Thursday, July 28, 2011

Settling in

Well, I've been in the new place for a few days now. And I REALLY like it!

We moved in Monday afternoon and immediately started checking out the local thrift stores for some cheap furniture. We eventually made our way to the Salvation Army in Lawndale where we found some incredibly cheap brand new bed sets and living room furniture. It may not be the fanciest stuff and our apartment may be pretty empty, but it's starting to feel like home and I'm really enjoying it.

I wasn't joking when I said it's pretty empty!

Since moving in and getting things ready we've been keeping busy on the job front (more to come on that next time) and spending our free time exploring. We're within walking distance of about everything you could imagine, including the beach. Within a block of our place there's a used book store, grocery store, several thrift shops, a taco bell, an unbelievably cheap and delicious pizza place (reminds me of Canyon in State College), cafes, and lots of other places I can't think of off the top of my head.

The only time we've really left the area was to go deep into the South Bay hills last night to the movies. We had some free tickets and decided to use them to see Captain America (which was AWESOME). The Regal theatre we went to was in this really great little outdoor mall on top of a hill. It was cool to see another Regal and see everyone doing what I did 40 hours a week for the last 4 years of my life. It also made me really miss all my friends from the theatre, and of course it made me miss a certain girl even more!

I suppose I've used enough of the free internet at Starbucks and I better head out. Time to run some errands before meeting Troy, Lisa, and the rest of the family for dinner. Hope everyone is doing great back east!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Well tomorrow morning Hal and I move into our apartment in Redondo Beach. I've been living out of my suitcase for three weeks now, and I'm beyond ready to unpack my stuff and have my own room again. It took a lot longer and a lot more work to get into this place than we thought it would, and we definitely couldn't have done it without several people:

My Dad, Pap, Mom, Steve, Troy, Lisa, Gram & Pap B, Hal's Mom, and last but definitely not least.. Brittany. A few days on her couch ended up being over two weeks, and I can't thank her enough for letting Hal and I (and Lauren for a few days) invade her home and stay WAYYYY too long. I definitely owe her and I hope she knows how grateful I am.


In the midst of getting ready to head across town to our new place, we decided to spend Saturday in Hermosa Beach. There was a giant amateur volleyball tournament where each team had to have a theme and wear costumes. It was really fun to watch. We watched for a while, walked around town, met up with Troy, then just hung out around the water. It was really nice to get away from the crammed feeling of BH/West Hollywood.

So I'm not sure how long it'll be until I have internet access again (other than on my phone), but hopefully it won't be long and I'll be able to update this again in the near future. Off to the beach!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Staying cool

It's Friday evening here in LA and I'm still at Brittany's. Yes, we were hoping to be in our apartment by now but they didn't get the carpet done in time for us to be in by the weekend. So we're now officially moving in first thing Monday morning. Thank goodness!

The other day Hal and I decided we would try to get tickets to another late night show. This time we went for my favorite show, Conan. Tickets to his shows are free but are always reserved months in advance, but we knew they did a standby program where we could go get standy tickets in the morning, then come back in the evening and see if they have any extra seats. We drove to Burbank (about fifteen minutes north of the city) to the Warner Brothers lot and got our standby tickets around 10 in the morning.

The taping wasn't until later in the afternoon, so we decided to go back to Brittany's for a few hours.. But on the way back we got a little sidetracked and decided to take a drive up to the Hollywood sign.

We drove to this park where you could hike right up to the sign, but since we were so far from the ocean it was really hot and Hal was in sandals, so we decided just to snap a few pictures and head back.

Unfortunately when we got back to Hal's car we discovered the antifreeze was leaking everywhere and the car would need towed. So after waiting for roadside assistance for a while and having to take a cab across town from the garage, we missed the show. And this is two breakdowns for Hal's car this month.. Definitely not cool.

But now that his car is all fixed we're just continuing to stay in and burn time without burning money, but we do have plans for tomorrow. We're gonna do what we should've done the first day we got here.... Go to the beach and swim! We'll head down to Hermosa Beach tomorrow and visit Troy & Lisa for a little, then hit the water. It's going to be great! I feel bad for everyone at home that has to deal with the heat wave, especially because it's so nice over here. Being so close to the cold water, the temperature never seems to get over 85, gets down to about 70 at night, there's no humidity, and there's always a really nice ocean breeze. Am I trying to convince all of my friends and family to move out here by talking about how great it is and showing so many pictures??..


 I hope everyone finds a way to stay cool back east!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Almost moving time!

There we are! In the second row, just to the right of Jimmy!

Today Hal and I went to Lawndale and finished the paperwork we had left for our apartment. We were told that we could be moving in as early as Thursday, if they finish the carpet on time, that is. So no matter what, we'll be in good old Redondo Beach by the weekend. We're ready to go, and I'm sure Brittany is ready for us to go too!

Before going to Lawndale we stopped by Hermosa Beach to burn some time.

It was a really nice day and I wanted to swim so badly. Maybe this weekend!

Before coming back to Beverly Hills, we decided to run a few errands. We got some groceries, looked at some used furniture, and... I got a haircut..

Rather than taking a little off the top, I took EVERYTHING off the top. I figured since this month has brought about so much change, I might as well try something else new. I'm not sure what I think of it yet, all I know is that I need to work on my forehead tan!


Well the wait is on to move into our apartment, and now it looks like we won't be in until Saturday, which leaves us a week to entertain ourselves without spending money.. A difficult task in this city..

We've walked around a lot lately, and I noticed this sign while out recently:

It may not look like much, but it's cool for several reasons. First, it's a poster for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, which I'm really excited for. Second, it's by this really cool street artist (that Lauren told me about) named Banksy. He was hired by the band to go around the city and make each poster from scratch, so each one you see is a complete original. Pretty cool, even though this one already had some stickers on it.

Hal and Brittany recommended going to the Cheesecake factory yesterday, and after sitting inside for a few days, I figured I'd treat myself to a good meal. And it was AMAZING, definitely a place I plan on going back to. Delicious!

I also felt it necessary to put a picture of this tank-like car that was next to us in the garage... Interesting.

But the coolest thing we've done this week was go to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live (a pretty awesome late night show). I'm part of an audience casting show that offers free tickets to certain events. They got me into the VMA's a few years back and the NFL Draft last year. When I saw they had tickets available for tonight's taping, I snagged them up and we went. It was REALLY cool. We waited in line for about a half hour, then went inside. They gave Hal and I two options, either sit in the second row, two feet away from Jimmy for the monologue of his show and be forced to spend the second half of his show in one of the last rows (they remove the two seats after the monologue), or just sit in the bleachers the entire show. So of course we took option A (His guest was Roseanne, and we didn't really care if we were that close for her segment), and after the pre show comedian, we were sitting so close to Jimmy that we could've grabbed his leg for the first part of the show. Our seats after we moved were good to though. So cool. we're waiting for the show to come on TV now, and if we see ourselves I'll be sure to find a screen shot to put on here next time. Such a great show. We had to turn our phones off during the actual show, but I made sure to snap a few pictures right when we got in.

The announcer for the show was Dicky Barrett, the singer for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and one of my favorite musicians. It was definitely a pleasant surprise seeing him walk right next to me.

I'll definitely be going to more tapings when I can.

And wow, do I ever miss that girl!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Carmageddon approaches..

It's Friday afternoon in Beverly Hills, and I'm preparing to start my weekend indoors. Carmageddon begins tonight around rush hour and runs until early Monday morning. And no, I did not create the title myself, it's been in the news for several months now, and warnings are posted all over the city. What is it, you ask? It's the complete closing of the 405 Freeway, the road that I just learned has over half a million cars travel on it on any given weekend in LA (6 lanes both ways, always packed). They're doing major construction which will make traffic in the city unbearable, and is causing Hal, Brittany, and me to only travel on foot for the weekend.

To prepare for the weekend, yesterday Hal and I walked deep into the neighborhood to the first grocery store we could find. It turned out to be an incredibly expensive organic market, so we only grabbed a few things and headed back. I should've known it would be expensive when I saw the cars at the local Rent-a-Car, next to the store:

The trip to the store was cool because I had my first celebrity sighting (other than the yet to be identified actor we saw in Manhattan Beach the other day), professional wrestler, Batista. I used to be a HUGE fan of wrestling as a kid, and immediately recognzed the guy. Pretty cool.

After we got back we decided to walk to the Grove for something to do. So we walked over, grabbed a bite to eat, got a book, and started right back. A good 5 or 6 miles of walking all in one afternoon. It felt great!

Later we met up with Brittany after she got off work and went to meet her friends. Everyone was really nice! They all worked at her PR firm and had cool stories to tell, we went to a few bars and had another celebrity sighting when someone pointed out to me that we were sitting next to cast members of the HBO show "True Blood" (I've never seen the show but it was still cool). We went to a few bars and decided to head back around midnight.

It was a nice, easygoing day, much like the weekend to come. In the midst of it all, we've also locked down our apartment and will be moving in sometime next week. Thanks a lot to everyone that helped us get the place! It's a nice place in Redondo Beach, about twenty blocks to the water. I'm so ready to move in and start working!

That's all for now, sorry I didnt take more pictures, I'll remember to take more next time we're out. Now, onto my lazy weekend!

Someone is way ahead of me!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting the ball rolling...

It's Wednesday now, and I've been in LA for few days, a really terrific few days. I've been to every beach in the area, all the way from the South Bay to Malibu, and I've seen almost every sight there is to see.
But I've also been taking steps to try and set up my life in this crazy city. I've made lots of steps towards getting an apartment and getting off Brittany's couch. I've been constantly checking out West Side Rentals, Craigslist, all the local newspapers, apartment finders, and even just driving around and looking for "For Rent" signs. I've sent soooo many emails and made lots of calls. The other day I did get the opportunity to tour a nice place in Redondo Beach.. It's one of the cheaper places we've found, and it's in a great neighborhood. Hal and I filled out the applications for it last night, and he's dropping them off at the office this morning, so I'm keeping my finger's crossed on that one!

Time for some pictures..

The Chinese Theatre

I've learned a lot about this city in the last few days too. I feel like I've stepped up my game behind the wheel (you have to if you ever want to merge anywhere), and I've also learned to be incredibly careful when driving on the 405 (America's busiest freeway). For example, yesterday Lauren and I were driving in one of the center lanes when a full size ladder fell off the truck in front of us! Thank God I was able to get around it just in time, that would not have turned out to well for my car! If we can find an apartment in the area we're looking at, we'll rarely have to use this freeway, another reason to keep our fingers crossed.
We also learned not to do our shopping at gas stations by buying a half gallon of milk that was completely spoiled!
But most importantly, I've learned to NEVER go over your parking time limit, even by just a few minutes. The now missing $53 from my bank account will be my reminder for that one!
Crazy stuff, but it's all part of the city. And it's all helping me learn.

The Shopping Center on Hollywood Blvd

Malibu Beach

Malibu/Santa Monica Beach

Today is also the day Lauren and I have hoped wouldn't come. It's the day she leaves to go back to Harrisburg. She leaves late tonight, so we still have the full day together. But the impending thoughts of her not being here tomorrow are definitely tough to look past, and can really make it difficult to treat this like any other day. We've really had the best time together over these last nine days, and I'm not ready for her to leave!

So I would like to thank Skype in advance for the many hours of catching up that lie ahead. I'll miss you Lauren!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

West Coastin

Today marked my first full day here in California. We only did a few things but we stretched them all out into a very long day.

We started out by sleeping in a little bit, something we haven't done all week (and it was GREAT!). We then went out and had a quick lunch on Melrose before heading to Hermosa Beach for the afternoon. I can't get over how much I love that whole area, I really hope I can find an apartment around there somewhere. We ended up going on a very long walk along the beach and pier that was really nice, except for the resulting sunburn.

After the beach we went and visited with Lisa, Jilian, Abigail, and Jack (the twins just got back from their birthday parties, and were so pumped!). We didn't stick around long before heading back to the Hills to meet up with Brittany again.

We spent the better part of the evening visiting the Grove, which is a giant market place in the middle of town with really great food and shops. We got some food and watched a really cool water show, then took a short drive and called it a night. It was a pretty easygoing day, but it was just what we needed.

Tomorrow the apartment hunt begins!

The Arrival!

Yesterday morning we cleared out of our hotel in Williams, AZ and started day five of our incredible journey. We left around 8:30 and started the half hour drive to the Grand Canyon. And WOW, was it ever amazing. The Canyon has so many different overlooks and hiking paths that we could've stayed all day, and we really wanted to. We walked along the upper rim of the south end for a while, and Biff began to notice the squirrels sitting on the side of a small stone wall that seperated us from a long fall into the Canyon. Everyone around us got a real kick out of him growling, but the laughter soon turned to gasps of shock when Biff decided to try to jump OVER THE WALL to try and get the squirrel!!! Luckily, I had his leash just short enough that I was able to pull him back before he could make it, but wow.. That was scary. My dog would jump off a cliff to chase a squirrel.. Good to know!

After about two hours of walking and picture taking, we decided around noon it was time to leave and head towards Hoover Dam. Neither one of us wanted to leave, but we knew we had to if we wanted to get to California that evening. So we finished off the Arizona desert (that was now very rocky with lots of mountains) and got to the Hoover Dam by about 4:00. We really only planned on staying for about fifteen minutes, so we found a parking garage and went to the cashier. Unfortunately, the cashier was about the meanest person we've met. She told us (or yelled at us) that no dogs were allowed in the lot or on the dam and that we'd have to go to a lot pretty far from the dam and walk down to see it one at a time while the other stayed with Biff. She also informed us that, apparently because she didn't trust us, she was going to be telling security to keep an eye on us and watch our car. Seeing the dam one at a time didn't sound like much fun, so we just simply drove over the dam, found a place to look out, and hopped out and snapped some pictures real quick before heading out. Not our best stop, but we didn't let it ruin our spirits. We still got to drive over the dam, see Lake Mead, and check out the beautiful mountains that surrounded them. Now it was just a thirty minute drive to Las Vegas.

We got into Vegas and decided that, since we were still over five hours from LA, we would just drive through the town and stop for a few pictures. We started on Las Vegas Bouldvard in the old part of town and aimed to drive the whole way through to the new part. Unfortunately, the car started acting a little funny and we had to pull over, next to the Riviera. It was the same way it acted the second day on our trip. Basically, when we stopped at a red light, the RPMs would start climbing by  themselves and nearly stall the car when they went back down. This only seemed to happen when we had been driving with no breaks in extreme heat, so we stopped to let the car cool off for about a half hour while we decided what to do.

We started the car and drove it around the lot for about ten minutes and it seemed to be working better. Figuring that since we have AAA, and since all the repair shops were probably closed until Monday, we'd just go for it and try to finish the trip. We figured it would be best to put an end to the stop and go driving of Las Vegas Boulevard and just get back on the highway, where the car had been doing fine all week. So we cut our already short Vegas stop even shorter and headed for the coast. And yes, I will take the car to get fixed this week!

We crossed into California after less than an hour of driving, and drove through our last stretch of desert. The last bit of the trip was very long, but was made easier by the best desert sunset we've seen yet.

After driving since 8:30 AM, we FINALLY arrived in Los Angeles around 11:00 and we were greeted by our friend Brittany, who has been kind enough to let us stay at her place, right outside of Beverly Hills.
So after 3000 miles and over 50 hours of driving, we've finally made it! It feels a little strange right now not having to get everything together and hurry out the door right to get on the road. This is our first chance to relax and really enjoy everything without having a fairly strict time limit. It's sad that our journey has come to an end, but exciting to know that the adventure is just beginning. There's still so much to see and experience and I just can't wait for it all. But no matter what happens here in California, I'm sure I'll never forget those five days when Lauren, Biff, and I drove the entire way across the country, stopping at every attraction we could and having so much fun doing it. Such a great time, and so many more great times ahead.
So we're here and now it's time to explore the city and and find a place to live. Stay tuned for part two.. Alex builds a life in California!