Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: [The Bittersweet] SoCal Refresher Course


[The Bittersweet] SoCal Refresher Course

In the beginning of March, I had the impromptu chance to go home to Southern California for a few days for a job interview. This was a trip I had to keep under wraps until I knew what was going to happen, so if this is the first time you're ever hearing about this, don't feel so bad...I feel better enough to talk about it now.

With the company I was interviewing with paying for the flight, the only thing I had to arrange was lodging and a motorcycle to ride. Fortunately I have an extended family and good friends to help me out. Leaving at 6AM EST on a Thursday with a stopover in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (which, in ironic fashion, is the only time I've ever arrived there by air), I reached LAX by 9:30AM PST and proceeded to have a nice lunch with my aunt (a.k.a. one of the only biological relations I have that hasn't disowned me yet). After that, it was some relaxing and motorcycle riding before my interview the following day.

This was the first time I've returned to the area in two years (to read about that 2011 adventure, click here), so I did what I could to make the best of it. Here are some photos of the places I still call home.

Somewhere in the South Bay. I could identify major freeways from up here.
First meal off the plane: a gyro combo plate from Daphne's California Greek. I missed that familiar taste.
My "rental bike" for the weekend: a 2012 Triumph Daytona 675. Thanks to the pretty standard, crappy winter of NE Ohio (and the Midwest in general), this was the first motorcycle I've ridden in 2013. Not a bad way to spruce up my skills and return to the world of lane-splitting awesomeness and absolute two-wheeled traffic domination.
I was able to walk outside in the morning in shirts and flip-flops to take this photo on Friday morning from the place I called home for 2.5 years.  If this was Cleveland, I'd be in a parka freezing my tuchus off waiting at least a week to see the sun again for five minutes.
After my interview that Friday, I shot down the 405 South to Irvine to visit the Motorcycle Industry Council, home of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation among other things. To think that one of the most influential voices in the motorcycle world was right in my backyard is awe-inspiring. It was easy to find too; just look for the special motorcycle parking spots. I felt like I had just found Mecca.
After the stop at the MIC, I took the long way back through Irvine/Tustin/Orange/Anaheim to get back to my old digs in La Habra. For dinner, I had my customary In-N-Out Burger, complete with a Double-Double and Animal Fries with an illegal amount of grilled onions with another close friend.  I enjoyed this at the Brea location, a place where I spent many a summer night chilling with friends. The only difference was that this was March and it was 70 degrees at 7PM.
On Saturday, I took my time to cruise and returned to the Del Amo Fashion Center to sip a taro boba while sitting in a lounge chair and enjoying the breezey sea air. I've visited this mall since I was a fetus and have been there through its many changes through the years. It hadn't changed much since the last time I was there, and I approve of this addition to the food selection in the outdoor area.
On a ride with another old friend through the Palos Verdes Peninsula, I finally was able to see the landslide that has forever changed the end of Western Ave./Paseo Del Mar in San Pedro that had been on the news. I used to ride that road along the coastline and take a break at the nearby Korean Bell of Friendship
It was a blessing to see this ocean again. It has been a rough 3.5 years living in Ohio, but at least I was able to indulge my senses for just a little while and have something to dream about. And it smells a hell of a lot better than the dead fish and bird carcasses of Lake Erie.
As the title of the blog entry suggests, this trip through SoCal was very bittersweet; after what I considered a good interview, I ended up not getting the job that I was interviewed for. In lovely fashion, I was informed by my headhunter of the heartbreaking news the Monday I returned. What a great way to start that week. I am still recovering from the stress of the previous month leading up to this, and I can only hope that some company out there will give me the green light to finally come home.

For those who live in California right now, I hope you take some time to enjoy the privileges that are easy to forget that you have. Take a walk on the beach. Go to In-N-Out with your friends and eat outside. Stop complaining about the weather; it's far from horrible and only makes you look like a whiny brat. Stop complaining about the traffic; it's your opportunity to get a motorcycle. It was when I moved to Ohio that I truly realized how lucky I really was to be in that place. SoCal isn't a part of the country for everyone, but for me, it's still home and will always be home. And I still yearn for the day when I can leave this state and return to there. Permanently.

As frustrating as it was, at least I walked away with the knowledge that someone out there thought that I had enough experience in the motorcycle industry to qualify for a higher-level position. I wish it was the chance for me to finally pack my bags and leave this state, but it was not to be this time. I'm not giving up however; I know that my motorcycling will finally bring me back home to California, where I truly belong.

Over 400 miles through the traffic, freeways, and twisty roads of Los Angeles and Orange County and I didn't miss a beat. I excelled at riding in the place that trained me to be the motorcyclist I am today. Until next time...