It's about a week in to tour, and I feel very much at peace. I always feel peaceful when I'm flying. Aside from the stale air, seeing the expanse of the entire country from 35 thousand feet makes me feel calm and able to take it all on- from above, the Rocky mountains could be a wrinkled blanket- it's rather exhilarating.
Once I landed in Los Angeles, I met my tourmates, Emily and Karla, and we headed to Doomie's- typical comfort food, vegan style. Hello, peanut butter bacon burger? Yes, please. We all got along well from the start; it's really exciting to be with people who have a similar outlook on animal rights and veganism.
Day one of training was off to a good start. The PETA office in Los Angeles is really cool; everyone is completely dedicated and passionate about animal rights and the organization, and the company is very "in-the-know" of the latest trends, and adaptive to whatever topics are hot (whether that's new issues that need to be talked about, or which social media platform or celeb is going to get teens' attention).
The second day of training involved bringing our display- two giant inflatable columns depicting the environmental impact of a hamburger vs. a vegan pasta dish, a sign indicating that they represented "TODAY'S LUNCH", a selfie wall, and a table with loads of info to pass out- to a local community college for a test run, and it went really well! The students were really receptive and open to what we had to say, which put a good feeling in everyone.
After a few errands, I was able to meet up with my friend Mallory at the Bootleg Theater to see Parade of Lights. Mallory and I met when she was visiting New York last summer, so it was cool for me to be on her turf! Before Parade of Lights played, there were two opening bands: The Gromble, who were the epitome of an indie band, in that they were incredibly cool and confident, but also very normal in appearance and just the slightest bit awkward; and Story of the Running Wolf, an electro-synth indie duo who were very visual, with light-up purple triangles on either side and plenty of fog- I found myself engulfed in the beats and wanting to swim in the sensory experience of it all. Throughout the night there was a slight haze to the air, a dimness to the lights- just enough to make everything feel hyper-realistic, like we're characters in a movie. A song or two in to Parade of Lights' set, frontman Ryan Daly said, "Thank you so much, you guys- we're here." It was good to be there.
After driving up on Friday night, we spent the weekend exploring the Bay Area: Saturday, we explored San Francisco and Sunday, we explored Berkeley.
While in San Francisco, it was a must to go see the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite a few past visits to San Francisco I'd never been and- in full tourist mode- took photos as we drove up. It really is an impressive bridge, and the hiking and bike paths nearby have a gorgeous view!
Emily was kind enough to snap this shot of me by the bridge. What's crazy to me about seeing a landmark like this is that for thousands of people, this bridge is just so regular- they drive over it every day. But seeing it up close, it definitely lived up to my expectations!
There's plenty of good vegan food to choose from in San Francisco, but we settled on Kennedy's- an Irish pub and Indian curry house,
Kennedy's was, conveniently, just a short walk from Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, where loads of sea lions gather. Being able to see them just relaxing and doing their sea lion thing was so cool- one sea lion hopped on the end of a boat that was in the harbor, and another tried to hop up to chill next to him...
I was walking around with my camera and when I picked it up to take a picture of... something... this guy turned to pose for the camera! What a great model.
When I first visited Haight Street on my last stop in San Francisco, I kind of fell in love with the area. It's so vibrant, and there are so many cool things to check out. My last stop in San Francisco was Amoeba Music on Haight Street. I could seriously spend hours in there, poring over all of the thousands of records and CDs they had- I walked out with a pin and a copy of Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever.
After a quick workout and grabbing dinner and snacks from Whole Foods (their "Hipster Chipster" chocolate chip cookies are vegan and totally delicious), we all watched Cowspiracy together in our hotel room. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it- it's a really informative documentary about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and how not enough people and organizations are talking about it.
The following day, we explored Berkeley a bit. After scoping out the UC Berkeley campus to see where we'd be setting up, we had brunch at Saturn Cafe, a cute retro-meets-outerspace-themed diner. Tofu scramble with veggie bacon, hash browns, and toast?! Yes, please.
It was cool being able to just explore and take it all in by walking around town; something about the Bay Area has always felt "right" to me. Since Karla is from there, she showed us around a bit; we finished our day by checking out Indian Rock Park. We climbed the big rock and had the most incredible view of the city!
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing my cousin Sam and his fiancee Katherine- they live in the area and I hadn't seen them in a while, so it was really nice to catch up while taking in the view!
UC Berkeley was a great start to the tour; the peta2 campus rep there is such an inspiring activist and she was super eager to help us. A few members of their animal rights group on campus, BOAA (Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy) came to help out and they were all so friendly and helpful!
After two days at UC Berkeley, we were back down to Southern California- first at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Oxy has a gorgeous campus (and has been used as a movie set) and the weather was perfect... can you really complain about a warm, sunny day in February? I met one student who, after telling her about all of my favorite vegan snacks, decided she was going to tell her roommate that they were going vegan- I loved that she was getting her roommate involved! I was also on the peta2 snapchat, talking about our display.
Today, we had our first day at California State University- Long Beach- we had to move our display in the middle of the day, but after another great day of work, we got to celebrate with vegan pizza.