IMG_20180123_161506660watermark

So we try to get away from the farm for a bit every winter, before we start having lambs and need to tend to greenhouse seedlings. The criteria for our destination is simple. It needs to be warm, culturally interesting, and someplace we haven’t been. This year we chose Los Angeles.

Los Angeles! Literally every time we told someone that’s where we were going, they looked at us like we were nuts, and said, “why”.

Here’s what we liked about LA.

Super easy to get to. A huge international airport means lots of flights to choose from with reasonable air fares. We flew out of Walla Walla, into Seattle, and then direct to LA on Alaska (my prefered airline), and were there by 1:00 pm. We flew home at 1:30 pm and were home by 6:30 pm. What a lovely light travel day.

LA is hugely culturally diverse. Lets face it, we live in a smallish town in eastern Washington. Our local population is about 81% white. Sometimes its nice to remind ourselves that not everyone looks just like us. Los Angeles is about 48% Latino, 11% Asian and 10% black. White is definitely in the minority at 29% or so. I think we heard 6 languages before we got to our hotel room.

IMG_20180122_131048233watermark

Chapman Plaza, Los Angeles

The food. Seriously! About 50% of the reason I travel is to experience great food, from gourmet high-end to dive ethnic joints. I try really hard to not eat the same foods I can get at home. We stayed in Koreatown, at the recommendation of a friend of ours who used to live in LA, and we could have stayed another month just to explore all of the eateries within a 4 block radius of our hotel. Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican…plus an amazing bakery. We did Korean BBQ, where they grill the meat in front of you at your table, dim sum (Chinese lunch dumplings), higher end Japanese ramen, seafood (with an amazing view), and regional Oaxacan, along with Korean chicken and dinner burgers. SO yum.

IMG_20180125_133248900watermark

Dim Sum at a Lunasia in Pasadena. I last ate Dim Sum in Hong Kong in about 1988. It’s been a LONG time. Honestly, unless they are actually making it from scratch in the back, it’s not worth doing. Accept no substitutes.

IMG_20180123_102305937watermark

Paris Baguette bakery in Koreatown. I wanted one of everything.

IMG_20180122_185050775watermark

Korean BBQ at Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong. We went with the more authentic, less Americanized restaurant and had to ask for some explanations as to what to do along the way. But the people watching and the food were both awesome. First time I’ve eaten Kimchi that I actually really liked it.

IMG_20180126_140514130watermark

A lunch stop at In-N-Out burger. Because when in LA…how can you not?

OaxacaMeal

Oaxacan food at Guelaguetza. Amazing. Especially the chorizo. Seriously, how did we ever exist before smart phones and Trip Advisor helped us find this stuff?

Culture. The La Brea Tar Pits have been on my bucket list for YEARS. It was one of the main reasons we decided on LA. But right next to the Tar Pits is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We got there late, as we had spent the morning at the pits, but we saw an amazing Japanese art exhibit and enjoyed a lot of great outdoor art. It was also super fun to see all the different people, from older folks to hipsters, out viewing art.

IMG_20180123_120612055watermark

Juvenile American Mastodon skull in situ at the tar pits

IMG_20180123_134520274watermark

Turns out when you are an animal stuck in the tar, the dire wolves come to eat you and get stuck too. This was a wall of dire wolf skulls all found in the pits.

JenMuseumLamps

LACMA – viewing Urban Light by Chris Burden. It does light up at night, and you can walk through the base of it. Fun to watch the kids play in it, and the business men in suits on cell phones navigate their way through.

IMG_20180126_114525028watermark

Griffith Park Observatory, with the view.

IMG_20180126_112612959watermark

View looking the other way from Griffith Park. We did not hike up to the sign, but we could have.

Weather and ecology. I spent my teens and early 20’s in northern California, and spent about a year and a half living in San Diego as a kid as well. The California climate, well, it always feels a bit like coming home (though we decided a long time ago that it is way to, well, beige, for long term living – we LIKE having seasons). But its always fun to see a California oak or a manzanita again.

We spent half a day enjoying old town Pasadena, and then headed into the eastern hills to explore Eaton Canyon, with amazing views of the Los Angeles Valley and a small waterfall. We headed over to Venice for a day at the beach and exploring the canal neighborhoods. That’s right, Venice California is actually named for its canal system, which was designed with a nod to Venice Italy. Our day time temperatures were between 65 and 75, with lots of sunshine. Such a nice respite from our overcast foggy Walla Walla days in the winter. And the famed LA smog is almost non existant compared to my last visit, which was probably in about 1980.

IMG_20180125_123707020watermark

Pasadena courthouse.

SeafoodSunset

Sunset seafood dinner in Torrance, south of Venice

IMG_20180124_114149089watermark

Venice beach. Surprisingly quiet for a Wednesday.

IMG_20180125_170329919watermarkIMG_20180125_163951647watermark

IMG_20180125_144738523_HDRwatermark

Eaton Canyon views

IMG_20180123_121440152_HDRwatermark

IMG_20180123_171302199watermark

Hard not to love the Mediterranean landscaping. I heard today that southern California is going back into drought. Ugh.

While we were there, I did most of the driving, having a slightly higher tolerance for backed up traffic than my husband. I learned to drive in California, and spent six years in the Bay Area navigating freeways and a sea of brakelights. While I would NEVER want to live somewhere that had a lot of traffic again, can I just say, I friggen LOVE California drivers. They know how to accelerate. They know how to merge. They know how to get out of the way. They are curious to pedestrians. (While we put about 150 miles on a rental car, I would estimate that we also walked about 5 miles a day – and we had zero problems crossing traffic). Traffic in high density areas is a dance. If everyone knows the steps, it goes smoothly. If you don’t know the steps, you learn them quickly or you end up with people honking at you and dented fenders. You can NOT be indecisive or it will END YOU. It was such a pleasure to drive somewhere where no one backed up traffic being overly courteous, waiting for you to go, when THEY have the right away.

We navigated using Google Maps, and it almost always routed us onto surface streets, sometimes crazy surface streets. But we weren’t in any hurry, it was super fun to drive all the different LA neighborhoods, and we had to wonder, is Google actually having an effect on gridlock, as its algorithm routes cars in different ways based on freeway slowdowns.

LACMA Baloon Sculpture

LACMA Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons, with husband. :-).

In short, we had a fantastic six days in Los Angeles. EVEN though I came down with a cold the day we arrived. I powered through, and really only had one afternoon where I just needed to sleep and hang out at the hotel. (For the record, this is the THIRD vacation I’ve done in the last 20 years where I’ve gotten sick – and I normally only suffer one cold a year on average. The travel, new environment and the stress of getting everything taken care of so that we can actually LEAVE is sometimes enough to compromise my defences. I once had a clerk sneeze IN MY FACE while paying for gas on the way to the airport for a week-long Caribbean Windjammer cruse. Yup. Got sick. I’ve learned to just roll with it.) We highly recommend LA.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2018, where we love to go, and we love to come home too.