I’ve been fortunate to be able to come from an adventurous family who travels a lot. I’ve been traveling from before I was out the womb. Growing up my parents used to take me and my sister everywhere. We’d go on numerous road trips, flights, and we’ve even been on a cruise. I’ve visited a few countries and got to experience life outside of Southern California.
As you may already know, my family is from the Caribbean and I grew up heavy in both cultures. So staying in California wasn’t a “thing” for our household. I’ve never “not” had a passport. I talk to my friends and people I know and it amazes me how little people travel. They tell me it’s too expensive or they don’t see the point. But if you spent that $500 you spent on shoes and bought a plane ticket, you might see it’s not all that crazy expensive to travel. It’s all about where and how you spend your money. Now I understand if you’re living check to check, but if you have disposable income, even a little, save it for a trip once in awhile. It’s worth it!
Another thing I’ve been fortunate to experience is commuting. My parents have been commuters for as long as I’ve been alive. Being a commuter, you get used to driving for hours and the fact that we’re in LA county, we get that lovely traffic everyone talks about. It’s a bittersweet thing! I’ve learned how to deal with sitting and driving in traffic because I’ve been in it all my life. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve continued in my parents footsteps as a commuter. It seems to just work out that way. I commuted everyday throughout my undergrad and every job I’ve worked so far has had a commute of at least an hour drive. The bad part is, the jobs aren’t even all that far. They usually range between 18-25 miles. That would normally be a 20-30 minute drive with no traffic.
Back in my Before 25 post, I mentioned I wanted to do another road trip. I haven’t done a coast to coast trip yet, but I did manage to get in a trip from LA to Sacramento and two mini road tips to Solvang and San Diego all in the beginning of this year. Some people wouldn’t be able to handle that.
I’m thankful I come from a family of drivers and travelers. That’s something I’m going to pass down to my kids and hopefully they’ll do the same.
I grew up in beautiful Southern California in the most diverse city that I’ve ever known so far, Long Beach. Yes, the same Long Beach Snoop Dogg, Cameron Diaz, and many other celebrities are from. I actually went to the same high school they went to, Long Beach Poly. Not that that matters. I love Long Beach and you would too! Here’s three main reasons why!
To me Long Beach is a good representation of what America is. You can find so many different cultures in this area from food to festivities. I could walk a few blocks and get some authentic Mexican food, walk a little more for Pad Thai, cross the street for Pho take a bus for Lasagna, turn around for Gyros, take a short drive for Sushi, and skip back for a burger. I mean the list goes on. Long Beach is such a great place to try different foods from all over the world within a 10 mile radius. And the food is so good!
Not only can you expand your horizon here, you can expand your language and experience different cultures. Long Beach as a whole isn’t really dominated by one group of people. But we do have little communities within Long Beach that is dominated by a specific group. In a place as diverse as Long Beach, I expect that to happen. People tend to gravitate to people of similar lifestyles, cultures, and beliefs. That’s what a community is.
Most areas in Southern California are known for the great weather. We range from 70-85 degrees year round. Of course we have our chilly times under 70 and our hot times over 85 but the weather is usually something to brag about. As far as the 70-85 degrees, I’m mainly talking about Long Beach and surrounding areas. Obviously not the entire Southern California has the same weather. Places like San Diego gets more rain and the mountains get snow. Yes, WE DO GET SNOW on the west coast. Just not at the beaches where I live.
Even though we have great weather just about daily, it’s not so great for our land. In Long Beach we don’t get much rain and we’re in a severe drought. The city is taking drastic measures to conserve water but all the efforts still isn’t enough. It’s so bad that when it actually does rain, people freak out. Rain is so rare out here that it has become such an exciting event for Southern Californians. It’s right up there with earthquakes.
There’s Always Something to Do and See
Long Beach is such a beautiful place. The city is filled with greenery and there are lots of things to do. You can spend the day at one of our many beaches. I prefer to go a little south at least to Belmont Shores and beyond where the water is cleaner.
The Pike in Downtown Long Beach is filled with local shops, restaurants, clubs, and bars. They also just opened up an outlet down the hill on Pine Ave. featuring stores like Nike, Converse, H&M and Forever 21. The Cinemark movie theater down there was renovated with lounge chairs for an at home experience. There are a variety of restaurants that line the Pike’s shore. You can get BBQ from Famous Dave’s and get seafood from Gladstone’s or Bubba Gump.
Across from Bubba Gump is our Aquarium and a walkway to our lighthouse. If you’re at the lighthouse, you can see across the water is a big ship. It’s the Queen Mary. There are a few tours on the Queen Mary and a museum on the ship. During October we have Dark Harbor. It’s a haunt similar to Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Nights At Universal Studios. I used to work as a monster and being as unbiased as possible, Dark Harbor is definitely a place to visit during the Halloween season.
Long Beach is such an artistic place. Art fills the city everywhere. We have local art shops and art shows, a Performance Arts Center where you can see Symphonic Orchestras play and there is a playhouse held by local actors and actresses. There are plenty of music festivals, art street walks, museums, and fashion shows throughout Long Beach. If you’re into the art scene, Long Beach is definitely a home for that.
Another spot I love in Long Beach is 2nd street and Naples. Second Street is a strip of bars and restaurants. It’s easy to bar hop and get a bite to eat. Naples is my favorite place to go during the Christmas season. The home owners have competitions on their Christmas decorations and they really go all out. I always wonder what their electricity bill is in December. But guessing by the looks of the homes, I think they can afford a little spike in their electricity bill for one month. It’s really a site to see!
I could go on because there really is a lot more to do in Long Beach than I mentioned. But maybe I should make a whole separate post about things to do in Long Beach! I love my city and I’m happy my parents decided to move here when I was 2. It’s part of the foundation of who I am today.
Long Beach has a Facebook page and they posted a video showing a little bit of how amazing the city is. I wish the video showed a little more of how diverse it is here and all the different cultural experiences you can have in Long Beach but I guess you’ll have to visit the city to see for yourself.
There’s this place called “The Gap” in Barbados. It’s on the south side of the island. It’s a strip of bars and clubs on one side of the street and hotels line the other side of the street. We went there twice on two separate nights and both nights were so much fun.
The first night we went there, we went to a club called The Cove. It had two separate areas. The front was a bit of a lounge that had seats outside under tents and umbrellas. As you walk through the hallway, the music gets louder and you spill out into this pretty large room with a stage, bar and a pool table. There were places to sit, places to stand, and places to dance. From the outside, it didn’t seem like all of that space was inside. We settled in a spot next to the stairs that looked over the dance floor and was bordered with cushion seating along the walls. It was similar to a large patio. There was no ceiling at that spot which was great because we were able to get fresh air while still feeling like we were inside of the club.
The music was interesting that night though. Definitely not what I was expecting. They were playing hip hop music which was weird for me because it was crop over season in Barbados. I was expecting soca music not hip hop. I kept forgetting I wasn’t in LA. THey were playing some old school hip hop too, like if they had a premiere for the Straight Outta Compton movie. I was a little confused. So, that was a good time to get a drink.
I was there with my cousins, aunty, mom and dad, uncle and his wife and her sister and friend. There were quite a few of us. Between my uncle, dad, and one of my cousins, we had drinks to go around. I asked for a margarita. Nothing to crazy. I WAS with my parents.
Even though I wasn’t planning to drink much, that margarita they made was SMALL. I’ve never had a margarita that small in my life! (Like if I’ve been drinking for so many years.)
It didn’t matter though because they finally started playing music I WANTED to dance to. It also started to rain. Remember I said the area we settled down in didn’t have a roof? Well, no roof plus rain makes the funnest night of dancing in the rain, inside of a club, ever! I’ve never had the chance to dance in the rain. It’s not like we get much rain in Southern California to dance in anyway. So this was definitely an experience for me. Everyone ran for shelter, but me and my cousins stayed in the rain and danced every song that played. It was a pretty good shower too, we were soaked.
The other night we went to The Gap, we went to a karaoke bar. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to all. You have your good singers, your bad singers, your entertaining singers, your bad singers who think they are good singers, your singers who don’t know the words even though it’s right on the screen in front of them and your drunk slurring and swaying singers. Needless to say, it was pure entertainment. Anyone who can get up there and sing in front of all those judging people regardless of where you land in that list of singers, you are the real MVP. I couldn’t do it! Not a crowd that size.
That night my cousin told me I had to drink something other than a margarita. I had to either drink a beer or a “real” drink. So I chose to drink a rum punch. It was pretty good. Much stronger than the margarita but it was sweet.
The rain came down and as usual, cleared out everyone in sight. People ran under the tent of the bar, and some went to the patio on the side. Once the rain held up, all the chairs were soaked. We ended up moving from the karaoke bar back to the same club we went before. We went to the dance floor this time, because none of us wanted to get wet. I won’t go into detail about our dancing that night. I’ll just say I had so much fun with my cousins in Barbados. ~Kelsey Sherri
I should really continue to talk about my trip to Barbados before I have another trip I need to talk about! This is the second part of my blog entries about my trip to Barbados.
I’ve been home for a few days already, trying to get back on Los Angeles time. I’ve been sleeping and unpacking but mostly sleeping these past days. We always need a vacation after our vacation!
So, Barbados, one thing that I really enjoyed and I really miss right now is the water! The ocean is beautiful. It really does look like the movies and pictures they use for tropical advertising. The water is so clear even at 4 feet deep you can see your feet. As I said in my previous blog post, I recently learned how to swim and I’m just getting comfortable in the water. But for some reason I wasn’t scared in the ocean out there. It could be because the waves were nonexistent in the area we swam. So I tried to think of it as an endless pool with salt water.
I think I was overcoming my fear more and more every time I got in the sea. Because guess what guys?! I finally taught myself how to float. I’ve been too scared to even be in water much less let it lift me up and take complete control of my body. But, it happened. After a few tries, I lifted up and started to float. While floating on my back, I also taught myself how to swim backwards and how to swim on my side. I can swim all over the place now! Go Kelsey! Now I just have to
go passed five feet!
The water is so warm out there. It’s true. I felt it for myself. But it’s not a jacuzzi warm that makes you sweat. I used to think, “why would people want to swim in warm water, especially since it’s usually hot on the days people generally go to the beach? Wouldn’t you get sweaty?” No! I’m here to tell you that the water although it’s warmer, it’s a cooling warm. The water feels like silk chiffon wrapped around your body loose enough to move freely but tight enough to feel its existence. That water is amazing!
Funny thing is, the people out there think the water is cold when you first walk in, especially if it’s raining. Yes the water got a little chill but because the water I’m used to is freezing, that little chill was still warm. They should feel the freezing water along California’s coast. Wait no! They should feel the water at Lake Tahoe! Now THAT’S cold water!
One of my trips to the beach, my uncle brought snorkeling gear and let me give it a try. I couldn’t get the mouthpiece right so I ditched it and just held my breath. I dove to the bottom (of that deep 5ft water) and saw a bed of unusual shells, rocks, and a few fish. I couldn’t believe I was diving under the ocean water, looking at the ground of rocks almost 3000 miles away from my home. It was a bit surreal. I got to take a dip, or as they say it, bathe the sea, in that beautiful Bajan ocean!
I’m not sure if I mentioned this or not, but my family comes from the caribbean. My mom is from Belize and my dad is from Barbados. I’ve been to Belize quite a few times but the last time I’ve been to Barbados, I was a baby just forming words 20 years ago.
I finally got the chance to vacation and visit/meet family in Barbados for the past week. I’m about halfway through my visit, so I thought this would be a good time to sit down to write you through my experiences so far.
When we landed I expected to walk out of the plane and be blasted with tropical heat, but it was surprisingly cool. The airport was a little crazy and small for the two or three airplanes that landed at that time. But Barbados is a small island, so that’s expected. After gathering our luggages and struggling through the lines, we finally got through immigration and customs. We walked out and there it was! The sea of Bajan people waiting for their visiting and returning friends and family. Everything was a bit of a blur for me. I was still trying to process that I was on Barbados land.
We visited a”rum shop” close to the airport and I tasted my first Bajan beer, Banks. It was really refreshing.I’m not much of a beer drinker but that one was pretty good. My cousin picked us up and took us to her house. We had a small tour going north to where she lives. And let me tell you, that was quite the experience! First of all, they drive on the other side. Growing up in the US, I’m used to the passenger side being on the right side of the car, but here, it’s on the left. The roads are opposite as well, obviously. Every time we made a turn it felt like we were going in the wrong lane. And to top it all off, everyone drives like they’re going to miss a plane! Super fast and somewhat reckless!! Some of the roads are also VERY narrow with hills and curvy, so curvy that you can’t see if another car is coming around the corner. And that was the in the day! Remember they’re also driving fast! My cousin’s driving wasn’t too bad though. It was the other drivers and getting used to being on the other side of the road that made me nervous.
We went up a steep and narrow hill and a side road to get to her house. We were in the country surrounded by bushes, trees, and plenty of insects! But when we got to the top, the view was PHENOMENAL! The ocean is in plain sight on one side of the house and the other side is what’s called “The Gulley”. It’s basically a forest with a steep drop to its bottom. You can see the hills dip and rise, sprinkled with colorful flowers and lots of trees. You hear the birds in the day and crickets at night. At night the moon lights the tops of the trees giving it an endless horizon. It’s absolutely amazing to look at!
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