Student Travel Spotlight: Elijah Van Grootheest ’23 and his trip to California

Over the Veteran’s Day Weekend break, Elijah Van Grootheest ’23, who studies Aerospace Engineering, Astro track, and Space Physics, went to Southern California with a friend. It was a planned trip with a friend, and he left Friday afternoon to make the most of his weekend since they were driving there. 

After arriving and settling in, Van Grootheest went to the Irvine Farmer’s Market at the Mariner’s Church in Irvine, Calif. on Saturday morning. “It was pretty dope,” according to Van Grootheest. It was there that he was able to see all of the locally grown fruit and vegetable selection, which included his “obsession with strawberries.” It was also pleasing because there was food for sale, kombucha to drink, and flowers to buy. After walking a lap around the huge farmer’s market, Van Grootheest and his friend decided to purchase some sunflowers. They were “freaking beautiful” and of course, a photo-op was an immediate must-do.

Next, Van Grootheest went to get some quality Mexican food in San Clemente, Calif. While there, he indulged in the vegan burrito option and was surprised by how well the jackfruit tasted in his burrito. Since the restaurant he went to was by the beach, Van Grootheest and his friend crossed the train tracks and went to play in the sand. 

While in San Clemente, Calif., it was there that Van Grootheest saw the beach for the very first time in his life. He chased the waves and some sea birds, found a seashell or two, and got to finally experience what it’s like to run on the sand. “It was pretty fun chasing that bird around for a while, not gonna lie,” says Van Grootheest. Of course, a scenic photo was captured of Van Grootheest at the beach to commemorate the moment. 

On Sunday, his day was equally as jam-packed. Homework was attempted, naturally, but not accomplished. However, he went on a date with a lovely suitor to Laguna Beach and “[they] got ice cream at a place that was pretty good.” The place is called Dolce Gelato and Van Grootheest noted that “they had so many weird flavors, including Star Wars ones.” It was his first time going to Laguna Beach so he opted to walk around, visit the beach there, and ended up at a vegan and natural foods café.

Overall, Van Grootheest “thought the whole trip was beautiful” and he loved it. He said that “it feels like home and is a very welcoming place.” He spent that Monday hanging out and relaxing before the drive back to campus. After returning to Embry-Riddle, Van Grootheest decided that he will definitely return to Southern California again.