Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Day 6: Hawaiian BBQ, CAMS, and hockey...a Day in the South Bay

2.14.2011

Day 6: Hawaiian BBQ, CAMS, and hockey...a Day in the South Bay

Riding all over the LA and Orange counties had me a bit worn out by the time I made it to Friday. Today was the chance to hang around my old digs and catch up with a few people from my local areas of Carson and El Segundo.

My first order of business was to eat lunch at the last food establishment on my vacation agenda. That led to a trip to the L & L Hawaiian BBQ in Torrance (Crenshaw/Lomita). I specifically chose this one because I was a frequent customer at this particular location, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that several of the workers were still there. After ordering my mini chicken katsu/BBQ chicken plate (it's not very mini as you'll see in the picture) I requested to get one of their famous "I ♥ L & L" bumper stickers. They would give it to me on the condition that I would say said phrase out loud in the restaurant. So I did, much to the chagrin of the other patrons in the store, with the additional embellishment:

"I LOVE L & L! I TRAVELED ALL THE WAY FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO TO EAT HERE!"
Making a fool of myself inside the restaurant was definitely worth the bumper sticker.
Believe it or not, this is what L & L sells as a "mini" plate. For little more than $5 you can feed two people with this ridiculous amount of meat, rice, and Hawaiian-style macaroni salad.
After that, I headed to my parents' house to pack a box full of stuff to send back to Ohio. I traveled with my brother (in his car) to Office Depot to pick up a box and mailing tape. Now, this may not seem like an interesting errand run, but it was the first time I had shopped at an Office Depot in two years - there aren't any locations in Columbus (the closest one is about 35 miles north in Marion).

After that shipping exercise it was a ride to Cal State Dominguez Hills, home to my high school, the California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS). This was a place where, even after I graduated and was attending community college, I spent many a Friday afternoon for a couple years hanging around and being the technology TA for the Spanish department. There's a long-standing history between me and that part of the school, and in ironic fashion, for being a place that focused on math and science, I found my niche in the humanities and foreign language. CAMS is a place that I will go out of my way to spend time to visit; there are too many teachers of whom I will never be able to thank enough for their patience, time, and life-changing guidance.

A view of the main CAMS buildings from the courtyard area.
This additional structure that I call the "6000" building (that's what the numbers start with) was completed after I graduated and now houses the student cafeteria, foreign language department, language labs, and dance studio among other things.
Here is a robot that students in the Engineering Lab are working on. This new, dedicated state-of-the-art classroom is equipped with multiple CNC machines and enough equipment to build a whole slew of various robotic and electronic projects. The Robotics class is one of the most popular activities here, and it's come a long way since I helped manage the very first robotics team at CAMS almost nine years ago where we worked out of a spare room in the biology lab.
Unlike my visit to the now-dilapidated LASGS the previous day, CAMS' appearance and newly added facilities were a realization of the vision for this school and a vast improvement from the original site of the high school, the temporary bungalows of the Southern Academic Complex (SAC), where I learned (and got in trouble) in until the last semester of my senior year in 2002. CAMS still ranks as one of the best high schools in the United States and I am proud to be an alumni and a product of this educational institution.

Just across an empty field are the SAC 4 (left) and SAC 3 (right) structures, two of the four bungalows that once housed this high school.
My last stop of the evening was the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, the practice facility of the Los Angeles Kings and the Lakers and the rink where I played ice and roller hockey for a decade. I met up with another old teammate from my USC Women's Ice Hockey team, went for a fun public skate on the Olympic-sized rink, and watched bits and pieces of games in the women's league. I even saw several members of my last ice hockey team in CA, the Gold Lady Kings, as they suited up and played in the final game of the night.

Toyota Sports Center has three skating rinks (one roller, one NHL-sized, one Olympic-sized). I spent many a Friday night playing roller pick-up hockey here until I was randomly asked to sub for a women's ice hockey game and never looked back.
There's one of the hockey creases I defended on the NHL-sized rink for ten years. Come by in the morning and you might even get to watch an LA Kings open practice!
This was definitely a nostalgia-filled Friday. These two locations were my regular routine stops for many years and to return to these places after so long brought back many memories. Call me sentimental, but I'll never forget my roots.