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Pacific Coast Highway, Day 11: Golena to Costa Mesa

  1. People find it interesting that we’re from Ohio. “Ohio? Wow, that’s fascinating. Neat!” Being a native Ohioan, I can tell you that interesting, wow, fascinating, and neat are not words commonly applied to my state.
  2. One should not load up on juice and coffee before driving into LA traffic.
  3. Speaking of LA, I heard people get discovered there all the time. I’m 35 and a size 8 in a size 0 land; it’s over for me. But I have a pretty child. Today I dressed her in a cute white outfit with bows in her hair and the instruction to “Smile pretty for the hidden scouts.”

Because we were merely passing through, we decided to take a pre-scheduled tour. And since we have a four year old who thinks double-decker busses are the coolest thing ever, we chose one of those. But first we had to get there.

Soon after Santa Barbara, the 101 turned into an eight and then ten lane monstrosity. Gone were the two-lane country rambles. This was the point where someone also apparently flipped the unseen switch to “Drive Crazy Now.” Still, there were farmlands and mountains along the way. One was labeled “organic.” I wasn’t aware smog was considered organic.

At this point, almost everything has a Spanish name. And my faulty memory is causing my husband endless frustration.

Him: You took Spanish.

Me: Twenty years ago in high school.

Him: What does el canejo mean?

Me: I have no idea.

Him: Does it mean rabbit?

Me: I have no idea.

Him: Well, what’s the Spanish word for rabbit?

Me: El rabitto.

Him: *shakes head in exasperation*

As sustenance for the journey, I broke out some Icelandic yogurt I bought from the market yesterday.


It’s called skyr, I think because that’s the sound you make when you taste it. The hubs wonders if it’s made from yak milk.

Here we are.


We had two hours to kill until the tour. Surely that would be enough time to see some sights. Hmm, what to do, what to do?


It took 45 minutes to drive six miles and pay two dollars for six cookies. Was it worth it? Yes! Not only were the cookies warm and gooey (I ate them before I could take a picture. Don’t judge me; you weren’t there), but we saw a lot of famous sights on our way—Sunset strip, Ventura Blvd, and this place.


Even though we were only a few blocks away, we barely made it back in time for the tour. I’m going to post the highlights later because I’m crunched for time, but we saw lots of neat stuff!

I didn’t expect to like Los Angeles. There’s a not-so-secret rivalry between New York and LA, as if you are supposed to choose between them. I fell decidedly in the New York camp. I thought there was no way that glitzy, sunny, sprawling LA would win me over. But it did. It was pretty, interesting, bustling, and yet it still felt friendly and welcoming.

Sadly, I did not make it to Sprinkles, the first cupcake bakery in the US. But I did make it here.



The best frozen yogurt I have ever had in my life. It tastes like nothing else I’ve ever had. Somehow it still retains the pungent tang of regular yogurt which is a nice contrast to the sweet creaminess. You don’t feel like you’ve eaten dessert after you’re done; you feel like you’ve been healthy. Dear Pinkberry, come to the Midwest. We have cows!

Finally, there was this.


500 varieties of hard-to-find soda, including the last remaining cases of real Dr. Pepper (the kind from the original bottling plant in Dublin, TX that has since been shut down, the one that uses real sugar and the original recipe.) We had some varieties shipped so it will be waiting for us when we get home—an odd souvenir for two perfectly normal people.

This is where the trip turned evil. And by evil I’m of course referring to traffic. (You thought I was going to say agates, didn’t you?) I’ve heard a lot of jokes about LA traffic. All of them are true. We sat for hours, hungry, tired, and angry at every motorcycle that wended its way between the lanes. It was at such a standstill that a banner ad flew overhead, as if we were spectators at the beach. Do those banner ads work on anyone? On a totally unrelated note, I’m suddenly thinking of switching to Geico for some reason.

We limped into our super fancy hotel (I got it for half price) feeling bedraggled and poor, never knowing who we’re supposed to tip or why. Eventually we just start handing out money to anyone who’s standing near the door wearing dark clothing. It’s possible we tipped a bank robber; at this point we don’t care. We headed to the largest, nicest mall across the street. (They had Jimmy Choos and Armani. I gawked and took pictures like a yokel.) By the time we found a restaurant (Ruby’s diner), I was too tired to even take pictures. Let me give you the mental image instead: the food was laden with calories and consumed quickly.

Tomorrow we reach the end of our trail. I can’t help wondering if this is what the pioneers of old felt like after the end of their journey, especially if they were staying at a Westin that charges $20 for JellyBellys.

PS. Somehow my child did not get discovered. I should have had her sing and dance. She’s a triple threat!


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

6 responses to “Pacific Coast Highway, Day 11: Golena to Costa Mesa

  1. val ⋅

    Perhaps if you had written about her more in your blogs SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED. Just a thought. How are you getting back up to Seattle? Driving straight up with no sightseeing ventures?

  2. Kathy ⋅

    I’ve lived in LA and Orange County my Whole life…And I have no idea where the shop with all the soda’s is. Were is it and whats its name??????

  3. ubie

    Very shortly this web page will be famous amid all blog users, due to it’s fastidious posts

  4. Stephaine

    Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.

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