Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hello, LA!

When my cousin Brady announced he was getting married in LA in September, I felt really bad that I wouldn't be able to make it. Then I thought about it, called my brother, and decided that there was NO WAY I was missing this wedding.

We left last Thursday. Nick, Clementine, and I didn't make it very far before TSA pulled me out of the line and accosted me about combustible reside on my hands. I had nothing to hide and so I waited patiently, Clementine squirming in the Ergo and Nick surrendering his toothpaste to the officials, while they patted down the suspect in front of me. My pat down was fine, except that I'd taken my belt off to go through the metal detectors and so my pants fell off in front of my brother. So that was awesome.

Making it through airport security felt like an accomplishment and so we grabbed a couple of beers at the pub near our gate. This vacation was off to an auspicious start, I thought when suddenly we heard "Final boarding call for passengers Mitchell and Ross." I'd like to tell you that this was the only time we nearly missed our flight on this trip, but that would be a lie, so instead I'll just say that I think Nick and I both learned a valuable lesson: airport pubs are a time vortex.

Once we got on the plane we made a game plan: we both wanted to cram as much vacation as possible into the next four days.
Day one: Surfing at Venice Beach.

As we were walking along in search of a surf shop, I started joking around about seeing a celebrity. My brother has this awesome dumb luck, so I just knew that we'd see someone famous because that's the kind of stuff that happens when Nick is around.

We passed Muscle Beach and saw a crowd gathered. "Aha, here we go!" I said to Nick. It was Tom Arnold. Weak.

"Well, he was married to Roseanne Barr," Nick tried to make the best of it. We continued on to the surfing beach to check out the waves. Nick decided it was worth it to rent a board and so we turned around and walked back toward Muscle Beach.

"You know, a lot of celebrities got their start right here," Nick began spouting trivia, as Nick does in these situations. "Arnold Schwarzenegger..." And no sooner had the words escaped his lips then we heard a distinct voice being amplified over the crowd at Muscle Beach. Was it? Could it be? Holy shit, it was Arnold! The Terminator!

We squeezed through fences and elbowed our way through the crowd. We scaled bleachers and slipped into reserved sections, Arnold's voice mocking us all the while. "I'm not leaving until I see his face," I informed Nick and the two other tourists who'd joined us in our quest. Nick's height afforded him an advantage and at last he spied him. On my tippiest of toes, Clementine sleeping obliviously on my front, I craned my neck through a sea of iPhones and saw him for myself. Arnold effing Schwarzenegger! He was wearing a lot of make up. I think he was selling vitamin supplements.

Celebrity sighting accomplished, we spent the afternoon on the beach. It was all very Baywatch, minus the sun and the David Hasslehoff. Really though, that would have been too much So Cal for me.

Nick and I made several observations while in Southern California: first of all, 80's music sounds better when you are in LA. I'm not sure why this is, but trust me. The music of Phil Collins is alive and well in Southern California. Who knew?

Secondly, navigating the city is easy. If you just remember to take the 210 to the 134, you're golden. It always works, no matter what your destination is.

In-N-Out Burger really is as awesome as they say it is. Even for a vegetarian. I am still thinking about that chocolate milkshake.

My brother resembles Macklemore. This discovery was made, unfortunately, 48 hours after I'd commented on how homely Macklemore looks on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Clementine is a friend-maker and a tourist attraction. On the Hollywood strip I was stopped by a tourist who wanted her picture taken with Clementine. I didn't even ask for a tip.

We picked my cousins Dave and Emily up from the airport the night before the wedding. They are earthy Oregonian types and Nick and I wondered how to show them a good time in LA. I was a little surprised (and secretly thrilled) when they said they wanted to go to Hollywood.

The wedding was that afternoon in a crazy nice house (Vince Vaughn lives two doors down). Clementine slept through most of the ceremony, woke up for dinner and a bite of cupcake, and then crashed back out for the rest of the evening.

I wore a dress that my grandma Helen made and wore to my aunt Jacie's wedding in 1979.

Love to be with my cousins so much. All evening we were referred to as the Oregon Connection, and I think it's pretty safe to say that our family owned that dance floor. The ceiling definitely could not hold us.

I am so, so glad that I did not miss this wedding.

We stayed with my dad's brother, Uncle Winston. This meant that Nick and I spent time with both sides of our family and it was an efficient vacation as far as seeing relatives is concerned.

"I've grown quite fond of this one," Uncle Winston said of Clementine as we were getting ready to leave. I only wish we could have spent another couple of days.

We decided to cram in one last trip to Hollywood with my cousin Lauren and her daughter Audrey. It was a brilliant Sunday morning and it was clear that our original plan to visit Griffith Park Observatory to see the Hollywood sign was shared by half the population of Los Angeles.

As we drove further along the winding canyon road in search of a parking spot, I remembered the Nick Mitchell dumb luck. "We are going to see that sign," I assured Lauren, who had never seen it before. Both kids were crying in the backseat at this point.

We flagged down a local who told us just where to go, and after only two wrong turns and some helpful advice from a guy on a horse, we arrived.

It was truly painful to pack up our gear and get on the plane to come home. Never in my life have I gone from YOLO to FML so quickly. It didn't help that we'd left the brightest blue California sky and were returning to cold, rainy Eugene.

Maybe that's why we nearly missed our connecting flight out of Portland. I am still not sure how you miss the boarding call when you are standing so close to the gate, but oh well.

I knew we'd get on the plane just fine. That Nick Mitchell dumb luck never lets you down.


  1. What a super fun trip! Your brother sounds like a gem. 2 Famous Arnolds in one trip, Hollywood sign sightings and more. I love, love, love that you wore your grandma's handmade dress. What a treasure handmade gifts are, I'm sure she would never have imagined her dress would show up in LA some 34 years later. Amazing and so sweet.

  2. Ha! You got to see a fellow Austrian (of origin at least - and we do try to deny him most of the time...) :-)
    I totally love this post, the airport pub, the wedding, your dress and your brother's dumb luck. I wish I had a bit of that party spirit of yours.

  3. Fun! Looks like you covered all the bases while you were here, I'm glad you had a good time! I love that Hollywood sign hike - did you know you can hike all the way up until you're standing behind and above it? One of the best views in town. Also, you guys saw more celebrities in one day than I usually see in a week! Granted, I don't spend a lot of time out and about in the areas they would be hanging out in, haha, but still, that's impressive =]