Tag Archives: California

Venice and Marina del Rey


As an LA newbie, almost everywhere I go I am oooohing and ahhhing. It seems every place is more exciting or interesting or beautiful than the place before. LA is like one giant candy shop to me, and I looove candy. One, or I guess two, places I have visited more than once is Venice and Marina del Rey. As neighboring beach towns, they boast great food, entertainment, and of course, beaches. My wonderful friend Salil, who I might not have lasted this long in LA without, lives in Marina del Rey and has made for an exceptional person to explore with.

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Abbott Kinney Boulevard, named after the founder of the Venice Canals (more on those later), is one of the more happening spots in Venice. Compared to Venice’s other attractions, Abbott Kinney is probably the most upscale location. Home to many high end restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and galleries, you’ll want to bring your wallet here. While most of the shopping is far above my pay grade, it is great fun to walk Abbott Kinney, popping in the occasional shop, and stopping for some tasty treats. Thus far, I can recommend The Tasting Kitchen’s ($$$) charcuterie board and Gjelina’s Take Away ($$) for an amazing slice of pizza.


The Venice Canals have quickly become one of my most favorite places ever. Yes, ever. Abbott Kinney, a tobacco man from New Jersey, wanted to build his own version of Italy’s Venice Canals. Using man and machine he dug his own version, complete with a lagoon, a rollercoaster, and Italy’s own Gondoliers. Opening day of the canals was July 4th, 1905, over 40,000 people attended. Unfortunately, due to the ever growing popular automobile, by 1929 the Supreme Court ruled the closing of the majority of canals to put in roadways. While there are just a few canals left, the glimmers of Abbott Kinney’s Venice certainly shine. You will notice throughout Venice that some buildings have beautiful ornate columns. Many of these are original to when Abbott Kinney built his canals, as he truly wanted to emulate Italy, including the architecture.


My next favorite stop, and a total must see, is the Venice Beach Boardwalk. The mile and a half stretch is an exciting chance to see all walks of life. There are, of course, a bazillion tourists, but don’t let that turn you away. Along the Boardwalk you’ll catch all kinds of street performers and vendors. You have to stop by the famous Muscle Beach (still waiting to see Arnold there), and the Venice Skatepark (where it’s much more likely you’ll see a few famous skateboarders, you’ll just have to know what they look like). I haven’t dined at too many places on the Boardwalk, but there is a little alleyway with several windows all right in a row, where you can buy some of the most delicious food Venice has to offer. The Wee Chippy ($) has the best french fries ever, and the somas at Bombay ($) are crazy delicious. Salil also recommends El Harique ($$), a Peruvian spot, which is his favorite place to eat in all of Venice and also happens to right next door. I guess you better come hungry, which will be no problem as you can easily tire yourself out after your walk, and then splash around down at the beach before you feast.

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Marina del Rey is much less tourist-y and more super fancy condo/apartment filled. However, while there are less attractions, you can still find great food and drink. Personally though, I come, and stay, for the beach. The walk along the beach from the edge of Venice to the marina at the opposite end is BEAUTIFUL. I’d recommend you go at sunset, and then probably on the 4th of July so you can see the fireworks. The water was a beautiful teal blue on this year’s Independence Day. We could see fireworks all along the coast, even to Malibu! It was a specular sight, and totally worth sitting in traffic for an hour half when we tried to leave.

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Geronimo Balloons |Location: LA


Welcome to the first installation of whatever I’m calling this series..I’m thinking Location: LA. Naming things is not my strong suit. There are obviously a million cool things to do and see in LA, maybe even more than a million. While Griffith Park, Venice Beach, and the LAMAC are all amazing (although I don’t actually know as I’ve only been to one of the three), I want to share things that you might not see unless you know where to look. My hope is this will be a sort of alternative tour guide to LA, a glimpse at some of the coolest and best kept secrets LA has to offer.


First up is Geronimo Balloons. Located in Echo Park, this is the studio of artist and balloon expert Jihan Zencirli. While I attempted to contact Zencirli, I didn’t receive a response back, so you will have to accepted my paraphrased information from her website. She began creating party decor sometime around 2011. After much praise, she started her own company, Geronimo Balloons. Her creations of ballooons, tassels, party hats, confetti and more have been recognized world wide, and people have totally copied her work a bunch of times.. I mean, who wouldn’t at least try?


I have followed Geronimo Balloons on Instagram for quite sometime, and since then have seen that they occasionally balloon bomb there studio or various other places in LA. I couldn’t wait to see on these amazing installations for myself. So, to my delight, just a few days after my arrival in LA, the Geronimo studio was covered in balloons! I made a plan to go visit the following day.

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From my current residence in Silver Lake, I took off down Sunset, then took a left on Echo Park Boulevard until I saw the balloons! After a little longer walk than I expected, I found the studio in the 1900 block. The sight was so beautiful and I couldn’t help but smile the whole time. I wish my pictures could do it justice (would have been easier if there were no cars!). Follow Geronimo Balloons on Instagram to find out when you should pop by the studio to see Zencirli’s balloon-iful work!

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Welcome Home at Programme HQ


One of my favorite things is making a little change about yourself, and ending up getting way more out of it than you planned. For the last several months I’ve been trying to make an effort to be more outgoing. That probably seems a little crazy to some people, as I am already pretty outgoing. But in many ways I’m still shy and nervous around new people. Thus, I’ve been working on just approaching people and saying hello, striking up conversations or whatever. My Dad is like an expert at this, and I’ve always admired (slash been totally embarrassed) by his ability to do so.


Back in November I went to a show at The Wedge, a venue I sort of love to make fun of. I mean, it used to be much rougher around the edges (*pun*, it was called The Winning Edge).  Anyway, I went with Dan to watch his friends in Everyday Adventures play. We, of course, stayed to see the headlining band from Saint Louis play.


For me, going to shows is often more of a social event and a way to support my local community. While I am a huge supporter of local music, it’s typically just not the kind of music that I listen to on my own time. Well, that was so not the case when it came to Welcome Home. These guys started playing there set way back in November and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop telling Dan how awesome I thought they were; the perfect pop punk. Oh, not to mention all these guys are QTz.


After there set I said to Dan, I’m going to go talk to them..  and Dan was all, DO IT! So I took my nervous self over to their merch table and was like, hey.. you guys are really good.. I loved your set.. Whatever other word vomit came out. Well, lucky for me, the guys in Welcome Home are super approachable and friendly. I ended up chatting with Austin (guitar player, beard, babe), and we’ve ended up as long distance friends on all sort of social media channels. See! Make a little change and maybe something great will happen! Conquer your fears, people are mostly really cool and fear just isn’t a good enough excuse to not make new friends.


When I next saw Welcome Home at a basement show, I was telling Austin my plan to move to LA. Come to find out they would be on tour shortly after I arrived. I was thrilled, as I figured I likely wouldn’t have really made any friends by then, so it would be awesome to be see some familiar faces and hear some good music.


At the end of my first full week in LA, I headed out to Programme HQ in Fullerton to catch Welcome Home.  As always, I was totally impressed by their music. I got to hear a bunch of new songs, which will be on their new album coming soon! By then they’d been on tour for almost 2 weeks. I got a tour of the van, which had only suffered one flat fire and a slightly broken window from locking the keys inside. My tour also included a glimpse at their creepy mattress they’re all sleeping on, and their impressive Tetris abilities . I had a blast spending a couple hours hanging out with the dudes. I am so looking forward to seeing where the next couple months takes Welcome Home.  I just can’t imagine them being anything but a total success and I hope to see them all again very soon!


Check out Welcome Home on the internet, and then make your way to their next show in a city near you:



BYE-OWA | Driving from Iowa to LA


At the beginning of May I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.. FINALLY. I’ve complained about how long it took me to get my shit together and do well in school before, so I will spare you suffering through that again.


Prior to what felt like a never ending college journey, I always saw myself leaving Iowa. I’m not sure when leaving Iowa became moving to California, but I think it’s just always been a place I wanted to go. So, after a bunch of finals, packing my whole house into a trailer and moving it into my aunt’s basement, a party with almost all of my favorite people, and tons of hangs with Mom and Dad, I got into my new-to-me car (THANKS MOM AND DAD) and set off into the sunset (technically I left at like one in the afternoon, but eventually the set would sent in that direction).


My journey was not at all what I was expecting. I set out without a plan beyond my general route because I thought that would give me all the opportunity to see and do whatever I wanted. I thought that I’d vlog, I’d stop at all the roadside attractions, I’d take pictures of every beautiful view, and I’d camp all along the way. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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First, I stopped in Nebraska at Indian Cave State Park with plenty of time to set up my tent and go for a hike to catch the sunset. Well, it started raining, and I immediately got like 20 mosquito bites, which for me turn into huge welts that basically stop me from being able to do anything but itch uncontrollably. So right off the bat I was texting my Mom, a crying mess, thinking maybe I should just turn around and fly out next weekend. But I survived and pressed on. The campground was actually really cool, and I’d highly recommend visiting. It’s just on the boarder of Iowa and Nebraska. There are a million camp sites, tons of hiking trails, beautiful views, and some great history.

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From Nebraska I headed to Colorado. The drive through Nebraska was just as flat and boring as everyone says it is, but I will give it some credit, it’s quite beautiful. After arriving in Colorado, I was so fortunate to stay my Mom’s dear friend Marilynn’s house. Together, with the help of another of my Mom’s long-time friend Dee, we decided I should go up to Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park. I did not realize how much driving would be required to see or do things in RMNP. After the hour and half drive to the park (plus my 12+ hour drive from the days before), I was ready to be out of the car. Unfortunately, the lake I had intended to walk around was another hour away, not to mention when I arrived, IT WAS SNOWING. I loathe snow. But I sucked it up and walked the mile around the lake. It didn’t really seem worth it to me. Does that make me a nature snob? I just didn’t think the view at the lake was that epic, I mean the pictures I took don’t even merit sharing besides the one of the bird. So I found my way back down the mountains and instead hiked at a lower elevation where there wasn’t snow.

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After a relaxing and comfortable two nights in Denver, I headed south to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along the way I stopped Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. It was absolutely beautiful, but I was a little disappointed to find it’s almost all paved walking paths, and beyond that you aren’t really allowed off the path. The park was chuck full of tourists, which fair enough because it’s clearly beautiful, but nature scenes with tourist is new to me and I can’t say it’s my favorite thing.

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My night in Santa Fe was eventful. Probably the worst Airbnb experience I’ll ever have, at least I hope. I was really not feeling well from the elevation at that point and seriously needed to lay down. Unfortunately, my room wasn’t ready until after 9 o’clock at night. Ugh. The following day, the other guest at the Airbnb and I went to downtown Santa Fe. We briefly visited the Palace of the Governors and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis. From there I headed onto Flagstaff to visit my Aunt Josie. I hadn’t see her in almost 15 years! I so enjoyed spending the afternoon with her. She is one of the sweetest and most funny people. I will absolutely not let even another year go by before I see her again. After a wonderful Airbnb experience there, I headed to San Diego to visit a few fellow Iowa transplants. Dara and Ethan were so welcoming and gave me some great tips about life in California. A round trip train from LA to San Diego is less than $40 so I will absolutely be visiting them again soon.

I only took a few pictures on my phone from the last two legs of the trip. I was pretty exhausted and very much ready to arrive at my destination.

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Well, that’s it. I arrived in LA the following morning and it has been peaches and cream ever since. Sorry this was so long, but I just wanted to cram it all into one post, and I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to sharing it. My trip taught me a lot about myself. The main takeaway being; I am totally capable of doing big scary things by myself, but I have no interest in doing so. I love people and I love sharing experiences with others (hence the blogging), so doing things alone is just not as fun for me. I also learned that when you are driving for roughly 30 hours, you don’t want to stop to do anything. You want to hurry your ass up and get the hell out of the car for good.

I have to say a giant thank-you to everyone who supported me in my journey, and especially to those who hosted me along the way. I might have not made it without the places to sleep, the entertaining phone calls, and all of the love and positive vibes sent my way.

Now who wants to join me on my next adventure and have some real fun?!