Los Angeles // May 2017

It's cold guys. Like reeeaaally cold. And the only thing getting me through it is looking back through pictures from my trip to Los Angeles last May. Me and my main babes booked some super cheap tickets to SoCal last winter ($130 round trip?! Thanks google flights!). And I'm finally getting around to blogging our adventure and I'm filling you in on all the best shiz we did! I'm pretty go with the flow when traveling and luckily Hannah and Emily were on the same page. We really didn't have anything planned before we left but thanks to instagram, pinterest, google, and our charming personalities we found a bunch of cheap, fun stuff and made lots of friends. 
We stayed at the most wonderful airbnb in Inglewood. It was close to the airport, super spacious, comfortable, and clean. We were also really close to a Trader Joe's. Score. Our hosts were absolute angels. They were super flexible with our check in/check out times and they had lots of suggestions on things to do. We rented a car while we were there which I'd definitely recommend. Traffic can be a little messy but it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined and parking was honestly a breeze 90% of the time. 

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Since we rented a car, we took a day to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Laguna Beach. We walked by the ocean every time we had the chance and stopped for coffee and drinks in a bunch of the towns. The Boy and the Bear in Redondo Beach had some of the best cold brew I've ever had and Emily got a pretty stellar drink that was a mix between a mocha and a chai latte and it was magic.

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After driving south to Laguna, we decided we should probably head north too. We spent a day driving up into the Santa Monica Mountains and hiking around. Honestly, I couldn't tell you where exactly we were. We ended up asking some guys working in their driveway to point us in the direction of a trailhead and that was that. And yes. We were terrified of rattlesnakes but that view...

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Los Angeles's night scene is just slightly better than Central Wisconsin's... Even if the drinks are three times as expensive. Our favorite place, hands down, was Verdugo Bar. Outdoor patio, free stand-up (aka Friendship Buddies) on Sundays, good drinks.  Footsie's is another bar in the same neighborhood as Verdugo. It felt very Madison-esque hipsters, $4 PBR's, and a porch off the back where everyone was smoking cigarettes. Lucky for us they were also celebrating Steven Patrick Morrissey's birthday with all the Smiths tunes you could dream of. And we got some mean burritos from a food truck down the road soooooo...

Venice Beach was a pretty quick drive from our place so we usually ended up there for drinks in the evening. Larry's was a favorite with some pretty good beers on tap and pizza with ten pounds of arugula. Another favorite of ours was Bank of Venice where we accidentally pissed off Lori Petty... whoops. She's a regular so if you unknowingly end up sitting at a table next to her just keep your obnoxious laughing to a minimum. We stopped in Animal House about 5 minutes before they closed which was probably a good thing. Because if we had had more time I probably would have spent all my savings on bad ass vintage clothing. Seriously. It was like heaven in that place.

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Grand Central Market might be one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world. If you're ever there hit up Valerie for a bomb breakfast sammie or a salted caramel croissant and then call me and thank me. Then go right back and get some beer and deep fried avocado from Golden Road Brewing. You're welcome.

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Just walking around downtown LA with iced coffee was pretty phenomenal. If you look closely at the photos below you'll spy a Fin Dac mural in the background. Be still my heart!

And apparently since we needed to spend about 98.75% of this trip eating and drinking we swung into Spread. Please please please, whoever was in charge of the decor at this place, come to Wisconsin, take all my money, and transform my apartment. K thanks. I devoured some of the best falafel ever and sipped on a fig infused rye old fashioned that still haunts my dreams.

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And then I died and went to heaven aka The Last Bookstore. Sculptures made from paper and tunnels made from books and old vaults and a huge record selection and galleries and artwork and everything good. Amen.

the last bookstore free things to do in downtown los angeles

And this. The whole reason we went on this trip. To spend Mother's Day pampering the women of Skid Row. For the past 11 years Justin Mayo and Red Eye Inc have been throwing crazy awesome amazing makeovers for Mother's Day. I worked with Red Eye in 2015 and always knew I'd go back. Justin and his team have this passion and love and empathy that is contagious. They are the real deal. The first time I met Justin I asked him "Why?" and without missing a beat he said "Because this is home. This is my family." If you aren't familiar with Red Eye you need to check them out, follow the story, donate, and if you're ever in LA volunteer. They have youth mentoring in Watts every single Saturday. And it's definitely the most fun you'll have. 

We forget so quickly that we are all people and we all just want to be treated with some freaking dignity. The stories these women told me could very easily have been my own. A bad relationship, job loss, health issues, depression. The only difference is that I've had people to lend me a hand. So let's all remember to look at each other and really see one another. Because there isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story.
I wouldn't have wanted to celebrate Mother's Day any other way. Seeing women feel beautiful and important and loved and empowered is my absolute favorite thing. And I got to watch my friends use their gifts and talents to help make that happen. Which is why they're my best friends. Because I said "Let's do this." And they jumped in without hesitation or any questions asked. And then we danced in the street.