Saturday, July 21, 2007

Going Out on a High Note

Much to my dismay the summer is coming to an end.

But before it does, there are still a couple of things I need to do.

Sat: Dodgers Game and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
Sun: Running to the "Hollywood" Sign
Next Weekend: Getty Museum

Santa Monica Pier
Drinking in Hollywood and BevHill
San Diego
San Francisco
Las Vegas
Driving Mullholand Dr.
Farmer's Market
Walk through BevHills (okay, we ran out of gas, but I did get to walk past the police station from BevHills Cops. Fun fact, BevHills has their own civil services so LA Cops are not BevHills Cops).

Sedona Wine Country
Hurst Castle (the Citizen Kane House)
Drive up Pacific Coast Highway to San Fran

Last night was the last Shabat cedar in LA for me. A nice jewish family welcomed me with open arms to their weekly cedars which allowed me to meet some really sweet interesting people while getting some really great chicken soup; during my trip these dinners became something of a regular thing for me a perfect way to start, or sometimes conclude, a Friday night, thanks Sandy.
[Side note, this family lives down the street from Beckham which sounds great until you realize they come with dozens of paparrazi. I did not appreciate how sketchy these guys were until I drove past them yesterday.]

Following dinner a couple of us went to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Once again I realized I need to pay attention to my surroundings more. While sitting at our booth Katie Holmes, who apparently cut her hair really short, and her child stood five feet away being serenaded by the piano player. One of the Olsen twins walks past looking like a hooker with a new conquest. And I got to see the goalie and owner of Chelsea FC (although the piano bar was littered with all the Chelsea support staff donning their uniforms trying desperately to impress the women there. Apparently no one let them in on the fact that American women don't follow soccer).

After two nights of late partying, and a baseball game the next day, I packed it in.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

San Diego Sunshine

So this past weekend I made the trek down to SanDiego, but not before my first studio tour.

A coworker at my office set up a tour of Warner-Bros. Studio for a couple of us for this past Friday. It was neat to see how creatively the same exterior of a building can be used to reflect so many different locals. This included seeing the outside of ER (although I have never seen the show), the interior of the Friends Coffee Shop (although I hate the show), and the Mystery Machine (okay, I did like this this movie).

Taking us to the WB Museum I saw costumes from all my favorite WB shows and movies: the Departed, Harry Potter, Veronica Mars, and Babylon 5 (yes I am a nerd). The tour concluded at 5pm leaving me in the akward position of traveling across LA during rush hour to get to San Diego.

Let me just say that LA traffic is a bit overratted. Granted it sucks to be sitting in traffic, but it is no worse than some of the traffic I encounter in DC, just this seems to go on for a longer distance.

A mere three hours later I arrived in San Diego. After catching up with a friend, we went downtown to a bar complete with a killer cover band (the "Disco Gangsters" or something like that). Leaving this bar we arrived at a club only for me to realize, I dont like clubs any more.

The next day can be described by three words, well actually the same word three times. We walked to Balboa Park...amazing. Then continued on to the beach...amazing. And then rolled up USD...amazing.

We grabbed diner at Ra which provided the best spicy tuna sushi I have ever had. Packing it in early, we went to bed and the following morning I left the amazing place that is San Diego.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Weekend in San Francisco

Well I just got back from San Francisco...I can understand why people like it during the day time, but come nightfall, the other thing that falls is the temperature. We started the trip by hitting up the farmer's market at the Pier. Not since I visited Seattle have I seen such a robust and awesome market. We then hopped the ferry to Salsalito (like the cookie), and grabbed a bus to Muris woods.

After hiking several miles in flip-flops (yeah I know that it is not the smartest move), we sat atop a mountain and drank a bottle of wine. After hitching a ride back into SF and across the Golden Gate Bridge (which was incredible), we visited Fisherman's Warf.

A clear tourist trap, Fisherman's Warf always has garlic pizza. Made for me by matching two of my favorite things, garlic and pizza, it tasted divine. Grabbing dinner that night I was treated to some great cheviche and an amazing tuna steak. It was here that I realized I like tuna, just not tuna fish in the same way that while I hate american cheese, I still like unprocessed cheese.

The next day we took a tour of china town, saw a woman folding fortune cookies and grabbed some freshly cooked duck. Leaving china town we walked through italian town, through a rich town, into the Mission district for some awesome mexican food, past the Full House house and off to my haircut. While there we grabbed some drinks and then stopped by Jerry Garcia town. Following this we checked out Golden Gate Park, grabbed a late night drink and then crashed.

Three hours later, I awoke, got dressed, hopped a plane and went to work. Now, completely exhausted, I head to sleep at 8pm!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So Much Sun, So Little Time

It has been quite a while since my last entry, a point made clear to me by several of your emails. Over the past week I have managed to get myself back into a rut (some call it a rhythm). Between the gym (let me just say that you do not appreciate towel service until you dont have it), work, and resting, life has really settled in for me.

My apartment is exactly what I need for the summer, a bed, bathroom, 32" TV (okay its not an HDTV, but I suppose I can make due for a couple of months), HBO, and a pool. As for work, it is great to find myself working more than I am being paid for. Granted more money would be nicer, but when I'm doing something I enjoy, money is clearly a secondary motivation.

Prior to my arrival everyone warned me about the "horrible LA traffic!" For those of you considering a trip out here, the bark is worse than its bite. Granted it sometimes takes me 25min to transverse the 7 miles home, but the same can be said for DC traffic.

This past weekend I was convinced to take a trip out to Disneyland. Although I went begrudgingly, it resulted in an amazingly good time. Much like DisneyWorld in Florida, Disneyland is broken into different parks (this way they can charge more). There is Disneyland and California Adventure. Springing for the dual pass, we started with California Adventure. No kids, no lines, the Tower of Terror, two roller coasters (one based on Mullholand Drive captured the feeling of that road perfectly), a water ride (that claimed the life of one purse), and most importantly a wine tasting.

Heading over into Disneyland, the wine tasting came in handy. With thousands of little kids, much longer lines, and an artificial happiness that made you want to drown yourself in the artificial lake, my patience definitely wore thin. One great point of note aside from the amazingly well renovated Space Mountain, is the inclusion of "Fruit Carts." Rather than the normal parfe of funnel cake and hot dogs, Disneyland came equipped with Fruit stands providing amazingly juicy fresh fruit.

Following this great experience with the local fruit, I needed to visit the local Farmer's Market. Between the strawberries, oranges and hummus, I was in heaven. I went there not liking hummus and left with $20 of it. I went there not liking Avacados, and loved them. The same can be said for the kettle corn which is usually too sweet for me. I suspect I return to DC 30lbs heavier.

Well that is it for now, hopefully it will not be so long till my next post. Until then, I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

All Setlled In

I drove 4,000 miles to go to Ikea? This thought went through my mind as I picked up the various sundries necessary for the 9 weeks that I will be out here.

That story aside, I've settled into the new apartment and starting to love LA.

Work at the MPA remains enjoyable and looks to be very fulfilling. I also found a gym adjacent to the office.

So with all of this, combined with a reasonably short commute, life is pretty darn good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The City of Angels

We made it!! 4,000 miles and we finally made it. The first leg of the adventure is now complete.

It was a bit of a culture shock to be surrounded by people again (keep in mind few people live in the parts of the coutry that we just drove through), but we managed to adjust pretty quickly.

Since Brian and Jeannie's flight departed early on Monday, we needed to take every advantage of the time in LA we could, it also gave me an opportunity to get all the tourism out of my system.

We took Mulholland Drive over the mountain. This windy road reminded me of a video game with its hairpin turns, and bikers flying past my car and took us to Malibu. After dipping our feet in the Pacific, we turned to an overly crowded Santa Monica Pier.

From here we stopped at Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills and a very overrated Hollywood Blvd.

Following our lightning fast tour of LA, we met up with a high-school friend who took us to a great Cuban restaurant. With food in our stomachs and our driving behind us, we settled in for the night and went to sleep.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Utah Is Huge!!

We returned to Arches for the most magnificent of all the arches, the "Delicate Arch." The hike out to it was relatively arduous. However, we saw lots of parents carrying their young children, which made us realize that if they could do it, so could we. Thank goodness we did because we saw a sight that rivaled pretty much any other of the entire trip.

We then left Arches for Canyon Land. Essentially this is a National Park atop a plateau granting the observer a great view of the areas below. Exciting and picturesque this vantage point allowed us to see for dozens of miles.

Leaving Moab behind we hit the road and arrived at a hotel in Cedar City, UT. We stopped at Costa Vesa, a burrito joint that attempts to rival Chipotle (dont worry Chipotle, you still have my heart). I did, however, appreciate the use of the phrase "Big Kahuna Burrito" reminding me of the "Big Kahuna Burgers" of Pulp Fiction.

After staying up till 11pm to watch the "Victory" ep of Entourage, I'm off to bed and getting ready for Vegas Baby!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Arches Rocks (no pun intended)

After a short drive (today it was only 5 hours) we arrived at Arches National Park.

We grabbed an awesome lunch at this little joint and explored the town a little. It reminded me of Sedona except more EXTREME. Moab (the city next to Arches) is apparently one of the extreme sports capitals of the US.

As we drove through the park we saw some truly amazing sights. We then stopped and walked for several miles. Climbing rocks, leaping across chasms, and getting into the Moab extreme spirit ourselves.

This truly exhausting experience left us craving some food and a shower. At dinner we learned the secrets of Utah crazy laws:

1. No beer with more than 3% Alcohol.
2. No on under 21 can even talk to you about alcohol.
3. Wine is un-altered (not sure why wine is left restricted and beer is not. perhaps beer is more plebeian).
4. You must order food with any alcohol.

So now we get some rest and prepare for a breakfast that Brian has been talking up for over a week.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Driving with Added Mormon Action

Once again today was pretty much reserved for driving.

We saw Old Faithful, which to its credit, was pretty freaking cool to see: totally worth the 15min we waited for its erruption.

Following the explosion we took a drive through the Tetons (picture really impressive snow capped mountain ranges like in Lord of the Rings) finding that part of the drive incredibly picturesque.

Driving past Salt Lake City we saw the lake, and the church, however, we only saw this at 80mph, so not exactly the best views of either, ultimately stopping in Provo, UT.

Tomorrow we hit up Arches National Park, a personal highlight of mine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Snow, In May?

When packing for the west coast, I thought to myself, "what do I need for the summer?" Pants...check, suit...check, swinmtrunks...check. Apparently I forgot one of the most necessary articles of clothing for a summer in LA, an Alaskan certified winter parka.

We awoke this morning to the sight of snow. Thats right flakes of white gold falling from the sky. However, while gold makes you rich, snow makes you ridiculously cold. All day, throughout our trek in Yellowstone National Park it snowed.

Unwilling to let this dramatic weather affect our plans, we plowed forth (see how I used a pun there). Most of the day involved the visitation of various "hot springs." Apparently, Yellowstone is one giant volcano. As such, many of the vents on the mountain heat the earth to over 170degrees creating flowing rivers of sulfuric acid.

For those of you who dont recognize the name "sulfuric acid" its the stuff that you smell when eggs go bad. This led me to believe that Yellowstone must be the smelliest national park in the land.

Once we overcame the noxious odors spweing forth onto this park, we decided that we should get some food to eat (I'm not entirely sure why bad smells and food go together, but they do.

Following lunch (which included an amazing chicken-rice soup that managed to increase our body temperatures to only 10 degrees below normal), we proceeded to see every other hot spring and geiser in the park.

After leaving the park, we stopped off for some really good micro-brewed beer and BBQ. Fun Fact: People in Montana seems to love Tabbouleh (this was the side dish at dinner, and I still can't explain why Tabbouleh of all foods).

Another great day came to a close, and now time to rest up for the next part of our great adventure.

A Little Bit Country

Well I managed to extract a little bit more from Deadwood this morning, probably all that Deadwood has to offer. This entailed walking the entire length of the city (its only 1.5 miles long, so this only took about 45min) stopping in each casino to ascertain who had the greatest breakfast prospects. We ultimately reconciled upon an all-you can eat breakfast buffet.

Following breakfast, we visited the location where Wild Bill was shot, we packed up and said goodbye to Mr. Bullock, Charlie Utter, and the rest of Deadwood.

Hitting the road it took an hour to get to Devil’s Mountain. A sight more impressive than Mt. Rushmore, this tower to the sky showed me a naturally created sight on par with the Grand Canyon (well the Grand Canyon rocked a bit more, but this is a close second). Walking around the base stirred a desire to attempt to scale this great obelisk, but then reality reminded me that I get winded after rock climbing for only 20min let alone the several hours required to attack this tower.

Leaving Devils Tower, a five hour drive to Cody, WI, led us through a 6,000ft altitude change in each direction. Arriving in Cody, we checked into the Cowboy Village. While most hotels provide residents with either two twin beds, or one queen bed, this hotel came equipped with two KING size beds and an LCD tv.

Following check in, a craving for BBQ took over our consciousness. Led by a desire to fulfill these urges, we came upon a Ribs restaurant in Cody. This experience provided us with some of, if not the best ribs of our life.

Now, sitting in our room, and having missed my episode of Heroes, I’m going to go to bed. Tomorrow is Yellowstone, and hopefully, it does not snow (and yes I meant snow).

Making HBO Real

After a night at one of the worst “hotels,” in fact it was less of a hotel and more of a motel in a town with only two “restaurants,” we were ready to begin the next part of our journey.

This started with a trip to the Badlands. Jeanne led the way egging us on to explore further and further into uncharted parts of this land. When she had her fill of exploration and adventure we went back to the car to attack yet another hill. After climbing up several hundred feet in only a couple of miles, we dared to reach the hill’s apex.

We then left behind the Badlands for the great town of Wall. Now let me give some background about the importance of this stop. For the past several hundred miles of the most boring driving country (yes Minnesota I’m looking at you) the only thing that kept us going was the promise of “Walls Drug Store’s” approach.

Well, Wall’s Drug Store was not quite the oasis we expected it to be. But they did in fact have $.05 coffee (take that Starbucks). And the meal we had was pretty decent including something called a Turtle Cake. [On a side note, I do not think that “Gold Digger” means the same thing out here as it does on the east coast.]

Following that we left for Mt. Rushmore. Pretty neat and did make me feel patriotic.

We now are in the town of Deadwood (that’s right just like the TV show)! In fact we are staying at the “Bullock Hotel and Casino” which is home to his ghost. Included in the price of our stay is the opportunity to “toast” Mr. Bullock (well this really is just a buy one get one free for drinks, but hey, he’s not here to drink it).

On the drive over here Jeanne had requested Italian. While it would be a dramatic change from the usual steak and hamburger (that’s right, we are complaining that all we eat is steak, we lead a really hard life), we did not believe that a small town in the Black Hills could provide such amenities. Fortunately we were wrong, and treated ourselves to a great meal that did not involve too much steak (although we had to try the “steak and rice soup”).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nothing But Driving

We left Chicago at 9am this morning, with the understanding that today would be the longest day of driving. Little did we know what exactly a full day of driving would entail...

The drive got off to a good start. And a couple of hours later, we stopped in La Crosse, WI (on the border of WI and MN) population 51,000 (why do I still remember that number?). We went on into a local diner with low expectations, but left filling fulfilled. Between the inexpensive10oz. steak that Jeannie bought, or my eggs and kielbasa it was a great meal. We topped it off with Raspberry Pie Ala mode (holy crap this was a great desert)!!
Jeannie especially liked our waitress, or at least her accent. This is a direct quote, "you are the first WI accent I have ever reminds me of Bobby's World"

At that point, full of food and ready to go, we had only seven more hours of driving.

Somewhere around the middle of MN, I realized that state sucks, or at least the drive across it does. Between dodging mating birs that seemed dead-set upon hitting my car, and the dozens of "Walls Drug Store" ads (just think of South of the Border, except for South Dakota). A laugh was produced when Brian's exclaimed, "That is the biggest Sarcoff I've ever seen" (what the hell a Sarcoff is e did not know, but it was certainly large).

We did get to enjoy crossing both the Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers.

After 800 miles (thats right), equaling twelve hours of driving, we were all ready to go to sleep.

Stay tuned for tomorrows amazing blog, South Daktoa, not as crappy as you think.

Friday, May 18, 2007

450 Miles, and Boy are My Arms Tired

The day started normally enough. Woke up, got some free breakfast at the Holiday Inn (yes I be chillin at the HOLIDAY INN...and inviting all of my friends), and then hit the road. The drive went pretty well, until I decided to get some coffee.

Believe me, coffee will result in many, many bathroom breaks. Ultimately, we took a break from driving to check out the wonderful landscaping of South Bend, IN. This involved meeting up with my aunt and uncle, who took me to my favorite spot in all of South Bend, Pat's Restaurant (since they stop serving lunch at 2:30, I drove like a maniac to make sure we got there on time).

Now for those of you who have not experienced the awesomeness that is Pat's, just imagine a pork chop the size of your head, and second one for only $2 more, talk about a supersize.

Following this lunch, we got a personalized guided tour of Notre Dame. Okay, granted it was led by my aunt and uncle, but hey, they live there!!

After all was said and done, we said goodbye to South Bend, and made our way to Chi-town (Chicago).

After meeting up with a friend from high-school, we went to Millenium Park. Let me just say that sometimes a city spending $50 mil on a sculpture shaped like a giant lima bean is worth it (just check out the picture).

We then were treated by our host to an amazing steak dinner. I then left this group to meet up with my old roomates from Beltsville. Yes, none of us could believe that we once lived there, and all of us were glad that we did.

Now, after gaining an hour driving, it is 1:45AM, and 2:45EST. So I'm going to go to bed and rest up for our 12 hour (thats right, 12 hour) drive tomorrow.

Here is to Red Bull and all its caffeinated glory!!

Steve Bachelor Party Update: we settled upon a date to head to Vegas. I also sent out an email exclaiming that I made reservations at Circus Circus (as a joke which you will soon understand), and promptly received a phone call from my friend who fears clowns (yes these people do exist outside of Animaniacs).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

North Lima??

So it took forever for me to get out of work today. I planned to pick up Brian and Jeannie at 3, but like all the best laid plans of mice and men....something....?

Anyways, we made it out of the city in a decent amount of time rocking out to "hipster music," until I put a stop to that. I busted out the VH1 100 1 Hit Wonders, and soon we replaced angry feminist rock groups with the Macarena (i still can not get this song out of my head), and we never did learn Who Let the Dogs Out.

We stopped for the night in North Lima, OH at a Holiday inn Express (go Government rate! I knew I brought Brian along for a reason). I think I spelled it correctly since how else could you spell Lima? Great local beer BTW...see attached picture, and a damn good spicy chicken sandwich.

Well, next stop is Chicago and our last taste of civilization.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Getting Ready for the Adventure

Well, three days to go before the insanity begins, I felt that I should explain exactly what this blog is all about.

1: Why go to LA?
For the past year I have been struggling to get a job offer to work for the MPAA. About two months ago, the offer finally came in. This job entails working in LA for two-months on anti-piracy.
Unfortunately, two months is a pretty short amount of time to, find a place to stay in LA, find someone to house sit my current apartment, pack, and get the rest of my affairs in order.
Also, as it turns out, my current employer did not want to give me leave to undertake this opportunity. As such, part of the plans for this trip entail me packing up and leaving my current job (and with it the ensuing search for a new job when this summer is over).

2: How to get there?
When I told my friend Brian that I would be taking this job opportunity in LA, he saw this as a great chance to also utilize this trip to see the sights of the country. This turned into a 10 day excursion cross-country with stops in Chicago, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Vegas and several others.

Friday May 18th: South Bend and Chicago, IL
Sunday May 20th: Badlands National Park, Wall, SD, Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood's Bullock Hotel and CasinoMonday May 21: Devil's Tower
Tuesday May 22: Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Falls, Yellowstone
Wednesday May 23: Old Faithful, Tenton National Park
Friday May 25: Arches National Park
Saturday May 26: Vegas Baby, Vegas!!
Sunday May 27: Arrive Los Angeles, CA

3: Why blog about it?
It is true that I hate blogs. Why should I care about another person's quasi-introspective opinions about "why dogs are good," or "how stupid this kid in the cafeteria is"?
However, I am doing this for myself, as a virtual diary. this way, two years from now, I can return to this blog and remember all the neat interesting stuff I learned throughout this summer.

So here I am, 3 days to go. I can now check off "Set up Blog" from my To Do List. So expect to see more blogs throughout the summer.

Note: since I am going to be driving for two weeks, and through some of the most backwards places, I may not be able to get the internet access necessary to update this for a while.

Check back soon, and away we go!!