As soon as we got to Santa Cruz, I walked down to the beach to take in the view of the ocean, but the town is so much more than that: the next day we set up at the University of California, Santa Cruz right in the middle of the woods! It was nice to be in the shade, but even nicer to feel like we were in a little wooded oasis all day. We were joined by several student activists from Banana Slugs for Animals ("B.S.A." for short)- I loved hearing about the other events they do on campus to promote animal rights and veganism.
Normally we like to check out local vegan spots- things we can't get in every city- but since we had a long drive down to Los Angeles that night, we grabbed burritos at Chipotle. In addition to being delicious (vegan or not, I encourage you to try the sofritas- it's crumbled tofu that's a little spicy and super flavorful), Chipotle serves good portions for the price, and they make it fast, so it's easy to grab when there isn't a ton of time.
We finished up the week with two days at the University of California, Los Angeles. The plus side to being at a big school like UCLA is that there are so many students around- the foot traffic past our display never seemed to slow down! The down side is that there's always so much going on- so many other student groups were holding events that it was hard to grab people's attention.
We spent the weekend in Los Angeles, which meant I was able to meet up with my Uncle Harlan, Aunt Wendy, and cousin Julie for dinner in Santa Monica on Saturday! Emily dropped me off by the beach that evening, and I took the opportunity to walk down to the end of the pier.
The pier was busy and packed with things to do: everything from buskers to souvenir kiosks to a trapeze school. While there was plenty going on, I was mostly there for the view.
I met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin at True Food Kitchen, a health-and-eco-conscious chain that fits right in with the general vibe of the LA area. After splitting the hummus appetizer, I went with the tofu teriyaki quinoa bowl- super filling and delicious, but so much lighter than most restaurant fare! We finished the evening with some Pinkberry (they've got a few dairy-free flavors now- the mango is delicious), which we ate while strolling down the Third Street Promenade.
The following day was Mothers' Day (shout-out to my mom, Patty, for being the most incredible woman and mother I know). After lunch at Veggie Grill, we drove to San Bernardino. San Bernardino has a lot less going on than Los Angeles, so I wasn't expecting much vegan food, but I was pleasantly surprised- our hotel was a short drive from Happy Family, an all-vegan Chinese restaurant. Kung Pao Soy Chicken?! Yes, please.
Our first day at California State University- San Bernardino was off to an interesting start: there was a lot of construction going on, so it was a bit confusing to figure out how to get to our set-up spot! Once we found it, I was excited: we were in between the library and student union, which meant a wide variety of students would be walking by throughout the day. Wanting to change it up a bit, I ordered a pizza from Vegan Korner. When I walked in to Vegan Korner I was surprised to see a few dozen different leaflets regarding animal rights and religion. I'm used to seeing vegan pamphlets in vegan restaurants- that's par for the course- but the tie in to Christianity was something new! It was actually pretty cool to hear from a Christian about how they believe the Bible encourages veganism, not meat-eating.
Up next was California State University- Fullerton, where we'd be spending the remainder of the week. I was really excited to see that Animal Equality was also doing an event on campus! They set up just a short walk from our display- so many students came up to us saying they'd just seen Animal Equality's event.
I was really excited that after day one at CSU- Fullerton, Emily and I were able to see Motion City Soundtrack on their final tour at the House of Blues in Anaheim. It's right in the middle of Downtown Disney; we got there early, and took in the scenery with drinks at one of the restaurants. I was lucky enough to photograph Motion City Soundtrack three times on their tour with The Wonder Years last fall, and it was a blast photographing them again! You can see my review + more photos of all the openers on AXS here, and my review + more photos of Motion City Soundtrack here.
Los Angeles band Holy Fever opened the show, followed by Microwave. It's been very cool seeing Microwave play some big shows this year (they opened for The Wonder Years before this run; check out my photos from that show on Circles & Soundwaves here). I had never seen The Spill Canvas, but I wasn't surprised to learn that they'd toured with Motion City Soundtrack many times before.
I was pretty late to the boat in regards to Motion City Soundtrack. I had always known the big singles ("The Future Freaks Me Out", "Everything Is Alright") but it wasn't until last fall- after the first time I photographed them with The Wonder Years- that I really fell in love with their music. It's always sad to say goodbye to such a beloved band, but all good things must come to an end, and Motion City Soundtrack is closing the story on a high note (and I was excited to hear that they played two of my favorite songs, "Last Night" and "Hold Me Down").
The week ended with two more days at CSU- Fullerton, and after packing up on Friday, we headed to The Pizza Press, a newspaper-themed pizza place that bakes every pie to order. I went with vegan cheese, extra roasted garlic, and almost every vegetable they had.
Emily and I spent our last weekend of tour in Long Beach. After grabbing iced coffee in our hotel, we headed to a farmers' market... but we got a little bit lost on the way and ended up at the beach (not that I was complaining about that!).
After the farmers' market, we grabbed brunch at The Potholder Cafe with two of Emily's friends. Still full from my tofu benedict and hash browns, we headed to Seal Beach.
That evening, Emily and I headed to Sage Cafe in Pasadena, where we met up with her friend Emily for dinner. After an eggplant sandwich and raspberry lemonade, I grabbed a few donuts from Donut Friend.
We went to another farmers' market on Sunday morning, after which we spent some more time lounging on the beach, before heading back to San Bernardino for another round at CSU- San Bernardino to start our last week of tour. Just after we finished setting up, I tried to hand some stickers to a girl walking by, who told me she went vegan a week ago, and thanked me for what I was doing; she said if it wasn't for us, she might never have had the motivation to make the switch! Most of the time, we don't get to return to schools we've already been to, so it was really cool to come back and see a bit of the impact we had.
Our final school was the University of California, Irvine. Emily and I were once again craving Veggie Grill, so we stopped at the one across from the UC Irvine campus- it was packed! I was excited to see so many students eating vegan food.
We were set up right outside the bookstore, with a Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and Subway nearby. It was definitely busy, but students kept coming up and asking what we were doing, which was great. The campus rep, Rachel, joined us on Wednesday, and on Thursday, we were also joined by a few members of Irvine Students Against Animal Cruelty ("I.S.A.A.C." for short), who helped us leaflet, as well as our boss, Ken! It was a great way to end our semester of outreach.
While Southern California traffic was painfully slow at rush hour, we drove up 10 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway, with a view of the Pacific Ocean the whole way. As I turned on to the PCH, "Anna Sun" by Walk The Moon came up on shuffle; it was a really perfect moment.
The tour officially wrapped up today at the peta2 office in Los Angeles. After unpacking our display and counting our remaining literature, we celebrated with a pizza party (with pizza from Cruzer Pizza, an all-vegan pizzeria). 116 days after I flew out to Los Angeles, we've driven almost 18,000 miles, visited 45 colleges, talked to 15,410 students, and passed out more than 60,000 pieces of literature.
It was such an incredible experience. Even on the days that were rainy and gray, or the schools where we ran in to loads of difficult students, I felt like I was making a difference. I am so grateful that this tour worked out, and I'm so excited to return to Los Angeles in just a few weeks: I'll be going back out with peta2 on the Vans Warped Tour this summer, and we'll be having training at the office.
I can't wait for Warped Tour to start, but before then, I'll be heading to Thailand to visit my brother, Luke (and I promise there will be quite the exciting blog post about that trip!).