My wife and I had a rare opportunity to visit Los Angeles this month. Recently, Danielle and I have been going to Las Vegas for fashion week. During these trips we connect with clothing wholesalers for our retail store The Enchanted Forrest in Asheville, NC. This time we scheduled the trip so that we could drive over to LA and visit my sister An and her boyfriend Kyle. (note: The quality of photos will vary, since some are from iPhone.)
Even though the visit was for one day, we made the most out of it. Kyle really knows Los Angeles well and he showed us as much as we could handle in one day. Early on Saturday, we woke up at their apartment in Studio City and headed towards Malibu. We needed food, so we went to this diner called Neptune's Net right on the Pacific Coast Highway. I have never been to a place like it. Neptune's Net has fresh seafood and is very popular with bikers – a lot of bikers. It was a surreal experience to see so many rough and tough bikers in one place. Since it was on such a popular stretch of road, there were a lot of locals and tourists there too. The food was amazing. The best part was that you can look out and see the ocean.
After that, we hiked down to El Matador Beach. The walk to the beach was very steep. As we approached the staircase, a beautiful view of the cliffs surprised me. I have seen pictures of this beach before, but there was nothing like seeing it in person. Kyle said, “You've came this far. You have to take your shoes off and stand in the water.” Ah, the Pacific Ocean! Compared to the East Coast, the sand seemed more coarse and the rock formations extending into the ocean were magnificent. After the steep hike out we went to a restaurant called Moonshadows for a drink.
Moonshadows seemed like a local hangout with a casual atmosphere and high end food. We just stopped for a drink, but my mouth fell open when I saw the food the waiters carrying to their tables. The restaurant was so close to the beach that the waves crashed under the building. It seemed like this was a place where a lot of Hollywood deals can happen. I looked around and all I could see were people that looked healthy and successful. The parking lot was filled with expensive cars. I am glad that we just had a drink there, because my wallet couldn't take the sting of a full meal.
As we were driving out of the parking lot, my sister said, “Dunc, Dunc, take a photo. It's Caitlyn Jenner!” As we were waiting for traffic to exit the lot, a tall individual with a dress, long brown hair, and sunglasses seemed to be adjusting their outfit before entering Moonshadows. I saw who An was talking about, but I didn't want to point the camera at Caitlyn. Hell, I didn't know. She might have saw me taking a picture then punch me in the face. Caitlyn did seem to linger there like she wanted her picture taken. I was too chicken, but my sister did take a picture with her iPhone (shown). That was my only celebrity sighting that day. I am really out of the loop when it comes to movies and celebrities. I may have walked right by other famous people and never knew it.
We headed south to Venice Beach and what a crazy place it is. If you haven't been there, the best way I can explain it would be that it is a enormous county fair on crack at one of the coolest geographical locations in the country. Since it was Saturday, it was busy. People were biking, running, drinking, skating, rapping, doing graffiti, protesting, weight lifting, making out, doing drugs, playing games, paying music, selling gifts, shooting videos... Get the picture? There was a wide range of people there, from super rich to skid row. It was a lot to take in. It seemed like every hustle ever invented was happening in plain sight and behind the scenes.
We noticed a cool rooftop bar when walking through Venice Beach. Kyle suggested that we go up and have a drink. There were a lot of “firsts” that I experienced on this trip. But I never been to a bar that had triple layer security upon entering. There was a bouncer watching the door only letting people who “look” like they should go in. Once that guy opened the door for us we went to a station where we got carded and stamped. We took the elevator to the top. The elevator attendant looked like he was security also. When we got off the elevator there was another station with two doormen who checked our stamps. Now that was some tight security!
The name of the place is High Rooftop Lounge and it is at the top of Hotel Erwin. I have to say that this was the coolest rooftop bar that I have ever been to. I felt a little out of place and under dressed, but I just acted like I was supposed to be there and had a great time. Danielle and I couldn't get over the view at the top. We could look down at Venice Beach, see downtown LA, Hollywood, and up the coast at Malibu. The DJ was one of the best that I have heard. Like Moonshadows, High Rooftop Lounge seemed to be filled with important people. Even the bus boy looked like he could be a model or an actor. The vibe was so great, that we stayed for a few Tito's and tonics.
Dinner was great, but I don't remember the name of the restaurant. I do remember that you needed a key code combination to get into the restroom. That was another first. We went to the rooftop for a drink, and the rest of the night got kind of blurry. We were stuffed with food and the drinks were catching up with me. It was getting dark and Kyle took us on a scenic drive on the way to their apartment. I was exhausted and wanted to pass out. During moments of consciousness, Kyle would say where we were at. I just had my camera in auto mode, pointed in the general direction. I remember seeing glimpses of the different places through the slits in my eyes. I barely remember seeing Rodeo Drive, West Hollywood, and Sunset Strip. After a bumpy and twisty ride over Laurel Canyon, we were back home. The next memory I had was waking up in the morning and thinking that was one of the coolest experiences that I can remember. I checked my camera's images to reflect on the action packed day and packed up for the drive to Las Vegas.
On the way out of town, Danielle and I followed An and Kyle to the original Big Boy restaurant in Burbank. I remember loving it when my mom would take my sisters and I to Big Boy. One of my childhood memories is having those double patty burgers in the classic diner setting. We had breakfast food instead of burgers, but that classic diner atmosphere was so cool. Eating at Big Boy was a great sendoff before the long drive across the desert. I really enjoyed the visit and hope to do it again soon. Click here to read about our Las Vegas buying trip for The Enchanted Forrest.