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rollercoaster roads at Echo Park

rollercoaster roads at Echo Park

Day 95 Echo Park, Costco Fail

I'm feeling like povvo Martha Stewart today. In the morning, I slap together tuna sandwiches and thrown in some

funfetti chewy Chips Ahoy

and fruit in a my souvenir Liberty bag. 

Rob navigates us through the freeway towards Echo Park Lake. I feel sorry for him, missioning around LA in our little rented Hyundai but he's hard to bring down. "The freeway is an experience in itself," he says, very sagely and then admires stuff like the six-lane freeway ("soooo many cars!), the flyovers ("look at how many!"), the pile-up at the Long Beach exit ("What's at Long Beach?"), how gas is so cheap ("gas is SO CHEAP").

Echo Lake is undrinkable and not a place you want to accidentally fall into. This great spurt of a fountain adds a jaunty watery beat to the Downtown skyline you can see.

Afternoon in Echo Park is like inland Santa Monica; pretty, undemanding, and super chill. Hispanic men are carting around ice cream, corn, and churros. Long-legged birds cross the path in front of you. 

I'm throwing stale bread out to the water. Suddenly, there's a blanket of frantic mud hens, pigeons, and mallards.

We spend a lazy two hours there; sketching, reading books, taking photos. The pace of our travel is like a clock winding down. Sun-soaked and lazy, we head towards Echo Park proper to check out this enclave of LA gentrification. Echo Park was once a dangerous part of town, frequented by Hispanic gangs.

That's sort of hard to believe at the moment. I see suburbia. Tidy houses with tidy lawns. A blonde woman on her cellphone, pushing a stroller. A family drags their laundry behind them in carts, smelling fresh from the laundromat. I eat a sea salt croissant and an iced sencha tea on the side of the road at

Valerie

.

Next to the supermarket that sells pig heads and the Mexican bakery, there's Stories,

a second-hand bookshop

selling matcha lattes and a place called

Time Travel Mart

, fine purveyors of Mammoth Chunks and leeches in a jar. There's even

a Martha Stewart feature

.

In our search for the

Baxter Stairs

, we embark on an inadvertent, stomach-churning roller-coaster up and down the unwalkable, unbikeable residential hills. Rob clutches the steering wheel and laughs like it's all great fun this fear of our tiny car not being able to make it up the hill. At the crest, there are alarming road signs that say "HILL BLOCKS VIEW." No kidding. 

The 200+ stairs elude us. I feel like I've been rattled inside a washing machine. We give up and drive to Costco for 1.50 hotdogs. We even shop at Costco for a little bit until we get to the counter and realise you need to buy a $55 membership. Noobs. It's okay. Portion sizes in the grocery section are out of control for a family of two at Costco. The hot dogs were kinda sick-making. We rate the Ikea 50 cent hotdogs on top. 

The sun sets and it gets dark while we're on the freeway. We hear Taylor Swift's

Blank Space

 and that Sam Smith song that sounds like his other song at least

three times.

The traffic and the driving in LA is intense. Once we hit Santa Monica and Rob stops by Sunny Blue so I can get more omisubis, damp fog has settled low over the asphalt.

last sunset at the canal

last sunset at the canal

homeless at the end of the santa monica bike path

homeless at the end of the santa monica bike path