Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last day of vacation........

Big ol' King Kong on Universal Studios Citywalk area!

That was taken after the wave crashed right on my rear!

Piggin' out for our last dinner in LA - so tasty!

Dennis enjoying having his toes in the sand............

Jumping for joy in Manhatten Beach - YAY!!!!haha

Beautiful entrance to Universal Studios in Hollywood....

What a busy day we had for our last day here! We got to do the "IFly" experience at Universal Studios this morning and it was pretty awesome. Big plastic room with a wire floor + giant fans = FUN! They gave you instructions on how to do the belly fly and the instructor is with you to help guide you. We were supposed to get photos in Dennis' email but haven't gotten them yet! After that, we checked out of our hotel and drove the BMW back to the rental company early. We were afraid to temp fate by driving in traffic any more than necessary and we returned it without a scratch! Even with insurance, you had a $5,000.00 deductable!!!!! Yes, that's 3 zeros after that 5. Then we got the shuttle to our last hotel and got here about 2:30. The hotel had a shuttle to Manhatten Beach - YAY - and that was a really neat, unplanned surprise. We had a great dinner then walked the beach. I got my shorts totally wet when a big wave hit me and had to buy new shorts and underwear!! It looked like Lee Ann was REALLY excited to go to the beach for a while there! haha Now I gotta' get some sleep. Our flight leaves at 7:40am! WV here we come!

Great day in LA.....finally!

Hey, I'm on the red carpet!!!!

Us in front of the Universal Studios logo!

Pink's Chili Dogs - dinner at a famous restaurant and very yummy!

Dennis checks out the skateboard selection at Venice Beach...

The famous Venice Beach skatepark!

The Venice Beach boardwalk. You can get pizza and foot massage in the same store!

We parked beside a Lexus and a Mercedes. Lots of high dollar cars in LA!

After the nightmare of yesterday evening, I thought I would never go back on the streets of LA. In fact, I would say if I died and went to hell, Satan would make my eternal punishment driving in Los Angeles. Well, the traffic was no better today but I guess like those that live here, you resign yourself to the fact that you're just gonna' sit and wait...ALOT. Dennis began his day at 4:30am (!) while I stayed in bed and covered my head with pillows and slept. He had mapped out a driving plan to see the local areas like Hollywood, Melrose, and Venice Beach. Parking at Venice Beach was 9 dollars but I said our car would at least be safe from the vagrants for a few hours. He was happy to see the skatepark there that all his old skateboarding hero's skated back in the 80's and I got to shop. Bonus! Lots of street vendors lined up and even several "medical professionals" selling "medicinal mijuana". Yeahhhh, riiiiiight.........After Venice Beach we made our way back to the hotel and rested a bit then went to Hollywood Studios Universal Citywalk. More shopping! I got a Hard Rock Hollywood shirt, postcards, and cheese popcorn, and, oh yeah, some Starbucks blueberry muffins for our breakfast. It was a really cool place with lots of music, people and things to see. We go back there tomorrow for our "IFly Experience" where you float in a big windtunnel! I am somewhat concerned about my cheeks flapping in the high wind but what can you do about that? haha We were especially happy that the BMW made it back unscathed. Not that there wasnt' ample opportunity for that to happen! Still haven't seen anyone famous yet. Did see someone dressed up like a big shrimp in front of the Bubba Gump's Shrimp restaurant and that was cute.........One more day to fool around LA and then it's back to good ol' WV!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The road goes on forever and the party never ends...

Walking down the street in Morro Bay. Nice little town!

The BMW Z4 that Dennis wanted to drive. It's very pretty..................

Dennis and his hero, Jack Smith with Jack's wife in the background...

One of the prettier sights we saw heading back to the hotel.........

This was actually light traffic compared to some of what we experienced!

Man, what a day we've had! Left Carmel and headed for the lovely city of Los Angeles, which I had the feeling there could be problems. The drive was going to be a long one so we headed of at 8:00am. Dennis wanted to stop by Morro Bay and see Jack Smith, famous old skateboarder he friended on FaceBook and that was a good visit. Dennis was excited to meet him and see his house on the bay and he even got to ride one of his boards down the sidewalk. We had the most delicious fish and chips for lunch and continued on our way to LA. We drove and drove and drove some more. Garmin is my new best friend. I will probably sit up in bed in my sleep and start reciting directions tonight. I have spent hours doing that during this trip which is OK but it's still a challenge and you can't just sit and relax and enjoy the drive. I can find anything on the Garmin system you throw at me now! SO .....We find the hotel Sheraton by Universal Studios and race in to drop off our luggage, run back to the car to drop it off by 5pm at Hertz. I looked on Garmin and got the return location. Took it and dropped it off, thinking life was great. We had to pick up our next rental at 7pm. Went to get a cab and off we went. We kept driving and driving and the cab driver was old and from India, I think. The ride was approaching one hour and we were sweating the cost and the fact there was no AC! One hour and 85 dollars later we finally got to the rental place at exactly 7!!! We couldn't figure out why we went so far! I am usually better at planning than that! Turns out, we had returned our car to the wrong airport, not LAX!! The rental companies were both at LAX!!! I could have died. Anyway, I was so tired from being in the gridlocked traffic for hours on end, I didn't care and my brain went on autopilot. We got the BMW and Dennis was happy so off we went again. We got back to the hotel at 8pm. That was about 10 hours of driving today. The traffic in LA is a nightmare but we expected it. Now I am really looking forward to getting some sleep! Hopefully, tomorrow will go a bit more smoothly!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mariposa to San Jose to Carmel!

Dennis outside the fruit drying room at Winchester.

The beautiful front view of Winchester House.

We passed acres and acres of pistachio groves!

Dennis finally got a good picture of the roadrunner that was by our house rental.

Wow! What a day we've had! Busy, busy but really great all the same! We left our house on Indian Peak at about 8:30am and headed to the nearest car wash. Yes, car wash. Driving that black car on that dirt road had it looking awful and Dennis couldn't stand it. There was a man there from Australia (!) and he said he wanted to see how our car made it through it before he took his. It was an automatic car wash and it did fine. No more dirt ball vehicle. Yay. We headed for San Jose to see the Winchester House. The temperature in Mariposa was headed into the 100's so we left just in time. San Jose wasn't much better, the 90's. The house was fabulous, of course, with a tour that took about 1.5 miles to walk and you saw about 150 rooms. No kidding. Sarah Winchester was nuts but very creative! There was a gift shop and little things to do, a snack shop,etc. which we made good use of. A coke, however, was about 6.00 ! But you got unlimited refills! We left San Jose and headed to the coast to Carmel. LOTS of bumper to bumper traffic but we put the radio on easy listening to help us stay calm. haha We checked into our lovely hotel after much driving in this crazy, twisty town. It looks like it was built by gnomes and is very, very hilly everywhere! Lots of expensive cars and shops! Reminds me alot of Venice. We ate at an Italian restaurant and Dennis has passed out in a chicken pizza delirium beside me on the bed. Long day and long one tomorrow to get to Los Angeles!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hangin' out in Mariposa!

After yesterday's insanity, we thought we would scale things back a notch today! I had sorta' invisioned gold panning today but then reconsidered when I saw the temp's were going to be a little hot today. I could just see some old, beardy guy having a captive audience (US!) and keeping us swishing in some creek for 6 hours then demanding we hand over the two flakes of gold we might have found - so that idea went south. Instead, we headed to the old gold mining town of Mariposa and shopped the little stores in the downtown area. What fun! I found Dennis' anniversary gift for me - he is so good to me (and has such excellent taste!) haha It was a large turquoise and sterling silver ring created by a Native American from AZ that was a bit pricey, but so worth it! Lovely! Then we went on to an antique store and a clothing store. I almost purchased 2 shirts but Dennis suggested I try them on first. Good thing too. One had a neckline that hit my ankles - OUT! - and the second one had stiching over the left side of the chest with that white, stiff stuff underneath. You know, the stuff they back the stiching with. When I put it on, my left boob looked like a it was shaped like a square. Not a good look on me, maybe somebody else. OUT! So that was fun. Then we headed to the Mariposa Museum to see the beginnings of the mining town and they had all kinds of cool stuff- even a pump organ like Dad's! All along route 49 are these old mining towns with some shady histories of murdering thieves and people who struck it rich. And some who were probably both! We had lunch then headed back to the house for a dip in the pool and some R and R. Dennis decided to hike some of the property which is really steep! I said "have a great time, see you later! Take the cell phone and in case a mountain lion shows up, look big and scream at it. They usually run away...usually. Have a good time!" I layed in the hammock and read about the mining town histories. He finally came back and had a big cow skull hanging off the back of his backpack. He said he'd found the skeleton and it looked like something had been chewing on it. Nice.... The skull was pretty cool though, and we'll have to see if we get it home in the luggage without setting off any alarms. Tomorrow we will be headed on to the Winchester House tour and a stay in Carmel. Back to the cool coast for us!!!