If I could describe the drive to LA from the Grand Canyon in two words it would be long and hot. We drove down what felt like thousands of kilometres of straight road with nothing but sand and shrubs on either side. After several long hours and a stop at a random shoe cemetary where Anita said goodbye to her old pair of Adidas, the sun started to set as we pulled into Casino Morongo, about 1.5 hours outside of LA. We had something to eat, emptied our bladders, then climbed into our bed in the parking lot of the busy casino.
The following morning at McDonalds we drank coffee after coffee as we tried to get in touch with our friend Alex. We’d worked with Alex at a guesthouse in Morocco several months earlier and she’d invited us to stay at her house if ever we were in LA. She was still overseas at the time but her mum Christine was home and said we were still very much welcome. After about four refills we finally made contact with Alex who hadn’t had wifi for several days, confirmed her address, and got on our way to Long Beach with a quick stop at Corona Del Mar for a much needed swim.
When we arrived we met the very lovely Christine who gave us a run down of what to see and what to skip while in LA. We mapped out a plan for the following days, went for a bit of a walk around nearby 2nd Street, then got our butts straight to sleep, as we knew the next few days were going to be busy.
Growing up Anita and I were always big fans of west coast hip hop, so to the disbelief of pretty much everyone we spoke to, taking ourselves on a self-guided tour through places like Compton and Inglewood was at the top of our list. We cruised past Hoover Street (shout out to Schoolboy Q), the notorious Florence/Normandie intersection where the 1992 Rodney King riots kicked off, passed what used to be the Compton Swap Meet, continued down the infamous Crenshaw Boulevard through Inglewood and onto Rosecrans Avenue, headed for the centre of Compton.
We jumped out at Tam’s Burgers on Rosecrans for some lunch, a place where rapper Kendrick Lamar would frequent growing up and mentions witnessing a shooting in the drive-thru at age eight. It’s actually the same Tam’s where Suge Knight ran over two men after a dispute in the parking lot in 2015. Although getting some stares and feeling slightly intimitated by the tattoo-covered gang banger who exited as we entered, the burgers were amazingly good – and cheap! We finished our meals and took a quick detour past Adam’s Funeral Home, a place which unbelievably has a drive-thru viewing area for the ridiculous amount of gang-related homicides that occurred during the late-80’s and early-90’s, then got ourselves the hell out of there.
After a spending a morning in the hood we were ready for something a little lighter, so cruised over to Santa Monica Beach. Although beautiful we found the beach a little sleepy, so ventured all the way down to happening Venice Beach. There we dropped by famous Gold’s Gym (where Arnie used to train in his glory days of the 70s), perused the many stalls of cheap crap, watched a few guys shoot hoops, another few pump iron at Muscle Beach, and a few more pop ollies at the skate bowl, all the while dodging the many crazies that like to walk the promenade.
The following day we waited for the morning traffic to clear then headed over to Griffith Observatory for an incredible view out across the city and back towards the Holywood sign. After that we made our way down to Hollywood Boulevard to see the walk of fame, Chinese Theatre and Roosevelt Hotel, then on to Dino’s for apparently the best chicken in LA (it was pretty damn good). After lunch we took a quick look at all the things we couldn’t afford on Melrose Avenue then headed over to Diddy Riese for THE BEST ice cream sandwhich we’d ever had.
On our last day in LA we decided to avoid the city traffic and spend the rest of our time in Long Beach. We tried our very first poke bowl for lunch, went for a swim at Seal Beach, then returned that evening for the sunset and a few beers. And what better way to say goodbye than a delicious home-cooked meal by Christine and Alex’s brother Julian.
Thanks guys for taking us in and lending us your couch for those few nights. Alex, hopefully next time you’ll be there to join us!