Just a casual trip to Long Beach. Documenting the day.
Just a casual trip to Long Beach. Documenting the day.
I’m not shy about my feelings towards L.A. There are many things I don’t like about this city. These include but are not limited to: trendy cupcakes, trendy green juice, $14 salads, a sense of entitlement, an alarming number of grown men and women who are still children, small parking lots, no parking lots, people who are on the gluten-free diet but also don’t know what gluten is, and a lack of water.
But the worst part of this city, without question, is the LA traffic. There are just too many people in this city. There are too many cars trying to get to the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, and Santa Monica Pier. Highway pileups begin way before 5pm. City gridlock can happen anywhere, at anytime. For drivers in LA, going 10 miles can easily take an hour.
People have been trying to find solutions for years: carpool lanes, anti-gridlock zones, and certain no left turns at peak traffic hours. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a fix for the LA traffic problem. Getting around is a major struggle for everyone.
You have to be resourceful. You have to find shortcuts and tricks. And they don’t always work. What may be a shortcut one day could add 30 minutes to your commute the next day. But the one thing you can always count on LA for having is trends. And just like its annoying green juice trend, LA has driving trends too.
Turo’s (previously known as RelayRides) Los Angeles car rental crew recently put together a drivers guide to getting around the city. In it, they share tips and tricks from local bloggers who know the city best. What I immediately recognized in most of the answers was trends. Thanks to apps like Waze and Uber, people are moving around the city differently. Instead of driving and parking, people are spending the extra money to take an Uber. People’s favorite “secret” shortcuts are being exposed because of apps like Waze. Trends change the game. It will be interesting to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Here’s that infographic.
If you looked at it closely, you might have seen a familiar name. Yep, right at the bottom left there – yours truly. Now this whole article makes sense, Randy!
Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. Think of AirBnB for cars! People who have a vehicle to spare can rent it out to someone in need. Renters always have a variety of cars available to them, and at much cheaper rates than you’d find at more traditional rental services or airports.
One of Turo’s most appealing features is its large mixture of model options. Since your selection is pooled from real people all over the city, not just a garage or a lot with a few different models, you have a much bigger variety of cars to choose from. If I’m trying to plan a road trip up in the mountains, I’m not going to want the same type of vehicle that I’d pick for city exploration.
I love the way that the internet and technology are connecting people and ideas. I love that these new ideas are creating trends that change how we do things. Turo isn’t going to fix LA traffic, but LA is certainly a perfect city for a cool service like this. It’s also the perfect city to rent a car and GTFO using Turo. Check them out here:
Go trip yourself.
Remember that scene in Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark’s home gets blown up!? Where his mansion goes crumbling into the Pacific?? (That wasn’t a spoiler, by the way. That scene is in the trailer.) Anyway, not too long ago I went to Malibu, specifically to where that tragedy took place. Point Dume. Anyone can go visit the exact location. It’s a very beautiful area. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Tony chose it for his home.
I took a day trip to Point Dume with my friend Charles. Malibu has plenty of great places to visit, but what makes Point Dume special is that it encompasses everything you imagine Malibu to be, in one place. It has an incredible view of the ocean from a bluff, access to Zuma Beach on the right, a rocky coastline on the left, all backdropped by huge homes (which managed to escape the attack on Tony’s undamaged, from what I could tell) and the Santa Monica mountain range. If you’re short on time, but want to see Malibu, I highly recommend Point Dume. You can even drive through the mountains to get there, which is an experience in itself. The only bad thing is that this “state beach” only has eight, maybe 12, parking spots. No joke. What kind of state park only has a few spots?! Welcome to California, Randy.
Visiting Malibu and Point Dume was definitely a fun day trip. I’d love to eventually go to all of the big SoCal beaches and see which obnoxiously wealthy beach community I like best.
You may have noticed I add a video in most of my posts. Since I work in television, I’ve decided I want to start being a little more active in my craft during my free time. I’m hoping to improve my skills beyond “excellent lunch ordering” and “great binder organization.” So I’ve been bringing my camera along on my road trips to practice filming and editing more. Here’s my latest from Point Dume:
Have you been to Malibu? What are your favorite spots?
I’m certainly no snowboarding prodigy. I can’t do any cool tricks, jump on any sweet rails, or land any big air jumps. The coolest thing I’ve probably ever done on a snowboard is accidentally doing a flip over my friend on the mogul hill and nearly taking off his head. Don’t ask me why we were in the mogul area. It’s clearly not built for snowboarders. Regardless of my lack of extreme skill, I love snowboarding. I pretty much only go straight down the hill or weave in and out of annoying skiers, but I love it.
When you watch cool snowboarding videos on YouTube, you usually see snowboarders doing really amazing things. For example, you’ll likely see guys doing triple backflips, holding their GoPro in one hand and eating a corn dog in another. That’s not me. Like I said, I usually just stick to barreling down the hill. So when I brought my GoPro to a recent snowboarding trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was there going to be anything remotely interesting in the the pictures I take? Could I still make a cool video even though I can’t do an intentional backflip? Yes.
What I especially like about the GoPro is how well you can make yourself look like a badass.
I’ve also noticed how narcissistic I’ve become since getting the GoPro. I’ve taken more selfies since buying the GoPro Hero 4 Black than in my entire life. Oh well, all great things have their flaws (I’m referring to the GoPro, not me, of course).
This is my first GoPro. I bought the high-end model with a few accessories. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out the GoPro’s capabilities. I took it to Griffith Observatory and Malibu. I tested it in my car as a dash cam. I even set it up to take a nighttime time-lapse of the sky and stars. I had yet to test out its video capabilities until I came home to Michigan for the Christmas holiday. I made the snowboarding video below.
-Shots are surprisingly stable for being on a snowboard.
Note: Michigan isn’t known for its mountains. Don’t judge us by the hills we snowboard on!
If you can do sweet tricks, or you enjoy capturing every moment from the bathroom to the outdoors, or you just want a solid camera to take on a fun road trip, the GoPro Hero 4 Black is the way to go. Personally, I can’t wait to take this on my next road trip because it’s so versatile and can get the shots I can’t get with my DSLR.
It may sound like I’m reviewing this product in exchange for money. I wish that were the case!!! But, no, I’m reviewing it because I’m just that excited about how awesome it is…and because I wanted a reason to show you how badass I look in those pictures.
In other news, I’m back in California. I picked up a Post PA gig for six months and hopefully this one will help me on my quest to become an editor. In the meantime, I’m itching to go snowboarding on a real mountain and take another weekend road trip somewhere in SoCal. Any suggestions?
Update: Check out my Palm Springs road trip video above.
If you’re thinking about taking a vacation in Palm Springs, I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t visit in September. I made the non-SoCal native mistake of assuming September would be cool in temperature like most normal places. Apparently, September is California’s hottest month of the year. The weekend I went to Palm Springs seemed to verify that. And being in a desert only made it worse.
For those of you, like me, who know nothing about California (except that its residents believe it’s the greatest place on earth) Palm Springs is a small town located in the middle of the desert. It’s about a two hour drive east of LA, right outside Joshua Tree. The drive there is interesting because at first you look around and just see mountains, sand, and dirt everywhere. Then all of a sudden, everything turns bright green and you see a welcome sign for Palm Springs. Every road is lined with perfectly straight palm trees and well-groomed plants. Shops, streets, and restaurants are up-to-date yet still have a lot of character. It’s hard to believe such a clean, wealthy, and modern city sits in the middle of a desolate desert.
One great thing about Palm Springs is that the city can act as a central hub to all the other sites and attractions on your road trip or vacation. the Coachella Valley, Joshua Tree, and Salton Sea are all easy day trips from Palm Springs. People go to Palm Springs to get away for a weekend. Golf, bars, pools, and casinos become their relaxation. Many people move there to retire. It’s not exactly a city to go do and see stuff. But don’t let that stop you from making a visit there! Spend an afternoon exploring the city and then spend the rest of your time outside it.
Let’s get back to why you shouldn’t visit in September:
This makes it sound like a really depressing place, but I want to make it clear that I did have a good time. Here’s what I enjoyed:
The people are very friendly- probably because they never see anyone in September and get lonely. Pam, our dinner waitress, would strike up a five minute conversation with us every time she came to bring our food or drinks. The single woman (probably age 65) behind us joined in too.
Cheap prices. Did I mention I bought a beer for $4 dollars?
Abundant streets signs that said: “Free Unlimited Parking”. It was almost like they were trying to taunt people from LA.
So if you’re visiting Palm Springs, what should you see?
Cabazon Dinosaurs. If you’re coming from LA, stop in Cabazon and see the giant dinosaurs. There’s also an exhibit you can pay for, but the giant dinosaurs in front are completely free.
Wind turbines. You can’t miss them.
Downtown. Plenty of parking, nice shops, and a “Hollywood Walk of Fame” sidewalk. Unfortunately, I have to admit the one in LA is a little better.
Mt. San Jacino tram. I’m sure it’s open now. About $25 to take a ride to the top. #1 attraction on TripAdvisor.
Coachella Nature Preserve. Palm trees, lizards, oasis, and a view of the San Andreas fault. I highly recommend it. I’d also highly recommend bringing water and staying on the trails…
Any lake, pond, or swimming pool you can find.
Tip: Don’t ask your hotel concierge what to do because ours just said this: “Oh, the tram is closed? Then, there’s nothing to do here.”
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation (that’s how you have to say their name every time) owns most of the land in Palm Springs. $$$
Apparently, there aren’t street lights on most of the main roads (truth) because the citizens want to be able to admire the stars at night (questionable). How does star gazing trump common safety practices??
Most restaurants and bars close around 9PM. Although they do have some clubs and a casino.
Premium beers in many of the bars are Heineken and Corona. We went to one place and they only had four kinds of beer.
They got rid of the giant Marilyn Monroe statue earlier this year. Now, it seems, the city really has nothing to attract tourists. Seeing giant dinosaurs and a giant Marilyn on the same trip would have made my day!
Who should visit:
(If you just want to see pictures and ignore all the text, scroll to the bottom.)
A few weeks ago, I took a road trip that I’ve been taking for years – 24 to be exact. Every year in July my family has packed up our van and drove up north to a little town in Michigan called Oscoda. My grandparents have a condo right on Lake Huron and we get our own private beach. It’s incredible. There are so many great memories on that beach. Some include puking and knocking out teeth, but most are quite enjoyable.
If you follow my blog religiously (please always tell me you do), you remember from my first post that I work in television. Initially, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to take time off to fly home. In the television world, you usually can’t just book a week of vacation whenever you want. You have to wait until you have a break between shows. We were right in the middle of production, but since I have an awesome boss, she told me I should take the week off. Sweet!
Just hearing the word Oscoda is one of the few things in life that can bring me instant joy. The association is that strong. Another would be Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Because my family has been going to Oscoda for so many years, we’ve made a lot of great memories and traditions.
Some of my favorites:
My least favorite:
Every year since 1990, a group of us kids shared these memories together. This year we can add two more to the list.
In May, a Piping Plover decided to lay eggs in the middle of our beach. For those of you who don’t know (I sure didn’t), a Piping Plover is an endangered bird in North America. Apparently there are only three left in Michigan. Because of this, officials closed off half our beach until September! I was pretty mad. And they gave that bird way more room than it needed, in my opinion! Think of roping off half of a football field for a potato. Oh well, I guess if it keeps the bird alive, it’s all good. And we still had plenty of room for our bon fires.
The other change this year was the addition of babies to our group. What is it about babies that makes grown men and women change their personalities and act completely unlike themselves? It was very bizarre to watch everyone talk like babies. The oldest in my group of friends, Michelle, was the one who had twins recently. They’re cool and all, but now I see why people say parenting is a full time job. The twins didn’t let Michelle relax for one minute. Babies are so selfish.
I’ve noticed that within the past few years, we’ve been doing less and less of our yearly traditions in Oscoda. We still go to the sub-par 4th of July parade, play on the beach, and have nightly bon fires, but something has changed. Now we argue about politics, relax on couches after dinner, and complain about how much we just ate. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a blast every year, but I think a big part of the appeal now is the nostalgia the place brings.
I guess I don’t like change and I don’t like growing up. I’m a traditions guy. I love traditions. Last Christmas, my mom tried to put the presents under the tree a few days early because she thought they would look nice and wanted to enjoy them for longer than a couple hours. I refused to let her do this. Presents don’t appear under the tree until Christmas morning! It’s tradition.
I think what I’m trying to say is that traditions seem to make activities better because of the memories attached to them. The activity itself might not be that great. Sitting in a hot attic? Not that amazing. But it was tradition (and we were weird). Now that we have endangered birds and babies and politics changing our traditions in Oscoda, I guess it’s time to make new ones. And maybe that’s a good thing. But it might take me awhile to accept.
What does this have to do with road tripping?! Absolutely nothing.
Anyway, Oscoda taught me a couple things:
Here’s a time lapse I made of the beach at night looking down towards the pier. Turn on HD!
And here are a few more pictures I took with my new camera that I bought with my new money.
Get ready for my next post to actually be about a road trip, in California, like my blog actually suggests. Enough with the pointless, deep talks, Randy!
Thanks, WordPress. Last week when I was setting up my blog, you asked me for my Site Title. Easy. I like anything with my name attached to it: street signs, monuments, schools, etc. Road Trip Randy was the obvious choice. But after that, you told me I should have a tagline, too. I hadn’t given a tagline much thought, but figured it must be a good idea if you were suggesting it.
Rewind two years.
I’m on a boat in Vietnam (not the small one in the photo above). My friends and I just signed up for a three-day boat cruise in Halong Bay, one of the seven natural wonders of the world! It’s cold and cloudy, but our captain assures us we’ll still be able to do everything on our itinerary including rock climbing, island camping, and cliff jumping. Hours later he tells us that it’s all been cancelled due to the weather. Instead we’ll learn how to make spring rolls from the chef. Unimpressed, we decide to go to our cabin and drink the 24-pack that we brought (snuck on) with us.
A couple months later, I’m in in China heading to the Great Wall. I got a great deal on a packaged tour. What I didn’t know is that before they take you to the Great Wall, they take you to a jade museum, a pearl exhibit, a tea ceremony, a silk shop, and a foot massage place. Cool extras…unless they also take you to the fake Great Wall that’s nothing more than a fancy staircase.
Soon after, I’m in the sweaty, but awesome city of Bangkok, Thailand.* I’m on a bus headed to go pet tigers! We stop at a few places on the way and when we arrive at Tiger Temple, they tell us they’re about to close. They’ve already begun putting away the tigers!
What do these three stories have in common besides extreme momentary rage and depression? Guided Tours. You know what I say to that? GO TRIP YOURSELF! Side note: What’s great about this saying is that you can replace “trip” with another four letter word and it still accurately describes my feelings toward guided tours.
Guided and packaged tours can be okay… sometimes. When you’re in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, sometimes the easiest way to see the sights is to hop on a tour bus with a bunch of other people that look like you. It’s easy to plan and very convenient. However, the pros of guided tours end there. Guided tours only want your money. They’ll take you to the sites, but they determine how long you stay. They determine what time you get there. They determine what part of the attraction you go to. They determine what stops you have to make before getting there. They have complete control of your vacation from the moment you get in that van or bus to the moment you get out.
That’s why I like tripping myself. I control what I see. Sure it’s a little more work and possibly a little more money, but in the end, well worth it. In China, I was so disappointed with my Great Wall scam tour that I hired a private taxi the next day and spent three hours by myself at the real Great Wall. It cost me $50 bucks and was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. No more guided tours for this guy!
And that’s why I love my new WordPress-inspired tagline. It fits. It has meaning that goes beyond the surface and its conspicuous, alternative insult. It motivates you to go do things on your own and create your own path- to not just follow everyone else because it’s easy. I struggled with this a lot as a kid.** Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it… unless it’s really, really fun- or something normal, like eating bread.
So the next time someone invites you on a great packaged tour, tell them to go trip themselves. Make your own adventure.
*Let’s clear this up so I don’t sound like one of those world traveling jerks. That year of travel was cool, but the way I wrote it makes it sound like I just hopped to exotic locations whenever I pleased. Most of my year in Asia was actually spend in an 8x8ft “classroom” with no window.
**As a kid, my parents and my friends’ parents always tried to warn my friends and me about peer pressure. Whenever we did something just because someone else did it, they’d ask: “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you??” I always answered with a resounding “YES!” It really annoyed them. But honestly, what a silly question to ask a seven-year-old.