I arrived at Ryan Shuck’s house around 8:00 pm. I met him through a mutual friend, and he lives there with his girlfriend, Caitlyn. Ryan is a well-known musician (currently the lead singer and guitarist in Julien-K), and he was about to leave for a six-week tour, so he wanted to review things in the house with me before he left so I could keep an eye on it. His girlfriend and a roommate would be there too, but they worked a lot and weren’t around very much. The timing worked out perfectly.
I texted Ryan that I was there, and he met me out front to help me with my luggage. I was embarrassed that my suitcase had just broken and was missing a wheel. We walked through the front gate, passed the pool, and went inside the house. The house had a beautiful 1950s design, and Ryan did an amazing job decorating. He did such a good job that his house has been featured in magazines.
After I set my bags down, Ryan showed me around the house because it was my first time staying there. He had a soundproof recording studio with many guitars and a rack full of black leather jackets. I asked, “What all do you record in here?” He laughed, “Lots.” Other musicians record there too.
Ryan and I chatted over some wine in the kitchen. Ryan is tall, about 6’3”, and has a thin, athletic build. He has dark hair styled like a rockstar – shaved on the sides and long on top. He is in his 40s and exudes charisma. I felt embarrassed by my bland shirt and jeans.
Ryan and I talked about relationships, my recent travels, and his business endeavors. As Ryan told me more about his career, I was blown away. I only knew of him as a regular guy when I was first introduced to him, but he has platinum records on the wall, his music has been in movies, he has had top positions on the Billboard Charts, has been on Total Request Live, and has sold over three million albums.
According to Wikipedia, he is an “American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, producer, and entrepreneur. He has been a founding member of the industrial rock band Orgy. As of now, he is the leader of the Electronic rock / indietronica / dance project Julien-K and the guitarist and backing vocalist of Dead By Sunrise, the alternative rock side project of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington. Growing up, Shuck played in the Bakersfield-based rock band Sexart, alongside Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, Adema bassist Dave DeRoo, and Videodrone frontman Ty Elam. Aside from his musical career, Shuck also owns four popular restaurants in the Orange County, CA area and a recording studio in Long Beach, CA.”
Ryan is such a nice guy, and it was awesome to have a normal conversation with him, even though he’s famous. We took our wine outside and sat by the pool, where we continued to talk. He made me feel welcome, and he was easy to talk with.
After a couple of hours, Ryan’s girlfriend, Caitlyn, arrived after being in New York for work. She is tall (5’10”), thin, beautiful, 29-years-old, and super fashionable. She joined us at the pool and told us about her recent business trip. She works for a custom blinds store, but she used to sing in their band at times. It was getting late, so we all headed to bed. It didn’t feel like I was back in Long Beach because I wasn’t at my own place. As I was lying in the comfortable bed, I kept thinking about what a crazy adventure this has been.
The next morning, I went for a run around the neighborhood. It was surreal being back in California. It was October and sweltering outside (in the 90s F). I was missing my cool fall temperatures in the north. I ended up running right by the golf course where Aaron and I got married. I hadn’t actually been that close to it since our wedding. I ran right by the fence that separated the outdoor pavilion, and I paused to look at it. I guess it was closure for me. I know I take longer than most people to grieve and move on, but it’s necessary for me.
Halfway through my run, my knee got a sharp pain. I couldn’t get it to go away, so I had to walk back. It was probably because I hadn’t gone for a run in a long time – just a couple of times while on the road. After my run, I drove to Target to get some items I was low on, like shampoo. Walking around there made it feel like I never left.
I picked up some food on the way back and ate it at Ryan’s place. As I ate lunch, Ryan was cutting the hair of his bandmate so it was fresh for their tour. I had purchased one of his albums on iTunes and had been listening to it during the day. I couldn’t believe how good it was! Ryan has an amazing voice and the beats were so unique, they put me in a good mood.
Afterward, I met Max. He was staying in the room next to mine. He was there for four months while he was doing a physical therapy internship. Max was in his late 20s, in great shape, had dark blonde hair, and was really friendly.
I had to shower and get ready for a friend’s birthday party. As I did my makeup, Ryan was running around the house packing for his tour. My friend’s birthday party was on a boat that he rented in the harbor in Marina Del Rey. I had to be there before the boat left and it was a 45-minute drive so I quickly left.
I arrived on time, but the birthday boy, Rohan, was running late with his pre-party crew. There were about five of us already there, and they let us board the boat. It was beautiful as the sun was setting on the water. Rohan and the rest of the party showed up, and we took off to the ocean. There were around 40 people packed on this boat.
It was so much fun, and I was able to catch up with some old coworkers. As we sailed around the harbor, it reminded me of why Los Angeles can be a pretty spectacular place to be. Several of Rohan’s friends from MIT flew in just to celebrate his birthday. I had a blast talking about my time in Alaska and Canada.
Once the boat arrived back at the dock, we went to an Airbnb that Rohan and some of his friends had booked in the Hollywood Hills. It was a giant mansion on the side of the mountain – something you’d see in the movies. We hung out there for a while and then took Ubers to West Hollywood. The clubs were ridiculous with mostly-naked people swinging around the place.
Once all of the clubs closed, we headed back to the Airbnb. We were partying and it was starting to die down around 3:00 am. I fell asleep while sitting on the couch, only slightly leaning back. I woke up at 6:30 am because I was very cold and shivering. There were other people passed out on the couch and I decided I needed to go back to Ryan’s place to get a good rest. Before I left, I walked outside to the back yard where the sun was rising over the Los Angeles skyline. It was beautiful and reminded me that it can be a pretty magical place.
After a crazy and fun night celebrating Rohan’s birthday, I slept in until the late morning. I cooked some food while summarizing my trip so far. I enjoy data, so here you go:
Leaving Long Beach – arriving back in Long Beach:
- 104 days (just under 15 weeks)
- 10,400 miles driven
- Approximately $1,350 spent on gas
- 45 overnight locationsMotel: 11
- Hotel: 3
- Airbnb (room): 9
- Airbnb (private space): 3
- Airbnb (bed and breakfast): 2
- Airbnb (house/condo): 2
- Airbnb (guesthouse/lodge): 2
- Hostel: 3
- Friends/family house: 4
- Cabin: 2
- Lodge: 1
- Deck on a ferry: 1
- Structured Tent: 1
- Backpacking Tent: 1
- Total spent on accommodation: $7,539.64 (average per night $81.07)
- 2 countries; 7 states/territories; 34 cities
- Met up with 6 friends
- Met over 65 new people
- 15 hiking trails; 5 bike tours; 5 ferry rides
I loved looking at the data. It put into perspective just how far I had driven and how many different places I had spent the night. I still had a lot ahead of me, but I think it’s important to pause and reflect on your journey from time to time.
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