long getting home. I don’t know if I was relieved to be off the road or a bit saddened that I live in such a populated area – good for things to do – if you get there in time to wait. My dogs are excited and prove as much by insta-shedding a new puppy for me – thanks, but I think I will sweep this up and into the trashcan.
I walk in the door, greet dogs, turn on computer, and Caleb is ready to Skype. I let Facebook know I was home – hoping most people who may be concerned would get a notice of my whereabouts – though that website now has its own agenda. Done talking, I grab things out of the car and put them on the floor. I take a shower, put some things away – food and breakables out of dogs reach, and take them for a walk. I may have missed them a time or two, but this trip was amazing only having to worry about myself.