La La Land & Beyond

Driving through Pasadena last month my dear friend Claire suddenly pointed to the right as we passed the bridge one of the iconic La La Land scenes was filmed. I saw the film over Christmas break and remember having mixed feelings after the movie ended. 

Colorado St. Bridge courtesy of Travel & Leisure

Colorado St. Bridge courtesy of Travel & Leisure

I was inspired and entertained, to be sure, but I left with an empty feeling, unable to reconcile the ending of the movie with the hopeful emotions I experienced toward the beginning. I've heard people say this movie describes the "millennial plight" and now that I've had some time to think about it, I think they hit the nail on the head. 

As a classic millennial who wants to do and see it all, the thought of limiting my options, choosing one path and saying no to others is harsh and depressing. Yet if I'm being realistic, I know not all endings end up happy, and I'm grieved watching peers end up places they never thought they'd be ten or even five years ago. We must make choices, and our choices end up defining us in ways we typically like to avoid thinking about. At least for me. 

I for one want my choices to mean something, even if I don't end up exactly where I thought I'd be. Over the last year I spent a lot of time thinking and praying about where I wanted to go next. In many ways I consider this time a gift from God as I've discovered more of who He created me to be. And yet I realize I must choose; I cannot have it all. But I do feel more confident than ever of where I'm headed next (more details coming soon). 

The tipping point for me culminated in a trip to LA to visit a friend and participate in a training with the Cultural Intelligence Center. I had been anticipating this trip for months and it did not disappoint. Below I've included a few highlights. 

1. Hiking at Castle Peak

My friend Claire and I researched hikes in the LA area and settled on this 3 mile hike up through some caves and along a crest up toward Castle Peak. The caves were fascinating and the view beautiful! I'd recommend this as nice hike with some difficult / steep sections. 

2. Cafe Gratitude

The minute we walked in, I was obsessed with this place. Not only is the space beautiful, the food was amazing. I'm not a vegan, although I do appreciate a healthy meal. Claire ordered the "Invincible / Brain Boosting Mocha" smoothie and I had the Rose Water Lemonade. The lemonade was delicious - not too sweet and very refreshing. And the smoothie - I'd go back just for that! 

For lunch I ordered the "Magical" sandwich with black bean patties and vegan gluten-free bread and sweet potato fries with truffle hempseed aioli. I had a hard time choosing - the menu was so big! I suppose I must go back and try something new.  

3. The Last Bookstore

We walked in, and at first glance, the place looks like a normal bookstore. But when you go upstairs, it feels more like an art museum! There are little shops above with several book displays and photo ops that we could have spent several hours exploring. 

4. Bottega Louie

I could have tried every flavor of macaron cookies in this place. The atmosphere is beautiful and inviting and the staff so kind and friendly. My favorite cookie was the Earl Grey - it was also painted with gold dots, so what's not to love?! 

5. Sunny Spot 

This little restaurant was close to the training in Marina Del Ray and provided the perfect lunch stop on my way to LAX. The outside patio is bright and fun and the menu a good mix of classic favorites with a few more adventurous items. They serve breakfast all day, so I ordered the "Two Egg Breakfast" with braised kale and avocado. 

If I didn't have to get on a plane right after my meal, I would have stayed for a cocktail or two. But I did order a Jamaican Grapefruit Soda, which was delicious. Any restaurant that serves breakfast all day is a win in my opinion. 

6. The Cinerama Dome

Over the weekend Claire and I along with two of her friends from Pasadena went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. It was such a fun experience! I'd recommend seeing a movie here if you can afford it. :) 

Image courtesy of Los Angeles Conservancy 

Image courtesy of Los Angeles Conservancy 

I can't wait to visit some of the other filming locations for La La Land in LA. If you find yourself traveling to LA soon, check out some of the recs above! And if you haven't seen La La Land, do yourself a favor and see it!