Molly’s Two Week Trip to California Part 2: Los Angeles

Hello friends, sorry for the hiatus. I have been very busy with the holidays and moving into my new house. Better late than never, so I wish you all a be-lated Happy New Year!
Christmas for the O’Connor family was a hoot. We hosted a friend of my sister’s from China. Her name is Mengnan and we did everything in our power to make her first-ever Christmas unforgettable. We cooked lots of tasty food, wrapped presents, listened to holiday music, snowshoed around the lakes, and a whole lot of other stuff. We said goodbye to her a couple weeks ago and I will miss her. Thank you Mengnan for your wonderful company!
In my last post, I left you all with a cliffhanger. I believe I last told you that Colleen and I had caught a bus to Los Angeles. Well, we reached LA in the evening and we were picked up by Colleen’s friends. Now, let me first explain to you how cool these friends are. Colleen met two of these hooligans during her Fulbright in China. They visited her field site (not knowing she was there), looking to film for their National Geographic funded documentary. Their film is about the Chinese minority group, the Mosuo, which luckily enough was also Colleen’s research topic. Colleen met them at the hostel that she was working at and they became fast friends. Soon enough, Colleen even became part of the film crew. When these guys and gals are not globetrotting, Diana is a freelance storyboard maker, Ricky is a director and National Geographic explorer, and Jane, Ricky’s wife, is a light designer (for ambiance and set design).

These are the three individuals who shared their homes and became our tour guides of Los Angeles. I won’t go into too much detail about the whole trip, but I’ll share my highlights.

Santa Monica

The first highlight is our trip to Santa Monica and seeing the pier. Us and Diana walked to the theme park and looked out to the ocean. I saw Malibu to our right and Catalina Island to our left. After walking around, Diana encouraged us to walk through the shopping district. There were a lot of street performers, but one of my favorite parts of that day was when we passed a stand that said, “Handwriting Analysis, Twins are Free…”. Colleen and I were intrigued so we tried it out. We learned that he was collecting handwriting samples from people so that he can write a book in the future. Well, we wrote down a phrase and he determined Colleen and I are complete opposites. It was very funny seeing my sister’s face when he called her a “control-freak,” and then with a smile, Colleen replied, “excuse me, I’m not a control-freak. I’d like to say I’m just very organized.” He then looked to me and told me that I’m the kind of person who spins the paper roll and uses one big wad of paper while using the toilet… How did he know!?! The rest of the day was spent walking along the beach and meeting up with an old high school buddy in the evening.

The pier

Colleen and I saw a lot of the city by car, thanks to Diana and Ricky. We drove around Beverly Hills, the inner city, and other famous parts of LA. I won’t talk about these experiences, but there is one more highlight that I’d like to share with you and it is quite the story.

On the third day in LA, Colleen had to go to a film crew meeting. We were picked up by Ricky and Jane and were whisked away to Culver City. During the car ride, Ricky mentioned that he had to go to a film shoot after the meeting with one of his fellow documentary filmmakers. That prompted me to tell Ricky about my past film experience. I minored in film in college and I even made a documentary that was premiered on Oregon Public Broadcasting (I believe they still play it, even 2 years later). Here’s a link if any of you are interested:

We eventually made it to the restaurant and I spent a wonderful hour with Jane. She is a cool girl, I would even go so far to say that she is a kindred spirit. As the meeting winded down, he asked his friend about the film shoot. His friend told him that something had come up and he couldn’t make it. He asked his back-up friend, but he couldn’t make it either. By this point, Ricky is freaking out and as he was about to give-up, I noticed a glint in his eye and he looked at me. He points at me and says, “Molly! You have film experience. Do you know how to use a Canon 5D?” I replied with, “no, but I am comfortable with a Nikon.” Ricky said, “Close enough, Jane will teach you how to use one while we drive over. Now get in the car!” I jumped in and Jane started teaching me the basics about the Canon 5D. Ricky also prompted me about where we are going, why we will be there, and what I will specifically be doing. He said we would be filming for an airplane company and that I’d be in a private plane, filming another plane, as well as Catalina Island. At this point, I’m feeling a little nervous. And as my hands started to perspire, Ricky added, “Oh, and I forgot to mention. You know the fancy camera that I showed you? Well, you’ll have to pretend that you own that because you may be using it for the shoot.” Gulp.

Luckily due to Jane’s great teaching abilities and my amateur improv skills, the whole shoot went very well! It was actually very laid back. I was in the back seat, which meant I didn’t have to stress too much about filming, since I had the worst cinematographic position. I mostly looked out the window, enjoying the view of LA and Catalina Island at dusk. Even now, I still remember the beautiful peaks of Catalina with LA in the background, glowing dimly in the twilight. I will remember that experience for the rest of my life.

This is the type of plane I flew in.

LA at night. This is while we were landing.
Me with my headset, watching Catalina Island pass by.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading my post. My next post will likely be about my winter hobbies in cold Minnesota.

Till then,


Till next time. <3

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