I give you fair warning—this will be an extremely long post. But only because I have so much to say, and so much to be thankful for.
I’m back in Pittsburgh today, after spending ten days in California. The Redondo/Hermosa Beach area to be exact. And after taking a red-eye flight, basically skipping an entire night, going through not only a time zone difference, but daylight savings time as well, and passing out for several hours once I made it back to my bed, I realize that I feel homesick of a place that isn’t even my home. It’s a strange feeling really. So here I am, summing up the entirety of my Spring Break when I know that I should actually be attempting to turn my sleep schedule back around (like that’s actually going to happen).
I’ve been working hard here at school this year, and this semester (especially now that I’m back and I’ve taken a look at my workload ahead) really seems to be kicking my butt! But that’s why I’m here: to get an education. To learn. And to appreciate the fact that I’ve been given the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities (in my opinion at least) in the world to further my education. Not everyone gets that opportunity, and sometimes I need to remind myself of that. But this week off came at the perfect time. Because sometimes, as much as you love a place, you just need to get away for a little bit. Sure, I brought school work with me in hopes that I would get something done, but then I realized that the week was about relaxing, about enjoying time with someone who I don’t get to see nearly enough. And even though I might hate myself later in the week when I’m staying up at all hours of the day to write papers and read essays, I wouldn’t go back and change a thing :) Just a little over a month to go anyway, right!?
The journey began with two of my very wonderful friends from Pitt: Maggie and David. Maggie was heading home to Jersey before visiting London for Spring Break, and David actually lives in CA so we booked our flight together! I have to admit, if it wasn't for these guys, I would have been completely lost on my journey and probably wouldn't even have made it out of the Pitt airport. After a long bus ride, a few setbacks in the system, and our bellies stuffed with burritos, we said our goodbyes to Mag and got on our direct flight to LAX! It was a long trip, but I was so thankful to have David there with me...the time flew!
As soon as we got to LA (9:45 their time, 12:45 our time), Alex spotted us! I said my goodbyes to David, promising to meet up at the end of our break, and Alex and I made our first stop at In N Out Burger...I made him promise me that we would stop there as soon as I arrived...I'd been craving one of their delicious burgers since my last visit out there in July! I was pretty pooped after such a long day of traveling as well as the time-change, so we called it a night in preparation for our big week!
After Alex made a delicious breakfast for us (and right now I want to thank Alex and Vince for their awesome cooking skills throughout the week since obviously I don't really have any!) he and I headed to the Redondo Pier. It was gorgeous there. Actually, the weather the whole week was gorgeous. Bright skies, warm temperatures, and a cool breeze. My favorite part about the Pier were the giant pelicans! It was my first time ever seeing one! They were beautiful! And there were fishermen everywhere who fed them, and they would just store these flopping fish in their beaks and it was really pretty hilarious actually...
We walked all along the Pier and had some of the freshest sea food ever right before we boarded The Voyager: our assigned boat for whale watching! It was amazing!! In total, it was a little over three hours. We saw lots of sea lions (which I totally loved) especially these ones: they like to do this funny sun bathing thing where they lie on their backs in the water and stick their fins up in the sun. We kept seeing them do this all week long and kept hearing their barking too...what silly animals!
I don't know how well you can see it in the picture above, but that's a grey whale! We saw two on our excursion. The guides thought that they seemed pretty young and were in the process of migrating. I have to admit, I was beginning to lose hope that we were going to see any whales on our trip, but these two little guys (well, I guess they aren't really that little) showed up just in time! When whale watching, they suggest that you look out at the horizon for what they call "blows." The moment when the whales need to take a breath and shoot up the water into the air. It was a really really cool experience, even if the seafood we had beforehand started to not agree with Alex so much ;) oops!
We also went to this really really awesome comedy club in Hermosa Beach called: The Comedy and Magic Club. Every now and then they host a "10 Comics for 10 Dollars" deal and it just so happened to be one of those nights while I was there. We arrived and got seated at a little table about ten feet from the stage. There were actually thirteen comics who performed, most of them from Comedy Central and a few of the weekly shows that I watch, but the real surprise was an appearance from Daniel Tosh! He's a really really well-known comedian (maybe you've seen his show: Tosh.0) and he lives just a few blocks from the comedy club. Well, it's known that every now and then he shows up at these sorts of things to practice new material, and this just so happened to be one of those nights! Alex and I were both ecstatic! Being avid Tosh.0 fans and all...he was hilarious! In fact, they all were! And my cheeks were definitely hurting once the night was over from laughing so much....
We couldn't help but take a couple of walks along "The Strand" throughout the week. The houses right on the beach are beautiful...definitely a lot of people's (including mine) fantasy homes! The little man Biff certainly enjoyed the walks too. California is probably the most dog friendly place that I've ever been to in my life. All along the Hermosa Pier (pictured above) are restaurants and bars and when you ask for a table, you not only tell them how many people are in your group, but how many dogs as well. There are water dishes everyyyywhere for them and they're all so well-behaved! I can't help but think how much Trey would terrorize this place if I ever brought him there :P
Of course it wouldn't be a week with Alex without any hockey! Besides watching lots of Pens games with him and Vince, we actually got the opportunity to go see a Kings vs. Ducks game at the Staples Center in the LA Live area! It was awesome! I never watched hockey before Alex came along, but I have to admit, it's a pretty exciting sport to watch, especially in person. The arena was awesome, to put it simply. We met up with a few of his friends beforehand and ate at this really amazing restaurant in Downtown LA (I can't remember the name of it though!) where the food was hands down some of the best food I've ever eaten! We ordered a ton of appetizers for our table and all took a little bit of each...definitely the way to do it! We then walked over to the Staples Center and watched the Kings dominate! All in all, it was a really entertaining night! And Alex's friends were so welcoming!!
And of course it wouldn't be a trip to California without a couple of visits to the beach! Through this trip, I've realized that the beach is my place of relaxation. Of calm. I adore it. And I only hope that I get the opportunity to live so close to it someday. Alex lives about a mile from the beach which is pretty damn amazing. The other cool thing about it is that it's mostly filled with locals, rather than all the tourists, which gives it a really cool fee. The water was freezing though! Holy cow! A lot colder than back on the east coast, but apparently that changes once summer comes around. That didn't stop Alex, Vince, and I from getting in though! It felt a little like an ice bath...but we couldn't come all this way without getting in! It was beautiful. I wish I was back there right this minute! Ahhh!!!
We also had the amazing opportunities to eat breakfast overlooking the beach a couple of days--twice at a corner cafe and once at a restaurant right on the strand. We got to sit on the roof, overlook the beach, enjoy good food, and then enjoy the sand and water once we were done: perfection!
And before I forget, Alex and Vince are probably the two biggest "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fans that I know, and since the show shoots in LA, Alex thought it would be a cool idea to take Vince there once he arrived. They weren't filming when we got there, but they were filming a commercial instead. It's funny to think how they use these beat up warehouses to film so many different shows; it makes you think what could it possibly be like inside?!
These are just some shots of the Pier and the beach and of course of handsome little Biff...some of my favorite days consisted of just walking around this beautiful place and taking it all in...
and watching the Pelicans dive for fish of course ;)
On my last day in LA, Alex, Vince, and I met up with Brittany in Hollywood! We traveled up to Runyon Canyon: this massive mountain with paths that go all the way up to the top. It's always filled with tons of people and their dogs, getting their intense work outs in. Altogether, I think it's a little over a 6 mile hike..and it has an amazing view! On one side you look over and get to see the famous Hollywood sign and the mansions of Beverly Hills, and on the other side, you get to look out over all of LA. It was really pretty breathtaking (and also some really good exercise!) Afterwards we ate at this amazing BBQ place (really craving one of their sandwiches right now) and then Alex drove us around Hollywood, showing us where he works and where he makes a lot of runs to different studios. It was pretty neat getting to see him in his element...and seeing all of the places that I hear about each day from him :)
Our last stop (well before In N Out Burger of course) was the Manhattan Beach Pier. We went in the late afternoon and there were so many surfers out! At the end of the Pier they have a little aquarium too, so of course we made a visit in there. It was a really breathtaking way to end my trip: at the ocean. It's always sad knowing that you're at the last day of any vacation, but Alex made sure to keep my spirits up. It was an amazing week in California: full of amazing home-cooked and ordered-out meals, lots and lots of laughs, bright sun, warm weather, relaxation, a good book, and complete and utter happiness.
I miss it already...
And now: onto the home stretch of my sophomore year here at Pitt! Sorry about how crazy-long this post was! I actually didn't pull out my computer once while I was away, and I found myself really enjoying that aspect. But I wanted to post before my crazy week sets in! Have a happy month of March everyone! Thanks for reading :)