Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: The 2013 SoCal Holiday Excursion Recap: Flight Delays and Bonus Footage


The 2013 SoCal Holiday Excursion Recap: Flight Delays and Bonus Footage

**This is a recap of my vacation back to Southern California from 12/28/13-1/9/14.**

When I last left this recap, I found myself with a few extra days at home thanks to the first of what is now several winter storms that have hit the Midwest this year. I didn't mind it at all, but my [now former] boss had an issue about the delays and questioned the validity of my flight cancellations to the point that it was stressing me out. Then again, what could I do about flights that I couldn't take? As I stood outside in 59 degrees while tending to a barbecue and overlooking the mystic glow of the Los Angeles skyline, I realized that there were far better things to think about, like how I would be able to finally pick up stakes and leave Ohio once and for all.

Although that ultimate goal was in my peripheral, my first objective was to enjoy the precious gift of time that had been given to me. I took advantage of the situation and made sure to see a few friends one last time. One of the stops was to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance for some authentic Japanese cuisine for lunch and some shopping.

Mochi ice cream in multiple flavors, anyone?
More sushi than the eye can see...
After that, it was a trip to a See's Candies factory store for some chocolates. The best part about factory stores? You get a free sample of their chocolates for just standing in line.

One of my last stops during this extension was the inside of Del Amo Fashion Center, the mall that I had cruised past the exterior a few days earlier on the motorcycle. I didn't realize how extensive the renovations had been until I stepped inside to an much more modernized (and very unrecognizable) walkway. Mind you, this part of the mall had not been touched in well over 25 years with the exception of store replacements and relocations. So, to see it gutted with walls knocked down and the addition of a food court was a visual shock. However, times have changed and this mall was looking pretty dated by the time I left California in 2009.

I wish I had some before/after shots here only to further prove my point. My aunt makes a cameo in this shot.
I continued walking down the corridor until I stood in front of the the now-vacant International Cafe where I had spent a good portion of my childhood life at this mall. All the spaces were boarded up, the lights were off, and the tables were stacked up in storage. I remembered when, for many years, this was a part of many a Sunday afternoon and the occasional weekday evening when I had to come here for whatever reason. I now wonder what will take up this space, but this place, like many parts of this mall, now lie in the back of my memory for that occasional nostalgic trip in the silence of my own mind.

A #14 extra chicken and perhaps a couple cookies from Mrs. Fields would've been a nice parting meal. I got here a little too late as this place had closed down on December 31, 2013.
Later that evening, I headed out to Tokyo Wako in the Long Beach with the family for some Teppan-style cuisine and sushi, complete with lots of fire and a peeing little boy statue. And yes, the food was quite tasty. I probably had more sushi in the two weeks of this vacation than I had in the last six months in Ohio, and damn, that was a lot of fish.

On my last day of the delay, I did swing by a motorcycle dealership in Santa Monica to check out a couple bikes and a job lead that I had read about online. Needless to say that it was just a lead, but it was enough to whet my palate enough to continue the search when I returned back to Ohio.

Saving a favorite for last, a trip to an L&L Hawaiian BBQ for a late lunch was in order.

After one more familiar dealership, I had to pay one last visit to a place where I had often traveled to clear my mind, the pier and the shores of Redondo Beach.

The skies were clear that day with a noticeable breeze making the walk along the pier cooler than normal. Considering that it was January in California, I expected it to be one of those "wear a jacket" kind of days. I had a lot of things going on in my head after this whirlwind trip, some of them making them to paper and then being sent away in some chance that they would be answered. Just being out here to stare out into the water and contemplate my future plans was the best thing I could do before boarding a plane out of home and back to the frigid cold of where I just happened to live.

I was the only person out on the shore at that time of the day, standing there for the last moments of the sunset with that same wind blowing across my face. Picking up a few small shells, I stuffed them into a jacket pocket as a reminder of what I had to fight for as soon as I touched down on the tarmac of Ohio again.

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this tale of turmoil of these last several months. Call it serendipity, a calling back home, or part of a greater plan, but my wait is finally over. Within a month of this trip, I found myself back on the road in my BMW station wagon heading back west again with a new job lined up and a new mission to put my life back together in familiar surroundings. This couldn't have been possible without the full support of a family who has seen me through my trials and my triumphs with an irrepayable love and a faith in me that I have yet to completely understand.

In the next series of blog posts, I'll be featuring several interesting destinations I visited en route back to the Golden State. As much as I would've liked to have taken a motorcycle through them, the weather and my circumstances didn't allow for that. However, that didn't stop me from being a tourist. Two wheels or four, that's what I'll always be.