Summer Road Trip Chapter III – Los Angeles & Area


The Route

Calgary – Kennewick

Kennewick – Redding

Redding – San Francisco

San Francisco – Anaheim

Anaheim – Laguna Beach – Manhattan Beach – El Segundo – Los Angeles

The Stay: 2 Nights

The Nest: Doubetree By Hilton LAX 

The Miles: Anaheim – El Segundo 120 Kilometres

Total Miles: 2,850 Kilometres (Approx) 

After a fantastic, eventful trip to Anaheim, we were due to set sail for LA. However, there was a destination we missed the opportunity to spend some time in, and it was killing us. So, I tried my best to somehow make it work. We weren’t able to check into our hotel in El Segundo, until 3:00pm, so we had some time to kill. Perfect. We can backtrack a few miles, stop in Laguna Beach for lunch, and then drive all along the coast to get to El Segundo. Much further, and longer, but… It was much worth it.

Laguna Beach / Manhattan Beach 

Day 1

Day 1 of our journey to LA, and as most of our Day 1s… Drive.   As mentioned, we backtracked a bit so we could make a special stop in Laguna.  I had to go to Laguna Beach, it wasn’t an option, had I never spent parts of high school dedicated to the MTV series, I probably wouldn’t have cared to go there.   So we headed in the opposite direction of LA, and drove to Laguna!  It was…. not at all what I was expecting, and I will thank MTV for that one. It had a small town vibe to it, reminded me a lot of Sydney/Victoria BC area. Everywhere you turned there was an art gallery of a different kind, or an art school, or something art related. I totally did not expect this, and the people were very friendly. I was for some reason expecting this ultra-“classy”, hoity-toity small city of super vehicles, wicked modern buildings, plastic barbies and high heels. While some of this was true, mostly because I was looking for it… It’s not at all what I thought it be after watching five seasons of Laguna Beach….  Surprise!   Stupid reality TV.  Should have known better.  

We walked up a few streets along the beaches and checked out some of the cool shops, stores, and looked at different places to eat lunch. We came across this place called “Cliffs” that was right off the beach, but situated on a… yes, a cliff looking right over the water.  Such a clever name now!   It was absolutely amazing. Thanks to MTV. I was totally expecting to walk into this place, feel completely awkward in my Canadian summer outfit and order a cold beer for what would probably be about $25. Nope. It was a very, very welcoming place, the service was phenomenal, the view was even better, and the food was priced as same as anywhere else, and the beer was cold.  Both of which were deeelicious.  Oh, and no one judged me, that I know of at least!  Everyone else looked the exact same as us.  I was completely stunned. I didn’t know what to think of this place. MTV………..

After lunch, we headed back to the truck, and walked along the beach. Again, I was almost expecting the beach to just be littered with plastic barbies, perfect bodied men and women, but nope, wasn’t at all. I got in the truck, absolutely mystified and drove towards to El Segundo. Completely stumped.  

Driving through was a little bit more of what I had expected, going through Newport Coast and Del Mar area. It was funny; cause one of the things I was so excited to see in Califrornia was a plethora of cool vehicles and I was mentioning to Amanda how disappointed I had been, because I hadn’t seen any. I’m not totally sure what I was exactly expecting that I don’t see in Calgary. Maybe frequency. I mean, it wasn’t like driving through Edmonton, there were still nice whips all over. Mercedes, BMW, Cadillacs, Range Rover, Porsche… etc, but same thing you’ll see anywhere else. It was about moments later after saying that. Boom. Rarri’ Lamb’ Bentley, Astons and one of my favorites… The Rolls Royce, then we saw McLaren, and a McLaren dealership. This, I had never seen. Wow. Ok, so I didn’t have the best vehicle in Cali anymore, apparently. That rolls may have taken me. Maybe. I’ve seen two RR before, both parked in Cgy. So to see one rolling through, was… cool. Amanda didn’t seem to understand my excitement.  Whatever.  Anyways, did you guys catch my Ricky Roosay lingo there???  Yep.  Lamb. Rarri.  

Anyway, turns out… Maaayyybe Laguna/Newport is pretty fancy, just like they perceive it to be on MTV shows, but not nearly as snooty in my limited experience.  I felt normal in Laguna, and I felt completely out of place in Newport. Out of place… Actually, I felt terrible about myself. Haha. I hated it that 10 block stretch.  

The rest of the drive, I felt like a human being again.  It was a beautiful drive, we went through Huntington Beach, which was getting set up to start the Vans US Surf Open the next day. We then went through Long Beach, which was.. well, moreso like Edmonton. Then, we drove on through the hood. I thought it was pretty interesting, yet kind of sad that not 25 miles south, you have the absolute elite driving around in their rolls, Bentleys, and then you drive a little, and you’re…. well, just about in Compton, and the rest of the hoods. Amanda, of course… Unphased by all of it, was only concerned about stopping for a nail fill. So when we saw the first place that said Juanita’s Nail Bar & Guns, we had to stop. And, I may or may not have had a pedicure, and… ah maybe enjoyed it. Whatever. I didn’t have a choice.

Eventually, we made it El Segundo after passing through Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach.  All amazing places.  At least driving through them.  

In El Segundo, our hotel was situated within an industrial park, with some pretty interesting massive offices right outside our window, and down the street. The LA Air Force Base, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Various airlines… then the toy company Mattell, and then the… the LA Kings! So you have all these military, weaponry, nuclear corporations, then you have a toy corporation, and a hockey team. Kaypppp.

Finally, hours later, Amanda was ready to go.  W had made plans to head back to Manhattan Beach; the home of the LA Kings. So of course we were going there.  If it’s good enough for Anze, good enough for me!  But first… We had to make a pitstop at the Toyota Sports Centre – LA Kings practice facility. It was nothing but three-rink arena with the LA Kings logo plastered everywhere and normal little kids playing. Amanda loved it! I think it was her favorite part of the vacation.  

We headed to MH Beach. Drove around for a few days looking for parking, found it. Finally. Walked around just as long looking at different spots to eat, walked out along the pier, and then finally found a cool pizza restaurant, and settled in there. And, that was the end of our adventurous day through…  wherever it was that we had just gone.  

Los Angeles

Day 2

Promise, I will keep this shorter. We left after Day 2, so this is it!

We were heading to Universal Studios. It was a bit of a hike from our hotel, and Amanda and I were arguing about something that morning. Probably directions, or how long it took her to get ready. Or both. Actually, ya I think it was both. But, this one got so silent; we didn’t talk for about 10-20 miles. Which is really weird… for her especially!  

I thought I’ll guide us there on my own, whatever. Don’t need her help!  …5 miles later, I thought… K, this doesn’t look right. Wasted some data on my phone to check my directions, instead of asking her… who had the maps.  I soon realized… Shit, I’ve gone about 25 blocks completely the wrong way. I was well, let’s say… humbled.  I turned around, pretended nothing happened, admitted defeat.  I am sure Amanda loved every second of it. Finally, we got along closer to Universal, and good thing. I asked Amanda if she was super excited for Universal, and the minions… which I knew the answer too, but as she was still partially pouting, I thought this would be a good test.  Sure enough, her response.  “NO”

Haha. Ok. 2 minutes later we weren’t 10 feet from the entrance, and she was losing it, worse than in Disneyland. Worse than a kid!  Couldn’t hide it anymore behind the pout.  It was hilarious. Of course, we had to head right to Gru’s Café, and have lunch. This place was actually remarkable. Was identical to Gru’s house in the movie. And the food, was unreal. Universal was already better than Disneyland, though I pretended to not be phased by it as I tried to be the cool guy… But, I thought it was probably one of the coolest things too.  You could get a massive baseball stadium sized can of beer, and walk around with it. So we did.   When ordering the Universal tickets, we spent the extra money and got the “Front of Line” pass, which thank God we did, because unlike the fast pass…They actually worked.  

We went to a few different shows, including an Animal Actors show where they had many of the animals in that act in the Universal movies, and they do some skits and a show with these creatures. Cats, Dogs, Owls, Eagles, Hawks, Guinea Pigs, Roosters, and ten other kinds of animals, it was actually amazing. Amanda, again.. I don’t think reality really set in with her about this place yet. We headed to the Universal Studios Tour afterwards, and this was my favorite part. They take you through all the lots where they film shows, movies, everything. All the facades that are standing, show you what was where, and the tour guide shows clips of the scenes filmed where we were.  Then they take you through Jurassic Park stuff, the props, the vehicles.  The fast N furious prop car parking lot.  We went through skull island and there was a bit of a 3D ride there.  It grabbed our trolley car as we entered this dark tunnel, started shaking, and then this humongous 3D screen got going with a T Rex and Gorilla fighting. It was so neat, when the animals would take a beating, you’d get wet from their “blood” or “drool” or whatever. I can’t even explain it.  but, I felt I was in the middle of a gorilla dino fight, and I had never felt that before!  They take you through “Whoville” the Desperate Housewives street, A plane crash scene from War of Worlds. This was remarkable. It’s apparently an actual plane, they bought and then destroyed it. It looks so real. There’s all kinds of debris everywhere, fires going, electrical sparks. Then, you go through the island Jaws was filmed at, it’s really just a small pond. And they show you the actual Jaws shark. Well, actually, this thing just jumped out at our trolley. This huge mechanical shark, then stuff went on fire. Thennnnnn, they take you through this subway station setup, where they re-enact earthquake scenes. So your trolley starts shaking, noise like crazy, then this propane truck slides out of nowhere inches from our car, then another vehicle smashes into that one, stuff starts on fire again, and then from the other side a huge bang goes off, and all the water comes rushing through.  All the while, they show the exact same scene from an episode of Bones.  It was absolutely amazing how they do all of this. I am still marvelling about some of it.  

That was by far my favorite part of Universal, we ended up doing a few rides afterwards, and another show. We did the minion ride, which was actually disappointing, then Amanda called it a day on the rides, and left me to do the rest. So I went on the transformers one, which was awesome. They’re mainly all 3D cart rides, but still cool. Then, I did the Jurassic Park ride.. by myself… twice, and I wasn’t allowed the third time. We left the park, and walked through the Universal Studios CityWalk which was pretty cool. Bunch of different stores, restaurants, bright lights, and live music. Finally we had some sushi, I had been waiting all trip for it, and couldn’t find any that wasn’t $100 Chef Choice. And, with that… We knocked LA off the list, and headed back to the hotel and had chips.  

Final Synopsis

It was cool, I really enjoyed our brief time there. It was unfortunate, we were unable to do a lot of different things just because of time, but the places we did go to were spectacular. Our hotel wasn’t in the best location, so that made things a bit of a challenge. We were going to do Hollywood the night we left our hotel, but the last thing I wanted was to be driving 25 miles from Hollywood to El Segundo at 1:00am, so I just said screw it… I don’t even want to go into Hollywood, I’ll save it.  Universal Studios was awesome. I would recommend it over Disneyland a million times, unless you’re with kids… maybe not? Then I’d recommend neither.

If you’re going…

  1. Visit Laguna, Newport absolutely, I would spend a night there, and another in the Manhattan/Hermosa area.
  2. Go to a Dodgers game
  3. Go to a Kings game
  4. Try and time it around one of the US Surfing Open events, or the Bud Light Beach Volleyball events.  There always seemed to be something going on, minus the night we were there.  Of course.  
  5. Certainly go to Universal Studios, but ensure you buy the Front of Line pass. I think it was $85 extra, but believe me, beyond worth it. 
  6. Eat at unique little restaurants, I was guilty for eating at PF, and CPK in Anaheim, but the rest of the way eat at independent places.
  7. If you’re a weirdo… the TMZ tour?

 Next Time

  1. I would plan for a lot more time. I think you could easily spend weeks just in the LA/Hollywood area, and visit Venice beach. 
  2. I would follow #1 above, and then stay in Hollywood rest of the time.
  3. Would love to go to a game at Dodger Stadium
  4. Having done Universal, and as good as it was. Wouldn’t go again.
  5. So much more

I really look forward to going to the LA area again. One of the beauties about traveling the way we do is we get to see a little bit of everything, the beast can be that we don’t get to see a lot of everything as a result. But, this way, we know the places we will go back too, and what we will do. Next time, we’ll spend a night or two along that coast from Anaheim to LA. Then spend as many nights as we can in Hollywood, and I would just get lost there and do whatever I found. I would maybe do a city tour, that’s all.   But all in all, Of all the places we visited, this is hands down the one I can not wait to return too!

– B