Road Trip Essentials
Having snacks in my purse is a comfort I liken to using a snorkel in a lap pool. It may not always be the most necessary thing, but you’ve got to admit that it makes life inherently easier. Hitting the road right after work in an attempt to avoid as much traffic as possible (this was a futile endeavor), I didn’t want to have to settle for a cheap dinner somewhere on the I-5, and most likely the healthiest option being Anderson’s Pea Soup. So I cooked up pretty much every last vegetable in our fridge, dumped it over a bed of quinoa, and seasoned it with warm spices like dried oregano and rosemary.
I also made sure to have some salty popcorn on hand because when traveling over 300 miles by motorized vehicle, I really do believe it is the best snack option available.
After getting in late Friday evening, we allowed ourselves a slower paced Saturday morning. This decision was unfortunately made easier knowing that getting to the mountains for a run was off limits due to the horrendously depressing wild fires ravaging our poor state. So we mozied out to a local coffee shop, strolled along the Hermosa beach pier and eventually got ready for a flat run along the water, with an ominous view of smoke in the distance.
Twelve miles later and either sea spray or salty sweat coating our bodies, Elan and I showered up and ventured out for our second cup of bougie coffee and homemade sandwiches from his local stomping grounds.
Prior to moving up to the bay area, Elan lived in LA (namely Culver City) for four years. In all of my twenty-two years of being a Californian, I’ve only been to the city of angels a modest couple of times, so I was nothing shy of delighted when we finally penned a weekend on our calendar to play tourists.
After our run we drove down to Culver City to get sandwiches from the market that Elan frequented like the cast of Friends do Central Perk. Jackson Market is a corner shop that offers everything from the latest flavor of Kombucha, to brick oven pizza and a diverse deli counter. Owned by a group of friends who all live in small add-on houses in the back (a bit odd perhaps but they do treat the space like their home), the atmosphere feels as though you’ve come upon a hidden gem. I could tell Elan felt like he had walked through a time machine. It’s a treat to revisit old favorites, sort of like reliving a precious memory or like giving an old friend an enormous hug.
I got a delicious veggie sandwich on locally made gluten free bread, while Elan got his “usual” chicken caesar wrap. We also both indulged in overly priced, very LA style, either probiotic or voodoo enhanced sparkling drinks (mine appropriately labeled “healing tonic”).
Bar Nine Collective
A must do, see and purchase, was coffee from Bar Nine. They don’t have paper cups, and the deal is, if you’re local, you’re expected to bring your mason jar back to be reused. The space is gorgeous; concrete walls, open seating, and more man buns and flannel t-shirts than I could count. I won’t say the coffee is over priced, albeit it being expensive, because it’s the highest quality coffee any connoisseur could appreciate.
Sufficiently caffeinated, we took our energy through the streets of Culver City, and back to Venice to walk around Abbot Kinney Boulevard and enjoy the remaining few hours alone before dinner.
Dinner was a beautiful reunion of old and new (to me) friends. Delicious food and drinks in a hip and cozy atmosphere made for a terrific way to cap off our first day in LA. We ordered far too much food, but coupled alongside bountiful conversation and many revisited memories, the night was perfect in nearly every regard. After two glasses of wine that I normally wouldn’t indulge in, I even forgot my phone there.
I will admit, it was a liberating to wake up and not immediately succumb to endless scrolling. *Note to self; must do better*
While the wild fires were in full force, our plans for the weekend had to be adjusted on the fly. Originally anticipating to do a run up Mount Wilson, we instead opted for an equally gorgeous oceanside run in Palos Verde. Due to numerous factors, one of the largest being Elan having just gotten back into running post surgery, the ten miles (and 2500 ft of vert) proved to be sufficiently difficult. But! The views were rather outstanding, and the fact that we were healthy enough to be running outside was worth it’s weight in gold.
I adore running for many reasons; running is always challenging in some way shape or form and running has the unique ability to bring people together. Sometimes however, I go through lulls where I simply cannot be bothered, wanting only to exercise in the gym and lift heavy things. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to escape to the trails and rock out to Queen in my headphones. I get so caught up in labeling myself “a runner” that I forget that I’m allowed to enjoy other forms of exercise. I feel like if I spend a week doing plyometrics than it must somehow mean I can’t also enjoy trail running. Que the obvious; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. And this is what I’m slowly learning, and why being in LA with shifting plans and shorter runs taught me to appreciate.
After the run, we showered up, retrieved my phone from the restaurant and headed downtown for lunch.
Let the record state that after the run, we stopped for another cup of coffee and by the time we had put on regular human clothes and were en route to the restaurant, it had been nearly two hours since finishing the (not so easy) run. And over three since breakfast! Mind you, the hanger was inevitable.
When I visit a new city, I feel as though I need to make the most of every crumb that passes through my mouth. I set these gnarly expectations for myself, wanting my experience of a city to live up to everything I read or see about it from blogs and social media. So when I dragged both Elan and Pauline to what I thought was going to be a noteworthy and very healthy eatery, only to feel drastically underwhelmed upon setting foot in the space, I could feel the frustration from my lack of ability to, “go with the flow,” and just eat the darn food.
Luckily Pauline had a back up in mind, and lunch ended up being from a wonderful artesian bakery called, Pitchoun. I got a tartine (essentially an open faced sandwich) with avocado and smoked tuna and arugula, and a Palmier the size of my head!
And because a trip to downtown LA wouldn’t be complete without a peak into Grand Central Market, we decided to check every box and take a spin through the crowded hall. Admittedly, it was really fun to wander through. Elan even stopping to order a, “light” dish from Egg Slut, because, “It’d be a shame not too.”
The Last Book Store + Roof Top Rosé
With bellies full to the brim, we embarked on what was probably one of the most restoring moments of humanity. Just a few blocks away resides, The Last Book Store. What gave me goosebumps was noticing how truly excited everyone in the shop was. There was a look of pure entertainment and inquisition in every person’s eyes, be it they were there to buy books for themselves, or simply to browse the lightly dust covered book shelves, the idea that we were all there for books felt magical to me.
I couldn’t tell you exactly how long we were there for because to be honest, time became completely irrelevant. I implore you, should you ever be in the downtown LA area to get yourself into that store. Nearly everything is second hand and all the staff are brilliant, intelligent readers who will help you find any genre, however obscure it may be. A true gem that I hope does not live up to its name…but if it did, I suppose that would be alright.
With a stack of books under my arm, we had one final stop on our day two tour. Rooftop drinks. Let the record also state that I am terrified of elevators, so getting me to enter one, and voyage 13 floors (13!!!) is not an easy feat. I will admit though, the view was worth it. And the feeling of being “cool” was also, equally worth it.
All of the drinks had hilariously antiquated but equally fabulous classical literary figures as names; for example, Hemingway on the Beach. I chose a less bold glass of Pinot Noir but enjoyed the thrill of being up there all the same.
After drinks, our original plan was to drive down to Laguna Beach to have dinner with my (incredibly talented pastry chef) cousin, Olivia. However, an unexpected run in with the cops left us rather shaken, and nearly an hour and a half behind schedule. With the clock reading nearly nine pm, driving down to Laguna was simply not in the books.
Life never plays by the rules. Though we didn’t actually break any laws or damage any property, any encounter with the police leaves me feeling uneasy and on edge. Luckily, everything and everyone was fine, a privilege I do not take for granted.
After this unfortunate turn of events, we made the most of the evening and hit up Elan’s favorite restaurant, Samosa House. All vegan and vegetarian, he would argue it’s the best Indian food in all of LA. And I love him so much that I’d be willing to agree. It was indeed an exceptional way to end the day. We stuffed our bellies full of eggplant curry, fresh garlic na’an and surprisingly delicious jackfruit curry, cooked in a creamy coconut sauce.
To say visiting our friends was enjoyable is an understatement of the century. Community is something each and every person should cherish immensely, and I feel so, so grateful to be able to call those who are in my life, friends. While I don’t have an abundance of them, the friends who I do have mean more than the world…so grab the people who make your world shine a little brighter and squeeze them tight! We need more kindness these days.
Our last morning in LA consisted of a sunny beachside run, a bougie supermarket salad bar lunch, and a stroll along the Venice Canals before driving home.
I am not afraid to admit that the one spot I insisted we pencil into our agenda was Erewohn Market, or what I think of as Whole Foods on steroids. I am also not afraid to admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time walking through every isle, gawking at the extra-terrestrial seeming health food that puts Berkeley to shame. From tiger-nut granola, to sprouted algae popcorn, and kelp noodle salads, it’s safe to say I was in a bougie food heaven.
- Jackson Market
- Playa Provisions
- Pitchoun Bakery + Cafe
- Egg Slut
- Samosa House
- CoolHaus Ice Cream Sandwich Shop
- Erewohn Market
Coffee + Drinks
- The Source Coffee Bar
- Bar Nine Collective
- G & B Coffee
- The Boy and the Bear Coffee Roastery
- Perch Rooftop Bar
- Palos Verde Trail Run(s)
- Hermosa Beach + The Strip
- The Last Book Store
- Venice Canals
A bit atypical in nature from the conventional “must do’s” of LA, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Escaping for the weekend felt like a true indulgence, the best being able to spend time with friends, and getting to know a city that is remarkably unique, and a bit too fashionable for my sweatpants style.
If you find yourself LA and wandering into one of the places listed from my blog, do let me know!