Los Angeles Underground

Los Angeles Underground

One of my best friends, the best man at my wedding in fact, is himself getting married! As such, the same friend who organized my bachelor party (see exhibits A, B, C, D, and E) is about to have his own — in Vegas (insert .gif from The Hangover).

The only setback, it starts on a Friday morning. After making some calls and pulling some strings, I struck a deal to have Friday off and make up the time next week. One of the perks of working at a start up, flexibility.

Escalator descending to Universal City Metro station

While I could drive to Las Vegas, I am not sure I want to drive 4 hours at the crack of dawn, by myself, to catch up with the guys. That’s when it occured to me, I don’t necessarily have to drive. I looked at last minute flights, too expensive. I looked at trains, too long of a journey (twice as long actually). Finally, I looked at buses, bingo!

The coach bus would leave at 7:00 AM from Union Station, which means that I would still have to make my way to Downtown LA before sunrise. Sure, I could take an Uber or Lyft, but today is about public transportation, namely, the LA Metro.

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Friday: Day 1 of the Bachelor Party

My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM for me to get ready and make my way to the underground train station I used to take every day to go to work, and make my way to Union Station — Universal City station.

Universal City Metro station

Entering the station felt like muscle memory, I remember those public transportation days vividly. I still even had my old “tap card” to enter the station. Unfortunately, it had insufficient funds on it, which forced me to take a minute to reload my card, which in turn made me miss my train.

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The next train would not arrive for another 15 minutes. I would be cutting it really close — down to the last minute, if I made my bus at all. Still, I waited patiently for the next train knowing that there was nothing I could do to make the next train arrive faster. Before I knew it, a train full of half-asleep passenger was opening its doors before me.

Los Angeles Metro Red Line Passengers

Every stop along the way felt like a roll of the dice, like a game of craps, where at any given point we could roll a 7, say encounter a train delay, and lose it all — perhaps this could be foreshadowing for what is to come. Fortunately, the train arrived at Union Station with 5 minutes to spare, I hopped onto the bus, and was on my way to Vegas through the road less traveled.

It is always interesting taking the Metro in Los Angeles, mainly because very few people utilize it as their preferred method of transportation, but also because a number of people do not even know it exists. I certainly did not know we had a subway system until I returned from New York — where I would take the subway almost exclusively to go just about anywhere. On a related note, how weird is it to navigate cities several feet below the surface?

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Tell me, have you ever taken the subway? If so, what was your experience like? Do you prefer to drive your own vehicle or take public transportation?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

On the Road Less Traveled

On the Road Less Traveled

A stream of earth dashes right next to me, much too fast to even distinguish the dirt and plants that compose it. I raise my gaze and the ground begins to slow down, incrementally decelerating until I reach the mountains in the far distance that gently inch their way past me. I imagine them as old majestic creatures calmly walking on the road less traveled.

The sun caresses the right side of my face, while the rocking of the wind and the sound of speed entice me to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I even seem to notice a sign that reads “Zzyzx Rd.” If I did not know any better, I would think that I was being welcomed to sleepy town.

I blaze through the desert as fast as this behemoth and it’s conductor allow us to, but I remain stagnant, peaceful, only moving my fingers but to type these words. I find the comfort in the quiet, most of us aboard do. Silence. Then I hear someone yawn, perhaps they will join the half of the passengers who have elected to nap – I certainly considered it.

Mr. Ramdolfi typing these thoughts while on the road.

I look around me. I look through the windows at the vast nothingness around me, and I feel, inspired by nature. It’s incredible. To think that there was a time when this was it. I attempt to fathom life in the great outdoors before the invention of, well, doors. It sounds grand; daunting, harsh, and likely uncomfortable, but grand.

It is moments like this that allow me to step back and acknowledge that we are all one people with a single ancestry, divided only by our own constructs. We are just one of many species that has cohabited with the rest since we first set foot on this land. Most impressive of all, we have gone from nothingness to today. If only the hunter-gatherers of yesterday that roamed the same grounds where a McDonald’s is now open for business could see what securing food in today’s society looks like.

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I find it interesting how it takes stepping out of the known to see the bigger picture. The monotony of daily life combined with the city grind generally encapsulate me in a specific mindset, one that I openly enjoy, but one that occasionally restricts my ability to think beyond the parameters of my routine. This, this is different.

This is traveling, specifically, this is the journey within traveling. While I always look forward to the destination, there is something special about the journey. I believe it is the same reason why so many of us enjoy going for a drive without a set path. It’s delightful, almost therapeutic. For these reasons, I am happy to be on the road.

Tell me, do you enjoy road trips? Do you prefer the city or nature? For you, is traveling about the journey, or the destination?

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(Featured Image by: Sebastian Palomino)

A Year Engaged

A Year Engaged

Today marks the exact one year anniversary since the engagement. It truly feels as if it was last week that I was on one knee asking my girlfriend to spend the rest of her life with me. Now, we’re less than a month away from “I do!”

I would love to say that it has been an easy year, a piece of cake, and in many ways it has! However, it has been challenging as well. Starting with trying to find the perfect wedding venue, all the way to finalizing details such as the seating chart, the past year has been largely focused on planning our wedding — which has not yielded a shortage of stress.

At the same time, I would be remiss not to mention how wonderful life with the fiancée (or “wife-elect” as I like to call her) has been. There is something so comforting about waking up every morning next to the woman you know will be your constant until death do us part. I am blessed, not a day goes by that her presence does not remind me of it.

Outside of our wedding planning journey, our year engaged has been eventful, to say the least. Below are a few of our highlight:

Travel: While we have minimized the costly adventures and date nights to save for the wedding, we technically did travel — exactly a year ago we were across the country navigating the streets of Orlando, Florida. We have not traveled since, but our honeymoon is just around the corner!

Employment: We have each experienced changes in employment, one great, one not so much. I used to work at a law firm at one of the skyscrapers in the featured image, which I left to take a risk at a startup. Meanwhile, the wife-elect’s clinic experienced an unfortunate change in management, which has left her longing for the good ol’ days.

Transportation: On my end, my new job requires me to drive, which I love! I accepted using the subway in New York, but I could not get used to LA’s outdated, inconvenient, filthy metro. On her end, she finally upgraded to a modern vehicle from this century! She now drives the fiancée-mobile — she has yet to name her car.

Dates: Despite our frugality in the past year, we have still been able to enjoy date nights! Admittedly, our budget has encouraged us to get creative. For example, we have taken advantage of Southern California’s poppy “super bloom” as an inexpensive adventure to the desert. Date night is important to us, even if it is only a trip down the street to our secret spot.

All in all, it has been an amazing year! Stressful? Sure, but life is going to present you with challenges, hurdles, and stress regardless of whether you are planning a wedding or not. As such, we have focused on the positives of our engaged life. Coming up next, married life!

Tell me, what are the highlights of your year? Have you traveled recently and where? Also, do you name your car?

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(Featured Image by: Pixabay)