At this point, I feel like “the best part of traveling is coming back home” should just be one of my catchphrases – it seems fitting, considering how often I travel and how I’m always eager to come back home. After a tough second half of January 2019, I can finally sit back and relax, as the rush is over – the National PUBG League is moving forward in full force, we have an insanely high-end team house, and to top it all off, our PUBG team finished the opening weekend of league play in first place overall after the first day and second place after the second day, out of 16 teams. Sunday the 3rd ended up being an errands and work catch-up day, spending a big chunk of the afternoon driving around Beach Cities with two of my co-workers, then doing a bunch of operations and editorial work after returning to the team house. Sunday also marked the day that Jordan King returned to Nebraska – I dropped him off at the airport close to midnight so he would catch his red-eye flight. This wassn’t just any red-eye flight, though – he took a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Chicago O’Hare, then retraced his steps on a connecting flight from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. He was planning on sleeping overnight on the plane and waking up fresh Monday morning to begin working again – I’m sure we can all guess how well that ended up working out. After finishing up some final errands on Monday morning, I loaded everything up into my trusty pickup truck and drove back home to Las Vegas. Everything was decently uneventful – just the typical California traffic in the middle of nowhere up the mountains, plus a light drizzle. That is, everything was decently uneventful until I got to Baker. There was a massive collision right outside of Baker that backed up traffic to a standstill for a few miles. The funniest part is that people were presumably just following their GPS instructions, which were probably detecting massive traffic on I-15 S and were telling drivers to reroute to I-15 S Business, which is an extension of the freeway that cuts through the actual city of Baker… thus ensued a literal standstill throughout the entire city of Baker, and not just on the freeway. I got a chance to plunder my SD card of photos I took throughout the week, and I have a few more highlights, the first being a photo of the Pacific Ocean that I took while touring a house in Rolling Hills, a gated city in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I also captured a glorious sunset from the rooftop deck of our new team house in Beach Cities… and also captured Jordan King taking a picture of his can of Red Bull with the sunset in the background. If you’re a photographer, you know that most cameras adjust themselves such that, if you face it directly at an orange sunset, it looks a bit more dull than it actually is. That was the case for my photos as well, so I did some edits to the full sunset (I guess with these saturation edits, it becomes more “art” and less of an authentic photograph) to reflect the magnitude of what I recall seeing in person. However, I didn’t edit the saturation on the second photo, and that is still a pretty intense sunset. Remember how I said it was drizzling during the drive? Eventually, the drizzle became an actual rainstorm, but the precipitation didn’t completely engulf the entire Mojave Desert. It was still the middle of the day, so the sun was strong – I managed to capture beams of sunlight penetrating storm clouds and illuminating the desert sand. I don’t think this photograph does the scene justice, but this was one of those rare times where I looked at something happening right in front of me and inadvertently said “wow.” My next scheduled travel is between February 13-20 to Chicago. I am already looking forward to my next “the best part of traveling is coming back home” post.
Having lived in Illinois and Wisconsin my entire life until late 2016, and not really traveling much or having an interest in traveling (except for just going back and forth between Chicago and Los Angeles multiple times for esports-related stuff), I never really learned much (or cared to learn much) about notable landmarks and points of interest around the world (or even around the country). One of these points of interest was the Santa Monica Pier, which I did not really know much about until the middle of 2016 back when Pokémon Go was released and everyone said that the Santa Monica Pier was the best place to play. Since moving to the Pacific coast and learning more about what’s over on this side of the country, I soon realized the importance of the Santa Monica Pier (and even discovered that the pier in Grand Theft Auto V, which I play on occasion, is modeled after it). But, I still never really bothered to go visit it in person. A few days ago, I joined one of my friends and co-workers on a trip to the Santa Monica Pier late at night – a trip I agreed to because I was able to be a passenger and be whisked away to our destination with no effort. Being the first time visiting, I aggressively photographed everything around me; here are a few highlights:
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older and my metabolism is slowing down, or if the people I spend time with while I travel just eat way too much, but every time I travel, I come back home with a small belly bulge that takes a few additional days of reduced calorie consumption to go away. I’m usually pretty conservative and controlled in my eating when I’m at home, but while I’m traveling, I’m usually at the mercy of those around me, as I generally just join in for meals when they want to eat. Another significant aspect of why I stay healthy is because I stopped eating sugary products a while back. As I got older and did a bit more research, I learned that it’s not fat that makes you fat, but sugar, and the reason fat was demonized was because the sugar industry paid off a lot of scientists back when initial research study results were being published. Unfortunately, that sort of goes out the window when I’m traveling as well, and I ended up getting way too much dessert. Jordan wanted to get some ice cream last night. I ended up with this massive thing. Something I like to do when I go to new restaurants is to try their iconic or signature items. This is usually a good idea because, not only is it more likely to be popular so the food item has a higher chance of being fresh, but it also lets me try different foods made by people who consider it to be their specialty. For lunch today, Jordan and I went to a Cajun restaurant that served alligator. Not having tried alligator before (at least, not that I recall), I decided to order alligator. When I cook meat, I usually add only salt and pepper, as I personally like the taste of the actual meat and don’t want to overwhelm it with strong or excessive seasoning. Unfortunately, this Cajun restaurant didn’t share my values, and instead of giving me normal alligator, they cooked it in sort of a cross between chicken strips and fish and chips style. It was next to impossible to actually recognize what the alligator itself tasted like because the fried breading was way too overpowering, and the inside just looked like any generic white meat. With that being said, from what I could tell, alligator had a chewy, fishy taste to it. Once I get the chance, I’ll likely go seek out some alligator prepared like a steak, so I can get a good conceptualization of what the meat itself actually tastes like.
There is a massive palm tree right outside the window of the room I’m staying at in the new Tempo Storm team house. This palm tree houses two extended families of parakeets that screech the song of their homeland every morning, and I cannot sleep. After emerging from bed in a disgruntled and sleep-deprived state, first on today’s agenda was to visit our lawyers for a casual meeting in Los Angeles. After arriving in the parking garage (which apparently was forced valet parking, and I later found out that I was charged almost $27 for their services for literally less than an hour of parking), Jordan King and I took the elevator up to their offices in the high-rise building. I’ve always been a fan of high-rise buildings, and I was actually intending on living in a high-rise condo when I first moved to Las Vegas – the main reason I didn’t do that right away is because I would’ve also had to purchase a vehicle if that was the case (because things like groceries and reasonably-priced restaurants are not in walking distance from the Strip), and I wanted to work on building up my savings more than living in ultimate luxury. I don’t have a fear of heights, but rather, more so a love of heights – back when I visited the Wilis Tower in Chicago (formerly known as the Sears Tower), people were afraid to step in the clear glass pods extending off the skydeck, while I stepped on them and felt liberated. After staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows of our lawyers’ offices, my desire to live in a high-rise condo has been rekindled. I tried to take a few photos, but I don’t think any photographs and do the view justice, especially considering that I can’t actually tilt the camera in a manner that captures just how high up I am without also just completely removing the remaining upper portion of the photograph, simply because of how vast the view is. After taking in the thrilling view, we stopped by the University of California, Los Angeles campus to meet up with one of our employees at Tempo Storm and have lunch. After scheduling our meal for Boiling Crab, then receiving a call from him moments before we were scheduled to meet up with him saying “there is a caveat,” the caveat being that Boiling Crab does not open until 3 PM PST, we decided to have lunch at a Thai restaurant instead called Mr. Noodle. I ordered some Thai-style ribs. Normally, all this driving, especially through Los Angeles city, completely drains me. After returning home, I usually want to stay inside, wrap myself in a blanket, and be alone for the rest of the day. However, I was miraculously convinced to do a bit of touring during the night, and considering I wasn’t driving this time and just riding along, I agreed. One of the places we visited was the Venice sign on Pacific Coast Highway. I thought this was my first time seeing the Venice sign, but after I actually looked up where it was, I realized that I had inadvertently been there already without even realizing it – back when Tempo Storm first partnered with Red Bull, we had a staff onboarding session, and I stayed at Hotel Erwin for the event, which was a street away. I was also literally standing right under the sign at one point too, because I had walked from the hotel to the poke shop next door to the sign.
After a blog post literally titled “I visit California too much,” I have returned, once again, … to California. This time, I’m accompanied by Jordan King, who flew in from Lincoln, Nebraska to Las Vegas to road trip with me to Los Angeles. If you ask him, he would guaranteed say he had one of the best travel experiences of his life. He was supposed to arrive during the evening of January 27 by flying to Denver then taking a connecting flight to Las Vegas, then spend the night at Tempo Storm’s Las Vegas team house before heading out during the morning of January 28 with me for our road trip to Los Angeles. Instead, his arrival didn’t quite happen, as after he boarded his plane, there was a delay after they discovered that the plane was leaking fluid. The delay was originally set for about an hour, but apparently there were no mechanics available in Lincoln, so they had to fly one out from Colorado to take a look at the aircraft, which added on an additional hour or so of additional delay time. By that point, we realized that Jordan was going to miss his connecting flight out of Denver, and that flight out of Denver was the final flight of the night to Las Vegas with that airline, so we instead booked another flight with a different airline to make sure he could make it. Then Jordan’s original flight got delayed some more. As the delay time increased by half-hour to hour intervals, we realized that Jordan would then proceed to miss his other back-up flight as well, so we had to cancel that flight. Eventually, Jordan gave up, accepted a voucher for a flight on the morning of January 28, then went back home. Luckily, Jordan’s travel experience yesterday morning with his rebooked flight wasn’t quite as bad, and he successfully made it to Las Vegas. A bit more hilarity ensued when Jordan did not realize that United Airlines’ baggage claim at McCarran International Airport was in Terminal 3 and not Terminal 1, and it didn’t help that I did not clarify this to him upon his arrival. He proceeded to take the blue line from Concourse D to Terminal 1, couldn’t find his bag, then had to wait for a shuttle to take him to Terminal 3 before he could collect his bag. Somehow, we still made it to Los Angeles. My task for today was to pick up a custom-built PUBG air drop supply crate that we were going to use for a promotional video with our PUBG team. After unknowingly asking someone with a Honda coupe to deliver it to the team house without quite realizing how big it was, I drove over to our studio in Hollywood with my truck to realize that the crate was actually gigantic. In typical Los Angeles fashion, on my way back on I-405 towards Beach Cities, the traffic moving in the other direction was at a complete standstill for a stretch of about 11 miles because a semi-truck had somehow managed to break down after orienting itself horizontally across all but a single lane of the freeway, and the entire however-many lanes of northbound I-405 had to squeeze through a single lane. Dinner went a lot more pleasantly than looking at Los Angeles traffic, as Jordan and I met back up and went to get some sushi in Redondo Beach. For dessert, we went to get frozen yogurt. Now, I’m not really much of a frozen yogurt person – I generally just eat regular ice cream, or sometimes sorbet, and I also pretty much never buy it from anywhere except the grocery store in bulk. So, as you’d expect, I was a little bit confused and overwhelmed with all the options I had at Yogurtland. I ended up getting vanilla ice cream, strawberry frozen yogurt, orange sorbet, cookie dough, mini-M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, and white chocolate in my frozen yogurt. I like all of those individually, but unfortunately, I failed to realize that mixing them all together at once would not end up very well. What a tragedy.
The past week and a half has been a flurry of scrambling, confusion, negotiation, and way too much driving. Half the week consisted of mild panicking because things weren’t going our way, then the other half of the week consisted of mild panicking because things were going too well. I was also reminded that you have to deal with completely incompetent and shallow people no matter what you’re doing… though unfortunately, for the sake of not causing problems, I’m going to choose not to elaborate on that final point. Two weekends ago, we at Tempo Storm found out that our PUBG team qualified for the National PUBG League (NPL), the official league for the game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. This is an offline tournament, which means that all participants must travel on site to the production studio for their games. This naturally means that they have to live somewhere within the proximity of the studio… which sounds a bit familiar if you followed my blog posts back in April and May when we were setting up for our H1Z1 team. The league offers hotel rooms as lodging for the players, but we decided to set up a team house instead, as hotel Internet connections are notorious for having severe latency and reliability problems. With a substantial amount of real estate experience under my belt, I ended up being the best candidate to get the team house fully set up, so I made my way over to California to begin the house scouting and signing process. Of course, giving too many more details about this isn’t really possible, because I don’t really want to give any hints that may allow someone to pinpoint the location of the team house for the sake of the players’ safety and privacy – so, as a result, I won’t be publicly sharing the seemingly infinite number of houses I looked at in the past week. However, here are a couple photos that show two things I learned. Lesson #1: Apparently, peacocks randomly strolling down the sidewalk is considered normal on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I was in the area to tour a house, and right as I stepped out of my truck, I noticed a peacock just casually walking along. I hid behind my truck and snapped a photo assuming that it would flee if I made my presence too obvious, but it seemed to not really care. After the fact, I did a bit of research on Google, and apparently Palos Verdes actually has a peacock problem. Lesson #2: If you ever get a house that doesn’t have enough bathrooms, have no fear. … Just put a portable toilet system in your front yard.