Han style, solo.

For starters I have to confess (and people that know me in real life already know this) I don’t like LA. 
I have reasons. 

Some of it has to do with the general douchey vibe, some of it is the oppressive urine smell and some of it is the general overly busy congested streets (I would be curled into a ball crying to myself if I was left in New York. Not really…but probably…)
HOWEVER, I like history, walkabouts and new places that hold the possibility of a great atmosphere. Also, George had to work all weekend so in order to guarantee that he and I got to spend some time together I turned to Airbnb for a decently priced room and dusted off my adventure day list. 

Side note: having my “Han style” (get it? Solo) adventure days is empowering. When you’re always a partner and a mother you’re never alone and you rarely travel to places you’ve never been by yourself or without the company of friends. I have been told that this is “weird” and I’ve also been called a Honey Badger when I take myself out for drinks (apparently “Honey badgers don’t give a f*ck”)? 

I took it as a compliment. 

Truth be told as a recovering “damaged” person and an ambivert I plan these days and weekends with the kind of trepidation an ill equipped soldier feels the night before a battle. The 24 hours before boarding a plane or finalizing reservations can be filled with everything from severe politeness, tears, apologies and panic. 
Ah…panic…
Ok. Onto the list! It’s a bit different from a “regular” trip to the City of Angels. You won’t find maps to movie star’s homes (I stand by the philosophy that they don’t know that I exist soooo why should I be obsessed with them? no offense to anyone that adores TMZ or People magazine). And there was that one time that Seth Green made me dumbstruck just by shaking my hand….

gingers man…I can say I’m obsessed with funny gingers… 
Also I tend to ramble (if you’re a quick thinker you may have noticed already) my list will be broken up by “stops” so you can just scan through to find what you’re looking for. 

First stop: Starbucks and Sage in Culver City.
George had to be in Hollywood by 8 so he dropped me off at Starbucks at 7. Sage doesn’t open till 9 so I had some time to kill. I burned through Facebook, watched people like a creeper and sent too many snapchats. 


 When Sage opened at 9 I was freezing and hungry. Did I mention my clothes dryer didn’t work properly the night before and that my jacket and jeans were still damp? No? Well they were.  I promise I’m a fully functioning adult.  I had been to Sage before but not to this location. The Culver City establishment has a wonderful feel to it. Reclaimed wood as decorative walls, airy floor plan and the people that work there might be the friendliest folks I’ve met. I ordered the chai latte and biscuits and gravy and it arrived fairly quickly. The chai was wonderful, the biscuits damn near perfect. The gravy and sausage were good but not as good as mine.

 I’ll give you the recipe sometime. 

Starbucks 

4114 Sepulveda Blvd

Culver City, CA 90230

Sage Bistro
4130 Sepulveda Blvd

Culver City, CA 90230
Stop number 2: The Museum of Jurassic Technology. 

Borrowed from their website – 
“The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California is an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic.

Like a coat of two colors, the Museum serves dual functions. On the one hand the Museum provides the academic community with a specialized repository of relics and artifacts from the Lower Jurassic, with an emphasis on those that demonstrate unusual or curious technological qualities. On the other hand the Museum serves the general public by providing the visitor a hands-on experience of ‘life in the Jurassic’….”

The Museum itself is small but well put together. It’s a bit of a shock when you first walk in. It’s dark, the ambience is slightly creepy, the background music and sounds piped in from different corners and underneath displays make it difficult to get used to them. I jumped more than once. It’s obvious that it’s a labor of love, there are displays that are in the process of being repaired and a slight smell of mildew in the air. The tea room upstairs is relaxing and bright, a contrast from the atmosphere downstairs.   You’re not allowed to take pictures but I snuck a few because I have no shame. After looking at their Yelp page I’m not the only one.  At least I was discreet?  

Museum of Jurassic Technology
9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-museum-of-jurassic-technology-culver-city?utm_source=ishare

Stop number Three: Velaslavasay Panorama 
Borrowed from their site – 

“Drawing on the illustrious history of the great panorama paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, The Velaslavasay Panorama is an exhibition hall, theatre and garden dedicated to the production and presentation of unusual visual experiences, including those of the 360-degree variety.  The Velaslavasay Panorama panoramic exhibition encircles the spectator within a fully enveloping atmosphere; a vast painting of a continuous surrounding landscape, accompanied by sound stimulation and three-dimensional elements, affords the viewer an opportunity to experience a complete sensory phenomenon.”

First of all this isn’t in the “best” part of town. During my adventures I walk A LOT and take the bus and Lyft occasionally. As I walked down the street I noticed that a lot of the cars passing were looking at me in a “are you lost”? way. I don’t get spooked too easily when it comes to “rough neighborhoods” but there was a vibe and I felt like I should mention it.

The gal that greeted me was very nice, assured me I could take pictures and quickly pointed out which way to go. She also explained the the lights and sound experience in the Panorama is about 35 minutes long and guests are encouraged to take the time to experience it throughly. The staircase spirals up and up and you enter a room that is dark and hypnotic. I enjoyed it for 20 minutes before realizing it was making me too calm…to the point of sleepiness. Which isn’t a bad thing but it was eerie and fascinating watching the scenery “shift”.

  
  
I walked through the small garden that is is located out of the back of the theater. 

  
It’s very pretty and peaceful.

And again, a total labor of love.  

Velaslavasay Panorama
1122 W 24th St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

  
http://www.yelp.com/biz/velaslavasay-panorama-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare
Stop number 4 Checked into Airbnb (located inside The Dixie Hollywood).  Our Airbnb was located in Thai Town inside of a Hotel/Motel called The Dixie. I wasn’t expecting anything fancy due to reviews I had read (after making the reservations of course because I’m just that thorough). The room was clean, the bathtub was California-drought-guilt-inducing kinda deep (and with jacuzzi jets, I don’t know how I’ll do penance for the llllloooonnngggg beautiful baths I soaked in while watching TV).

  It’s located across from a Ralph’s, Starbucks and various food establishments which is great! For the night it served our purposes wonderfully. The room was comfortable and clean and the price was a bargain.  

Dixie Hollywood Hotel
5410 Hollywood Blvd

Hollywood, CA 90027

Toll Free: 800-381-2935

Local: 323-463-7171

http://www.dixiehollywoodhotel.com/rooms/
George finally got out of work and after we freshened up we went out to dinner at Our final stop on Day one: Cafe Gratitude 

One of the upsides of LA is that you don’t have to look far to find vegan food. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to eat here but I’m so glad we did. The flavor in our appetizer “Present”, an autumn bruschetta were complex and wonderfully rich. I got the butternut squash and sage lentil loaf which was heavenly and George got a build your own type bowl that he could only finish half of. I forget the affirmation names of these dishes but they were delicious regardless. The staff was gracious and we were seated immediately even with the long line of people outside. We made reservations prior to arriving but as we all know sometimes even the best places don’t have instantaneous seating.   

On a side note I was not a fan of “Love”, a hibiscus flower iced tea. 

Cafe Gratitude – Larchmont

639 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-gratitude-larchmont-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare

Day one ended sleepy and looking forward to Day two.
To be continued….

By going to these locations, walking these neighborhoods and streets is at your own risk. As always everything on The Pollyanna Complex are ideas of the author, please attempt any and all activities posted at your own risk. 

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Big kids, abandoned bunkers and blue skies: White Point Nature Preserve

In an effort to broaden my horizons I’ve tried to become more accepting of any activity near the coast. I love Northern California and it’s dramatic, yet sleepy, coastline. Central California, the way the fog creeps around corners of trees where their roots meet the sand.

But Southern California beaches?
The coast 15 minutes from the place I call home?

Eh.

Truth be told it probably has more to do with the personalities that populate that area of this great state and the lack of conscience when it comes to bulldozing a preserve or wetland to put in more mini mansions or overpriced condos…

I digress.
(It’s not positive to grumble at an entire strip of a county that consists of 4 cities and it’s inhabitants is it?
Apologies. Apologies…)

A friend of ours grew up near Palos Verdes (about 45 minutes from our home so not in the area of my previous rambling rant) but had mentioned how she had never quite explored the trails around the area. She had mentioned two. One of which was quite a bit shorter than our norm but fit everyone’s time constraints

.

White Point Nature Preserve http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/white-point-nature-preserve-palos-verdes-peninsula/. On the website you can find directions for how to get there, the history of the preserve as well as maps and additional pictures and visiting information.

If you’re looking for a hike to get away from civilization and to challenge your mountain legs this hike is not for you.

The houses crowd in around the preserve so you never feel like you’re really in the great outdoors. It’s relatively easy, mostly paved and only about a 2.25 mile loop. This is a great one to take young kids on. We had the big kids with us (our oldest and two of his friends).

Now.
The upsides. The view from the top of the hill had us pretty speechless and reminded me of the untouched central coast and the abandoned bunkers along the backside of the preserve were just eerie enough to have three teenage boys intrigued. The history of the place (detailed on little placards along the way and also narrated for us by our other friend reading from his iPhone) is pretty interesting.

At the bottom of the loop (or beginning, depending on where you started from the parking lot) there’s a small, well run, nature center and native plant garden (a current obsession of mine since I decided to kill our backyard for a water conscious outdoor space). The ranger on duty was well informed, friendly, helpful and knowledgable about the history of the area. The nature center is filled with activities that young children would enjoy as well as some interactive exhibits that adults can appreciate.
Over all we only spent a little over an hour and a half exploring and felt that we had covered everything.

It was a nice trip to somewhere new and it was interesting enough that Id like to take the little ones back sometime.

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Hollywood, wizards and science. “Alchemy sounded like a good idea at the time.”

I’ve lived in California my whole life and there are several things I’ve never done. One of them being the hike up to the Hollywood sign.

A few friends at the office did the hike not too long ago and they said it wasn’t a challenge in the slightest but that it could get crowded.

They weren’t kidding.

We left our house at 8 am and got up there about 9 after meeting up with our friends who were joining us for our adventure today.

And may I say; God bless Super Bowl Sunday! There was NO ONE on the freeway (a superb piece of idea validation from my sister). Regardless the lot at the top was still full (it only has ten spots anyway). The website http://hollywoodsigntrip.com has the best directions and tips for the trail. Check it out and take some notes, trust me you won’t be let down. It’s practically step by step and made my planning incredibly easy.
The hike was only about 5 miles total and honestly the most difficult part was walking up from the car to the trail head.
Irony.
Side note: the houses up there are fantastic. Unpretentious but still striking. The kids and I remarked several times that if all of LA looked like that we’d actually be tempted to move.

From there we went to Muse on 8th http://museon8th.com. We had been here before and I’ll admit we had a far better experience the first time. The cashier was incredibly nice but flustered from being busy so half of our order was wrong. And our friend got her meal 20 minutes after everyone else did and it was the wrong item.

I didn’t correct him out of pity.

They have a fairly decent vegan and vegetarian selection as well as several gluten free options. I really like the place as a whole. If they could get their act together they’d be pretty unstoppable.

It’s only a half mile from Muse to Whimsic Alley http://www.whimsicalley.com so we walked over, enjoying the surprisingly brisk and cloudy day. Whimsic Alley is a favorite of ours (even though some HP guilds in the area have warned us against the owner, please know it’s in the back of my head every time we go). They have a great selection of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and steam punk merchandise. The little mice love stopping in and have never once not asked for something while we’re there.

Next was the California Science Center http://www.californiasciencecenter.org. I love this place. I love that it’s free, making it accessible to everyone. Parking is $10, cash only but admission is absolutely free. The only downside is that some of the people that go are a bit unmindful of their children. Seriously. I almost got outspokenly catty but refrained *deep breath*.

Now. A few words from the little mice themselves about their favorite moments at the Science Center.

Brayden said his favorite part of the science center was the Kelp forest that’s found on the lower level.

Kap said her favorite part was looking at all of the space models and the interactive exhibits.

Cohans favorite part was touching the star fish.

My favorite part was just enjoying the people (the people that weren’t annoying, and actually watching their children. I’m sorry but I feel I should stress this.) the people that were truly there to experience what the world has to offer, what we’ve discovered as a whole and those sharing it with their children. That was awesome to be a part of.

Notes for next time: get to the Hollywood hike earlier, skip Muse and just spend the extra $10 to eat at Doomies http://m.yelp.com/biz/doomies-home-cookin-hollywood and maybe enjoy the Science Center on a weekday.

All in all an exhausting but incredible day.

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