Day 2 in LA and I started to get the feels Unfortunately, it was the familiar pain that I get before my lower back goes out. Luckily for me, I had a contingency plan. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor in Winston-Salem at The Joint Chiropractic for a couple of years. I like their practice because it is no wait or fuss. You simply scan your ID tag and get an adjustment. Since they have locations nationwide, I was able to pop in for some relief. My right hip was out of alignment which caused lower and upper back pain. It sounded like a zipper as the doctor cracked up my back. I feel guilty when they pop my neck….the kind of guilt I imagine you would feel if you had a shot of whiskey before church. Guilt be damned, it sure felt better.

Andrew & I walked and window shopped along Santa Monica Blvd and Melrose Avenue. I had a great Americano at Coffee for Sasquatch. I checked out the gift shop New Profanity. They sell gifts including enamel pins, greeting cards, and clothing. Andrew checked out another comic book store. That’s 2 that I’ve visited in as many days. I visited my old apartment building which has seemingly avoided any updates over the past 2 decades.

We visited a weed store (just for objective research). Marijuana is legal for medicinal & recreational use here in NC. MedMen in West Hollywood had the look and feel of an Apple store but it smelled like weed. To get in the shop you have to show ID outside and then again inside. The products are arranged along the perimeter with display tables I’m the middle. The shop may seem intimidating at first but there are plenty of folks on staff who can answer all the questions you may have. They will direct you to the strain & species that corresponds with your needs.

The buds are in display containers that vented clear containers so that you can smell the aroma. The containers have built in magnifying lenses to closely inspect the nuggets.There we’re products for skincare & and supplements for all manner of ailments. The edibles section had gummies, mints, and several various chocolate confections. The school where I got my chocolate training offers continuing education for incorporating cannabis into your recipes. Perhaps I should explore that class a little closer.

My friends Kenneth & Andrew live in the Highland Park neighborhood Northeast of downtown LA. Their 1904 bungalo is quintessential Kenneth. It’s full of colorful curiosities & tchockies. It’s home to 4 cats. Kenneth has always had a green thumb and the greenery on the front stoop is impossibly lush.The succulents at my house are 2” in diameter versus his which are 18” across!

They’ve lived in the neighborhood for about a decade and have seen it grow like they couldn’t have imagined. Within a block, there is a metro stop, shopping, nightlife, eateries, and of course hipster coffee shops. My favorites were Go Get Em Tiger & Civil Coffee. Both delivered outstanding Americanos.

I was able to coordinate a visit with my dear friend Sanya who I hadn’t seen in 20 years! She and I met the first week that I moved to LA. In fact, Sanya got me my first job waiting tables. The method of me getting hired was a little unorthodox. to say the least. Sanya worked at Cafe de Paris on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood. One day she didn’t want to go to work and suggested that I take her place. I cannot imagine an odder situation but I showed up and said, “Sanya isn’t coming in anymore, I will take her place.” Daisy, the proprietor accepted my offer/suggestion/request.

Daisy was a unique person. She was a small statured Algerian woman with jet black buzz cut hair. She spoke in a stereotypic French accent. She was confident in herself and presented herself as a celebrity. My job was to seat the folks and get their drinks. Daisy would take their order, then I would do everything else including food delivery and bussing the tables. In exchange for my efforts, Daisy would share half of the tip with me. I once made the mistake of answering the phone. She later told me that “they do not call here for you, they call here for me…Daisy.” Read that again with a Pepe Le Pew accent. That’s how she sounded. She genuinely seemed happy for me when I put in my notice to start working at Bloomingdales. I drove by the location building and it is still a restaurant but not with Daisy.

Andrew and I met Sanya in Long Beach which is a perfectly adorable city. We had some vegetarian food before stopping by Romeo Chocolates. Their chocolate has been my favorite of the trip. I even liked their simple packaging.

For dinner, we ate at Hugo’s in West Hollywood. Just like the Americano is my benchmark drink, a Ruben is my benchmark meal. Their version was vegan pastrami with cashew cheese on gluten-free rye bread. This was such a good sandwich that you wouldn’t know that it had all of those modifiers. Their dessert menu proved too hard to resist. We got the sticky buns to share. They make their own gluten-free puff pastry. It was simply the best dessert I’ve had in a very long time.

Per this trip’s traditions, we didn’t really have any plans for Saturday morning. We ended up in Downtown LA because I wanted to stop by the Uniqlo. This choice was fortuitous because we ended up in the Arts District. I visited comic book store #3. For dinner, we ate at Cafe Gratitude. They are part of a plant-based vegetarian restaurant group. Kenneth & Andrew had eaten at their sister restaurants but never this location. Like other vegetarian restaurants, this one had many gluten-free options. I chose the Bolognese pasta. We tried each other’s dishes and Kenneth & Andrew agreed that mine was the best.

The vibe in that area of downtown was funky. There were tons of people on the street. I’d love to explore more in that area. The apartments in that area lease for way more money than I could ever justify…even with rooftop saltwater pool, firepit, & projection screen. I am hopeful that an Arts District trip is added to the list day trips that Kenny & Andy offer their future guests.

Another day in began with another coffee shop. This time we visited Swork Coffee in Eagle Rock. Their claim to fame (at least in my eyes) is that Kenneth worked there briefly as a barista. The cafe was spacious with a variety of seating. I noticed that several folks had med-student badges. That made me homesick for seeing all students studying at the Hive.

I needed to purchase a larger backpack for my flight to San Francisco. After lunch, we sat out for a backpack. We figured that Home Goods was the best shot for purchase in 1 try. I found a really cool bag that I will be able to use in the future.

Next up was a visit to the boys’ favorite Thai restaurant. The Bua Thai is located in Claremont Village. Andrew’s favorite dish is a pineapple tofu fried rice served inside a hollowed out pineapple. This downtown neighborhood has over 150 shops (most of which seemed locally owned).

As we headed back to Highland Park, Kenneth continue to put forth reasons for me to move to California. (Spoiler alert….I’m not moving to CA). At the very least, he wants me to stay another day. It’s unlikely that I can encroach into one of my drive days but I guess it’s to be continued….

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