Poop – Discover
Be Your Own City Guide
Recently, my life has gotten a bit boring. I go to work, I come home and work out, and then I wake up and start it all again. Most my free time is spent around the same people, watching movies. This past week, I managed to score something rare and wonderful – consecutive days off! I got to spend my 4th, 5th and 6th left to my own devices. I couldn’t be boring – that would be so wrong!
Now, my phone, being an Android, does not support Gwyneth’s city guides, and even if it did, I don’t live in New York or London, and I can’t afford her life. (Apparently, they are lame anyway – the top reviews on the app’s main page are all currently one star. Let’s work on brand management, Gwynnie!) Without her advice, I had to come up with my own plans – I had to be my own city guide!
Los Angeles is a huge city, so it’s not too hard to find exciting new places and experiences. Right now, those of you in flyover country are rolling your eyes. BUT STOP! I am one of you! And every time I go home to my parents’ place, I still find something to do that I have never done before. Below, I’ve included some tips and tricks to get you started as you re-learn your area.
Peace and Pennies, Sam
Buck Up, Lazypants!
My boredom is, 99% of the time, self-inflicted. I make excuses so I can stay lazy. Whether it’s traffic, parking, hipsters, wardrobe, whatever – I’ll find a reason to stay home. But honestly, once I’m out of the house, those things are never as bad as I build them up to be in my mind.
This past Thursday, for Paul’s birthday, we finally made the trip to Placentia, just 40 minutes away, to visit The Bruery’s tasting room, where we could try forty craft beers on tap. It was easier to get there than it is to get to anyone in the valley off the 405 right now, and it was awesome. We tried delicious beers, we brought some home, and we discovered something new and just far enough away from our neighborhood that it really felt like a change of pace. Excitement is never easy, that’s why it’s exciting, so stop whining about how difficult it is to have fun wherever you are – the longer you whine, the longer it takes to get to the fun parts.
Do Your Research
Talk to friends, read random articles in TimeOut magazine or its regional equivalent, use non-goop phone apps (like this one), and find out what’s new, what’s just opened, and where people who aren’t your normal crowd hang out. Another friend had a birthday this week, and, when her original bar destination didn’t work out for her party, she just started calling places, asking who had the best deal in her area. Through her legwork, she found a really cool space that accommodated all of her friends, and that had a decent burger, which is always a plus. Since I wasn’t making excuses, per step one, I made the trek to Silver Lake, allllll the way across town, with a friend in tow, and I experienced a new place!
Often, especially in the summer, smaller towns will have a lot of festivals celebrating whatever, whether it’s strawberries, ribs, chili, gay pride, or blues music. I used to avoid these celebrations simply because I did not know what they would involve – I just always assumed it would be a bunch of drunk weirdos yelling at a stage. Had I bothered to pick up a newspaper or click around online, I’d learn that I could have experienced a lot of really unique and fun things had I just driven three or four miles with an opened mind. My last visit home, I actually wound up at a small gay pride festival with my brother and cousin. It was radically different from Pride in Chicago or LA, but it was so much fun – it was a part of my own local culture that I had never bothered to experience previously. Don’t miss out on these things – go, check them out. Even if the night is a bust, you can usually find something to laugh about.
Research is especially helpful if you’re the outdoors type. By just Googling “LA Hikes” or “LA Bike Paths,” I have discovered canyons and bike trails that I have driven past a million times, never knowing that exercise with great views was right under my nose. On the fourth, I took a bike ride with a friend through Culver City to Marina del Rey on a path that runs through the area where I live that I never knew existed. I had driven over it countless times, not realizing there were a nice path and a creek. Be curious. Cities have layers, like onions (or parfait), just waiting to be peeled away.
Really Count the Cost
Often, the biggest excuse we make for not leaving our old habits is money. Gas and parking cost a lot, and if you’re going someplace new, you run the risk of paying for something you dislike. I am not telling you to go out and spend money, but I am telling you to consider and compare the cost of an average day. For instance, our trip to Orange County on Thursday seemed far out of the way – thirty miles. But it was thirty miles of freeway driving without traffic, so the gas cost was minimal. We went to Knott’s Berry Farm – only $35 each for our tickets, not that much different from, say, parking all day at the beach, seeing a movie, and grabbing dinner. At The Bruery we paid for the beer, which cost what normal beers at a normal bar would, only they were high-quality craft brews, straight from the source. So honestly, we did alright – it was not a financially irresponsible day, and it felt like a full-blown adventure.
Now, say you’re stuck in the middle of a rural area, where the average town is smaller than the crowd at a European soccer game. You think there’s nothing exciting around, it’s hotter than hell, and you just want to wallow in sweat and misery. You order in a pizza, grab some cold drinks, and proceed to watch all of South Park on Netflix. For less than the cost of pizza and drinks, you could have totally gone ice skating at an indoor rink, where there’s free parking, mid-summer, and had the added bonus of exercise without much sweat. It’s easier than you think to find indoor rinks. This is also true of mini golf, bowling, drive-in movie theaters, and arcades – things we forget that are really fun ways to spend a free day with friends.
Most places in the country aren’t too far from a body of water, whether it’s a lake, a river, or, if you’re particularly lucky, an ocean. Swimming and sunbathing don’t cost too much, no matter where you are, so it just takes the wherewithal to get there. Pack a lunch and just go! Once you silence the excuses, there isn’t much stopping you.
Vacation is a mental state – it’s an escape from being bored and bogged down in the mundane. Don’t let yourself be boring – do your research, stop making excuses, and force yourself off the couch. It’s summer, the days are long, and we need to embrace them!