I’m letting these out at a rapid pace, just because I’m trying to catch up for the past near 48 hours.
After destroying the Double Double, I took an hour nap until the vibrating phone on my chest alerted me of a missed message. I think the area code was 208?
Regardless, one of the exciting features of this trip was meeting up with people that I randomly met through Twitter; all of which revolved around the concept of women’s soccer. Primarily two ladies; Jen and Ness. These two wonderful ladies are the founders of a quickly growing youth club in Sparks [Reno], Nevada called “Legacy FC” with the tag line, “Building A Legacy” [I’m serious, our generation is coming up with all the good quotes]. Jen is home grown from the Nevada area and Ness is actually from Australia. They both played soccer at the University of Nevada and have since graduated and have grown into building this non-profit organization. Last year [their first] they had 30 players register, this year they had over 130! Obviously they’re doing something right. As much as I’m intrigued about the growth of their program, they too have invested interest in the Kansas City Shock. Between myself being 25 and the two being 27 and 24, we also share the similar age group. With them coming to LA for the game, and myself; it was a set a few weeks ago that we would hang out.
I’m not familiar with “hanging out”, it isn’t my thing primarily because I’m not very good at relaxing. However, for sake of curiosity I agreed to meet and I hopped in my car [another huge thank you to Avis for getting me hooked up again with a stellar vehicle at a great price] and headed towards this area that I had heard about before in movies; Santa Monica Boulevard.
To get to Santa Monica I had to take The “405” to I-10 and across to 4th street, only to intersect with the boulevard and take it two blocks west to the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Avenue. Uh-hu. I’m still amazed that I didn’t get lost.
In the process of finding a place to park [after my first successful attempt at NASCAR racing], I noted a few interesting things about parking in Santa Monica:
- You’re paying, the real question is how much are you paying?
- I’m sure to continue to encourage health the county of Los Angeles thought it would be wise to stick McDonald’s underground in the parking garages [I’m still as surprised as you are].
- Promenades are cool…except for the people crossing from them to the next; I almost racked up 5 people in one inch of movement in the car at the cross walk.
- The paying process for the parking garage is all automated. You are given the slip [duh], placed in the car, take the other slip with you when you leave the car, coming back you have to take the slip you have with the barcode and insert it into the machine. Next, you pay the outlandish fee for parking, and get the slip back. Get in your car, drive out, at the gate you put the paper back in the machine, it reads that you’ve paid and it lets you out.
- Make sure you note what time you are to leave that garage. I parked at a location that allowed me to stay until 12:00 AM, some close at 10:00 PM and your car will be towed.
- Coolest feature: Parking meters…yes…you can pay for them via your debit/credit card. In Kansas City, we’re still keen on the quarter.
After getting my parking business down I stepped out onto Ocean Ave, crossed the massive street, stepped into the park, stepped over the drunk homeless man [it was sad to see a park that was so nice and trim, and so many homeless people just sleeping there; sometimes our money and priorities get a little skewed.
Now from Ocean to the ocean is a massive cliff that I had to scale [walk down the stairs], crossed I-10 via a walkway, and stepped into the sandy realm of the Pacific Ocean beach and more notably; the Santa Monica Pier. When, after a few miles, I finally got to the pier I was welcomed by a man rocking a LA Lakers jersey [to no surprise] and with a black Bible in his hand, he was proclaiming his faith. Now, I stood around looking like a tourist [oh wait…] and listened. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that there are more screwed up people on their ‘faith’ in Topeka, Kansas [specific ‘church’ if you will] then this man on the pier of Santa Monica, California. I just chalked it up as unique.
Speaking of unique, while watching him, I noticed I was standing near a strange little shop…COVERED WITH ROUTE 66 STUFF!
*As my own little, unique, strange hobby; I thoroughly enjoy collecting and reading about the legendary Route 66 that started in Chicago and as it turned out…ended in Santa Monica, California.
I was standing at the end of the Mother Road, the final piece of the puzzle, the heavenly destination of the road that started it all. It ended at the pier. I was completely spazzed at this point about my discovery, killing my battery, sending it to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace [that’s a lie], etc…
Finally, once my heart rate calmed; I kept walking along this pier and these two ladies came up and said, “You made it!”
It was Jen and Ness. They presented me with a Legacy FC scarf [note; I need to get their address to send them some shirts], and took me down towards the very end of the pier. Out there, while listening to a lady, live, belt out “My Heart Will Go On”, we watched the sunset over ocean and the 90+ degree day instantly turned to a 70+ evening. We talked about soccer, traveling, Nevada, California, what on earth I’m doing out here alone, etc…
Eventually, like any good former soccer player, Jen piped up ‘I”m starving, have you ate?’ Aside from slaughtering the cow the second time on that Double Double, I had not. So off we went down Santa Monica Boulevard looking for food.
We wound up at this Italian Restaurant please note the previous experience traveling and Italian food] and sat down to a beer and some* pasta.
*Some: This is a family portion style restaurant, so the Chicken Parmesan was the size of my head…one of them was, it came with two.
I think we spent nearly four hours in that place, just talking, eating, laughing, and most importantly; talking soccer. Talking to business owners, innovators in the own sense, it was incredible. I was getting a taste of the mindset and thought process of the world around me, without me being part of the equation. Part of the unique setting of developing the Kansas City Shock, that since it is the first of its kind in the area it is practically sandbox mode for me 24/7. When I’m out traveling, I’m getting to peer into the minds of others and see, compare, and discuss the differences between their business model, patrons, and demographics versus my own.
In other words; I was spellbound for four hours listening to these two talk about how their growing not just women’s soccer, but soccer as a whole for a large group of people that wouldn’t be considered ‘elites’ within our current culture. I was able to witness passion for the same idea and concept from different people with different walks of life. It was inspiring and man alive was it motivating.
As the pasta cooled and the glasses emptied, we parted our ways [they were so kind that they picked up my bill, I owe them dinner when they’re in KC for sure]. I hopped back on I-10, scooted to The “405”, found my way to Century and located my hotel.
Laying in bed, listening to the airlines fly overhead [I’m rather close to LAX]; I was trying to process the day. So much went on all at once, but similar to the theme of Maryland. Some count this ‘soccer-thing’ as a hobby; I understand [to the best of my ability], but I tell you the truth: my life just shines when I’m in something comfortable. Watching, talking, and listening to how the dynamic game of women’s soccer is growing throughout the United States, sensing the concept of a cultural revolution, a real changing of the guard…
I went to bed relaxed and exhausted, and I went to bed giving praise for the fact there’s no doubt in my mind that my calling is set and passion, though tested, continues to shine through.