Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Rose Bowl - My first trip to California

The California trip was great! It is good to be back in Iowa, even with 40 degrees colder weather. It was pretty disheartening to see Iowa get beaten so badly in the Rose Bowl but it was still a great season. I am pretty optimistic they can make a return trip next year if they get the bounces to go their way again. This was a big trip for me as it was my first time traveling solo. As a planner, it was also very much outside my comfort zone. After the first two nights, I really had no plan as to what I was going to do or where I was going to stay. I would essentially choose an activity or two to do that day based on my mood, then once it got about 2-3pm local time, I would log into AirBnb on my phone and see if there is a place nearby I could stay--in both cases, I got a sweet beach spot and was able to check in to the BnB within an hour.

Using AirBnb actually made the trip better. I don't mind hotels but the chance to meet new, local people and staying in some really sweet houses added another element of excitement to the trip.

Firsts for me:
Time in California
Time in Arizona (though I only stopped for a connecting flight)
Time booking my own flight
Renting a car
Using AirBnb (loved it)
Staying in
Taking a trip solo (outside the midwest)
Visiting the Rose Bowl
Having Peruvian Food
Getting crapped on by a bird

My trip spanned roughly 250 miles of driving over 5 days. This Google Map shows a rough outline of the places I stopped at.

Day 1:DSM to PHX to ONT then staying at my first ever AirBnb in Glendale.

It helped to run into a familiar face on the flights (blurry because I'm not good at selfies)

This is where I stayed for the first 2 nights - Glendale California which was about a 15 min drive to the Rose Bowl/

Day 2 - The Rose Bowl

This was the reason I came to California and was too excited to sleep the night before. Obviously, the game didn't go well but with amazing tailgating weather and an eye popping landscape of the stadium and mountain--it still made for great memories.

Me hanging out with Mexican Darth Vader before the game.

It took about 30 mins of standing in line just to get through the security line to get into the game.
Notice the beautiful landscape of mountains in the background. You pretty much see mountains in the background of everything in Cali.

The Swarm

Day 3: LA/Santa Monica
At this point, the rest of my trip was on a "whatever I feel like" basis. I knew I was going to drop in to a local Crossfit gym (Crossfit 818). Then I thought I would go see the Hollywood sign. I did those things and then I thought I should drive through Beverly Hills. I ended up stumbling across Rodeo Drive where I stopped and walked through the shopping area, it was pretty awesome to see.
Found an awesome outdoor mall in Glendale (Americana) before leaving for the Hollywood sign

I didn't know I was going to have to hike 1/2 mile uphill (after a few beers and Peruvian food) to get a good shot of the Hollywood sign but damnit I got it!

The houses of Beverly Hills:

Then off to Santa Monica:

Then my BnB for the 3rd night. This was a ridiculously nice house about 100 yards from Venice Beach.

Day 4: Beach Day

I explored Venice beach, which is a pretty lively place. It has tons of shops set up and there were a lot of people partaking in various activities. They have an outdoor gym (muscle beach), racquetball courts, basketball courts and plenty of trails.

Venice Beach in the morning

After exploring Venice, I swung by Long Beach just because it had the word beach in the name and Sublime always talked about it. I snapped a few pictures and then headed to Huntington Beach.

Alamitos beach in the LBC

Huntington Beach:
After seeing how active Venice beach was, I was expecting the same for the others beaches. This was not the case at Huntington. It was more low key and relaxed.

I then swung by Newport Beach & the Balboa Peninsula.

Newport beach. it was pretty chilly so nothing was going on at the beach
Across the water is Balboa Island which appears to have some very expensive houses on it.

Then back to Huntington beach where I stayed at my last AirBnb of the trip. The house was amazing and it was a 5 minute walk to Huntington Beach. My BnB host, Lisa, was super awesome. We even went out for food and drinks at one of her recommended places.

Day 5: Recovering and driving by to the Ontario airport

Day 5 was pretty uneventful because I had a terrible case of heartburn that kept me from sleeping well. I really didn't want to do much, and in all honestly, I was about ready to come home anyways. Driving around California for 4 days takes a lot out of you. I lounged at my BnB for most of the day. I drove through a few cities (Santa Ana and Irvine) that I wanted to see on my way to Ontario, which is where my 6am flight left the next day. I went to bed at 630pm PT because I was so beat from the night before.

Verdict: California is a pretty cool place, I can see why everyone wants to live there. Most of the stereotypes you here are pretty true. The traffic wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be, but I didn't travel as much during rush hour during the work week though. If Iowa goes to the Rose bowl again, I may go again...but only if the price is right. 80% of my trip cost was the plane & game ticket (not exaggerating, I actually tallied it up). But, it's just money and it was a great experience!