First things first

First things first

Just a hop, skip and jump, and we’re back in Hipville! The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane was how cool it was in LA. I think the temps must’ve been in the 70’s with a cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific. For a moment, it felt more like spring than smack in the middle of summer.

My first cup of coffee came out of desperation a Keurig coffee maker. Wide awake at 4 o’clock in the morning due to the 15-hour time difference, I could either try to go back to sleep except I’ve been lying there for an hour and clearly nothing’s happening. Or I could down a cup of freshly dripped coffee to shock the jetlag out of my system.

First things first

Along with lack of sleep always comes pangs of hunger. I swear a great deal of energy is expended by the body in trying to deal with the confusion of the internal clock. This, by the way, is a great time to catch up with all that food I’ve been missing.

First stop, Baja. I tell ya there’s much more to that grilled shrimp salad than meets the eye. Each mouthful is like music to my tastebuds. That’s how much I’ve missed Mexican food. Sorry about the glare in the photo. We were seated by the glass wall and the mid-morning sun was pouring in.

First things first

Next stop, Round Table. Notice how the toppings go all the way to the very edge of the pizza instead of stopping short, leaving a 1-inch outer ring of plain pizza dough with zero topping.

First things first

And it’s open season for fruits again. I really needed to take a break from Korean pears (inside joke lol) but ended up buying a 6-pack of apple pears (not in picture). Talk about old habits.

I also bought a huge watermelon which was so juicy and sweet we devoured half of it in just one day. Strawberries and blueberries are in season too, so plump, sweet and inexpensive. Happy days!

First things first

Flowers and fake apologies

Flowers and fake apologies

So there I am at LA Airport with lots of time on my hands. The place is huge, ever busy, ever crowded. Trying to find a seat to park yourself and your baggage is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Traveling in entire villages seems to be the thing these days, which means there are no seats left for the rest of us. Hel-llo, does your backpack need to have its own seat?!!

After walking up and down 5 or 6 times, I finally spot a partially hidden seat between a man and a woman. Unsure if the man understands English, I ask the woman instead if the seat beside her is taken. It isn’t, whew! At last, I finally get to park myself somewhere.

And do nothing.

I confess I’m one of those rare dinosaur types who isn’t perpetually glued to technology. or peace-signing for the hundredth selfie. So there really isn’t much to do at all except maybe text my kids. And people-watch. Or attempt small talk with the nearest person to kill time. On a good day, a random person might even initiate small talk with me.

I look over at the lady on my right. She seems friendly enough but she’s glued to Facebook on her laptop (duh!). But then, I notice her gazing occasionally at the people streaming by. Suddenly she turns to me and points, “See the guy with the flowers?”

I’m like, where but he’s vanished into the crowd. It’s such a busy place and people are just going wooosh every millisecond! After a while, everything becomes a blur.

Flowers and fake apologies (Image credit:

“I hate people who try to suck up to you with flowers and a fake apology,” she continues. I don’t know what it was about the guy that gave her that idea but “Yup, I have to agree,” I reply, wondering who, in her life, she’s talking about.

Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, a fake apology or no apology at all. Apologies are as rare as blue diamonds with some people. So yeah, if ever there’s one uttered, fake or otherwise, I’ll take it, thanks!

“If they’re not really sorry, sucking up with a bunch of flowers ain’t gonna cut it,” she goes on. “I know what you mean,” is my simple reply. 네, 사과에요 lol! I totally get where she’s coming from. I’m certain now that someone in her life’s been a jerk. Turns out it’s her ex. I gather that’s exactly why he’s her ex.

The man beside me leaves. Instantly a whole village swoops in to grab his seat – grandparents, parents, grown siblings and their offspring. One of the women quickly settles into that one seat with her son on her lap while the village spreads out around her, all talking loudly. The hyperactive boy wriggles around and kicks my leg.

His mother sees it but says nothing. No apology. Not even a fake one? This would be the perfect time to teach the next generation some manners. But no, she was just going to let it go and now that boy is going to think it’s okay to kick someone and not apologize.

My new friend gazes momentarily at them and shakes her head. They’re getting louder by the minute. We continue talking and laughing but have to raise our voices to hear each other above the din.

I give her a small bag of red velvet cookies from my bag. She chomps on them while I nibble on my jam sandwich from home as we exchange notes about hobbies and interests. And there we were – two tired travelers in one crazy huge airport bonding over cookies and fake apologies within that short space of time.

The unwilling courier

So it looks like we have another episode of someone we’ve never even met aka friend of a friend of a friend asking us to buy and bring stuff back for them from our travels. On a good day and if they’re a treasured friend, I might make it an exception and say yes. But look, if I don’t know this person from Adam, or Eve in this case, forget it! I’m a nice person but no! And you know why? Because if the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t even think to impose on someone’s time and luggage space to shop for my stuff and cart it halfway across the world. That would be entirely too selfish and tactless of me.

But as society goes around here, we’ve encountered numerous episodes of such people who sadly only think of themselves, have no manners, and/or are completely unappreciative. Once we bought a tube of beauty cream for some woman who then told us it was the wrong cream. She didn’t want it and conveniently ‘forgot’ to pay us back. There goes our $70 + like it’s our fault??!! It’s a risk you take by asking a complete stranger to do your shopping. And if it’s the wrong item, she should quietly suck it up and pay up. But no, not this woman! So that’s what you get from doing someone a favor.

In the current episode though, maybe I should excuse this person. She wants us to buy her a supply of immortality pills!! I had no idea immortality pills existed. Did you? Hmmm, but I think I can understand! I mean, who doesn’t want to live forever, eh? So yeah! She may not have met us before even but that sure ain’t gonna stop her from getting her hands on those ‘never say die’ pills, right?!!!

At this point, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. First off, do I look like Fedex to you?, and second, pills that let you live forev…?!!! Wait, let’s back this up a second here. Now if I throw my calculator into my Business degree, I’m going to say, heck, I’ll toss out my suitcases, fork out any amount of excess baggage fees, and play courier. I mean, it’s immortality we’re talking about here!! Hohoho, at this rate, I might even be buying over Fedex next!

But seriously, Ms Immortal Wannabe, I suggest you order your pills online and wait for them to be shipped to you. It might cost a bit more and take a bit longer but then, as I understand it, time is on your side and you sure can afford to wait forever. Right? 😉

The Golden Gate Bridge is what?

The Golden Gate Bridge is what?

From Lombard Street, we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. The plan was to walk the bridge seeing as it was such good weather. Well, trust us to pick a day when the Golden Gate Bridge was completely closed to traffic for maintenance for the first time in 77 years!! Man oh man! Okay, no problem, we know a place where we can still get a great view of the bridge but first, we had to find a restroom… bad!

Well, if you’re looking for a restroom, the Palace of Fine Arts isn’t the place!! We took a detour there thinking surely a touristy place like that would have at least some one restroom? No. There are undoubtedly restrooms inside the convention hall behind it but that’s closed most of the time unless there’s an event.

If you’ve ever gone restroom-hunting on a desperately full bladder, you know it isn’t funny! The closest thing we found was an IHOP a couple of blocks down. Since their restroom is for customers only, we ended up eating brunch there with the intention of having lunch in Chinatown later. Up till now, we’ve never had reason to go to IHOP – I make my own pancakes. So naturally we didn’t order pancakes but these instead…

I hop away

They were nothing special but that’s the price you pay for using their restroom! Not once, but twice each to make it worth our money, hahah! The crazy things we do!

We picked a fine day to go to the recreation area near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was swarming with half the city out running, bicycling, walking their dogs, kids and surfboards on a Sunday! Driving was madness. There were people everywhere but we found a parking spot easily enough, right next to some guy who was getting geared up to go paddle boarding with his dog. In the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean? Wow!!

Golden Gate Brdige

Zigzagging down Lombard St.

Zigzagging down Lombard St.

Like I said, the streets of San Francisco make one heckuva fun ride. We were all set. First stop, Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. This time, I parked at the top and we walked down these stairs.


No matter how many times I’ve been here, the feeling is always the same. I’m completely knocked off my feet by the beauty of the homes on both sides of this street. They have a quaintness all of their own. I’m sure they must look like a page off a decor magazine inside. What makes them even more mysterious is that I’ve never seen anyone go in or out. It’d be interesting to see who lives here.

Living on such a winding slope of a street must be quite something. I can’t imagine reversing in and out of the garage. But if you live here long enough, I guess you will eventually get the hang of it but surely it must be a bit of a daily adventure. See those little green dots I’ve marked on the hedges to show how the street zigzags its way downhill.

Lombard St

When we got to the bottom of Lombard Street, we climbed back up the stairs, got into our car, and I did something I’ve never done before! I freakin’ drove down Lombard Street!! This is a first for me and I gotta say maneuvering those bends and screaming all the way down was quite a thrill! I wonder why I never thought to do it before. By the time we got to the bottom, Hip2bDaughters were lamenting that the ride was too short! Let’s start over. Sure, let’s do it again next time, why not? it was fun!

The streets of San Francisco

The streets of San Francisco

After spending a half day in San Jose walking around Japantown, and checking out the Japanese shops and restaurants, and a Buddhist temple, we hoarded a stash of Japanese pastries and sushi. It’s a shame that after our In-N-Out escapade, we couldn’t fit in another lunch – there were so many Japanese restaurants there.

The next morning, we headed out to San Francisco on a cold, gray day with patchy fog (nothing like the white wall) which wasn’t so good for picture taking but good weather to be out. Okay, so you know you’re in San Francisco when the streets turn into a roller coaster. Wheeee! Up and down we went, and as if that’s not thrilling enough, many of the Stop signs are at the top of really steep inclines! which literally leaves you sitting tilted backwards as if you were in a dentist’s chair.

Tilted backwards

I was almost afraid that when I took my foot off the brake to step on the accelerator, we would inadvertently go sliding back down the incline. If I were driving a shift stick, that would be a very real possibility. Thankfully with an auto, we just went screaming as we rolled forward down the slope, hahaha!!! So much fun!

In-N-Out burger time

In-N-Out burger time

On the way to San Jose, we made a brief stop in Gilroy to grab a quick lunch. I suggested In-N-Out since Hip2bDaughters have never tried their burgers and weren’t even keen to try. A burger is a burger is a burger, Mom, they tell me. True, I wouldn’t suggest going to just any burger place myself. But you can’t live here and not have tasted In-N-Out, know what I mean?

They’ve been around since 1948, that should say something! They’re always packed. You can almost never get a table, and the drive-thru is miles long. And what’s not to love about their 1960’s theme – colors, concept, even down to the staff’s uniforms, it’s like stepping into a Grease movie!

So in we went. It was sardines inside!! There was no way we were going to get a table! So we decided to take out and even then, we got moved around quite a bit while waiting for our order. People just kept coming in the door.

In and Out

We were planning to eat our burgers on the road so as not to waste time. Seriously, I have no idea how to eat a burger while driving. I’ve never tried and I’m not sure my car would appreciate becoming a piece of red and yellow modern art. So we ended up eating in our parked car with the windows rolled down. It was a beautiful cool day!

3 burgers

I had a hamburger, the young ladies had cheeseburgers. I wish I’d ordered the cheeseburger though, it looked bigger and tastier but cost like only 30 cents more, haha! Oh well, next time! And remember to ask for their grilled onions, they’re freakin’ tasty!


Now the Hip2bDaughters can say they’ve been to In-N-Out and even admit to loving their burgers, so tasty yet affordable. We’ve been back 3 times since. Looks like I’ve created monsters again!

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