I made it back to California!
And, of course, what else would draw me back to this state but Invisible Children.
Kind of like the first time I made it to the West Coast, this non-profit has a way of getting me to go anywhere and everywhere.
And, of course, much like my first trip to California for an Invisible Children conference, this one was extended by a few days as well.
The way my schedule worked out, I actually ended up flying into LAX on my own — which marked my first ever solo flight. I know, it’s weird. I ended up checking in for the conference at UCLA and then came down with a cold, which sucked. I had to bail early on a lot of the events.
But, what I did get to do was amazing. Dale Partridge, the CEO of Sevenly, gave a really inspiring speech about creating for good. We got to listen to UN Ambassador Samantha Power give her first ever speech, and three of my favorite activist celebs — Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush and Don Cheadle — were there to give speeches as well.
ALSO I MET LUIS MORENO OCAMPO. I WAS FLOORED, YOU GUYS. FLOORED.
The photo is blurry because Caitlin and I were literally shaking because we were so nervous and excited and so many other emotions I cannot describe.
BUT SERIOUSLY I WAS FLOORED AND IT WAS THE BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE.
This conference was a little different than the last in that this one had breakout sessions. I got to listen to LA-based Saving Innocence talk about what it does to combat sex trafficking, and it really made me want to get involved with Love146, or a similar organization to try to do my part and help.
Like all things IC, the conference ended with one giant dance party and a million sad goodbyes.
But… on to the next adventure! Like I mentioned, I opted to stay a few extra days in LA just to take advantage of my time in the city. I ended up actually doing this part solo as well. I booked a single bed in a hostel on Venice Beach.
It was amazing.
This was my view.
The street outside my hostel
OK, but let’s back up. After the conference, my new friend Jacob gave me, my friend Taylor and my friend Janie a ride around town. We had lunch at Lemonade, which I had never heard of before, but immediately fell in love with due to its vegetarian-friendly menu.
Of course, we went to the Hollywood sign to take some “glamour” shots.
They ended up being totally awkward of course.
We went to Griffith Observatory, but unfortunately, it was too cloudy (smoggy?) to see anything. We kind of gave up. I checked into my hostel, and then Janie and I spent the rest of the day wandering along Venice Beach and the surrounding areas. We got to check out the flagship TOMS store, which was super cool, and we walked past the Snapchat headquarters. We also ended up wandering into a movie scene that was filming!
After the beach, I met back up with my college friend Caitlin. I got a tour of the movie studio that her cousin works in, and then we went to go grab dinner at a bar.
View from the studio
I ended up hanging out with Janie again the next day. We went to Santa Monica Pier with Caitlin, and then met up with Janie’s cousin, Justin, who was super nice! He drove us around town for a little bit.
Of course we drove down Sunset Boulevard while I sang along to Sammy Adams because of course.
Then, we went to “Top of the Word,” which is a state park. We climbed up and oh my god the view was breathtaking. Completely worth the sore calves and photos do not do it justice.
There was also a mandatory In-N-Out stop, of course.
We ended up crashing a hotel rooftop bar just to see the view (not sorry) and then grabbed some drinks before calling it a night, since my plane left the next morning.
Overall, it was a really good trip. I surprised myself by being a lot more spontaneous than I would usually be. I had originally planned on staying with some friends I met at the first Fourth Estate conference, but those plans fell through. I ended up booking my hostel room like, four hours before check-in, and just kind of went with the flow.
I was actually kind of surprised at how LA didn’t live up to my expectations. I liked it OK, but it wasn’t absolutely amazing. The traffic kind of annoyed me, and I didn’t like how spaced out everything was. I loved looking at the scenery, but I don’t think I would ever move here.
I’d definitely come back again, though. So, until next time!