Day 415

Of all the cities I’ve visited on our journey, I’m coming to find that LA is far and away the oddest of them all. And I don’t mean odd as in quirky (I doubt anyone will ever top Portland in that regard). No, I mean odd as in ‘I don’t understand what is going on’. I mean… LA has to be the only place in the US where you can find valet parking in the back of a Best Buy. Plus, it’s the only stop I’ve been to that’s so expansive I can’t walk from point A to point B, even if I wanted to.

To me, it all seems rather silly but to the people living here it’s just another day. That’s the running theme I’ve encountered over and over again since arriving in California at the end of November. Having never been to this part of the country, I’m constantly coming to grips with the fact that everything here is actually real. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when I realized this state really is going through a draught. Before I landed, I'd always heard about it on the news but in my head that’s all it was—a news story. Now that I’m actually here, I’m experiencing the situation first hand and trying to comprehend how people are adapting to it all.

In a way, this final stop has fully justified my initial desire to embark on the project. I’ve always believed that going somewhere can teach you much more about a place than reading about it in a guidebook or through a travel site. Every city has so many little quirks and characteristics that no one ever talks about and they can make all the difference. For instance, I can tell you that Uber drivers hate going to/from the valley; most of the area Targets are smaller than the ones you’ll find elsewhere in the nation; and there are very few ‘cheap’ dining options around unless you want to eat at a Subway or Carl’s Jr.

Of course, these are all reasons as to why I wanted to end #TGAA in LA. I had a feeling this place would be vastly different than my other stops and it turns out I was right. I’m pretty bummed that I just wrapped up my last weekend here though (I’ll be in Las Vegas this coming weekend). I feel there’s so much more to explore that I could easily spend another 3-4 months in town. Then again, once I’m sitting on the 405 on my way to work, I’m pretty sure I’ll rejoice in the month almost being over.

I’m also finding myself overwhelmed with emotion about it all. Mostly because the site is garnering more traffic than ever before and I’m getting congratulatory emails left and right. So, while I’m uneasy about the project coming to a close, I do feel grateful in the fact that we reached so many people along the way.

-Steve-

Day 404

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve officially landed at the last and final stop of #TGAARed Tettemer West. Located in sunny Santa Monica, it’s a much smaller shop than the RTO+P flagship in Philly. Yet, I can’t help but notice that it does maintain the same wit and charm I grew accustomed to back in March. The group here is only a handful deep, but they're all pretty awesome and it's nice to see that I already know a few of them from my previous stop with the agency. It turns out some of the Philly folks decided to pack their bags and make the move west in order to help RTO+P conquer another coastline.

While I’m already having a grand time with the crew here, I have to admit this week is turning out to be a string of rather unfortunate circumstances. For those of you who don’t know, this month I’m staying with some friends in Sherman Oaks, which is about 20 miles northeast of the RTO+P office. I had originally planned on doing an AirBnB again, but all the locations within walking distance were hovering around $2,500. After an endless number of calculations, I actually discovered that the cheapest option would be to use a ride share to and from the office each day.

Then again... that is going to run me about $1,200, which still isn't very ideal. So, at the last minute, I thought I’d try my hand at biking in on my first day. I mean, 18 miles isn’t that far, right? Turns out it is. Especially when Google takes you down a bunch of roads that lack bike lanes. The whole journey ended up taking me about 2.5 hours. See, just when you think the project has encountered its last hiccup, I go and create my own. The next day, I tried Lyft and even that took 1.5 hours. I then spent the evening looking into car rentals, Zipcar, Car2Go, scooter rentals and public transportation, but they're all too expensive, too time consuming or non-existent in the LA market. 

It looks like I’ll have to settle with Uber after all—and I’m none too happy about it. To save a bit of money, I'll be working from home two days a week though. It's all extremely annoying, but I guess it says a lot about living and commuting here. If you don't live in the neighborhood you work, get ready for endless traffic and nightmare commutes. In the end, I can’t complain too much though. The weather has been absolutely beautiful since I arrived, the people at RTO+P West are pretty awesome and my friends have been showing me all around LA. Honesty, I can’t think of a better way to close out this journey than with good weather, good vibes and good people.

-Steve-