USA TORONTO FIN

Well its been a few weeks since we have been back from Los Angeles and Toronto so I thought I would blog a bit before I forget everything; also I cant effing sleep.

Los Angeles as a whole was amazing. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did. When I grew up, my parents were dealing with the racial tensions in 90s LA, and it showed in my outright fear of the city. This was my first time being there as a parent/adult (last time was in undergrad) and it was WAY different. First off, I don’t think I ever felt unsafe ; I mean I’m sure that depends on what areas in LA you are in, but this really was totally fine. We were in a few major areas most of the time including Diamond Bar, downtown LA, and Santa Monica. Diamond Bar felt like an American Markham. There was tons of Chinese culture there and generally great eats all around for this Chinese food loving junkie. Lots of late night life too, mostly college kids hanging out getting bubble tea and chilling. I ran once in the neighborhood and it felt fairly fine, with no concerns of running into wildly dangerous street hoodlums as my parents would have had me believe. Downtown LA surprised me even more. We went to Little Tokyo and it had a similar college age kid vibe. Lots of kids just chilling really. Santa Monica was a bit of a tourist trap but not too bad overall. I think the only thing I felt uncomfortable with with the culture was the culture. The kids all seemed to be really cool there. Like everything trending on Instagram. I tend to think of myself of feeling fairly cool looking, although I might just be mirroring the “hello fellow kids” meme at this point in my life. But everyone there just looked interesting, like they had a story about them. I realize that its really just appearances, and that likely there are just as many interesting people in my neck of the woods, but certainly I felt that the kids there just had a vibe that reeked of cool, and I didn’t get that from Toronto.

Workouts were pretty good when I traveled. I blogged about my disdain of running in suburbia in Newmarket in Toronto, and I still hold that disdain. Its really really boring. I think there were trails in Newmarket but they were not within running distance from home. I found some neat trails in the down town area but it was fairly far off and needed a drive to get there. The muckiness of the Toronto humidity really killed it for me there. It was quite surprising for me then, to find that LA air was rather dry and similar to Alberta air. I enjoyed LA weather immensely more than Toronto. The weather was far more moderate in LA; my cousins tell me we went on a fluke week (which is great for me) where the weather was averaging mid twentys. I generally stayed inside to workout because I wanted to use the hotel amenities that we had paid extra for like the hotel gym, but the weather certainly was nice for outdoor runs. It was weird, that I found the weather was cloudy in the morning with a grey dismal coloration, and clear sunny skies by mid afternoon. I’m assuming thats a weather pattern that comes with being coastal city. I ran a few times on the treadmill in the hotel, and got several good sprint runs in there. I did not enjoy having a treadmill mounted TV as much as I thought I would, although the TV was mounted perfect for my eyes as a I ran (my current gym has a TV mounted way too high of an angle for comfort while on treadmill). The weights were moderate, which I expected and fairly spartan in equipment (one bench, one swiss ball). It was a shame because there was lots of mirrors, space, AC, and water in the gym. I had enough weights to do biceps, but not much else (although I didn’t really expect a bunch of 100lb dumbbells in the hotel gym anyways). What was more effective for me I think is that this is the first time travelling doing intermittent fasting, and I enjoyed that tremendously. I didn’t feel bloated at all on this trip, as I usually do on travel when I don’t have access to my regular gym workouts like I do at home. All in all, I really enjoyed wearing a tank top and getting a tan in the LA sun.

I LOVED DRIVING in LA. I did not enjoy the traffic really, and the surprise quick exits and need to merge multiple lanes caught me off guard several times, but Apple Car Play and Google Maps made the experience fairly easy for me- it was similar driving between Toronto and LA with 6 lane traffic. LA seemed to be better at letting you in when you signaled. In Toronto I drove a KIA Sorento as a premium car upgrade and it was not terrible, but nothing truly memorable. As a first time SUV for me, I thought the ride height wasn’t that special, and the three row seating was hampered by the crpapy third row that had no AC coverage and impossible access with two car seats taking the middle row. The occupants had to climb in through the trunk. And the handling was …truck. In LA I had a Dodge Charger R/T (road and track) with 370 HP and 398 Lb feet of torque, and a killer set of taillights. I really enjoyed the sound of the HEMI at ignition, and the unreal power I had at my disposal for passing power. It had an incredible growl. I also enjoyed the five times the gas usage I had in comparison to my dad’s Nissan Altima in our time in LA. I definitely enjoyed that car more than I thought I would. Its not an SRT8 or Hellcat, but that power certainly made me feel like the 270HP in the C350 was totally completely negligible. I particularly enjoyed driving with house music just cruising- 1.5 hour traffic rides didn’t seem so bad when I was enjoying the hell out of my ride. Needless to say I drove the entire time in LA while W stayed in the back with H. It definitely helped that I was not used to the weird burnt orange hues of LA, so everything felt like I was driving in GTA or something.

Food was great in LA. We had a really lovely Chinese meal in Diamond Bar that had a waiter constantly clearing my plate and utensils so I had new ones everytime a new dish came out. It was a bit over the top but kind of fun. I found dim sum to be similar to dim sum in home, so not much different there. Bubble tea was CRAZY huge- it was obvs there was a difference in culture in terms of portion size in America and Canada. The extra large bubble tea was a bucket sized monster and easily enough for two of me. I found there was lots of cool hipstery places in LA so that I could enjoy lots of local fanfare stuff. I found that yakisoba somehow just tastes like stirfried noodles and nothing at all like my childhood memories of yakisoba at OSHO restaurant that was most similar to the noodles in Sapporo’s ichiban chow mein noodles (on second thought maybe thats what they were serving). Surprise hit- Disney food was stellar. I only remember crappy fried foods and mediocre amusement park stuff and terrible spaghetti in Disney; this round had lots of really great foods- the beast burger for the Beauty and the Beast restaurant was fairly good (huge burger with a kobe steak on top of the burger that really needed to be cut up for easier eating), and a braised beef poutine were easy standouts. The pizza at the Toy Story Pizza Planet didn’t look great so I skipped out on that. The Star Wars blue milk was pretty yummy but expensive- essentially a creamy slushee for about 11CDN for a small cup. The juices at the Star Wars bar were way too sweet. The Rapunzel food stall had frozen apple cider that…was too sweet. I missed out on the Dole Pineaple drink unfortunately- the line was crazy during the hot afternoon, and then it was mobile order only at night. I did not enjoy In and Out as much as I thought I would. The single burger was FREAKING tiny; the bun was great and the extra onions were nice but that tiny patty! The coke I had was AMAZING. I don’t know what they did but it was perfectly chilled, sweet, and carbonated and I only ordered a small so I ran out of heaven quickly.

The people- probably the surprise hit for me was how fun my fam jam was when i was over in LA. I haven’t seen my fam jam in ages there, so it was definitely a bit apprehensive for me to be meeting up with them- all my worries were put to rest, they wer ea fun bunch and I think we bonded really well. There was lots to talk about over there- just thirty something year olds shooting the shit. I esp liked talking to my cousin D- shes a big wig with California Silicon Valley and hearing her life style with that industry was pretty slick; its obvs one of my other passions from how much I writer about the tech business, so pretty neat hearing how it roles out as a career path. It sounds glamorous, with lots of money associated with it, but also lots of time away and lack of schedule, with time always being on for career. I don’t think I could make that cut myself. I really enjoyed a quiet morning in the hotel before we left with D in the lobby chatting away. The multiple nights with J and her bf were also pretty slick- some good food in Little Tokyo, walking the streets finding out what the LA life was about, and just catching up over good weather and a nice drink was slick (in comparison the weather at home right now is awful and feels about mid-fall in coldness and lack of sunshine). Having dinner at D’s home with J and her bf was also pretty fun; got to see one hell of a backyard over there (highlight was it having a private pathway up the backyard hill to its own look out point?! omfg); great conversations with total strangers over politics; good company late into the night; and pretty yummy Chinese catered food (Panda Inn, the more formal parent company of Panda Hut Express) where I took so much home for leftoevers for days (like it lasted into our Disney trip and saved me a ton of cash on food haha). Just great. Also had a really good blast talking to total strangers but now family I suppose of D’s husband’s side- got to learn about shipping business ownership foibles and lives (definitely not something I’m familiar with or anyone I know really), and again great company over buffet at a fancy country club breakfast. Pretty good time I would say. I also got to see a Lexus LC and Ferrari FF (651 HP!) in the parking lot. Neat. I’ve seen one LC in the wild from blocks away so that was fun. All in all, great company.

Shooting with just an APSC camera and an older one/entry/mid range body wasn’t that bad. I don’t have any regrets taking my a6000 and 18-105 F4 G. I definitely did not need the 35 mm F1.8 at all. I thought I might bring it up when it was low light in Disney or something, but I ended up using the night exposure mode (taking multiple shots and combining them with noise reduction) most of the time. Generally I hated swapping lenses before the trip, and I still hate swapping lenses now. Having a decent all in one performer was good. The reach was definitely nice, although at times, I pined for 24mm on the wide end instead of the 28mm. I definitely liked having an APSC sensor instead of the 1 inch sensor I was so tempted by on the RX10. I also liked the AF performance  a ton- there were just too many moments where the lack of excellent PDAF sensor/continuous AF with my kid would have lead to missing shots. I don’t think I have anything that comes near the AF performance in my stable- the 18-105 F4 also is a fast AF performer as well, so great. The bulk was not too bad- the Peak Design strap held well during travels. I was especially glad I took my Fossil camera bag instead of a backpack while being out and about. The leanness in baggage was nice, especially when we were running around in crowded areas like line ups.

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