It’s hard to believe that it’s already come and gone, but the trip to California this year was everything that I could have hoped that it would be. In short it was an adventure in which I made a host of new friends, got to see and experience a ridiculous amount of great beers and made my Hollywood debut all in one trip.
Leaving… on a jet plane!
Kicking off the trip was un-eventful, grabbed a morning flight out of Boise to Seattle for a brief layover before making the second jaunt on to L.A. It was boarding the second flight out of Seattle that I knew, beyond any doubt, that this was going to be an incredible trip. I lucked out and took advantage of a Delta promotion to upgrade my 3 hour flight from Seattle to First Class and if you ever have the opportunity I highly recommend it (on any kind of extended flight at least). Aside from far superior seating, you’re actually treated like a valued customer with extremely attendant flight service. Before I was even settled in my seat, a flight attendant was ready to take my drink order and I started sipping on whisky while the rest of the plane was boarding. Hot towel, yes thank you I would like to freshen up. I mean come on, this is over the top in an all sorts of wonderful way. Ohh yes, I would like another whiskey while the rest of the plane is boarding, why thank you very much!
I land in Los Angeles right on time and hop off the plane behind Chris Kattan (SNL, Night at the Roxbury, Corky Romano) who happened to be making the trek back to L.A. from Seattle and I’m debating about how lame it would be to have people hounding you for photos and such at all sorts of random places… like the airport or a restaurant. We happen to be heading in the same direction for a while and the inner struggle continues. Am I going to go full tourist and accost him (nicely of course) for a photo and to tell him I’m a huge fan, or do I play it cool and let the man travel in peace for a while. While the inner struggle rages, we come to a Y in the terminal and he hops on one of those long golf cart shuttles with his traveling companion and I go the other way in search of a shuttle to my hotel. Opportunity lost… perhaps. But it seemed like the right play at the time.
I don’t travel to California much, so the notion of LAX and the shuttle situation is slightly overwhelming. After hanging out for 20+ minutes wondering where the hell my shuttle could be I decide to call the hotel where I found that apparently the Wingate Wyndham only sends out the shuttle mid day if you call for it. Hah! Finally get the shuttle, get settled and kick back.
L.A. Day 1
So I’m an Idaho native, born and raised in Boise. I can navigate, drive, and get along pretty well just fine in say Seattle or Portland without any trouble. I quickly ruled out any notion of getting a car while in California. Aside from the traffic and the tolls and having no real idea where the hell anything is anyway I elect to Uber/Lyft my way around the city as needed. Since I couldn’t sneak onto the Con Man set Wednesday, an old college buddy invited me out to check out the Dream Works campus and have lunch. This was a great way to spend a large portion of the day since it’s about 45 minutes each way to get there from my hotel. The campus was of course beautiful and the food was incredible.
After surviving a few trips up and back on the 405 I’ve decided to just kick back in the hotel and wait for Rob’s flight to arrive. A beer would be pretty incredible right now, but the hotel doesn’t have a bar and I am 98% sure that I’ve just heard a half dozen gun shots outside my window. Trying to grab an Uber to go the few blocks to a convenience store for a few bombers by myself strikes me as a little sad so I elect to go without. A few landing delays later, Rob finally makes it to the hotel around 10pm and declares that after almost 7 years since we hung out last, we simply must get some beer to celebrate the beginning of our adventure. With that, we set out on foot through Inglewood on the search for beer. I am happy to report, and as you may be able to tell since I am writing this after the fact, we were not shot on the way to or from the gas station. They even had a pretty decent selection to choose from. We grabbed a Stone Ruination and a Lagunitas IPA. You know you’re on a high class trip when you’re drinking craft beer from a flimsy plastic hotel cup!
My Hollywood Debut
Fast forward a few days and it’s time for my Hollywood debut (as an extra) with Alan Tudyk shooting Con Man. I’ll skip over the gushing sci-fi nerd squeals about shooting with Alan, Sean Astin, Will Wheaton, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew and get into the beer (but if you want to see the trailer, click here I’m in the first class cabin at 1:44 behind Sean Astin). Our game plan, Rob & I, was to grab a few pints in the afternoon while we were waiting for El Segundo Brewing to open and then head over there for the evening. As we’re wrapping up on set after lunch we start chatting with another extra, Bino, who happened to be local to L.A. Anyway, he couldn’t understand why we had Uber’d to (and were looking to Uber from) the set which prompted a quick recap of my journey from Boise and Rob’s trip from Sacramento to come be a part of the shoot. Being the gentleman and scholar that Bino is, he offered to take us part of the way and drop us at a taphouse to speed up the journey and save us some cash which sounded like a hell of nice idea to us.
We’re walking through the parking lot at Air Hollywood chatting and stop at a beautiful, blue, brand new BMW 435 which was completely pimped out. Definitely better than catching an Uber. After a quick stop in Beverly Hills we were on our way, chatting about beers and Bino’s reaching out to his friends and associates to get recommendations on where he should drop some out-of-towners for the best time. After some discussion, Bino offers to have us come have a beer at his place while we ponder our options. Without any real plan or agenda, this seemed like as good an idea as any and so off we went. After a quick tour of the place and finding the largest private stockpile of scotch I’ve ever seen Bino starts bringing out beers.
We had a sour, The Bruery’s Freckle, and their Black Tuesday which is one of the only beer’s i’ve ever referred to as “life changing”. If you ever have the opportunity to sample (or buy) a bottle (or a case for that matter), I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It’s very very good. After a few hours of drinks we headed back into Hollywood for dinner at the *I forgot the name* where we met the chef who happily ran us through all the finer points of what we were enjoying. Food, ambience, and conversation were all outstanding. The stars have definitely aligned on this trip. Back to Bino’s for scotch tasting and cigars after dinner before calling it a night to get ready for Rob’s flight and my train ride in the morning.
Da Train, Da TRAIN!
Friday morning rolls around and it’s time to get on my way to Union Station to catch a train. Having never been on a train for any length of time this sounded like a great way to spend a day. Watching the world roll by, listening to the clickety clack of the train rolling down the track. The plan was that Rob was going to take me around to check out the Sacramento brewing scene, but had some family stuff to knock out on Friday. The 14+ hour train ride seemed like a reasonable way to kill the day. Had I known that Amtrak, when you ride coach at least, is only a half step above a Greyhound Bus trip, I would have flown, or rented a car and taken my chances.
The first six hours were pretty great. The train left a little before 10am and I got to see the coast (lots of oil in that water, jeez) and lunch service was pretty fun. Met some folks in the dining car and we chatted for a while about beer, craft beer, oil spills, drought etc. After my meal however, things went down hill in a hurry. Back at my seat things started to go down hill with one couple and their 5 children a few rows in front of me. They had settled into a full on fight while their children ran amok in the car. Apparently the husband and wife had a tiff earlier in the day and they were going to get their brawl on. This was about the time I started looking for options to jump off the train and rent a car the rest of the way. Of course this was right around 7pm when all the car rental places were closing up. *sigh* Only 5 and 1/2 hours until we’re supposed to arrive in Sacramento…
Finally roll into town, and only about 30 minutes behind schedule, which I hear is pretty miraculous. Thank god for cell phones, I’d already coordinated with Rob to pick me up and he was waiting outside the station. First order of business, stop for a beer. God knows I needed one after that train ride. While they did have beer on the train, the thought of paying $7 for a 12oz bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was simply unfathomable. I would have rather thrown myself from the train (no offense to Sierra Nevada, but $7 is batshit crazy). We stopped at University of Beer in Sacramento which was thankfully just a few minutes away. A Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin did help immensely at washing away some of the day’s train trauma. Didn’t take long to close down UofB and so we headed back to Rob’s to get some sleep before the real brew tour began.