west coast


The other week I went back to the west coast to visit my friends in sunny California. I normally plan places to go eat, see, and do but since I've already been here, I didn't plan anything at all. I just wanted to spend time with everyone doing absolutely whatever we wanted. No itinerary. It worked out perfectly. Everyone had their things they had to do and schedules conflicted but when all of our schedules aligned in random spurts, it was the best. I caught up with friends, made new one's, and will be coming back again. 

Here are some highlights of the trip and misc thoughts:

  1. My friend Tara is pregnant! So happy for her.
  2. I really don't like Los Angeles that much at all. After being around the nice spots - Malibu, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Ojai, etc. LA is so superficial and not my scene. 
  3. Slept behind a room hidden behind a bookshelf. It felt like a secret hidden room like you see on TV or the movies. 
  4. Never seen an orange, lime, lemon tree in my life (only in green houses) and I picked my first orange, ever. It was so good.
  5. Ojai Rancho Inn was such cool spot. Reminded me of Ace Hotel Palm Springs.
  6. Drank so much kombucha and it's really good. We specifically used it to make mimosa's and then I eventually made a beer mimosa.
  7. Watched a ton of sports which I rarely do. Lot's of football. Give me a beer or five and I'll hang around while you watch. 
  8. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is absolutely gorgeous. From the interiors, decor, operations, food, vibe, etc was amazing. I pretty much love Ojai.
  9. Forgot how "cold" it got there at night. So used to the humidity here that night there was freezing for them. To me, I felt perfectly fine in t-shirt while they were in sweaters.
  10. I'll be traveling again soon. Creating a new Off the Record city guide, video's, and new exciting stuff to share in the future.


Last of the three-part series of my West Coast | California trip.

On the last full day of my trip out west coast, we all jumped on a train and took off to Santa Barbara. It's a beautiful place and it was my second favorite spot of the entire trip. We spent the entire day roaming the town and did as much as could before our last train left. Looking back on it now - we climbed trees, aimlessly wandered into random shops, played with birds, flights of beer at the public market, and walked the entire main street of Santa Barbara. Even though we left in the evening, the remaining time we had at home was spent recuperating before the last night together. I needed a vacation like this and had so much fun. I'm very thankful for Tara and all of the new friends I've made. I will come back there again soon. Here are my top 10...

  1. Tara is afraid of birds (parrots specifically?) and the photo above was the first time she broke her fear and gave him a kiss. I mean, look at him, he's so happy.
  2. Forgot my camera battery at home and we had to rush back. We thought we missed the train but we pulled some insane "Indian Jones" like last minute moves to get on!
  3. We avoided paying for our train fares on our way to Santa Barbara saying our Amtrak phone apps aren't working. Pretty solid win.
  4. Learned so much about crystals from Tracy. Didn't know there was so much behind it all and you should all check out her stuff - it's amazing. Echoz Crystals.
  5. I took a nap on Tara and Ali's porch when we got back from Santa Barbara. God that was glorious.
  6. I think I took over 2,000 photos for the entire trip - went a bit crazy but so WORTH.
  7. We failed horribly trying to avoid paying for our train fares back leaving Santa Barbara. The dude from Amtrak was on the hunt for us when we tried changing trains. 
  8. Tracy took my credit card away from me since I kept paying for their drinks, haha.
  9. I said it before but you all should buy Our Kandles made by Tara & Ali. 100% soy wax and it smells amazing.
  10. I'm very thankful for Tara & Ali for being very so accommodating my stay there. Giving me your bed and then you doubled up with Ali, ice cream, food, drinks, and everything else.


On my Day 2 of the west coast, it started off with a massive hangover from a long night out before. We were all binge coffee drinking, dosing ourselves with ibuprofen, and going wild with the idea of brunch coming. Tracy, a friend of Tara and Ali's met up with us for brunch at Cafe Nouveau and the food was incredible - totally hit the spot. We pitched the idea of going to Venice and Santa Monica for the day and right then and there, Tracy called her dentist and moved later to soak in the entire day and night. Venice was such a weird cool diverse crowd and Santa Monica was lively and fun as I remembered of the first night I was on the west coast. I had such a good time out with these beautiful ladies on this day. Here's my top 10 of Day 2...

  1. From left to right - Tara, Tracy, Ali, Lainey
  2. Gus (the dog) farts smell like a million farts just blew in your face. He's such a good happy lil bulldog during brunch. 
  3. Venice is by far the most diverse crowd I ever seen in my life. From homeless, women aimlessly wandering around in thongs, longboarders zig zagging through the crowd, amazing artists, street performers, beautiful people roaming, etc. It was weirdly relaxing just walking down the streets people watching. 
  4. Did an impromptu photoshoot with Tara and Ali of Our Kandles. A dedicated post to them and their company will be coming later!
  5. Tara took me to Los Feliz (up and coming hip neighborhood outside LA) to see my friend Gabriel and Kaitlyn. They were among my first friends I met in Chicago and now live in LA. Thank you Tara for being the chauffeur and Tracy for tagging along. It was so sweet.
  6. Forgot where I placed my sunglasses and freaked out for a sec because I couldn't remember where I put them. Then I saw them on top of her car. Huge relief since we drove everywhere that morning too.
  7. We had Sugarfish sushi for dinner in Santa Monica and it was AMAZING. If you ever get a chance to try it, I highly recommend. I would go again in a heartbeat!
  8. Tracy (black leather coat) moved her dentist appointment just to hang out with me and all of us.
  9. Chavito Bar and Lounge really reminded me of Wicker Park or Logan Square. This is where I met Gabriel and Kaitlyn.
  10. All of my friends tell me to move to the west coast because we were having so much fun.


Before I type away on this post, I just wanted to make it aware that this is my first of a three-part series of my time out in the west coast. There will be a lot of similar photo's of the same individuals, people, landscapes, food, scene, etc. I want you to soak in the experience how I saw it. Hope you like it. Enjoy!

For the first time ever in my life, I traveled to the beautiful west coast of California to visit my lovely and gorgeous friend Tara. I packed my bags, my camera, got on a plane, and jet-setted myself to an area of constant sun and beaches. Really needed a change of pace from the aggressive city lifestyle and slow things down a bit. Life is precious, you know? Anyways, you're probably wondering about who is this girl I posted a bazillion photos of, "so who's Tara anyways?" Obviously she's in the photos above BUT she's also a wonderful, fantastic, light hearted, and adventurous woman that I kinda-sorta knew / randomly met at Delilah's (one of my go-to spots in Chicago) during her cross country road trip! I won't write much but will list top 10 things all in random order of Day 1...

  1. El Matador Beach is truly beautiful (look at my photos above!). We spent the entire evening walking down the beach, see couples do engagement photo's. climbing rocks, and even running under them before the wave hit the shoreline. This was on my #1 thing to do on my "to-do list."
  2. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to pick up Tara from work to get lunch and all while blasted song's like this and or this. Had the worst time finding her gas tank button to refill the tank!
  3. I didn't bring any shorts and thought it was a MAJOR FAIL but I saw everyone else wear jeans, so I got used to it. Sorta MAJOR WIN(?!)
  4. Sat on their porch drinking coffee watching the sun rise. This sounds odd but I miss having a porch/patio. Basically hung out there A LOT.
  5. Their house smelled AMAZING. You guys should really get a Our Kandles. I'm getting TWO.
  6. I had to get a nail clipper and hair spray at RiteAid because the nails were getting annoying and constant sun makes my hair droop like whoa. Yeah, they laughed at me for this, haha.
  7. When it was night, I was used to the "cold weather." Coming from Chicago, it was GLORIOUS.
  8. Went to get coffee downtown at Marie Shannon's and the girls behind the counter looked like post-American Apparel employee's who's happy prancing days are over hating their job now and just serving amazing delicious coffee and bacon empanadas. Oh, they were so good. 
  9. Going back home together, we blasted/sang songs like this and or this. Not ashamed, I know the lyrics to the first song.
  10. Bought the first meal/drinks at The Misfit even though I was on vacation, Tara wasn't so happy about this. Oops! Nice boy, ya know?