We left Minneapolis for LA at 5:30, which meant we arrived there just in time to see a pretty spectacular sunset in the valley.
We picked up the car and attempted to stop at In and Out Burger by the airport, but there were one million people in line. So we got right on the road to Costa Mesa instead; Matt’s conference was there the next day, so we were spending the weekend in Orange County.
Matt researched restaurants in the area while I drove. We weren’t arriving til around 9:30pm, and most places looked like they closed by 11. He finally found a place called Taco Asylum that looked great, so we headed to something called The Camp to find it. We quickly discovered that the place was mobbed, and people were circling for parking. I was tired and hungry and didn’t want to deal with it, so we decided to look elsewhere. After driving for a bit, though, we realized that was pretty much the only area with food open. We managed to find a spot, thankfully.
I was very glad we ended up there, because it was fantastic. The server told us that if we waited for 5 more minutes it was taco happy hour, so we grabbed a couple of Maui Brewing Coconut Porters and hung out. She came to take our order, and we each got three of them. I got one with wild mushrooms and two with curry and paneer, which were so good I wanted to marry them. (Sorry, Matt.)
After dinner, we swung by the liquor store for some beer for the hotel, since we didn’t want to be out too late. We went and checked in at the Ayers Hotel, guaranteeing that the Flo Rida ‘In the Ayer’ song would be stuck in my head permanently. We hung out on the couch for a bit, then went to bed.
We partook in the breakfast buffet at the Ayer-ay-ayer-ayers hotel, then met Matt’s coworker and his wife. We checked out and then I drove them to the college where the seminar was being held, after getting lost on the way there. Then I hopped on the 405 and headed south!
San Juan Capistrano is one of my favorite places in California. I’ve been there multiple times, and it still amazes me.
I got there shortly after it opened, and there were already several other people there, all of them with giant expensive cameras. It’s that kind of place.
After wandering around the mission for a while, I decided to drive down to the coast and then head up highway 1. I’ve driven large portions of that highway before, but most of it was north of LA. Plus any day I can drive along the ocean with the windows down is a pretty excellent one.
Orange County was pretty entertaining. It’s all gigantic, gorgeous houses in highly secure gated communities. Who exactly is breaking in there? My theory was that it was to keep the mere millionaire rabble out.
I parked in Laguna Beach (which was super-cute) and walked down to the ocean to get my feet wet. I had to, since that meant I was in the Atlantic and Pacific within a week’s time! I then sat on the boardwalk for a while, enjoying the sun.
I headed slowly back up through Newport and Huntington Beach, which we’d visited on the previous trip. I then turned back and drove inland to Costa Mesa, because I was meeting April and Jonathan for lunch at Eat Chow. It took me forever to find it, but it was worth it!
From there, I decided to go to Anaheim, mostly because I’m the kind of nerd who likes seeing other cities’ sports arenas. Google Maps led me astray so I went about 20 miles out of the way, but I got to see the mountains, at least. Once I was on the right highway, finding Angels’ Stadium was easy. I drove around that area for a while, then went to see Honda Arena, where the Anaheim Ducks play. (Blink-182’s tour buses were outside. Haha.)
I still had some time to kill before Matt was done, so I decided to go check into the hotel and get the keys. I headed back up the 405 to Seal Beach, circled the marina (which I loved), and found our cute little hotel in town. Our room opened out on the pool, though we wouldn’t have time to use it. I stayed there long enough to use the bathroom, and headed back to get Matt in Costa Mesa.
We stopped for food at In and Out Burger (did you know they have an awesome grilled cheese? It’s basically a cheeseburger without the meat, but it’s delicious), then ran to Hi Time, the liquor store with EVERYTHING. The power was out when we walked in, but that wasn’t stopping them from selling: everyone was just walking around with flashlights. We found a few bottles of rum with my phone’s flashlight app (it’s surprisingly handy!), then got in line at the counter. Since their inventory system wasn’t working, either, the employees were running back and forth to the shelves to check prices, then telling us to remember them and tell the cashier. Their resourcefulness was pretty impressive!
After that, it was time to go to Huntington Beach for happy hour at Don the Beachcomber. (I don’t think they had actual discounts then, but any hour you spend there is happy.) We soaked up the tiki ambiance for a while, then went to the hotel. We hauled our bags in, Matt changed clothes, and we headed out on foot toward downtown Seal Beach, just a few blocks away. Our destination was 320 Main.
We had great food (I hadn’t expected many options at what’s really a steakhouse), and the cocktails were as good as we expected. Plus we got to sit out on the patio only a few blocks from the beach. We unfortunately couldn’t stay all night, but we had places to be the next day.
We walked down to the beach so that Matt could also put his feet in the Pacific. The surf was glowing an electric blue color, and we kept trying to figure out where the weird reflection was coming from. It took us forever to realized it had to be the water itself that was glowing with bioluminescence. I couldn’t believe how bright it was, especially on bigger waves. (We didn’t know til we got home that we were seeing red tide. I assumed that meant it glowed red!)
Sunday morning, we got up, checked out, and headed up the 405 to Santa Monica. We’d been trying to get to Real Food Daily for three trips, and it was finally going to happen. We even got to Santa Monica before it opened, so we had some time to wander around.
After brunch, we walked down toward Santa Monica pier. For the first time ever, it was actually sunny while we were there! And just like the previous visit, I got a text saying that our flight was delayed. Go figure.
We walked around the pier for a while, then decided to go have a beer and people-watch. That was pretty fantastic, and we discovered the existence of the Primo Bombucha! We decided to just stay there and have lunch, and finally it was time to get ourselves back to the airport.
On the flight home, we got to watch the Minnesota Lynx win the WNBA championship on seatback TV! They clinched it just as we landed at MSP. Awesome.