Although I've traveled across the pond a handful of times, I'd never been across my own country to visit California until May of this year. Better late than never, indeed. It was a whirlwind trip, and I wasn't in the best spirits at the time, but if anything could cure the blues I daresay it's a long weekend in Cali-4-Nye-Aye. So... apparently mine were incurable at the time. Anyway.
I first flew from Chicago to L.A. to meet my (insert label here), who was there mastering his band's CD. I didn't see much of L.A., save for traffic, chinese theater, traffic, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (yum), traffic, Beverly Hills, traffic, Bel Air, traffic, Venice Beach, traffic, and the In-N-Out burger. There I tried my first burger in decades (on the texted insistence of a dear friend whose taste buds were separated from mine at birth). Thin patties are key for a burger-phobe, and in that regard In-N-Out really delivers. It wasn't bad for a burger, but it wasn't necessarily worth the spat that resulted from our ill-fated attempts to find one of the THOUSAND locations in L.A. (not exactly a needle-in-a-haystack situation).
After long-winding our way out of L.A., we drove the hybrid (it's obligatory there, right?) up Highway 1 to Carmel where we stayed for the night. The ride up Highway 1 was first rate landscape. Mountains and ocean and trees, oh my. The B&B where we stayed was quaintly adorable yet affordable, and the Carmel beach was gorgeousness. I wanted to scoop it up and eat it (there I go again). Or curl up and stay there for forever (that's better). Apparently there is no nightlife in Carmel (just ritzy shopping), so we hit Monterey instead where it was very Real World-meets-Twilight Zone. The gory people watching made up for the plastic and fratty vibe of desperation. Shots and beers didn't hurt either.
The next day we kept on trucking up Highway 1 'til we made it to San Fran. 24 hours in SF revealed surprisingly steep inclines (I've seen the pics, but photos have nothing on walking up them hills), stinky sea lions, garlic goodness, coffee-done-right, crookedest streets, stairs by the thousands, a ferry building, a bay bridge, a big red bridge, and walking, walking and still more walking.
Myth debunked: People don't smoke in California. (so not true)
Offensive observation: Californians have poor taste in music.
Pulease, I don't REALLY think Californians have shitty taste in music, but the eating and drinking establishments we patroned played surprisingly crap tunes. I felt like I was back in France listening to the radio. And that, my friends, is not a compliment. One week in France will give you your fill of Phil Collins to last a lifetime.
I'll be going back, yes ma'am, to investigate all the hidden gems I missed this go-round. Although 24 hours wasn't enough to see all I wanted to see, it was enough to plant the west coast bug snug as a bug in a rug lining one of my ventricles.