Lauren came to visit me all the way from Houston. We were hardcore tourists for two days and explored Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Hollywood. Fatburger > In n' Out ?????
On Monday morning we left for the 14 hour journey up the coast to San Francisco. The trip was a long time in the car, but was absolutely beautiful. A few stops were made along the way: surfer watching in Malibu, lunch in Santa Barbara, a 2-hour tour of Hearst Castle, a brief photo-op of the elephant seals, gas in Caramel, and dinner outside the city. Evan greeted us with open arms in Berkeley, which I loved. It is very much like Austin, but bigger, more hippy-ish, pedestrian friendly, and has fewer homeless people.
Tuesday morning Evan showed us the parts of Cal we had not seen the night before and we proceeded into the city. We were even better tourists this time and visited many Chinatown gift shops. We also walked up and down a lot of hills. San Fran reminds me of Chicago. The original itinerary had us spending Tuesday night in Palo Alto (Stanford) with John, but after driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, we decided to nix that part and head back to LA that night. Taking the highway saved us close to 10 hours, and were home before midnight.
And on Wednesday, Lauren got another LA adventure as we tried to find some trails to hike. The trusty Not For Tourists Guide to LA told us about some good spots... but basically we spent another 2 hours driving around the mountains trying to find our trailhead. However, we had a very successful backup plan. We hiked to the top of the Hollywood sign, narrowly escaping the $103 fine for crossing the fence to touch the sign. I swear I saw Hilary Duff on our walk down.
Thursday she went back home... and I had a day to vacation from school and work. And prepare for trip number two, Las Vegas. Vegas is weird. My friends won money, and then lost it, then won it back, but in the end most people just lost. It was a fun trip, but like I said, just such a weird weird city. I'm glad I went.
So now it's back to reality, kind of.