Melissa Sipin-Gabon and husband, Joshua Gabon. Photo Credits: Joshua Sy Photography.
LOS ANGELES: FORT MACARTHUR (SAN PEDRO, CA) – We stayed at the Fort MacArthur Air Force Inn for all our trip home, and although it was not as fancy as Wainwright Hall in Fort Myer, it was still incredibly affordable at $65 a night (based on an active-duty rate). The address is Los Angeles AFB Bldg. 37 San Pedro, California, 90731 and the website is af.dodlodging.net/propertys/Los-Angeles-AFB.
There was a wedding that week while we stayed, but the noise level didn’t bother us at all and we got a lot of privacy in our hotel room. There was also a fridge and kitchen, which was fully stocked. We did all the usual things we used to do at home: we split our time between both our families and Christmas parties, and we visited Disneyland for three days with my husband’s niece (the current military discount at Disneyland is a 3-Day Park Hopper ticket
Fort MacArthur Hotel view from the window. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sipin-Gabon.
for $132—this means you can visit Disneyland’s two theme parks multiple times on three different days. It wasn’t the best deal, but that’s what we usually expect when we visit Disneyland!).
Gabon Family at Fort MacArthur. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sipin-Gabon.
We didn’t go to the usual tourist spots, like Beverly Hills, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, El Capitan Theatre, LACMA, the Getty, the Getty Villa, Malibu Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, (we did visit Manhattan Beach and the Redondo Beach pier, which are closer to home), or the Griffith Observatory, which we highly recommend. We just didn’t have the time! We did visit Melrose again for Christmas shopping and ate the best Argentinian food we’ve ever tried and had brunch on Sunset at Home Restaurant, which had the best-tasting and award-winning green tea pomegranate I ever had! We also had the best ramen in town at Shinsengumi Hataka Ramen in Gardena. Since we’re both sushi buffs, we had Sugarfish By Sushi Nozawa in Downtown L.A. for the very first time, which is a sushi place that specializes in omakase, a selection of sushi nigiri that is decided by the sushi chef. “Omakase” is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you,” or literally means, “to entrust.” The sushi was incredibly delicious, and we’ll definitely come back once we return home again!
Ramen from Gardena, CA. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sipin-Gabon.
Korean Friendship Bell. Photo courtesy of Melissa Sipin-Gabon.
Last but not least, although the weather was absolutely perfect during our trip home (it was 70 degrees for the whole 7 days we were there), we were still able to go ice skating outside at Pershing Square in downtown. We also took family pictures with my husband’s family on Fort MacArthur’s Korean Friendship Bell park, which is an overlook cliff that has the best views of the Pacific Ocean in the Southbay. I really recommend visiting the Korean Friendship Bell if you ever visit L.A.—the sunset is incredibly beautiful, you see the Palos Verdes Peninsula and there are many gorgeous hiking trails along the rocky coast. Did I mention that it’s also completely free to visit the Korean Friendship Bell? My husband and I always visited the Korean Friendship Bell after high school, and it was a joy to return to it again after all these years of being away from home.
When we returned to wintery D.C., we were very sad to have left home for yet another time. But, we were happy that we were able to travel on a budget and share quality time together. It made it so much more enjoyable to return home this way: we left as young kids and came back as full-fledge adults, juggling two huge families and so many emotions. We hope you enjoyed our advice in flying cross-country and visiting the land of perpetual perfect weather.
Melissa Sipin–Gabon, Adjunct Asst. Professor (Old Dominion University) and Joshua Gabon, Petty Officer Third Class (Nuc MM3) Norfolk, Virginia firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprint from May–June 2015 • Volume 45, No. 3