Epic Adventures: Summer Trip (California Part 4)

Alright, I decided to fold and write this final post today. The corresponding titles just looked too perfect when properly aligned in the “All posts” page. So….

We left the last day of our trip to Cali pretty open. Since we had made a habit of traveling and hiking a lot (and sleeping a little), the final day was modeled after a more traditional vacation. We woke up at a more reasonable time, had a little breakfast, and went over to the local mall complex with Jenny’s parents.

California, being California, seems to insist on doing everything a bit differently, including their malls. Although I don’t always prefer the way things are out there, the mall we went to was outdoors, promoted walking, and was really enjoyable in the warm, dry weather.

After doing a bit of shopping around at the mall, which concluded with Jenny receiving new running shoes and clothing and a new button-up for me (fancy), we went to grab some lunch at In-N-Out. I’ve eaten many a burger in my day. As far as fast food burgers go, that place has got it right. The prices are cheap, the food is fast, and damn is it good. Their food far better than a lot of restaurant burgers I’ve had, actually.

PUMP THIS INTO MY VEINS TOO.

We’ve gone there once on each of my 3 visits to California and now I’m proud to say that I have a “regular” order. Having been told to try ordering off-menu, I decided to try (and have now settled on) getting a Double-Double Animal Style. Two burgers, grilled onions, extra sauce…mmmmmmm. I’m extremely hungry now. It’s a good thing that everyone at work is going to a huge buffett for lunch today.

After eating, we went and got massages (again, fancy). I had personally never had one before, and although it was excruciatingly painful at some points, I was so relaxed afterwards that I walked around with a stupid grin for a while. Immediately following the massage, we went next door for some more KBBQ. Like many of the places we ate on the trip, this place had a special style. The waitress would come around with massive heaps of veggies and meat to add to the grill. Then, a broth was poured over the whole thing to marinade the heaving mound. Not only did it yield a delightfully succulent product, but the broth was excellent over rice as well.

After dinner, we went back home to pack, do laundry, and chill in preparation for our (very) early morning the next day. Jenny’s brother came over for a bit and we discussed our shockingly similar ideas for starting businesses. Finally, after a few final snacks, we went to sleep and prepared to wake up around 4 the following morning.

The flights home went quickly. On the way, we finished the Bourne Identity. We got back, metroed back to our respective homes, and lamented the end of living the high life.

Epic Adventures: Summer Trip (California Part 1)

The time has finally come for me to begin the rundown of the splendid trip that I took over the week of the 4th of July. I already wrote half of this post once, but in an effort to get out of work, I shutdown my computer before saving it. It even asked if I was sure that I didn’t want to save…AND I SAID YES.

So, sure enough, I am starting over. After returning to DC from my grandparent’s place, Jenny and I packed and chilled a bit. Around 3:30 the next morning, we woke and hitched a ride to Reagan with my roommate. The flight from DC to Houston was a bleary blur. Despite my usual inability to sleep at the most opportune times, I surprisingly managed to doze off for most of the flight; however, I did wake for one glorious moment. When the stewardesses were making their rounds, I woke up to get some tomato juice. I’m not even the type to order tomato juice usually, but in my daze I had a real hankerin’ for it. Let me tell you, if you ever fly Continental, get the spicy tomato juice. It’s awesome. FASCINATING.

After a brief layover in Houston, where there was a brief cancellation scare (apparently the only scary part was how bad Continental is at updating their flight statuses), we were on our way to Ontario. Knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to sleep on consecutive flights (because no one is that lucky), Jenny and I started watching The Bourne Identity. It’s one of those films that I’ve always meant to watch, but never really got around to doing. It was pretty damn good too. Not tomato juice good, but you know, nice. That made the flight go by pretty quickly.

The best part about those early morning east-to-west coast flights is that they get you to your destination bright and early. After leaving DC at 6 AM, we were on the ground and on our way to lunch with Jenny’s parents by 11 AM. We stopped for a brief lunch of jajamyun and fried chicken, followed shortly by some bubble teas, and took the short drive to their home. Flying into Ontario was absolutely the best bet; 15 minutes to the house rather than 1+ hour if we had done LAX.

With a full day still ahead of us, we went with Jenny’s dad to the local mountains for a hike. Despite the blazing sun, I had to admire California’s complete lack of humidity. As soon as you entered the shade, and even moreso when we had reached a sufficient elevation, the temperatures dropped to fall-like levels (aka the temperature at which I thrive). The hike itself was beautiful too. Nice and steep at parts, with a stream popping in and out of few for the duration, and terrain varying from southern California shrubbery to nice, tall evergreens. It was the perfect way to unload the day’s meals and welcome ourselves to the west coast.

The following morning, we all woke bright and early to drive to Newport beach. Once there, we hopped on the ferry to Catalina Island for a nice little boat trip and a day of fun in the sun. Jenny, who is no one’s sailor, went 2 for 2 for getting seasick on boats (although there was no puke this time).

Catalina Island itself was magnificent. Only an hour’s trip off the coast, it provided a nice sense of isolation, with just a few roads and a tiny resort town nestled between its mountains. We took a little semi-submarine tour out to see some fish before lunch, where we ate at a little hut serving the world’s saltiest (although pretty good tasting) food. The grilled ham and cheese would have been divine with a tad less sodium chloride.

After lunch, Jenny and I tried our hand at paddleboarding around the marina, where we both had some issues to overcome. As a seasoned kayaker, I felt at home navigating the board around the inlet’s many zipping skiffs; however, as a seasoned oaf, I had to take enormous care to avoid losing balance and tumbling into the frigid water. Jenny, on the other hand, effortlessly stayed upright while navigating her board into a number of anchored boats. Thankfully, by the end of our hour, we had both improved upon our faults and decided that we quite liked the activity.

It's like a multi-million dollar obstacle course.

From there, I bought and devoured an exceptional caramel apple with nuts (the only way to eat them) and we caught the ferry back to Newport. Terrified that we may have made some sort of fitness gains by walking and paddleboarding, we bought a frozen banana in Newport Beach to increase our caloric totals for the day and to entertain my infatuation with Arrested Development.

Because there's always money in the banana stand.

Finally, we stopped by a Korean restaurant on the way back, where I pounded some kimchi and dol sot bimbimbap. We finished driving back, cleaned ourselves up, chilled a bit, and got to bed in order to prepare ourselves for………..