After leaving Las Vegas, I wanted to sleep. I took up residence in the backseat of Adri's rental car for the drive to the LA Basin. A couple stops, including a few hours at the Calico Mine in the middle of nowhere for some tourist fun and lunch, we made it into Rancho Cucamonga, where I was staying. I picked up my rental car (free from Avis.. thank you!), and found my hotel and crashed for a couple hours.
Plans were made for dinner, and I was heading to the Hollywood hills to meet up with Adri, Lusya, Dragona, and Razi. All former Amherst, MA, residents (which included Mo and Katya). And half of them are literally rocket scientists working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena. So yeah, genius abounds.
Well, the first thing I noticed about LA is that I need to pay more attention to the scale on the maps there. Even the online maps are deceptive. It make sit look like Ontario is a near suburb of LA.. It's not. It's an hour away with no traffic. Oh well, lessen learned. And then you add in legendary traffic.. its fun to get around.
Reunited with Adri and Lusya, we took off to the Griffith Park Observatory. It's a famous place, and you've most likely seen it movies (like pretty much everything else in LA). It was a clear (for LA) night and you could see a great view of the city before you. They also had telescopes set up to gaze at various celestial bodies on a gorgeous night. It was quite a nice experience.
After Griffith, we headed for dinner at the Mess Hall. Interesting trivia, the restaurant is in the building where the cobb salad was invented. Dinner was fun, and was good to be reacquainted with some friends from back east (for some reason that makes me laugh). After dinner, we headed to Hollywood to stroll down the walk of fame and just generally meander about. Last time I was on Hollywood Blvd I was 13 years old and i remember it being seedier. Times change I suppose.
|It's true, I do prefer blonds :-)|
Saturday came and found out the girls were all doing wedding related stuff (which some how included shopping on Rodeo Dr). I had no desire to be dragged about, so I decided to take a scenic drive. The only problem with my plan, I soon discovered, was the scenic drive was across the top of the San Gabriel mountains and winded through the passes and peaks... where there was over a foot of snow. Luckily it hadn't snowed very recently and the ambient temp was well above freezing so the roads were in good shape. And crowded. I never thought of being able to go snow skiing in LA county, but it can happen. And people were out in force with sleds, snowboards, and skis.
The drive was great though. The scenery was beautiful, and once you got past the main snow ski areas, the roads were pretty empty. The speed limit was 55, but I can't see how you could manage that without going over the edge.
|Playing in the snow in the morning|
After cruising the San Gabriels, I thought it'd be nice to the see ocean. Off to Malibu and a cruise up the PCH. One of my vacation plans is to drive the PCH from San Diego to Seattle... or close to. I think it would be a fun road trip, spread out over a week or so at least. Well, to get to the coast, I ended up on the 101 and had to cross the Santa Monica mountains. The best route looked to be the Topanga Canyon Blvd. And again, back to taking pictures while driving on curvy roads. And again, a motorcycle would have rocked here.
|View from the Barefoot Bar at Duke's Malibu|
On the way to Pasadena, a quick stop at Dume Point just to say I made it to the beach while in SoCal. And back through Decker Canyon. There are no pictures while driving this one. I didn't feel i could manage it safely. That should tell you just how windy and potentially treacherous this narrow road is.
|Afternoon walk in the sand|
After a drive by of Venice beach (dark and quiet by this hour), we headed back to our respective lodgings. but first I stopped for a Double Double, Animal Style, from In N Out. I have to get one of those whenever I'm out west. They're so horribly bad for you, but so delicious!
The next day was the wedding day. The first wedding I've been to that was trilingual (Colombia, Russian, and English). As with every wedding, there seemed to be a rush of last minute panic and decorating and organizing and planning that somehow got left out prior to an hour before the ceremony. Hence, I'm putting out centerpieces and volunteered to hand out programs (which came in the three aforementioned languages.) The ceremony went well, and was a non traditional experience (from an American standard perspective) that included traditions from both countries of the bride and groom. So a non-traditionally traditional affair.
After the ceremony, toasts were given (some requiring translators) and dinner was served. The first dance of the Mo and Katya was impressive. They salsa'd about the dance floor like professionals. Afterward, the party kicked off. Masks, beads, glow sticks, noise makers, and other various party paraphernalia appeared and the DJ kicked up the tempo. It was quite an affair.
I'd like to thank M and K for allowing (or demanding) me to come. It was great to share in their celebration after knowing them for what doesn't seem like that long. I could tell a story about the first time I met them, but I'll refrain to save the embarrassment. Adri and Lusya were great pals for the fun in Vegas and LA. And always good to see the rocket scientists and get shown around form a local's perspective.
After the wedding, it was a quick nap, then Adri and Lusya were off to Vegas to fly out and I had a 4:45 AM flight back to Louisville. It was a great LONG weekend with great friends and making new friends (who happen to be up for showing me aorudn their home towns when I make there... )!!