Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Long Beach State, Pepperdine, and USC: Pun City's Top Picks in the LA Area

Pun City is back with a recap of the California trip. (Yeah, very creative, point noted).

Thursday this blog flew from Milwaukee to Memphis to Los Angeles, thinking that a Sports Illustrated would be able to amuse Pun City for the whole trip. The Sports Illustrated lasted roughly until Memphis.

This blog wrongly thought that there were enough articles that Pun City missed, and that these would entertain this site the last leg of the trip. After paging through the whole magazine, there had maybe been one article this blog hadn't read, so it took about 3 air miles to find out this blog wouldn't have much to do the rest of the ride. Adding to the problem was that the seating layout did not lend itself to this blog trying to sleep.

All was not lost, however, as this blog had grabbed a Los Angeles city map in Milwaukee so there was now a chance to study the map. This blog realized that Loyola Marymount, one of the 7 planned college destinations, was right next to LAX, where Pun City was flying in to.

This fact, combined with some last-minute plan changes, led to Pun City heading directly to LMU right after picking up a rental car (Chevy Cobalt, pretty solid, decent amount of leg room). LMU's campus is pretty cool, lots of white mission-style buildings. This blog was able to get into their gym, but a seemingly closed cheerleading practice was in session, so Pun City wasn't really wanting to get yelled at this early in the journey. Not surprisingly, the basketball rims were also off-limits since the cheerleaders were on the court. 0 for 1 on that front. Bookstore was open, however, so this blog got a shirt. 1 for 1 there.

Got some In-N-Out Burger, then visited this blog's friend Becky, who was temporarily displaced to a hotel. We were able to go to some Western Saloon place and get an appetizer and a drink. Shortly after, this blog drove over to friend Josh's place and stayed over there for the night (as would be the case most nights of the trip).

Friday this blog woke to news that Josh would be able to hang out all day, which was a surprise as this blog had expected him to be working all day. This was cool though, since he was alright heading to college campuses for the day, which not everyone would be down with.

The first Friday stop was Cal State-Northridge. Pretty solid campus, smaller but a really good Union and the basketball stadium had palm trees lining the entrance. Also of note was the orange grove at the campus entrance. This blog was able to grab rim (1 for 2) as the gym was empty and the hoop was collapsed. Also cool was the bookstore was open (2 for 2) and this blog got a hat.
Above: Displaying the crazy vertical it takes to hang on the rim at Cal State-Northridge.

Next up was UCLA, which really had a magnificent campus. Tucked into it was Pauley Pavilion, a hoops mecca but not the flashiest building this blog has ever seen. As a side note, having been to Cameron Indoor earlier this year, these two places prove that you can have one of the most breathtaking indoor stadiums without having a flashy exterior.

Pauley was open, and this blog was again able to grab rim (2 for 3), this time it was collapsed again. The bookstore was also open (3 for 3), and this blog got some wristbands.

Above: Pauley Pavilion, set up for Volleyball.

The last campus for Friday was USC, which ended up being this blog's favorite campus. A brand new arena, an abundance of shaded areas, lots of brick buildings and an attractive student body contributed to the high ranking. Pun City and Josh got into the Galen Center (USC's new basketball facility), setting off an alarm in the process. None of the workers even flinched at this, apparently they'd had a lot of false alarms. The arena looked really cool with its 6 windows letting light in, and the brand new floor looked pretty cool too.

Unfortunately, no basketball hoops were in sight, collapsed or otherwise, so this blog went rimless, bringing its total to 2 for 4 through Friday's visits. The bookstore was open (4 for 4), but this blog isn't a huge USC fan and didn't see any huge bargains that necessitated a purchase.

Friday night this blog went to the Angels-Twins game with Becky and company, and Angels Stadium, the game, and the postgame fireworks were all pretty awesome.

Saturday this blog was able to check out UC-Irvine, Cal State-Fullerton, and Long Beach State on its own. Irvine's gym was closed, so no rim there (2 for 5); however their bookstore was open (5 for 5), and this blog got a shirt. Irvine has a good campus, almost reminiscent of North Carolina's, with rolling hills and a lot of sunshine.

Cal State-Fullerton, on the other hand, was another story. While the gym was open and this blog was able to grab a collapsed rim again (3 for 6), the bookstore, visitor information booth, and practically everything else was closed up, leaving this blog 5 for 6 in the bookstore department. The fact that most of the state-run university was closed on a Saturday combined with an unshaded, small, fairly lame campus earned Fullerton the distinction of worst campus on the trip.

This blog went to Long Beach State without a lot of expectations. Josh had said that it was a pretty dull campus, and the place does look dull from one street. Looks were rather deceiving, however. Once on campus, Long Beach State is pretty impressive. Their student union has a pool in the middle of it, their basketball stadium is a giant blue pyramid, and there's tons of green spaces, shade, and some fountains here and there. The pyramid was hosting an AAU tournament, so unfortunately no rim grabbing (3 for 7), but the bookstore was open (6 for 7), and this blog picked up a t-shirt.

Above: Yet another reason why Long Beach State is awesome.

Saturday night this blog went with Becky to Dave and Buster's, and after struggling for a while found its niche at a trivia game. Sunday morning both Becky and Josh expressed interest in heading to Malibu to see Pepperdine's campus. This was cool, since Pun City wasn't expecting to get in an 8th campus on this trip. While the bookstore wasn't open on a Sunday (understandable), their basketball court was open, and this blog grabbed rim on a fully-extended hoop for the first time on the trip. This left Pun City 6 for 8 on bookstores and 4 for 8 on rims grabbed. Not too shabby.

By the way, Pepperdine's campus deserves special mention as perhaps the most picturesque campus in America, just amazing views of the Pacific and not far from a state park that has some amazing mountains. All this combined with a near-Olympic-sized (if not Olympic-sized) pool and a fantastic tennis facility. Oh, plus the basketball court is brand new and all of their facilities look to be very well-maintained.

So there you have it, big ups to pretty much everyone but Fullerton, Irvine could open up their basketball court but that's about their only knock, and Long Beach is really underrated. So let that be a lesson to you.

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