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Houston

29°45' 38" N 95°22' 11" W Houston

Dec 3, 2014  –  by Maeva

The Texan way of life continued as we reached the city to meet with PG, a friend from France who is currently living and working there. He had warned us: “You know in Houston, it’s mostly business, there’s not much to do, mostly partying.” Well that’s no problem! We reached the city in the gloomiest weather before it started pouring and we were really grateful that PG kindly let us crash in his living room! After a few Coronas at his place, we headed to a bar catching the most epic Uber ride. The driver was completely hyper, couldn’t stop laughing, and was all like “Oh you know where the bar is! You’ve been going there a lot huh! They know you there now hey! Hey, your buddy’s got a girl where is yours?” All between giant bursts of laugh, it was hilarious. We enjoyed some of the million (almost) beers on tap the bar features, chatted and played darts.  We decided to play 110 as it’s supposed to be the easiest way. Steph went first, threw his very first dart of the game and hit the perfect middle: bullseye. PG was like: “Are you serious right now?!” Lesson of the day: don’t play aiming games with Steph. In the end PG won the first two rounds, Steph the last three and I zero – no comment. We then decided to move on to another bar to meet some of friends, but the drinks were a little strong so we called in a night soon after! We slept on a thin leather sofa that was both cold and uncomfortable – ha, we had been warned by PG and his roommate but we thought we could endure anything at this point. However, it sure felt amazing to be in a warm apartment while it was freezing and pouring rain outside.

The next day, the weather hadn’t improved much so we lazily enjoyed some breakfast muffins and chilled around. We were also thrilled to have finally received the package from our friends Les Crapules. Luckily there were three T-shirts, all beautifully designed by Crapules artist Ambroise. So we put them on right away for the cheesiest photo you’ve ever seen. Admire below:

the three Crapules
the three Crapules

What do Texan people do on a rainy Sunday afternoon with their families? Why of course, they go to the shooting range! We jumped in the car with PG and his roommate and drove there eagerly. I had never shot a gun before and Steph had only shot with a rifle in Oregon (to shoot discs) as in that state you can’t use a gun if you don’t have a gun and a licence. It seems more reasonable, but apparently in Texas you can do whatever the hell you want. So we just entered the shooting range, looked around the shop full of guns and saw a promotion on hand grenades (wtf?!). Then we just gave our passports, picked our guns, snapped some goggles on and went to the booths. Just – like – that.  PG and Mika had already been here, so they taught us the basics – thank god. It is a little freaky to think that in that room, everyone has a killing machine in their hands and most people actually bring their own weapon. As French people, we still couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that people own guns in their homes. This feeling grew even bigger when we got to shoot for the first time! The strength of the bullet as you pull the trigger is insane. It was quite surreal to play badass with our guns and our Crapules t-shirts, that’s for sure! But again, very much a culture shock, especially as we would see kids enter with their parents…

Steph and PG at the shooting range
Steph and PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
PG at the shooting range
Maeva thinks she's Lara Croft
Maeva thinks she’s Lara Croft
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph totally badass with two guns
Steph shooting a gun
Steph shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun
Maeva shooting a gun

We then had a well deserved break back at the apartment and as the weather wasn’t getting any better, we thought it was ideal for a sunday night movie. After an unfair vote (2 boys vs 1 girl), we ended up watching Nightcrawler. Before the movie started, the boys couldn’t resist playing games to win prizes. PG tried to catch a minion and then Steph tried to win an iPad. Didn’t work out too well, but it sure was a good laugh! The movie was insanely good, mainly thanks to the crazy performance of Jake Gyllenhaal. No spoilers, only one word of a advice: go see it!

The next day was a bit of a fail, as we emerged late and then spent the whole day driving around to find a hard drive for Steph. Who would have thought it would be so complicated? Only after two Walmarts and two Best Buy’s were we able to finally find one. Apparently, people buy lots in Texas… Luckily, we made up for the shitty day with a very very cool evening: a Methodman and Redman concert. Yes, that’s right. Okay, I’ll be totally honest with you I didn’t who they were but the boys sure did as they spent their teenage hood listening to their songs! We first had some beers and food at the bar, with the most annoying waitress in the entire world. You know the one who doesn’t let you enjoy your drink or conversation for more than 5mn and then gives you the wrong price for a beer and tells you it’s actually $3 more expensive – once you’re already halfway done drinking it. Anyhow, we finally made it to the “Smokers Club Tour” concert. They’re a bunch of rappers touring together and well, promoting the stoned way of life! In the concert room, one person out of two was smoking weed, which really surprised us because it’s illegal in Texas and you actually risk prison for it! Oh well, it didn’t seem to bother the crowd or the rappers themselves at all! The concert got really fun and B-Real (singer of Cypress Hill) stepped on stage and rocked it. Steph and PG didn’t know he was going to be there so it was a pretty awesome surprise! And then, the final act was Redman and Methodman, who totally killed it. They are definitely showmen, making the crowd participate in every song and dancing like crazy! It was by far the best way to finish our epic american experience in Houston with PG!

The next day it was time for goodbyes as we had to take the road to New Orleans. But not without stopping at a Texan barbecue on our way, of course! PG, a million thanks once again, we had a blast and you were a perfect host. Looking forward to returning the favour!

Texan barbecue
Texan barbecue

The city of angels

34°3' 8" N 118°14' 37" W Los Angeles

Nov 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

Welcome to LA!

This city is pretty much a gigantic hub of urban areas and industries. Just arriving on one of the 10 lanes of the highway and 2 minutes of traffic gives an idea of how busy LA is. We were lucky to join Mala at her house, after she kindly offered to host us during our stay here. We arrived at her very nice apartment (boy did it change from our home in the car!) and the three of us headed out for a visit of Santa Monica. Mala showed us the very hipster Abbott Kinney street with its spacious and beautifully designed shops and coffee places. Loved the vibe in this street, as well as the long hair, piercings and round glasses of the people walking around! We then headed to the beach for a stroll towards the Santa Monica Pier. On our way we got impressed by the guys making loops on the rings of the open air gym. Steph was game and proved that the paddling sessions from surfing were well worth it! It was crazy warm so we indulged in some frozen yogurt at Yogurtland – we had never tried this one and we were not disappointed! We were like kids in Disneyland trying all the different flavours and topping our yogurts with caramel, candy, almonds and strawberries!

Afterwards, it was time for a well deserved break back at the apartment before heading out again to join Mala’s super nice friends for tacos at a Mexican Restaurant and a movie at their place. We got some delicious tacos and though they got a few orders wrong (when I ask for “no cilantro” it also means don’t put the green sauce that has cilantro on my taco), it was excellent! Back at their place, we sipped some wine and enjoyed sour keys while watching the indie movie “Frank”. Love watching movies that are a little weird, unique and far-fetched and this was one of them! And with Michael Fassbender as Frank, well you simply can’t go wrong. We then enjoyed a night in the first REAL bed of the trip, it was quite something – thanks again Steve for letting us stay in your room you have no idea how happy it made us!

On the Sunday, we figured it would be better to leave touristy things for the week and we headed to Runyon Canyon for a very hot hike. The sun was so strong as we climbed above the Hollywood hills to find a panoramic view of LA at the top. We get it, it’s the equivalent of the gym for people here! They all come in Nike’s, mini shorts and ponytails to jog or walk to the top while calculating their speed and calories lost. Well, let’s just say around noon was probably the best time for that in this crazy heat. There really is only summer in California. We then took a drive on the iconic Mulholland Drive and opted out of a walk on the Walk of Fame of Hollywood since both of us had already been there. Instead, we headed to Venice Beach! Why? Because one cannot be in LA without checking out people dancing to hip hop on skates! Where else do you get to see that? We cruised around on our longboards and also stopped at the skatepark to watch some skills. Venice was fun for the music and the dancers, but in all honesty it was so crowded that we were happy to sneak out of the busyness to go back to the apartment. In the evening, Steve and his girlfriend came over for dinner. Steph, aka the Chef, cooked some absolutely delicious traditional French crepes for all of us, savoury and sweet – YUM.

Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Runyon Canyon
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Maeva on top of Runyon Canyon, view of LA
Venice Beach
Venice Beach
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice Beach Wall art
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach skatepark
Venice beach dancers on blades
Venice beach dancers on blades

 

Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Maeva in front of Charlie Chaplin wall
Old Rossignol ad
Old Rossignol ad

The next day, we were ready for a day full of adventures at Universal Studios, the ONE thing that we HAD to do in LA. It was a crazy fun day as we ran from one ride to the other, catching shows in between. Our favourites?
- Ride: Transformers! By far the coolest, as it combines roller coaster, real setting and 3D – you really feel like you’re fighting robots in there. The Mummy was awesome sensations-wise but way too short. And well, we have to mention Jurassic Park – because it really freaked us (me) out. Hey, there was a tyrannosaur guys, okay?!
- The Sets:  We obviously took the world famous studio tour in the open air bus to discover the world of movie sets. And we know why this is a must-do. We got to watch a water disaster, say hi to Jaws’s shark, be in an earthquake in the subway, encounter King Kong in the wilderness, drive through the incredible set from War of the Worlds and look at movie iconic cars.
- Shows: The visual effects show was fun to watch for insights on the how-to secrets of some scenes, with a touch of humour. But we finished our day with the Waterworld performance, which basically replays a scene of the movie. Backflips, jet ski freestyle, fights, jumps, fire… Mindblowing! Steph now wants to change jobs and play one of the guys in that show for a living.
- And: back in Santa Cruz, I asked Steph to win a Minion for me and he didn’t succeed; so obviously I put him to the challenge again! He had to shoot basketballs in a net and if he scored twice, he could pick a Minion. Aaaaand….. HE WON!!! Needless to say, I was a little kid with my new toy! We are now road tripping with a minion.
As you might be able to tell, we spent the entire day in Universal Studios. So right after, as we hadn’t eaten anything, we rushed to Taco Bell – typical.
In the evening, it was our last night with Mala and she had a friend over. So Steph put together another delicious meal of pasta, cream and shallots. YUM.

Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva at Universal Studios
Maeva and the minions
Maeva and the minions
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Universal studios War of the Worlds set
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Maeva jumping in front of Krustyland in Universal Studios
Steph throwing a basketball
Steph throwing a basketball
Maeva and her minion
Maeva and her minion
Steph and the minion
Steph and the minion
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Waterworld set in Universal Studios
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe
Steph and Maeva in front of the Universal Studios globe

It was time to continue going further South and say goodbye to Mala. Thanks again Mala for your hospitality, we are so grateful!

We first headed to Beverly Hills because I wanted to see some crazy huge houses. Well that was a stupid idea, they all had immense fences, we only managed to spot a few from afar and the intriguing spots had way too much security. No, we didn’t see Jennifer Lawrence. *Sigh*. To make up for it, we had coffee at a lovely TOMS shop/coffeeplace in Abbott Kinney to enjoy their super chill outdoor patio. And we figured we could leave LA on that mocha coffee note and return to the beach life down the coast.

Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Toms coffee shop in Abbott Kinney
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Patio of Toms coffeeshop
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Maeva having coffee in the patio
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Abbott Kinney
Wall art in Los Angeles
Wall art in Los Angeles
More wall art in Abbott Kinney
More wall art in Abbott Kinney