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(Ok, I’m back. Time to finish this story and catch up with the Firsts!)

Before I made it to California, I had another unfortunate run in with the Denver airport. Thankfully however, it wasn’t for another 9 hour layover.

At least I knew the airport by heart and revisited my comfortable corner. During the height of my boredom the first time around, I wrote this note to myself since I knew I would be coming back. I wanted to see if it would still be where I hid it, tucked away behind a phone kiosk, and alas, it was. HA!!!

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California, how I missed thee. I hadn’t been to Cali in a few years, but once again, I found myself walking through the familiar lengths of LAX. I had a few weeks to kill, had some plans, had plenty of free time, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to get
into, but I trusted myself to cause some laughter inducing mischief.

First on the list and the heart of the trip: my cousin’s graduation.

She had fireworks for her graduation. I got rain. Sure mine was nearly ten years ago, but I’m still mad at mother nature for that one!

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Attend my cousin’s graduation

Also got to meet my new baby cousin. New boy in the family! Finally!

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Highlight #3: The Getty Museum

I’m not one for museums, never have been, I’ve never really found the level of engagement I need to enjoy a museum. With that said, the Getty did house some exhibits that I found interesting and I absolutely loved the garden grounds. The building itself was my favorite part to be honest, it was like a beautiful fortress resting high above the clouds and the world below.

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Highlight #4: Clubbing in Hollywood

My sister’s wanted two things for her birthday. Fishbowls and to go out in Hollywood. We accidentally made them pretty strong, but they were still delicious!

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Later that night we made our way into Hollywood. Some of my sister’s friends showed up and recommended a spot we decided to check out so we made our way over there.  600 dollars for table service? SIX. HUNDRED. I nearly told the group I’d wait in the car! Mathematically though, considering we had a small group with us, it kind of evened out to a regular cover charge. “This is pretty much what you’re going to run into out here, even if we go to another place” said someone in the group.

Before we walked in, we all huddled together for a quick pep talk. My sister’s friend jumped into the center of the circle like some rabidly enthusiastic football coach “Ok. We just spent a lot of fucking money. So we’re gonna go in there and do this proper! Readyyyy break!”

The venue was actually pretty cool. We were greeted by a fireplace lined outdoor courtyard filled with a large rectangular fountain running through the center of it. This fountain was overflowing with bubbles, while a beautiful young lady was seated on a swing mounted above. She smiled as we walked passed and gave a light kick to the foam, littering the air with glistening bubbles.

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We got our table, neat little spot actually. Food, drinks, mixers, fruit. It was honestly a nice spread, and my sister seemed happy so it all worked out. The group wandered the venue and we eventually ended the night on the dance floor.

20130615_235040In rare form, I ended up drinking too much and got myself a pretty potent case of the spins. I guess that’s what I get for accepting shots from the costumed woman sitting on the shoulders of a man on stilts (even if most of it got in my eyes)

Go clubbing in Hollywood

Dry Heave until the sun came up

Highlight #5: Venice

I’ve been to Venice beach many times, but every time I’m there the beach is a playground for photos.

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Highlight #6: Cliff Diving

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Go cliff diving in California

Highlight #7: The Amazing Race

I would highly recommend this one to anyone with a competitive group of friends/family. This was easily one of the best things we ended up doing while in Cali.

The race was a mixture of a scavenger hunt, puzzles, riddles, etc that sent us speeding through the streets of Hollywood. We solved puzzles while weaving through crowds at the Chinese Theater, ran through subway stations to catch trains with moments to spare, wracked our brains at the Disney Orchestra building and burned through the streets of Hollywood while police were yelling at us to slow down.

There was a moment there, when a series of cars exploded in the background, that left me feeling like John McClain in Die Hard 3. (The explosions weren’t part of the Race, they just happened to be filming a commercial in the area, but it was still really friggin awesome).

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The creators were rather brilliant in their design. Not only were you playing a game, but the race led you to city hotspots with an intention, rather than just milling around in the tourist crowd. You can also make it as intense or relaxed as you want. We just happen to be rabid competitors so we sprinted most of the way.

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Like I said, I would highly recommend. This was simply incredible AND they have races opening in more areas. Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/fantasticrace/timeline

Notable Mentions:

#1 Cupcake ATM We were dumbfounded. “What? That doesn’t exist” we said. We were wrong.

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And they came in neat little boxes too. LA can be a strange place.

Eat a cupcake from the cupcake ATM that really does exist

#2 Dinner and Piano with friends

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Have drinks at a piano bar in Hollywood

There’s plenty I’m leaving out, but this entry is already long enough! California was a fantastic as always, and it served as a perfect end to my extensive trip.

Alaska to Canada, Canada to Minnesota. Minnesota to California, California back to Philadelphia. (Start at the beginning here: Things I’ve Never Done:31 Returning to Depart)

Good times, good memories, and some great Firsts!

~M

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