Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Fine Time On The Left Coast (Part 3 of 3)

I awoke Sunday morning realizing that I only had about 24 hours left in this vacation of no rest. Though I wanted to sleep in, I just couldn't. The schedule didn't allow for it and this whole working as an adult thing the last 7 years hasn't allowed me to sleep in on days off.

We made our way to Marina Del Rey so I could rent a bicycle for exercise and 20 miles of sightseeing. Nothing says I'm a tourist more than renting a cruising or comfort bike, but I didn't care.

We made our way from Marina Del Rey to Manhattan Beach and onto Hermosa Beach.

The bike shop owner told me that riding the strand would be easy, but I needed to be careful that I not strain my neck because of the other bikers, boarders, and runners.
He's a sage.

How can anyone in southern California not exercise everyday with this weather and this bike path?

We stopped at Wahoo's Fish Taco. Of course none of us ordered the fish taco, but the burrito was good and the table service was even better. I thought that this was a special locals-only spot, but it's part of an area franchise.

Living near the beach means having a bike that can haul your boards. Dude.

A Labor Day volleyball tournament action shot. Nobody was any good though.

At least when compared to the best doubles team in the world. Extra points to me for finding their plaque in cement pier. Minus points for actually taking the picture.

It's clear all beach patrons were under the watchful eye Michael Knight.

Ummm, I mean Mitch Buchannon and C.J. Parker!

Folks living by the beach have it really good.

After a dip in the pool we got ready for dinner in the Valley at Cafe Bizou. Somehow I saw no signs of Valley girl stereotypes. I was disappointed. The food was great though.

Monday brought a final meal of chicken cutlet curry at Hurry Curry that left me with a new found love for Japanese curry.

For my final food of the trip I needed one more cup from YogurtLand. My belly was full for the one-stop 2:15p flight that landed at BWI at 11:30p. The jet lag was totally worth it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Living It Up in the City of Angels (Part 2 of 3)

I went to sleep around 1 AM Pacific time and tried claiming hardship over being awake for over 23 straight hours since getting up at 4:15 AM Eastern time. Always on the ball, my sister immediately shot that down reminding me of my naps on the plane and on her couch.


I was more or less awake for a long time and wasn't about to reclaim my lost sleep on Saturday.

We began the day driving to Santa Monica for an 8-mile run. I agreed to this to prove to my sister that I had in fact been training for the marathon (off and on) all these weeks. She agreed to this to remind me how much faster she runs. She was kind enough to run at my snail's pace for 7.5 miles until she said, "can we run at my pace now?" That was a low blow.

After noticing so many LA roadrunning groups on our path, I decided there must be gang turf wars between them. There has to be some bad blood between the LA Roadrunners (her group), LA Leggers, Santa Monica Running Group, and LA Roadrunning club. It's a sign that so many people in California can't help, but be healthy that they need many, many running groups.

We ran by muscle beach, but were fortunate to pass there before the meatheads arrived.

On the way back we apparently ran by Victor Jih, winner of the latest Amazing Race season. I guess that counts as my first celebrity run-in? How sad that he'd be considered a celebrity and it's all I've seen so far.

The multi-level Barney's in Beverly Hills was as nice as you'd expect.

And the brunch upstairs at Barney Greengrass was as great as you'd expect.

But the breadsticks were the stars of the meal, as you wouldn't expect. We had my sister, ahem, "grab" an extra bag and cream cheese. It was a great recovery after she stumbled asking the waiter for our 5th refill.

I bought my this dri-fit blue shirt as part of my official marathon clothing. I even purchased it at retail price in Beverly Hills no less! Actually, Niketown's prices were the same as the rest of the country.

We walked around the Grove before settling on dinner at the Farmer's Market. I destroyed a bowl of gumbo, though my sister's Brazilian meat dish was tasty too.

While lamenting that SoCal has open air malls while the left coast couldn't, we passed Daniel Dae Kim, aka Jin-Soo Kwon, from Lost. Too bad I couldn't appreciate the sight having never watched the show.

Nighttime entertainment came in the form of John Williams conducting the LA Symphony Orchestra at the Hollywood as it performed his great movie scores. A real LA moment. The Bowl's stack parking method is stupid, but I was with locals so we used our secret lot to get out quickly.

There was far too much Harry Potter and he didn't play Indiana Jones, the Olympics theme, or Jurassic Park, but listening to the full E.T. theme performed live, conducted by the composer, and watching the in sync film brought goosebumps. Sorry, but I cried at that movie.

Of course Superman and a few Star Wars songs were very cool.
We didn't care for songs from Casablanca and Catch me if You Can. I didn't appreciate him coming out for four encore ovations only to have him come out the last time to say he was tired. Okay, enough complaining. The compilation of his and the music of others was nice.

The level of geekdom, dorkism, and nerd-alert went through the roof during every Star Wars song with way too many light sabers; however, they did make for a cool effect as Williams encouraged them. I thought he should have conducted with a light saber, but he is 77 after all. Note they move to the beat 40 seconds into the song.

Until the next day's recap. Same blog address. Possibly the same posting time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

They've Got It Nice Out in Los Angeles (Part 1 of 3)

Last weekend I visited my sister and her boyfriend in LA. Unlike the visit two years ago, this wasn't filled with tourist traps, studio tours, and requisite souvenir purchases. Nope. This time I tried to hold on as they whisked me around town going for jogs along Santa Monica, bike rides along the strand to Hermosa Beach, multiple locals-only eateries, a Dodger game, and a Hollywood Bowl concert.

Still with me? Good.

There was also marathon "outfit shopping" in Beverly Hills, eating at Barney Greengrass, dinner in the Valley, walking around the Grove, eating at the Farmer's Market, lunch at a Wahoo's Fish Taco, lounging at the pool, walking the beach, and enjoying the 3-hour time difference to watch football games during breakfast.

I had had a long week and was plenty tired, but this wasn't time to sleep-in. It was time to always be on the move and see how they do things on the left coast. Here we go with Friday.


For a moment I thought I'd get a real meal of seafood for my Southwest flight. Of course the box went into cargo and I only got drinks, peanuts, and animal crackers for my cross-country flight.

Clear skies meant great mountain pictures, even with my 3.1 MP brick.

There it is...smoggy, wildfire smoke-filled Los Angeles. I felt like I needed my passport to visit. It's a different world.

We stuffed ourselves with sushi at SugarFish. A guy next to our table was talking about being "the head writer for a multi-generational Fox comedy." He was in a sad pissing contest with a younger writer about knowledge of ABC's skycams and Mad Men character development. Doesn't everyone in LA have some bogus project in development?

YogurtLand rocked! I went with the vanilla wafer topped with kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and Cap'n Crunch. My sugar level spiked to dangerously tasteful levels.

There's some wildfire smoke over the hills.

The stadium is showing its age, but the view of palm trees sure is nice.

I'm not sure why any Dodger fan would wear anything, but the royal blue caps.

Unlimited condiment station +

Foot-long Dodger Dog =

A mouthwatering meal. I ate two of them.

Look, it's Tommy Lasorda's bald head! A kinda-celebrity sighting. Also saw Larry King and Alyssa Milano.

Some Wetzel's Pretzels pretzels provided late-game stomach heroics.

Though they're nothing compared to these heroics.

Kids, if you look closely, this is the outfield grass where Manny didn't give 100% to catch a ball.

Lots of beach balls in the stadium; all the easier for LA fans to enforce their reputation and not watch the game despite the pennant race.

Fireworks after the show were great! We waited out traffic by throwing frisbees and footballs in the parking lot.

I was surprised the Dodgers allowed people in the outfield with so many of these divots from kids sliding on the grass.

Saturday's fun times are coming in the next post. What an exciting tease!