Country Count: 25. Hasn’t changed since Mexico.
Current State Count: 27. It would be 29 if we included DC and Puerto Rico…
This is a new thing for me on my blog. The title of my blog, “Go See the World,” also implies that I want to see every state in these United States — and I’m at 27 thus far. I’ve pretty much done most of the west and a trip to Zion or Arches National Park should help me get to Utah at some point in the next year or two. I’ve got plans for New Orleans at some point this year too so hopefully I can bring that number up to around 30 by year’s end.
Trip Background: When I’m not daydreaming of being like Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern and sharing my travel stories as a means of supporting my lavish lifestyle, I’m usually at work. I’m a consultant specializing in building training and change management programs for companies implementing a new technology system. This has afforded me the fantastic opportunity to see a bunch of places and I’m currently working in sunny Santa Monica, California.
This is the kind of place where the music of the Beach Boys, Southern California stereotypical sunshine, and affluent people all come together in a hive of modern restaurants, trendy shops and bars, and beachside beauty. The kind of place where people roll into the office from their SoulCycle class or the juicery (or both) and they usually do so with a sh*t eating grin on their face. They’re happy and they know it – and you know what? They deserve it. It’s a happy place.
From the Santa Monica pier to residential communities, people love living here. They can bike, walk, and run. They can have fresh seafood or go browsing for a fleece at REI which frankly they may only wear on a handful of nights in the year. They can BBQ on their patio or drive away from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, San Diego, or even — god forbid — drive to see their friends in other parts of LA.
Staying: Because I’m here for work, I’ve been staying at the Westin Los Angeles Airport, the Sheraton Los Angeles Airport, and the Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles Westside. Let’s get clear on one thing. Each of these hotels is really geared towards people who just need a place to stay. They’re in each industrial areas, appear to be focused on business travelers (less so the Four Points), and are close to the highways and airport. Parking is an additional cost at each place and the Sheraton is undergoing some major renovation as of February 2015) so keep that in mind too.
Dining: Downtown Santa Monica has some outstanding options. The Lobster is right at the entrance to the Santa Monica pier and serves up some of the best seafood with a great view of the pier and the ferris wheel. What surprised me the most though was Little Osaka – a small stretch on Sawtelle Blvd. that has Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and a bunch of other tasty ethnic cuisines packed into a small neighborhood. The highlight was ROC Kitchen, an affordable Taiwanese joint with rich, vibrant flavors and will leave you full and satisfied. Their xiao long bao, the traditional soup dumplings, are a great way to start the meal. Make sure to try the Dungeness Crab fried rice and the 3-Cup Chicken – and don’t worry about the big peppers in the chicken. They provide a great flavor for the dish but don’t make it spicy… (if however you eat the pepper itself, prepare for a run to the bathroom).
Overall: If you took Pharrell’s hit song Happy and spun it into a city’s weather, it would be Santa Monica. People here look perpetually happy in their lightly tanned lives and despite sitting in traffic for hours to go anywhere, they all seem to take it in stride. I can see why people choose to live here. It’s probably not my cup of tea in that I hate driving with a passion, but you know what? This is a great place to work!