In the morning, we got up and drove up the PCH to Malibu. I remember really liking the beach there, and wanted to see it again.
I couldn’t remember where my sister and I had visited in the past, so we drove up into town, made our usual vacation-obligatory stop at Walgreens to get about 10 things, and then decided to stop in and see what Malibu Lagoon was about. We figured maybe we could walk to the beach from there.
Parking there was expensive, though, so we just pulled in and went to take a look at the lagoon. There were lots of birds hanging out, and a view of the ocean in the distance.
Rather than go to the beach there, we decided to drive back down to one of the many more accessible beaches we’d passed along the way. (The drive up and down the PCH in that area is really incredibly entertaining, seeing all the expensive beach houses hanging on the very edge of California, and all the surfing paraphernalia.)
We decided on Topanga State Beach, because it had cheaper parking, and looked, well, like this:
It was too cold to swim, but it was plenty warm to hang out in the sand, eat some Takis from Walgreens, and watch the surfers and shorebirds.
The waves were pretty small, but it was fun watching the system the surfers used to line up and decide who got what wave. There was a stand-up paddleboarder surfing, too, which I’ve never seen before. Usually they’re just on flat water.
After sitting and staring at the ocean for a good long time (possibly one of the most restorative activities possible), we went and tested the water temperature. It was freezing. (I’m not sure I could handle California water temps even in the summer, though. I turn into an icicle very easily.)
After watching our feet off and putting our shoes back on, we got back on the road and headed back into LA. Our lunch destination was Golden Road Brewing.
We found it between the Los Angeles River and some train tracks just off the Ventura Freeway, and had to park a ways down the street. Despite the place being gigantic – a huge hangarlike taproom, a covered and uncovered patio, and a fenced-in side yard, the place was absolutely packed. That seemed to have a lot to do with the USC-Notre Dame game on TV, and the fact that it was lunchtime.
Matt got a beer at the bar, and we stood around watching for someone to leave so we could sit down. After half an hour or so, we found a couple leaving from the end of a long table shared with a very exuberant group of college friends who had clearly been there for a while.
Even though they were packed, the service was quite fast. I was really excited about the menu, because they had multiple vegan options, including a really delicious tofu banh mi.
After lunch, we headed back in the direction of downtown. But first we pulled off near Griffith Park again, and went into Hollywood to find the nearest natural foods store. As with every visit to LA, I had to stop and pick up a bunch of Sun Cakes. They’re the best!!
From there, we headed into downtown. The 101 was backed up even more than usual, due to Ferguson-related protests. We finally made our way towards LA Live and found a parking ramp very nearby that wasn’t charging a ton of money for parking. There were a ton of people wandering around there already, even though it was a few hours before gametime.
We’d never been to LA Live before (it’s the entertainment complex surrounding Staples Center), and it was much bigger than expected. Also, there was an ice rink set up in the middle with Christmas music playing and people skating. Awesome.
We’d planned on going to Trader Vic’s, because even though we knew it’d be chain-y and far from the original, we still wanted to see it. We didn’t see its name on any of the signs, though, so we went to find a map. Where it should’ve been listed alphabetically with the restaurants, there was a blank spot. Apparently it had closed sometime recently.
We walked around a bit and looked into a couple of places that looked promising, but they had a wait for tables. There was an awesome-looking bar in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlson, but it wasn’t open yet. We decided to try Lucky Strike, the bowling alley, because it advertised that it had a big bar. Thankfully, that was one of the places that wasn’t packed yet at 5pm, and we were able to get a couch in the bar.
We hung out there for a long time, watching sports and the place fill up. I couldn’t believe how packed everything was, because LA Live seems to consist of only giant chains, not local bars or restaurants.
Then it was time to head to hockey! The LA Kings were hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, and we were really excited to see it.
There was a big line-up outside the arena, and the metal detector checks were running painfully slowly. It made me grateful for Xcel Center‘s efficiency. Finally, we got in and found our way to the third level. We were at one of the ends in the fourth row of the upper level, which were surprisingly good seats.
The pregame show had LASERS. Get on that, every other hockey arena.
The people in the seats next to us arrived, and we learned that they were a father and daughter from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We ended up talking to them for nearly the entire game, because they were even nerdier about hockey than we are. We also discussed various cities in Canada (he refused to accept that we actually wanted to visit Montreal), travel, the awesome hotel they were staying at nearby (the Figueroa – we’d noted the awesome Moroccan-style lobby when we passed it earlier), and the fact that he knew half the staff of the Kings due to previous hockey-related jobs. They were really entertaining.
I’d never seen the Blackhawks play live, despite the fact that the Minnesota Wild is in the same conference with them, and we visit Chicago a lot. (I’m more of a college hockey loyalist with my Gophers, anyway.) The Kings are a really good team, too, but the Blackhawks completely destroyed them. It was amazing to see that in person!
The Kings were losing solidly with a few minutes left in the third, so we decided to head out a couple minutes early. (With most of the crowd, it turned out.) On the way to the car, Matt was regretting not stopping to use the bathroom, so we decided to go in and see if we could use the one at the Figueroa. While we were waiting there, our Canadian friends walked in. We said bye to them again, and headed to the car.
Our next stop was for a late dinner at Chego. We’d really wanted to visit one of Roy Choi’s restaurants in LA (since his Korean taco truck was so awesome), and when we mentioned that to the lady at the Velveteria, she told us he had an awesome place really nearby in Chinatown. We found it in the back of a strip mall, the only place open that time of night.
Here’s Matt’s dinner. My tofu bowl was incredible, too. Plus it was way too much for one meal, so we ate half of it and then wrapped it all up to take back to the hotel with us.
We were going to visit Cana once again after dinner, but at that point it was after 11, parking downtown was a mess, and I was tired. So we headed back to the hotel instead.