I know, I know, it’s 90 degrees in Los Angeles this week and I’m talking […]
I grew up in North Carolina, lived in South Carolina, spent a season in Costa Rica and South Africa, traveled all around Europe, and have called Seattle, San Francisco, and now Los Angeles, home, yet there’s one place that I get more questions and requests about: Big Sur. And it’s for good reason, due in part because of the place it holds among the best drives in the world, but also because I talk about it so much. I believe every traveler wants to see the world, but I also believe that there are one or two destinations that every traveler gravitates toward more than others. One of those places for me is Central California, and more specifically, Big Sur.
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I, like most guys, don’t like shopping. It probably doesn’t help that I was scarred as a child when my mom first took me jeans shopping. In case you’re wondering, an overweight kid, like I was, is not meant to wear Wrangler slim fit jeans. That didn’t stop my mom, however, from yelling at me to “suck it in” while she attempted to pull those jeans to my waist.
Yet, here I am, talking about Venice, California’s Abbot Kinney, known most notably for nothing other than its shopping. But if you’re here expecting a shopping post about Abbot Kinney, then I’m sorry to disappoint. While many people visit Abbot Kinney for its boutique shops, I prefer it for different reasons. Venice is one of my favorite neighborhoods, in part because of its offerings, but also because it’s so walkable. Not to mention that the story behind it is so fascinating.
My first trip to Los Angles was when I was 11. It’s one of the most vivid trips from my childhood. Part of it I can remember as if it was yesterday, like breakfast (and the subsequent conversation with our waitress) one morning at the InterContinental Hotel Los Angeles, located just off Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City. “Oh, you are nearly a Southern Californian being so tall and with such curly hair, but not with that accent.” I blushed, as she continued on, telling me that maybe, just maybe I’d be playing for the Lakers being so tall. 20 years later and I’m back in Los Angeles, just off Santa Monica Boulevard still, but this time I call it home.
Growing up, Los Angeles (and in general, Southern California) stood out to me as this Rivendell-esque type of place. It resonated with me much more than many other cities, since it was home to so many things I only found in bits and pieces elsewhere, from beaches to mountains to celebs to Disneyland. And when I visited Los Angeles at age 11 it didn’t disappoint, even if our cab driver drove off from the Getty Villa without my mom.
So at the end of last summer, just months after my 30th birthday, I packed up all of my things in my car and fulfilled a travel dream I’ve always had of driving the length of the Pacific Ocean coastline from Seattle down to Los Angeles. However, when I arrived in Los Angeles, I found myself never wanting to leave, and I haven’t, nor do I have plans to, as I have an affinity toward Los Angeles and creating a home life here like I’ve felt no other place. That’s right, this good ‘ole boy who grew up in rural North Carolina went Hollywood.