I recently had the privilege and pleasure of helping produce a long distance walking marathon for Everwalk, a walking organization created by world famous endurance athlete, Diana Nyad, and her expedition leader Bonnie Stoll. Just a few years ago, in 2013, Diana Nyad, completed the long distance, 110 mile swim, from Cuba to Florida, at age 64! She succeeded on her fifth attempt, when she swam the distance in 53 hours, without the aid of a shark tank to protect her from the wild. This was something that had never, and potentially will never be done again. To be working hand in hand with Diana and Bonnie, is an amazing experience, as they are both so determined, inspiring, and very clear on their vision and future for the Everwalk national walking initiative. Most of all they are just super EPIC women, who demonstrate that age is really just a number and it’s never too late to achieve something you once thought impossible!
The main purpose of Everwalk is to get Americans of all ages moving. In a time, where obesity and health issues are at an all time high, it has been proven over and over again how beneficial the simple act of walking can be in terms of contributing to not only your overall physical, but also your mental health.
For their third annual mega Everwalk, we designed a route that began in White Rock, British Columbia [near Vancouver] and ended in Seattle, Washington, meaning we would be crossing the US/Canadian Border on foot! The past walks had been from Los Angeles to San Diego (134 miles), and Boston to Main (134 miles). The general size of group ranges from 100-150 people, with an average walker age of 65! Let me repeat that- the average age of the walkers is SIXTY FIVE years old. These people are walking around 20 miles a day, for 7 days straight! I can say that I have done a 2-day marathon where we walked 20 miles, 2 days in a row, and I will admit, I did not feel right for about two months after, and I am young, healthy, and in pretty good shape. I was in AWE of the people that had signed on to do something that most would consider insane! However, capping off each long day of walking with Diana’s inspirational Fireside Chats, is really enough to keep you reminded of why we were all there doing something that most would consider crazy.
Each morning, the walk started around 7am, meaning sometimes a 5am wake up and then a bus ride to where we ended the walk the previous day (to account for walking the actual distance). We also would change hotels every other night in order to be closer to where we were walking each day. There were multiple rest, lunch, and medical stops along the route, which was labeled by signage, as well as a turn by turn route card that each walker was given. Some days, it reached a high of 90-93 degrees, and try walking even just 5 miles in full sun after three days of already walking 20 miles a day- it is HARD. But the view that the walkers got at the end of each day and at the end of the the 7 days made it ever that much sweeter. Each step propels you forward, as you realize you can’t stop now because you have already come so far. The next walk is in the beginning phases of planning, and there are multiple smaller walks that occur around the nation until that time.
I never thought I would be able to go back to sleep-away camp (because 1. I am too old and that would be weird, and 2. the sleep-away camp I went to when I was younger was mucho expensivo), but this came pretty close to what I imagine adult summer camp to be. Early mornings, fun activities, new friends, new sights and stories, and mostly pushing your body to limits you never thought possible. It was like having a spiritual awakening (it might have been intensified by my severe lack of sleep), and I really cannot wait to participate in the next Everwalk.
What I took away from being a part of this whole experience, was that you can find friends in places you would never expect, that even with running on only 3 hours of sleep a night for 10 days you can still have an amazing time, and most of all, it is really never too late, and you are never to old to get out there and accomplish something that you never thought was physically or mentally possible
Los Angeles restaurateur Nick Mathers, responsible for Eveleigh [WeHo], Goldie’s [Beverly Grove], and Little Ruby [Santa Monica], has just expanded his Santa Monica real estate and opened a fourth Food, Fare & Cocktail lounge overlooking the beautiful Santa Monica ocean horizon, Élephante.
The newest restaurant, that houses 3 bars, and a scenic rooftop view of the Santa Monica ocean, is quick to be a local nightlife hotspot set to open in July, just in time for the remainder of the summer. The contemporary spot offers speciality hand crafted cocktails like the ‘Elephante’ [a Mediterranean take on a Long Island Ice Tea-Tequila, Vodka, Rum, Mezcal, Gin, Passionfruit, Lemon, Meletti, Calabrian Chili], and the ‘Il Postino’ [Rye, Cynar, Averna, Lemon Oils].
Élephante “aims to transport guests from Los Angeles to the Southern Mediterranean, all whilst staying in the heart of Santa Monica,” the establishment explains on its website. The Los Angeles elite are gearing up for the opening and if you are looking to get your slice of staycation heaven, located conveniently west of the 405, then this is the place!
noon-midnight on Monday-Wednesday
noon-1 a.m. on Thursday and Friday
10 a.m.-1 a.m. on Saturday and
10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sunday.
Your childhood fantasy of an edible candy paradise is now a reality, and it is right around the corner in Santa Monica! Candytopia, originally delayed 6 months due to permit issues that would have originally placed it at a Downtown location, has found it’s home on the 1st and 2nd Floor of the 3rd Street Promenade Mall. Brought to you by Jackie Sorkin, a.k.a the Candy Queen, this modern day Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory is as colorful and delicious as the Instagram posts you have been seeing! Although it is a perfect destination to bring your children, you inner child will be jumping for joy as you journey through themed room after room of classic art made entirely out of Jelly Beans, Runts, Gummys & Candy Belts. Following the growing trend of “Instagrammable Installations” going on in major cities throughout the US, this is guaranteed to scratch your Snaptastic Itch. Every room and angle is a perfect photo opportunity- make sure you bring either a selfie stick or a photographer boyfriend to document your every move!
Each room has giant buckets and treasure chests of various candies you can sample. My first thought was, ‘This seems like probably the best way to get the flu’, but don’t worry each candy is individually wrapped [however I do recommend bringing some hand sanitizer with you as the installation is very interactive and kids are naturally drooling over the treats].
Tickets go for $30 a pop and though it seems expensive for an experience that generally takes about an hour to walk through, you will leave with your pockets FULL of America’s favorite candies. The installation will be around for 4 months [through June] so get your time slot specific tickets now.
I love the valley! I could scream it atop the highest of Mullholland mountains!
If you are a Westsider for life, let me try to persuade you. I mean really y’all, there is more to the valley than people shooting porn- there are also a lot of people watching porn (probably because its so hot they can’t leave the house).
But I digress…
What is more “in” than being not “in”? Literally nothing. Nothing says trendy like being somewhere that isn’t trendy. Why do you think all the Kardashians and Biebers live in Calabasas where old retired people who ride horses live? Well The Valley is not a trendy Westside, reservation required, valet only, overpriced apartment, small portioned bougie-organic-grass-fed and placed in a golden box for 28 hours and massaged ’til tender and then served to you on a cut slab of rock for $54 a pop, clothes store (I have no idea what that is, I just got mad and this is what my fingers typed- I even like organic and grassfed but it just sounds stupid to request *). The SF Valley is easy to navigate, everything is accessible, it caters to families and old people so it’s designed around comfort, you don’t have to worry about crowds, there’s a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy (stay tuned for my post on the best nature in the valley), there is endless shopping (upscale and thrift), and most importantly there are less douchebags, more parking.
There are several food and drink places strung across the valley that perfectly align with the SF Valley’s (unwritten) mission statement of being casual & comfortable.
The Spot– perfect for after 1am
17200 Ventura Blvd, Encino
The Spot is a hookah bar & lounge that is open until 3am on weekdays and 5am on weekends. Hidden in the back of the Encino Commons complex between Louise and Balboa, it is one of the original Encino hangs (it has been around for 10 years). They don’t serve alcohol so it is perfect for after hours & late night drunchies since they serve delicious appetizer sampler plates (onion rings, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks), over 40 flavors of hookah, and fresh cut coconuts to rehydrate you and take the ache out of that next day hangover.
Surly Goat– perfect for date night
17337 Ventura Blvd #100a, Encino
The sister bar to the West Hollywood pub, Surly Goat Encino opened 2 years ago and is more calm in comparison to the sardine packed Friday Night situation at the WeHo location. Some nights I have been there and it is pretty slow and other nights it’s very crowded and hard to get a seat (especially when there is live music). There is pool, shuffleboard, a photo booth, Karaoke on Tuesday starting at 9pm, bar eats like tots & sliders, and reasonably priced cocktails with a wide bourbon, whiskey, & beer selection (good for date night). There is an outside enclosed patio which is nice for a daytime drink or those nighttime smokers.
Crave Cafe– perfect for casual lunch
14504 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
I’ll just say I crave the options. If your friends are never able to agree on a food genre, well Crave is open 24 hours, and has pizza, waffles, quiches, bagels, milkshakes, sandwiches, boba, burritos, salads, crepes, cakes, burgers, paninis, and even sushi (we get it – you name it they have it). They don’t serve alcohol, and it gets very busy around meal times so avoid the rush by going for a late lunch or late dinner. The salads are huge and the pizza is made fresh. You can lounge inside on couches or outside on the Ventura boulevard patio. This is the heart of Sherman Oaks so there is a lot of shopping and restaurants if you are looking to walk off your BBQ Chicken Pizza and Red Velvet Whoopie Pie.
El Torito Cantina– perfect for taco Tuesday
14433 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks
Taco Tuesday- duh. Every Tuesday from 2-10pm. They recently expanded their Taco Tuesday bar to include more appetizers and sides, all for the low price of $3 a ticket (which you trade in at the taco bar). On Taco Tuesdays they have karaoke in the bar, and the DJ will literally bring the mic to your table and you can sing while you stuff your face with chips and guac (it’s kind of my thing there). At least three times I have yelled “I LOVVVE SHERMAN OAKS” to the tune of “I Love Rock & Roll” after consuming 3 v-strong cadillac margaritas.
tip: this location is huge so it is perfect for large birthday dinners and it is always a loud and fun environment
HQ Gastropub– perfect for dinner & drinks on the weekend
20969 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills
This place is amazing, which is why its called HQ (“High Quality”). Designed around a music memorabilia collection & state of the art A/V equipment, this sports bar/ gastropub/ lounge opened about 2 years ago. It has a great menu that is very affordable, good music, a plethora of TV’s, great staff & service, an outdoor patio, and private rooms for events. It is also located within walking distance of three other bars, perfect for a casual bar hop.
Lakeside Cafe– perfect for brunch on the weekend
16817 Ventura Blvd, Encino
This is the brunch spot of the valley (though many don’t know it). Right there on the corner of Balboa and Ventura, is a hidden gem. You can sit outside by a natural springs that is shaped like a giant guitar. It is built on Los Encinos State historic land, where some of the original structures still exist (there is a museum you can visit after lunch or while waiting for a table). A description of what was once the Fernandeno Indian village was recorded as part of the 1769 Portola Expedition, so it is full of history, and what a better place to appreciate history than drinking endless mimosas for $14. The food is great and they have happy hour everyday from 3-6pm.
The Stand– perfect for casual lunch or dinner (family friendly)
17000 Ventura Blvd, Encino
A block down from Lakeside, is The Stand (which is a block away from The Spot- could we get more creative guys?) It is a “hotdog” stand in that they specialize in hot dogs (over 8 types or you can DIY), but they have everything from burgers & sandwiches, t0 salads & loaded fries. This is a peaceful place to sit outside in the shade (it’s very Austin TX with the picnic tables and string lights). They have a good craft beer and wine selection and it’s super cheap.
tip: try the fireflies they are ta-die for (warning: you will probably self combust)
The Federal– perfect for brunch or dancing on the weekend
5303 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood
The Federal bar is in an old building that used to be a security bank in the late 1800s (I am a sucker for history). They have hip hop upstairs on Thursday, and it usually turns into a pretty crazy dance party on the weekends. There is usually a $5 cover to get upstairs, but if that irks you, then the downstairs saloon is a two-bar, live music, prohibition style speakeasy which is always very busy. My fave thing at The Federal is their “One Entree & Bottomless Mimosa” brunch which is only $20. I guess you can dance all night, and sleep in your car and come right back for brunch if that is your style (PS if it is your style, you are a real trooper and A+ for being in public at all).
I will continue to update this list as I discover more no fuss, easy going valley hangs. These are just a few of the places that I suggest when people ask me, “Wuz good in the valley?”
*Footnote- I also do love the Westside, I am just a born & raised valley girl so I definitely feel the need to defend from the haters
It’s a sad day today. I logged in to Tinder (like I always do) and something was different. There was no option to swipe in Tinder Social. I thought it was an app bug since it’s happened before (I actually thought my friends and I had Tinder Social swiped so many times we were kicked off once so I deleted my profile and started a new one which fixed the problem). But alas, gone are the days when my girlfriends and I sip white wine spritzers while we apple mirror-play Tinder Social on the TV and make it into a sort of game show.
Tinder spokesperson tells Bustle that Tinder Social has been “discontinued” because it didn’t “fit cleanly with [their] future direction.”
The full statement from Tinder:
“We discontinued Tinder Social in its initial format. While the feature gained modest adoption with no real marketing effort, it became apparent that the feature as devised didn’t fit cleanly with our future direction, which will be focused heavily on video, location and AI-driven features. We do believe, however, that these features will ultimately lead to a broader social experience on Tinder, which was the original intent of Tinder Social.”
Hopefully Tinder has something more exciting in the group dating social realm coming soon, because I think meeting a group of friends with you friends was less pressure, more fun, and generally a lot more casual than single dating.
Gone is the era, but lucky for you I have screenshots of some of our best Tinder Social moments.
For your viewing pleasure:
Lyft and Uber are bigger than ever. What does that mean for us? How do you choose what to use?
A lot of my friends in Los Angeles are selling their cars and opting for alternative forms of transportation including ride sharing apps, the new Metro Line, and other forms of public transit. When you total up a year’s worth of monthly payments, car insurance, gas, parking permits and fees (not including unexpected repairs and regular maintenance), the average Californian is dishing out an upwards of $4,000 a year on personal automobile transportation. That’s a lot of money to keep your driver freedom (and for some it is entirely worth it). Robert Hampshire, a professor at UMTRI and lead author of a new study regarding increase in rideshare use and decrease in personal vehicle use from stated, “Our findings show that these ride-sourcing companies do change behaviors.”
Currently there are about 15 major Rideshare apps available in the City of Angels. Uber currently holds 80% of the ride-sharing market while Lyft holds about 10%- the other 10% is made up of the smaller start up ride-sharing apps like Gett, Sidecar, & Flywheel. So how do you choose? I did the research, and even got Lyft & Uber driver approved to see the difference and here is what I found out…
Registering with Uber…
I went to register with Uber and have my vehicle inspected at a parking lot in Burbank. It seemed that every Taxi driver and I had the same idea. We stood in lines, showed our identification & insurance, filled out a W-9, and then had our cars inspected in about 15 minutes. I was in and out in about an hour with minimal questioning after presenting the concrete paperwork demonstrating I had no criminal record and I possessed valid license, registration, and insurance. The people were nice and informative if I asked questions, but it was strictly business- in and out.
Registering with Lyft…
I registered with Lyft and it created an appointment with a driver mentor as the next step in the approval process (as of July 31 this program is terminated, however I enjoyed it and found it very helpful). The Mentor is an experienced driver who has positive passenger feedback and high ratings. They conduct a vehicle inspection, take pictures of you, your car, and license plates for your profile, and then go on a 15 minute test drive with you. The experience was easy, very personal, and efficient. Mentors get $35 for each mentor session, which is good initiative and a way for Lyft to get real life feedback about the new potential driver and their attitude, personal interaction skills, and how they would handle various scenarios. It took about an hour to complete, and a few weeks later I was notified regarding my approval to drive for Lyft.
I conducted a few rides on each app and found the clientele to be very different. When I would drive Lyft, it was usually as if I was giving a ride to a friend or colleague. We would chat, it was casual, and I never felt awkward about having someone sit in the back seat, in fact a lot of times they would sit in the front seat with me and we would talk the entire trip. With Uber, the clientele was generally white collar & on the way to work or the airport. They sat in the back and were fine with having minimal interactions. Please keep in mind I am more of a seasoned passenger than a driver for both apps so my experience is limited as a driver. As a passenger, I find Lyft drivers are more outgoing and accommodating, which verifies their message of community. Uber is a pick-up and go service, akin to a private black car or limo service- and let’s face it, you are not usually chit chatting with a limo driver.
I have had more pleasant experiences with Lyft, and that is mainly because of my demographic, as a 27 year old female. After the numerous PR and legal scandals that have surfaced regarding UBER driver malpractice and crime, I err on the side of caution and comfort and continually find myself only clicking the little pink logo on my phone. The recent resignation of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick further affirms the corporations instability stemming from inner workplace culture that reportedly includes numerous accounts of sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as reports of aggressively pushing the envelope when dealing with law enforcement. On the other end of the spectrum, Lyft’s VP of ‘People’, Ron Storn states, “We try at Lyft to live by the brand—we treat people better. That is in our external community with drivers and passengers, but also internally in how we support and develop our team members.” Like I said, it is as if you are getting a ride from a friend rather than ordering a taxi, which some passengers would categorize as unprofessional, but most are willing to sacrifice traditional service industry driver-passenger behavior, for comfort and safety.
There is no doubt that part of the difference in type and quality of service results from the rate of growth each corporation has seen since their launch. Uber launched publicly in 2011 with less than 200 employees and now boasts 14,000 global corporate employees, with drivers in more than 81 countries. Uber is valued at $70 billion dollars. In comparison Lyft launched in 2012 and currently has 1,400 corporate employees and drivers in over 300 US cities. Lyft is valued at $7.5 billion. Lyft works on a smaller proportional scale and therefor has more control over its quality and retention of their happy employees and whether corporate or in the field, which resonates with the clients.
In July, Uber announced it’s ‘180 Days of Change’ campaign, aimed at repairing its relationship with drivers, which leaders at the company say is “broken.” One of the first initiatives in instigating an in-app messaging system which protects passenger’s personal phone number from being accessed by the driver, hopefully making a passenger feel safer. On the Lyft side, they are not concerned with re-building their reputation, but rather expanding their on trend image formed by the young clientele by introducing campaigns like “Taco Mode“, that partner with Taco Bell, offering meal-deal incentives for Lyft passengers. The playful promotion aligns with their overall motto of how they treat their customers and employees. A recent survey reveals Lyft drivers are happier than Uber drivers overall, regardless of the difference in pay. Lyft pays drivers slightly more and has a rider minimum, Uber has no rider minimum, meaning drivers can get stuck making a few cents per passenger.
As both companies grow rapidly, they are both steadfast in assuring the public about their image and company ethics as the race continues toward the investment in autonomous driving vehicles. Lyft’s president John Zimmer agrees that car ownership in major cities will be extinct by 2025 — as long as autonomous vehicles emerge as a dominant force as most tech companies expect. “Every year, more and more people are concluding that it is simpler and more affordable to live without a car,” Zimmer wrote last year. “And when networked autonomous vehicles come onto the scene, below the cost of car ownership, most city-dwellers will stop using a personal car altogether.”
So when you go to turn in your keys as ridesharing booms, consider your driver, the company that employs them, and the most important for me personally, driver safety. Uber might be paving the road for autonomous vehicles, with Lyft not far behind, but they are still buried in millions of dollars of lawsuits and PR scandal which should hint at overall company stability and reliability.
What do you choose?