I have been wanting to see the city of Los Angeles for most of my life. I was actually born there, in the Northridge Valley, in 1993. My parents and continued living in Northridge and were present during the bad earthquake of 1994, where I reportedly slept through the entire thing. However, my parents began to miss their parents (my grandparents) back in New Jersey after I was born, so we moved back to NJ when I was thirteen months old. Needless to say, I do not remember my time spent living in California, but I do remember spending most of my life longing for the day I could venture there and see the places around where I was born and where I lived in my earliest year on earth. In early March, we had the opportunity to make that happen.
Technically, our March trip to LA was not our first trip there. In December, we visited my uncle, aunt, grandpa, and cousins there, but they live in Corona, which is more of a suburb of LA (read about this here). While here, we did not have the opportunity to explore the city’s most famous sights and beaches, so we were determined to not miss anything on this second trip.
The biggest issue with planning a trip to LA (that was longer than a day trip) was finding a place to stay. It’s often difficult to find RV parks and campgrounds within cities, and for some reason, there seemed to be a shortage of any within 30-45 minutes outside the city, as well. Around the same time, we realized that we had many RV repairs that we had been waiting to take care of, and then it dawned on me: Why not book an RV repair shop in LA (or at least close to it), where we can stay, while exploring the city? We had heard from fellow RVing friends that many RV repair shops will allow full-time travelers to stay in their RV’s while they are being fixed, so long as we stay out of their way when they are working on repairs. We made some calls to local LA shops, and we soon decided on a little, family-owned place.
While having our RV repaired and visiting the city of Los Angeles, we experienced many trying situations, ranging from bad to worse. However, this blog post is going to focus on the highlights of our trip to LA, as there were many positive and beautiful experiences during our 19 days spent in the City of Angels (you can read more about all the negative experiences here).
On our second day in Los Angeles, we made an evening trip to the Santa Monica Pier. While growing up, I heard many stories and tales of this pier from my parents, who had visited it frequently while they lived in LA. I was eager to see it for myself. Bren and I found it fascinating and very carnival-like. It reminded us of our favorite boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ, where we have visited together many, many times.
Next, we went into the heart of Hollywood and walked the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sunset Boulevard. We stopped for some delicious coffees at “The Coffee Bean,” a Southern California coffee shop chain which is comparable to a much better version of Starbucks. After coffee, we headed a few blocks away to “Thai Town” at the suggestion of my mom.
Today, we opted for some tourist-y activities, since this is our first time visiting the heart of Los Angeles. We hiked to the Hollywood Sign (where this shot was taken), did the Hollywood "walk of fame," drove down Sunset Blvd. and through Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Then, we had dinner in Thai Town (my mom's suggestion), and it was delicious. 👌🏼 Tomorrow, we plan to head to the beach for some more LA fun. ❤️🌿✌🏼️ ~S
We enjoyed exploring the Hollywood and downtown LA areas for the first time yesterday. It was fun to experience the classic SoCal glam of the area. Bright colors, palms, and Art Deco accents seem to be hallmarks of the city's aesthetic. With sunny, 85-degree weather, we couldn't have asked for better day for it. ~B
The following day was one of our favorite days in Los Angeles. We worked in the morning and took the afternoon off to venture to Manhattan Beach, which was another of my mom’s suggestions. It turned out to only be about ten minutes from the RV repair shop, so we were excited to be able to visit the beach so close by. (We are huge beach bums). It was a bit crowded for a weekday afternoon, so we had to park a few blocks away, but the walk to the beach was beautiful and scenic. About two blocks from the beach access, the roads begin to descend steeply towards the beach, which creates a very nice view of the ocean. We passed many beautiful homes with gorgeous cactus and succulent gardens before finally arriving on the beautiful West Coast beach.
We spent a few hours reading our books, as I began Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and Brendan continued The Thank-You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. We are both avid readers and, and there is nothing quite like reading on a sunny, breezy beach. Before heading back to the RV, we took advantage of the vacant swing-set located directly on the beach, enjoying gorgeous ocean views while enjoying an activity we had not done in years. It was one of the most relaxing days of the trip thus far.
The following day, we drove and hour-and-a-half to the city of Corona, where my uncle/aunt, grandpa, and cousins live. They don’t have any pets, but my little cousins love our dogs, so we brought Archie with us for the day. We played soccer and hung out with the kids all day, and Archie got so much attention. It was great to see my grandpa and spend some time with him again.
Yesterday, we visited nearby family in the LA suburbs, and it was such a great time! ❤️ We noticed especially that Archie had an awesome time, since he got to be the only dog for the day. (We left the other two home because my family doesn't like the shedding. 🙄) There was no one else to steal the attention away from him, and he had endless pets, playtime, and chicken. It's always fun when you can stop to visit nearby family almost anytime. 🐻☀️ ~S
The following day, we headed to Laguna Beach at the suggestion of my mom (once again). It was a foggy, damp kind of day, so we decided to check out Crystal Cove State Park, instead of just the regular beach. We had heard that there were many neat tidepools, something that is fairly lacking in New Jersey. Crystal Cove was about an hour-and-a-half away, and we got there around 2 pm, with about three hours of daylight left to explore. The walk to the beach was about a half-mile and was rather scenic, filled with all sorts of blooming wildflowers and cacti.
Today we ventured to Crystal Cove State Park, in Laguna Beach. When we left, it was bright and sunny, but as we got closer to the coast, it became foggy and misty. We weren't dressed well for the colder weather, but we didn't let this stop us from exploring. We spent a couple hours inspecting tide pools and saw so many little creatures! (more details on this in our story)…Definitely want to come back here on a warmer day. 🌊☁️ ~S
We spent the next couple of days in the RV, working on our businesses and taking care of Cherokee repairs. We had now been in LA for over a week, and we had seen a majority of the sights we had hoped to see and began itching to get out of the city and back into “the wild.” Because, while we do love an occasional city trip, we are really more of the middle-of-nowhere type and much prefer boondocking over staying in a city. However, while there was no changing the fact that the RV repairs were taking forever and we were still stuck in LA, we figured we would keep planning day trips in order to make the most of our time in the city.
Today marks one week in Los Angeles. We've seen pretty much everything that we wanted to see here, and we're starting to become anxious to head back out to "the wild." Because, while we love a good city trip, the noise and the bustle quickly become old, and we find ourselves wishing for the days of being back out in the wilderness. Our RV repairs should be finished in a few days, and we will then be able to head back to the desert, or wherever it is that we choose to go next. 🏜✌🏼️ ~S
We made it to Manhattan Beach for an afternoon that following week, which was as beautiful and refreshing as our first trip there. With beautiful mountains in the distance and gorgeous beachfront properties, Manhattan Beach may possibly be one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. Also, since we were visiting in the off-season, it was very empty, even though I have heard reports of how busy it is in the middle of summer. However, since California never gets very cold, we enjoyed mid-70s weather at the beach during winter, which is basically as good as it gets. And although the water was cold, Brendan still surfed a bit, in his wetsuit of course.
We spent the next couple of hours exploring the Redlands market and found, among many things, a succulent/cactus vendor, street tacos, delicious fresh produce, beautiful wildflower bouquets, and amazing, authentic tamales. After a thorough exploration of the market, we wandered the streets of Redlands, where Niccole and Brandon gave us a tour of their favorite spots in the town, which included a nitrogen ice cream shop, an in-progress grilled-cheese shop in a beautifully-remodeled alley, and several unique bars. We then went for a few drinks before finally calling it a night. Luckily, it only took one hour to get back to our RV, as opposed to the nearly four hours it took us to get to Redlands. Brendan and I both remarked on how fun and young the overall culture and food scene is in Redlands, and we hope to make it back there one day to fully explore the entire city.
Just *some* of the spoils of a great night spent with friends ❤️ . Last night we met up with @allthingsrefresh, @kermitandtrinity, & @188sqft for the Redlands Market Night. We found a bunch of awesome local produce, beautiful fresh flowers, new little succulent babies, and great local food. It's always so fun to meet up with people on the same journey as us. Can't wait to see them all down the road. ✌️ ~S
The following day, March 17th, was my mom’s birthday. We face timed for awhile, and I was sad that I could not be with her for the day but thankful for the gift of modern technology, where we can see our loved ones who are far away, instead of just talking to them. After talking to my mom and completing a day’s work, we went to the beautiful “Arclight Cinema” in Redondo Beach to see the new, live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” which I had been anxiously awaiting for many months. It was even better than I had imagined it would be, and afterward, we tried “El Pollo Loco” for the first time. Then, we headed to “The Coffee Bean,” where we spent a few hours planning our next destinations throughout the spring and summer.
Max is the best adventure buddy. He's always stoked for anything that we do. One of his particular favorites for us to do together seems to be longboarding. I never had to train him to do it, one day I just hopped on my board with him and we were off. When Sam and I visited Marina del Rey, we went for a nice, mellow cruise around the area at sunset. I think Max had the time of his life. 😅🐺🌅 ~B
The following day, we took a drive up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway (the California Highway 1), where we traveled through the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains and stopped to explore Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu, at the suggestion of my dad. We were slightly disappointed that the weather was cloudy and moody, since the lack of sun made for darker waters, as opposed to the clear blue Malibu waters we usually see in photos. Nevertheless, it was an incredible day, and the sun did eventually choose to shine. We walked the whole length the beach, carefully scrambling through the wet, rocky shore, past wildflower-covered cliffs that rose high above us. The water was cold, but not too cold, and I waded in just a bit.
We concluded our Malibu day, driving the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), but south this time. We drove through sweeping coastlines and dramatic views of the Santa Monica Mountains on our way home, but unlike our drive north that morning, the sun was out, and we could see further ahead. We passed a succulent nursery and decided to check it out, being the crazy plant people that we are. Rows of colorful succulents grew as far as the eye could see, and it was well-worth the brief stop. Next year, we plan to drive the PCH in its entirety, and a longer stop in Malibu will certainly be in order.
Northridge was about an hour away, and we took a few photos outside the hospital where I was born. We saw a beautiful plant nursery was located nearby, and we decided to stop there before heading back to the RV repair shop. It was truly the best plant nursery I have ever visited. There were many rooms full of gorgeous, healthy plants and a full greenhouse full of beautiful, tropical houseplants. We bought several large air plants with plans of mounting them to the wall in the RV. There was a fair amount of traffic on the way back, but when we returned to the repair shop, we packed everything up in preparation to depart next morning.
The next day, we ate breakfast at Denny’s, which is something we used to do semi-often in NJ but had not yet done since beginning our travels. We made one more quick pit-stop at Home Depot before making the one-hour drive to Mojave National Preserve, where we stayed for eight wonderful days.