Day 1: Friday, December 30

Our lives are definitely about travel these days. After a great stay in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving, we each went home for a very full month before seeing each other again late December, including another trip to Europe for Dan the week of 12/12.

He came in to Sac late on Thursday, 12/22. We enjoyed a really nice 4 day Christmas weekend, which was a nice balance of time with friends, productive planning and just pure veg time. (We binged on “3%” a new Netflix series – only 8 hours – which we highly recommend.) This time also included our “2nd annual” walk to the Fabulous Forties to see the lights on Christmas Eve. It was a nice brisk 5 mile walk in total in lovely 36 degree weather. At least it wasn’t raining like it was last year! We also went out for dim sum for brunch on Christmas Day which, albeit a bit cliché perhaps, might need to be a new tradition. Whenever Dan is in Sac we tend to focus on Asian food since there’s a nice variety of decent quality restaurants there compared to Raleigh.

I went to work on Tuesday and Dan kept himself busy working on some of our other projects. We drove to LA that evening, leaving a little before 4pm and getting to the hotel before 10pm. We are staying at a Hilton (of course) DoubleTree in Torrance. It was cheap, close to the airport, somewhat central to things we would be doing here.

I didn’t take any extra time off and worked on Wednesday and Thursday from our office in downtown LA. Dan went into the office with me both days and worked himself from a small conference room. There was hardly anyone there, it was very quiet and we both got quite a bit done. He also went out for lunch continuing his quest to get good Asian food, which is even better in LA compared to Sac, especially Korean. I ordered Indian in on and Wednesday and powered through on a protein bar on Thursday.

A classic shot of downtown LA, Dan took this on one of those days while I was working and he was in search of Asian food. The iconic USBank building is what helps id opening shots of movies and TV shows as LA. Between that and the palm trees, it’s hard to get more LA than this.


The Westin Bonaventure, the largest hotel in LA. The first time I came to LA for work with my present employer I wandered into this trying to get to somewhere else and it’s a very confusing building. But very interesting architecturally. It is famous for its outside glass elevators, and has been used as a location in many movies and TV shows, including True Lies and LA Law (which to this day is one of my favorite series of all time).

 A nice public courtyard across from the Bonaventure.
For Thursday night we had made reservations in Little Tokyo at a highly rated place called Sushi Gen. The line at opening at 5:30 was ridiculous. One old guy was giving us hard time about what looked like us cutting in line. When we said “we have reservations” he said “they don’t take reservations.” But they did when we called, the website even said “call us for reservations.” Yet when we got there they said “you have the stand in line.” So the point of the reservation was?? We left, and went to a ramen place across the little strip mall, which was great and much cheaper anyway. Afterwards we went to the Japanese American National Museum. At that moment I wasn’t planning on doing a blog so wasn’t thinking about photos. Mostly it was about internment camps (a timely topic given recent news events) with some other interesting exhibits.
Friday was all about getting together with Dan’s family, the point of the trip to LA in the first place. We spent the day with most of his nieces and nephew, and joined the entire family for dinner in the evening. Alvin and Irene picked us up at the hotel and we headed into downtown.


Los Angeles City Hall, another iconic building. Built in 1928, it’s a great example of Art Deco style. Also used in many movies and TV shows including LA Confidential and Dragnet.

 Dan caught this great reflection of City Hall in the policy department headquarters building across the street.


 We went up to the observation deck for some great views of the LA basin. As you can see, it started out as a pretty clear day. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. Who says it never rains in Southern California?

A nice advantage of traveling with family is there were lots of options for others to take photos of us which, if you follow our travel blogs, doesn’t happen a lot. This one courtesy of Alvin at the top of City Hall.

 Sorry for the quality, the zoom made it fuzzy. But any soap opera fan – ABC anyway – can immediately identify this as General Hospital. It’s actually the LA County/USC Medical Center. Marilyn Monroe was born here.
 Above and below: the dome and hallway of the 3rd floor, which actually opens up at street level.

After City Hall we were going to go to The Broad, a free contemporary art museum. The line was RIDICULOUS – with workers saying it was 4-5 hours to get in. What we couldn’t figure out was why anyone would wait 4-5 hours for anything. Given that it’s modern art, which we have an ambivalent relationship with anyway, we didn’t pause for a second to think about that. Next!

 Above and below: the Disney Concert Hall. We roamed the Blue Ribbon Garden area where shots from The Soloist were filmed.


 3 of Dan’s 4 nieces: Janelle and Judith (sisters) holding Irene.
 The gang for the day, taken by a passing tourist: Dan, Irene, Janelle, Alvin (Irene’s brother), Judith, me.

We went for lunch in Koreatown, to 8th Street Soondae (not ice cream!), where Dan had lunch on Wednesday and liked so much he wanted to go back. Soondae is a type of blood sausage. You know you’re in trouble when that’s the name of the restaurant 🙂 Blood sausage is one of those things I keep trying for Dan, each time him saying “this one’s different, you’ll really like it.” And each time my reaction is the same: not so much. What’s the definition of insanity? The things we do for love I guess.

A big heaping plate of soondae up by Dan (with tendons and liver just to balance it out!), and all of the side dishes typical in any Korean restaurant, which I like a lot. Below is the soup I got. I will admit, while I didn’t care for the sausage by itself, when partnered with the soup and the rice/bean combo, it was pretty good.


Dan took the gang through the old neighborhoods him and his brothers grew up in, telling lots of stories. This was an apartment building they lived in from 1979-1985 (4 of them in a one bedroom!) before moving to Glendale. They got to this country from Korea in 1978.
Welcome to Rydell High! AKA, John Marshall High School, where all 3 Joo brothers went to high school. As well as Judge Ito of OJ Simpson fame, Leonardo DiCaprio and Heidi Fleiss. In addition to Grease (if you didn’t catch the Rydell High reference), this has been the location for LOTS of movies and TV shows, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Pretty in Pink, The Wonder Years, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Boston Public to name a few. It’s also well respected academically, with lots of Advanced Placement curriculum which feeds a decent number of alumni into Ivy League schools (including Dan).


 The gates were unlocked and we went wandering around the back. The hoodlums in the group (everyone but me!) climbed a fence to get down to the track field and football stadium.
And here’s the video of this auspicious race.
 Coming back over. Any attempt on my part would have ended badly. I know my limits!
Our final stop for the day was Griffith Observatory, just above the old Joo neighborhood, which is essentially Los Feliz.  Griffith is a free planetarium with apparently great shows, but LOTS of people on this day and we passed on the lines to get in. Mostly we wandered around and enjoyed the great views, and got some great photos while we were at it. Too bad it had clouded up by this time. See below how different the sky is compared to when we were at City Hall.


 The Hollywood sign way in the background.




 One of these days we’ll take that path down, but we didn’t have enough time to fully explore this time.
 My reaction to Irene’s threat to photo bomb.
What is this?
 Irene’s success.


 We even went inside for a minute. The crowds were a bit much though.



 Judith had this cheeky “Smile!” thing she would do which cracked us up every time, as seen above and the two photos below.
 On our way back down to the cars.

Everyone got together for dinner at Chosun Galbi, a Korean BBQ place in “K-Town” as they call it, Koreatown. I’d been looking forward to this all day. We came here last year when Dan and I were here for Thanksgiving. Great food, and they put us in the same semi-private room we were in last year. From left to right: Judith, Emily (Irene and Alvin’s younger sister who didn’t join us today), me, Paul, the oldest brother, his wife Tammy, Dan’s Mom and Dad, Jacob, brother #2, Alvin, Dan, Irene (who suddenly got flu-ish on the way to the restaurant, yikes!) and Janelle.

Nice photos of Dan and his parents at the end. They will be 83 and 80 respectively this year.

We had a great day!

1 thought on “Day 1: Friday, December 30”

  1. Uncle Steve! Your post sums up our adventurous day so perfectly and your commentary is the best! I had a grin and a huge smile on my face reading this! Happy New Year!

    Thank you for a wonderful day!

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