Across the U.S. in 6 Days

Griffith Observatory LA

Time with my sister was short, as was this whole trip across the country with my parents.

In fact, more time has been spent in airports, in airplanes, in Ubers, in cars. It feels as if this whole trip has been me, in transit.

But I wouldn’t have changed anything about these two weeks. Especially as someone who seems to live off traveling and exploring—rather than remaining in any one place for too long—I didn’t need to spend too much time at home. #whatsresting

And to be painfully frank, without my dog now, the house feels too empty anyway. To come home without that familiar sound of tiny paws clicking against that fake marble floor rushing toward me for me to reach down and grab upon entering…it means the thought of not having been around during her last days comes flooding back. Being out the house offers distraction. A different kind of comfort.

Sure, if it weren’t for Eva being in L.A., I’m not so sure I would’ve hopped on any airplane during these two brief weeks back in the U.S. Maybe a quick drive up to NYC would’ve sufficed, along with some nice nostalgic drives around town. At the same time, it felt great to enjoy L.A.’s literally perfect weather and revel in Chicago’s beautiful skylines—and apparently landscaping on the Magnificent Mile. My parents are obsessed. #lol

The cross-country travel was a indeed a nice way to appreciate the various aspects of American life. But having been in China for a year, the biggest reverse culture shock for me is not an uncommon one—I remember my study abroad program director telling us: You suddenly realize, Oh, my God. Everyone is fat or morbidly obese.

How. Did. We. Get. So. Fat.

#real

#talk

Out of the 10 Uber drivers in L.A. and Chicago (my parents are all about Uber), two were morbidly obese and six were at varying levels of overweight. As we got in one ride, it looked like we had just interrupted her McDonald’s meal. You have to wonder how common this scene is—driving passengers, eating fast food in the car.

At airports, I catch myself marveling in a mix of fascination and fear at nearly everyone I see. The epidemic is palpable. The fact that we have a website dedicated to the state of obesity is scary.

But enough of that, let’s move on to what many of you actually are here for: the photos!

Redbury on Hollywood and Vine ended up being a better hotel than expected. The deep red consuming every single wall can be initially overwhelming, but if you can look past some of that tackiness, you get a great stay that’s well worth the money.

Redbury Coldplay record
Coldplay record!

Such a pick by my mom was unexpected, as it’s got that rock ‘n’ roll edge, but I guess the “boutique-ness” is what attracted her to it. Why I liked it was because of the incredibly spacious rooms, toiletries that smell wonderful, free WiFi, and an awesome record player with actual records from the archives of Capitol Records, which is located directly across from the hotel! I played around with it and was both proud and excited to have used a record player, which might sound silly to anyone older, but hey, we millennials didn’t exactly grow up with these!

So the first morning in L.A., thanks to Foursquare, we found Philz Coffee. And fell in love. My dad swears no coffee will ever taste the same after having Philz. I got its signature mint mojito iced coffee, and my mom after having a sip kept saying how she wanted to order that next time. It’s heavenly.

While L.A. isn’t too walkable of a city, we were in the Hollywood area, so we still managed to check out the typical tourist attractions clumped together, including the Chinese Theater and Hollywood and Highland Center, where you can hardly make out the Hollywood sign from a viewing bridge. It felt as if one could get much a better view of the sign basically from any other perspective 😛

View from FIDM, California skyline
Downtown skyline view from FIDM.

Eva has her eyes on the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, so we all toured the campus with her in the afternoon. The fashion industry totally suits her, and we’re all just so happy that she has found her passion.

We had a random dinner way out in Hacienda Heights with a woman my mom only knew distantly through WeChat. The highlight was seeing her flat-faced cat and cute corgi afterward at her house.

The next morning, being only able to eat a fraction of the gigantic portion of salmon I got at Kitchen24 was yet another shocking reminder that American portions are ridiculously excessive.

But it’s okay. We walked some of it off at the breathtaking Griffith Observatory, where pretty much the only decent shots of me were taken from the whole trip.

Santa Monica was next, where my dad really seemed to enjoy the ocean breeze…

Santa Monica beach
Literally not even trying to pose. An actual candid.

And despite getting an avocado popsicle dipped in chocolate and hazelnuts from Stickhouse Gelato in Santa Monica, we followed up dinner at a meh Chinese restaurant with the most amazing macaron ice cream sandwich at Milk. I need that every day in my life, plz.

Juice Crafters LA On the last morning in L.A., I had to try an acai bowl from Juice Crafters, conveniently around the corner from Redbury. They’re apparently all the rage, and after having it, I am confident I would have such a bowl of somewhat healthy heaven every single day if I could.

It’s a shame we only had three nights in L.A., because so much is left to be explored, and of course, I would’ve liked to spend much more time with Eva.

Soon, we were off to Chicago…

More on Chicago coming soon.