The hardest part of making our video for northern California was choosing which photos to cut, and the hardest part of making it for southern California was choosing which song to use. So much has been written, directed, produced and sung about SoCal… and for good reason. It’s the land of sunny skies, perfect weather, beaches, tan bodies, and world-class style. There’s something about being in southern California that makes you feel that you’ve arrived – not in the “if you can make here you’ll make it anywhere” sense of New York, but in the sense of “so this is the place I’ve been hearing about all my life.”
We spent a week in sunny SoCal – 3 days in L.A. and 4 days in San Diego. It was interesting to see the contrast between the two cities, which are just a couple hours away by car but worlds apart culturally. Both cities defied our expectations, but in different ways.
We arrived in the City of Angels with all the usual stereotypes in mind: smog, traffic, pretention, fakeness, and social strife. Although all of these can be found in there, the city is also full of positives: health, fitness, style, fun and beauty. It all varies by neighborhood. The bottom line is that L.A. is far too expansive and diverse to generalize.
We started our visit in Malibu, the epicenter of sun, surf, and 8 figure cliff-side homes (with 8 figure cliff-side views.) We enjoyed a personal tour of Malibu by a local, Jared’s old friend Ryan, due to a coincidence that borders on mystic. As we were driving down the PCH from Santa Barbara, Jared saw a “welcome to Malibu” sign and thought to send Ryan a text, even though they hadn’t spoken in over a year. It turns out that Ryan was just 4 miles away at his parents’ home there. He invited us to stop by.
It turns out that he randomly had a dream about Jared the night before (not the dirty kind, we’re assured) and had emailed him earlier that morning. The spooky part is that Jared hadn’t yet received the email. It’s as if Ryan somehow sensed that we would show up before we did and communicated with Jared telepathically. He didn’t even know about the Chasing Summer sabbatical, so there’s no logical explanation. There must be something to all the West coast meditation and yogic chanting.
Ryan gave us a great tour of Malibu, including lunch on the pier, his parents’ neighborhood (their neighbors include Brooke Burke and Dick Van Dyke) and a drive to the top of a mountain overlooking all of Malibu. It was all a very pleasant and unanticipated surprise. Thanks buddy!
From Malibu we drove to Santa Monica, where we spent a night in a noisy Comfort Inn on Santa Monica Boulevard, and then on to the home of Lauren’s friends Kim and Cory in West Hollywood.
We fit a lot into just three days in LA: a stroll through the Venice canals, a yoga class in Santa Monica, drinks and sushi in West Hollywood, wine and bruschetta by the beach with friends Lisa and Ned, a hike up Runyon Canyon, a driving and walking tour of Beverly Hills, yachting with friends out of Marina del Rey, and the highlight for Jared – a Sunday morning workout on muscle beach in Santa Monica with the P90X crew. (Tony Horton was out of town this week, unfortunately.)
We got a great taste of what it’s like to live in L.A., and enjoyed the flavor more than we thought we would.
On Sunday afternoon we made a 4-hour drive to San Diego… 2 hours to escape the grasp of L.A. traffic and 2 more on the highway to our destination. We were hosted in San Diego by Jared’s cousin Sherri, who moved there “temporarily” after college and still calls it home nearly a decade later. Apparently it’s a very difficult city to leave.
San Diego is essentially an overgrown beach town. It’s a laid back haven for surfers, flip-flops, and wealthy retirees. Given how packed the beaches were on a Tuesday afternoon, we’re pretty sure that nobody there works. It’s a great town for tourists, and since Sherri is a professional event planner, we were handed a detailed day-by-day itinerary upon arrival, including destination names, addresses, and phone numbers. We never even had to choose our own restaurant for lunch. Thanks Sheerrrriiii!
Our four days in San Diego were perfect to simultaneously decompress after L.A. and gear up for Las Vegas, the next stop on the Chasing Summer train.
We needn’t write too much about Las Vegas because just about everyone in America has been there at some point. Besides, whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?
It’s always a fun town to visit, as it should be since that’s what it’s built for. This particular trip was prompted by the 30th birthday of Jared’s brother, Scott. Over 30 friends and family members came out to celebrate, mostly from Atlanta. It was a multi-generational celebration, including 80-something year old grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends and significant others. Everyone had a blast.
We saw LOVE by Cirque du Soleil, took a tour of the strip on a private bus (complete with 2 stripper poles… we told grandma they were structural support), and ate lots of good food. Anything else we might have done is beyond the scope of this blog…
Below we’ll post a video about the SoCal portion of the trip and a group photo from Las Vegas at the famous sign. Enjoy!
This blog post is being written on a plane en route to Milan, Italy, where the international portion of the Chasing Summer adventure officially begins. Ci vediamo presto!