August 15: I woke up at 5 a.m., quickly got ready, and along with my brother Jules took a prescheduled Uber to Pearson International Airport. With my Nexus card in hand and my brother’s plethora of experience flying to the United States I found myself checked in and past security in less than an hour.
Jules used his guest lounge pass to show me the Air Canada exclusive experience and therein I saved some money through a free breakfast of yogurt, water, and a hard-boiled egg – while I don’t get much anxiety on the flight itself, I’ve always felt sick from eating a proper breakfast before boarding a plane. An hour later my brother and I went our separate ways; he to Pennsilyania for business and I to the first leg of my big adventure: Los Angeles.
The flight was relatively uneventful. I finished my book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” and slept for a couple hours. Upon landing I navigated my way to baggage claim and waited for what felt like an hour before my bag finally showed up (and the anxiety of a possibly missing bag lifted). I took my bag to a storage facility called LAX 24/7 Locker Storage which required entry by credit card and acted as a nice clean and secure space for me to put my massive suitcase while exploring the city.
Heeding the advice of Mike Fish, co-owner of Glassroots (my favourite restaurant in London, Ontario and a place I went to weekly while at Western University), I went to Crossroads Kitchen in Bevereley Grove for what I was told would be “the best vegan food” of my life. Their vanilla milkshake certainly fit that profile with no doubt and their chicken and waffles didn’t disappoint either. I’ll certainly be coming back for more the next time I am in L.A.
Desperately needing some exercise after sitting for the better half of the day I walked over to the National Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, which happened to take me through the Jewish area of the city. I saw Chabad, stores selling Jewish/Israeli paraphernalia, a synagogue, and many Kosher eateries.
The museum itself was completely free and offered an excellent audio guide. I ended up spending the entire afternoon there learning about the Holocaust, viewing pieces of its history – old newspapers, a signed copy of Mein Kampf, Nazi propoganda, passports, and more. There was even a model of a concentration camp made by a Holocaust survivor whose audio-guide segment was a lengthly description of its layout and operation as well as the uprising he played a part in prior to liberation. At 5 p.m. I had to leave because the museum was closing.
For dinner I met up with my friend Jon and his girlfriend Alexa and they took me to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. I took the chance to compare vegan chicken and waffles to real ones. The meal was delightful and my friends moreso. They offered to take me to an improv show but the wear and tear of the day was getting to me so we decided for a more relaxed evening. Bon Bon (bubble tea) was our next destination; this gave me one final chance to have bubble tea in North America before heading to the country where it originated. Alexa headed behind the counter and made us our boba. The sizes were… American… So I just barely managed to almost finish it over the course of the next hour. On the way home we stopped by In-and-Out (which I am told is a Calafornia specialty) and I had my final snack of the day. We went back to my friends’ place in San Fernando Valley and after hanging out for a while went to sleep.
August 16: The next morning Jon drove me to his workplace, gave me a quick tour, and made sure I was well caffeinated before we took a selfie and parted ways. I grabbed my suitcase from the storage locker and headed to the airport five hours early. After grabbing my final cheeseburger of 2017 and indulging one last time in American food I headed to the check-in counter. The woman at the counter was lovely and changed me from a crappy middle seat near the back of the plane to the emergency exit seat which boasts the most leg room in economy class (all free of charge); arriving super early really paid off!
Right now I am sitting on the plane as it ascends to its cruising altitude of many thousand feet above the ground. My phone is about to die and I can’t grab the charger right now so I think this will do for the first travel blog entry.