Aspen Untucked: Los Angeles, a love hate story
We were near La La Land, on the edge of reality, when the drugs should’ve taken hold. However, we were responsible drivers who took our time on the freeway rather seriously.
Our road trip started in Aspen and led us 901 miles southwest. It wasn’t a huge feat in the world of driving, but Matt and I felt pretty accomplished. Particularly because our 2-year-old pup Cassius was with us. He snuggled up in the back, ready for whatever crazy adventure his parents bestowed on him next. That next stop was our main destination on the road trip: Los Angeles. We were headed there to see a good friend who was in the hospital.
I’ve never understood the allure that the City of Angels brings to so many. Sure, it’s sunny the majority of the time, it’s full of beautiful people and it’s close to the ocean. But living in, or even visiting, this thriving metropolis is a lot of work. The city’s traffic makes the congestion coming into Aspen each morning look like child’s play. The local and federal government is making strides to fix this problem. A subway line from Santa Monica to Downtown was recently finished, and more lines are coming in the next decade. However, L.A., from the start, has been a driving city. Even with these new public transportation options, vehicular congestion is not going away anytime soon.
Some of my other qualms with L.A. relate to the people. Almost everyone is competing in the same rat race. They want to be found, to be famous, to be recognized. In Aspen, I’ve learned that the biggest social currency is one’s experiences. People love to share about their latest adventure or biggest physical feat. In L.A., it’s much more about status. People want to know what you do and who you know. Because of this, interactions often feel very shallow.
Perhaps my slight disdain for Los Angeles comes from my close encounters with it during and after school. I attended Emerson College in Boston. A large percentage of the graduates from Emerson end up in L.A. Even though I was never interested in film, I figured I’d live in the city after school because there are so many connections via fellow alumni. None of us Emersonians are too proud to call upon nepotism if and when we need it. But, after a series of unfortunate events, it became clear to me that the City of Angels was not the place I wanted to be.
In a rather drastic pivot, I headed to Aspen after graduation, and I have resided in the mountain town ever since. I don’t regret moving to Aspen and forgoing the L.A. experience. However, when I go to the city, my mind does fill with “what ifs.” I see a different version of myself (probably one with blonde highlights and a fake tan) driving on the 101 to work each day, living a life far from the beauty and peace of the Roaring Fork Valley. I suppose we all have those musings from time to time, thinking about the routes we could’ve taken in life but didn’t. Especially living in Aspen, we all have a story about a place we came from or some kind of life we gave up so we could reside in paradise.
Most people who live in L.A. realize it’s not paradise. For those in the entertainment industry, La La Land is a means to an end. They tolerate it because they have to. However, for the sake of this travelogue, I shouldn’t spend all my time complaining. This city does have some redeeming qualities that are important to mention. Most importantly, the restaurant scene is incredible. It’s easy to get anything and everything. If you want barbecue, try Baby Blues. German style cuisine? Go for the Red Lion Tavern. Maybe you are looking for Asian food? My favorite currently is Urban Ramen in Hollywood. Perhaps the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating (and, trust me, I’ve consumed many a breakfast burrito) is at JJ Sandwich shop in the Downtown. Across the street is Cole’s, L.A.’s oldest bar that claims responsibility for inventing the French dip sandwich. Within a short time, I was able to experience those restaurants and many more. If you like to wine and dine as much as I do, L.A. is sure to impress.
There, I came up with something nice to say.
We’ve now been in this city nearly a week. Our minds (the puppy’s included) are starting to veer toward the open road and the large amounts of powder accumulating in the mountains. Our adventure is not yet over, but luckily our stint in La La Land is coming to a close.
More coming at you next week, from somewhere else.
Barbara Platts appreciates her readers going along with her on this adventure. She will return to Aspen soon. Reach her at email@example.com or tweet her about your adventures @BarbaraPlatts.