Last time on Spring Break 2016, Ben and I packed a lot of sightseeing into our first day in LA. We got a lot of rain while visiting several art museums and Hollywood, and it didn’t let up on Saturday as we eased up on sightseeing (just a little) and were lucky enough to see some friends!
Santa Monica + Venice
The first friend we saw was my old friend Ran. I attended Chinese school with Ran for a few years before she moved away, but she was one of my most cherished Chinese school friends, easily. My mom remembers her fondly because Ran was great at hamming it up at assemblies as the emcee. We were gunners in our class, striving to beat each other with our test scores and encouraging each other to be better while doing it. At the time, I remember being really jealous of Ran but she was so kind and positive that I could never really resent her. She was a great friend to have.
I hadn’t seen Ran in something like 15 years. Really. We’ve been in close-enough proximity, living in neighboring counties in New Jersey and attending college in the same metropolitan area. She recently moved to Los Angeles and I was living vicariously through her Instagram photos documenting her adventures. When I booked my own trip to LA, I went back to see where she had been visiting and having fun, and I decided to leave a little comment on one of them:
So, we headed out to Santa Monica on Saturday morning and walked around a little bit before it was time to see Ran again for the first time in 15 years. I’m always really nervous seeing people after a long time, and Ran and I hadn’t even kept in particularly good touch since we last saw each other. Would we have nothing to talk about? Would Ben feel uncomfortable, or vice versa? What if the coffee shop I looked up was terrible, all because I decided I no longer needed to visit Philz now that they have a DC location?
(The coffee shop we visited was actually great! We went to The Refinery, where I enjoyed a nice cold brew and sipped some of the toasted lavender cappuccino that I got for Ben. I did have to wait a decent bit for my cold brew, because the handsome barista was doing latte art for the customers before me. He made them a little teddy bear, it was pretty cute.)
But it was great and amazing. Ran is still as bubbly and contagiously positive as I remember her being, maybe more. We talked and talked and talked, and then I refilled our parking meter, and then we talked and talked some more. Then we went down to Venice Beach and just walked around enjoying another iconic LA spot.
I was really grateful that we were able to spend time laughing and smiling with Ran after all this time, and it really kicked me off to be nice and extroverted for the rest of the day. (I was actually concerned that I wasn’t going to be in a people mood, especially considering that the friends I would meet later in the day didn’t all know each other, but more on that soon!)
As great as it was to see Ran, we were staaaaarving and immediately set out to get our first…
We weren’t sure when we’d be able to get In-n-Out without purposely going out of our way to go. There weren’t any near our AirBnB and we weren’t doing sightseeing near any. So, despite locals’ insistence that we don’t make a special trip to eat In-n-Out, we did just that because we wouldn’t have been able to eat the iconic West Coast fast food otherwise!
Our biggest mistake was maybe choosing to eat at an In-n-Out that shared a parking lot with a Costco. On a Saturday. Early afternoon. Yes, we spent about 10 minutes just trying to move through the parking lot to see more filled parking spaces. It was very painful. We gave up on trying to get a parking spot and decided we’d just go through the drive-through and find another parking lot to eat our food in so that we could keep going with our sightseeing without losing any more time.
Luckily! we found a spot right after leaving the drive-through as someone pulled out of his spot. It was great digging into our food next to a car in which the driver was doing the same. My animal-style hamburger really hit the spot given how absolutely starving we were. It’s not an amazing burger by any means, and I really don’t understand the comparison with Shake Shack, which I think is equally overhyped but a different category of burger joint, but it was definitely very tasty. I’ve had a lot of mediocre to meh burgers, so I’m glad it was just solid and good and cheap. Our car smelled of fries as we drove off to the Griffith Observatory.
I’ll leave off here for now, because this post will get too long otherwise, and I’ll let you know about the Griffith Observatory and my night out in Koreatown with some Internet friends (!!!) next time!
What do you think of In-n-Out?
Do you have friends from Chinese school, etc. that you still keep in touch with?