There are also crazy, weird rock formations that were formed by magma pushing up underneath the earth, then cracking, then being revealed by the erosion of the surface earth that previously covered them.
These remind me a lot of the boulders you have to mine in "Don't Starve," though I don't think you'd get a lot of gold nuggets out of these.
As you pass across the border into California, you will stop by an agricultural border inspection. You will slow down, and a guy will wave you through. I assume they only stop commercial trucks, but who knows. You will also pass a sign that says something like, "State Prison Nearby," underneath which is another sign saying, "Don't Pick Up Hitchhikers."
The toll roads in California are legitimately nicer than the freeway; however, they just transitioned to paying tolls online (no cash booths), which means you have to remember to pay the toll within 48 hours (a serious challenge for people like me), and on top of that, you have to know your license plate number, where you entered, and where you exited. Residents can get some kind of EZ Pass type thing so that it's automatic, but if you're just travelling through, you're not going to get one, and you're also much less likely to know any of those things. (Rental car + GPS = I don't know anything.) I find this highly annoying. Assuming they enforce tolls by entering this information into their system anyway (rather than using the honor system), it seems much better to have the system populate that information automatically based on your license plate number and date of travel. Although in their current scheme, if you don't know where you entered or exited, it will just charge you the maximum toll (~$10), so I guess they have an incentive to keep that.
Bikers are evidently encouraged to weave through traffic because this reduces congestion, which is a huge problem in L.A. This means you will sometimes see a motorcyclist driving in between the double yellow lines separating the HOV lane from the rest of the highway. This is crazy. You will also notice that the roadside grass is being watered by automatic sprinklers at 1:30PM. This is also crazy. Is the state unaware of its own drought? (Answer: Yes.)
I dropped Didi off at our other friend's place, since this is where we part ways. Her apartment is probably two to three times the size of mine, and she pays half has much rent. This entire trip has just been an ongoing demonstration that New York is rude and expensive.
I got to the airport, dropped off the car, and my friend Josh picked me up, and brought me to his "bungalow." I'll take a photo and post it later, but it is the cutest little residential area, with one-story townhouse-ish apartments with greenery and fountains in between the rows of bungalows. There is nothing like this in New York. The breeze here is also actually cool, and not just air that's moving, because of the ocean, so it feels really nice. Megan, Josh's girlfriend, took me to Venice Beach, which was gorgeous, but also very grungey and probably full of drugs. I feel like this is where the movie "Thirteen" takes place, although I don't remember. The beach is very pretty though.
Some creepy guy started talking to us after faking us out by asking for the time, and culminated this genius pickup strategy by asking for Megan's number. This is after he asked who we were, whether we were roommates, and when Megan said we were heading "home," "Where's home?" She is from the Midwest, so she declined very nicely. Guys, you may think it is harmless to talk to strangers, and if they blow you off it's no big deal, but it is unacceptable to start following and talking to two women you don't know, especially after sunset and it's getting dark, and then to ask where they live. I think there are generally a lot of things that guys do that they think is casual and harmless fun, but have never really thought to appreciate how creepy it is on the receiving end.
After the beach, we went to Wurstkuche for dinner, where we had German sausages and beer. I got two: rabbit and rattlesnake, and duck and bacon, along with the Spaten Oktoberfest. All were very good. The place has a very brauhausy feel, and the servers are very diligent about clearing your trays.
|Candide doesn't need to know that one of these has duck in it.|
|Dolby theater, where the Oscars are held, surrounded by columns with each year's best film|
We had lunch at the 101 Coffee Shop, which was actually very good. It has a weird smell when you first walk in, but you don't notice it after a while, and the food was excellent for diner food.
The hike up Griffith Hill is a little more strenuous than I expected, but the view from the top is not bad. I think it would be better on a clear day, but that's more common in the winter here after the rains have taken the smog out.
After that, Josh went to work, and I later met up with another friend Christopher in downtown L.A. Christopher just moved here, and I'm a tourist, so we just walked around Pershing Square and had dinner and drinks at places recommended by friends. Dinner was at Bottega Louie's, which is a nice restaurant with a very clean aesthetic of white with gold accents. Even the toilet pipe is gold. The highlight of the meal was their portobello fries, which were amazing (unless, I suppose, you don't like mushrooms). They are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and are dressed just right with garlic and cheese. I highly recommend these. The main courses, on the other hand, were good, but nothing special. We got some macarons for dessert, which were good, but no comparison to La Duree.
We ended the night with a couple beers at Library Bar, which is right by the library, and has a bunch of well-stocked bookshelves. They have pretty good beers on tap and none of the standard fare; you won't find Stella or Heineken or anything here. The bar has a very relaxed atmosphere and $5 beers during happy hour, but later on in the night, they were playing very loud Mexican music, so I'm not sure what was going on there. Certainly a nice setting to have a couple drinks with a friend, at least on a Wednesday night.
And now I am late for lunch.