Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Days Ten & Eleven: Homeward Bound

Well, I'm am currently on a plane:( Heading into Dallas, our layover for the trip home. Boo.
While we don't want to leave sunny San Diego, we know it is time to come home. We are exhausted and missing our doggies (oh, and friends and family too!). We thought about having them FedEx-ed to us, but that just wouldn't work out logically or legally.
Our last few days here have been so fun and relaxing. We hear it's just about 70 degrees, sunny and low humidity year round. When I think about the upcoming Georgia summer, I am envious. So, let's catch up shall we? Let's see, on my last post I told you it was a gloomy cloudy day in San Diego. We drove around for a bit and checked out Coronado Island. It was gorgeous even on a gloomy day. We walked on the (cold) beach for a while and saw the famous Hotel del Coronado in the distance. I hear this island is where the Wizard of Oz was written, with the Hotel being the inspiration for Oz. I can see why, that place looks amazing.

So, after freezing our feet off, we got back in the car and headed to Old Town and grabbed some lunch at the Casa Guadalajara. Another suggestion from the awesome Katie B. Probably the BEST Mexican food I've ever eaten. It's a close tie between that and Los Hermanos back in Tucker. I got a chicken chimichanga and they basically had to roll me outta there. Mmmmm. Sooo good. The best part, though, was the conversation at the table behind me. One of the guys (who was Mexican) was trying to describe every show that's on television to his friends in broken Spanglish. Hilarious!!! Imagine a Cheech and Chong accent saying: "Yeah, you know that show Lie to Me? It's like this guy, and he can tell when you're lyyying." Or, describing Heroes, "I like it when they use their super powers, but other than dat, ees really confusing." My favorite was his take on Lost: "At de first episode, there was dees plane crash, and everybody leeved. I mean, c'mon...eets a Plane crash!!! Dats when I stopped watching". This guys should have his own show.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel. Went and bought Ben a shirt for our photo shoot, then got some tasty tasty Margaritas. The town seemed like a ghost town compared to the night before! Seems spring break was over, or everyone was too hungover to come back out. Here's a few pics from our jaunt around town.

Came back and made an early night of it. And, while on a trip to get ice from a few floors down, I slipped on the marble stairs and totally busted my you-know-what! I have bad luck with stairs lately and after my fall back in January in which I really bruised my tailbone, I instictivley turned slightly and let the cheek take the blunt force:) Ouch. Now it is completely black and blue, but at least I can still walk.
Our early night turned into a late late morning. I think we woke up around noon or so. That hotel bed was so comfy. Wandered down to Richard Walker's pancake house and had an incredible breakfast. Then we headed over to Mission Beach to catch a few rays. First we had to check out the roller coaster at the park there. We were the only one's on it so we got the front row. It was old and a little rickety, but fun nonetheless. Walked down the beach afterwards and watched some surfers trying to catch waves...none were successful. So we wandered back to the boardwalk and stopped into an outdoor bar to watch some more surfers trying to catch fake waves on a wave simulator. Pretty cool. After getting a little sun, we headed back to the hotel to wash up for our "end of the trip" photoshoot!!!

When we were planning this trip, I thought it would be a cool idea to hire a local San Diego photographer to take some portraits of us on the beach. Sort of an anniversary present to ourselves:) I found Kim Seidl online and her work was just awesome. And when we met her, we found out she is just an awesome person as well! She came and picked us up at the hotel (door to door service!) and drove us up to La Jolla (which I embarrassingly found out is pronounced La Hoya). This place is incredible. We caught it right at 6pm, when the sun was setting. Beautiful.
It was really strange being on the other side of the lens, But Kim made us comfortable and I'm sure we got some great pics. I should be receiving those soon!

I'm so sad to be leaving, but we are ready to be home. This was absolutely the trip of a lifetime and we throughly enjoyed every moment. If you are thinking of an adventure to take and have a week or more to do so, I highly recommend doing this. Here's some highlights, recommendations and things we would have done differently.

Where we stayed:

Seattle- Hotel Max (great!)
San Francisco- Parc 55 (good, but watch the extra fees they add on!)
Big Sur- Big Sur Cabins and Campground (quiet and relaxing, not very scenic though)
Ragged Point Lodge (amazing in every way)
LA/Santa Monica: Sheraton (rip off!)
Ocean View Inn (our room had no view, and was a little smelly)
San Diego: Gaslamp Plaza Suites (great location and sooo comfortable)

Our favorites:

Hotel: Hotel Max (I'm a little biased because it's totally a photographer's dream hotel)
Big City: Close tie between Seattle and San Francisco
Area: Big Sur Coast for sure!!! This was our favorite part of the trip hands down.
Restaurant: Casa Guadalajara (Old Town San Diego)
Airline: Our Virgin Atlantic trip from Seattle to SF (US and American were awful)

Things we wish we had known:
-Almost all hotels in big cities have valet only parking. Some are reasonable, some are ridiculous! We paid between $20 and $44 (SF) a night to park our car! It adds up quickly.
-How cold California can be! When you imagine the Pacific Coast, you don't really think it ever gets cold. We packed 3 times as much summer clothes as we did fall clothes. Got a little stinky wearing the same long sleeves and jackets over and over! We didn't even wear our bathing suits once!
-How expensive food would be. When planning out our budget we thought we would have plenty. And we even skipped a few meals and ate at Denny's a few times (which is even way more expensive than back home). We totally went over budget, but it's ok.

Things we might have done differently:

-Booked direct flights!!!! Even though it cost a little more to fly Delta, I would love to have gone back and just bitten the bullet with it. Changing planes is a pain in my bruised butt!!

-While there's really not much else we would have changed, I think we would have taken the 2 days we spent in LA and driven to either Las Vegas or Joshua Tree. Although we would have missed going to my crazy show and missed seeing my old high school buds which was so fun. I think a drive through the desert would have been an awesome photo adventure and a great time. Maybe next trip.

The Best Thing:

The best thing about our trip is how it brought us closer. I think sometimes a relationship needs a little something to give it a boost, and it totally did. It's been 2 years, and a lifetime to go. I'm so happy I get to call my best friend my "husband". :)

Til next time! Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Days Eight & Nine: LA to San Diego

Oy. Where to begin! It's been a crazy couple of days and I haven't really had the chance to blog. After our night at the Sherton, we packed it up and moved down the street to the Ocean View Inn which was way less ritzy, but a much better deal. And, it was right across from the pier which was an awesome location. I had just enough time once we checked in to head on out to go see Chelsea Lately! It just so happens that our hotel was only 2 miles from the studio where they shoot the show! I was so glad I didn't have to drive into downtown LA. I ended up going to the show by myself because Ben wasn't feeling well and wanted to rest. It turns out, that was the best thing because it's the only reason I got in!!! When I got there, there was already a huge line...but I figured since I had my ticket it wouldn't be a problem. Well, turns out it's only a standby deal, where it's more of a first come first serve basis. I got to the end of the line and found out I was #37 in line of standby only. The guard said there was slim to none chance of me getting in. But one by one, they cut off the line in front saying none gets in after this point. Well, I just stuck around to see and waited til the last minute. It was so crazy! With 3 minutes til showtime, there were 8 people in front of me. The guard came out and said they could let in 4 people. Well, 5 of the girls were together and didn't want to split up, so it was a group of 3 and ME!!! They shuffled us in and I got the last available seat in the very back row. But, I was so excited to be there. The show kicked off and here's the thing about what you see on tv. There is a guy that gets the audience to do whatever he wants them to do. The whole show was very coached by this guy and he told you when to laugh, when to say "ooooh" and "ahhh" and when to clap. It's actually a good idea because you can't really hear the people because it's not amplified.
It was really cool seeing the show. AND! At the very end the guard in front pointed to me and told me to come down and sit in the front row! ME! Some one sitting there had left and they needed to fill the seat! Being by yourself can work in your favor sometimes! And at the end of the show, Chuy (the little nugget) came by and I gave him a big hug! It was so much fun:) Of course I wasn't able to bring my camera or even my cell phone but on the way out, I came back and snapped this photo of Chuy's car, right before I got kicked off the lot for doing so!

I figured it was his car since the license plate says L NUGGET. Haha!

So, I headed back to the hotel. When I got back, Ben and I decided to walk down to the pier to check it out. It was so cool. This is the famous pier that's in alot of movies. We didn't really have enough time to ride any of the rides but it was cool to walk around. I was actually taking a picture of one of the rides, and realized there was an actor sitting on it! I couldn't remember his name, but he's been in a ton of stuff! When I got back, I googled him and his name is Alan Tudyk.

Here are some more pics on the Pier...

After our Pier adventure, we went over to meet up with Billy and Chelsey. They live in Marina del Rey, a short drive from Santa Monica. I was so excited that Ryan and Eric, also from Shiloh High, came out with us! It was so much fun. They took us to an awesome sushi restaurant named Kava down the street from their house.
Billy showing off his new "tats"Sake!!!
Billy and Chelsey

Me, Ryan and Eric

Woke up yesterday and hit the road. As cool as Santa Monica was, we really weren't feeling the whole LA vibe. So, we headed on down the road. But, first, I had to get my shot of the sign. Not such a great shot, but it'll do!
We pulled into San Diego around 8 and just grabbed this shot. Thought it was cool.

Our hotel is awesome, the Gaslamp Plaza Suites. Right in the middle of everything! We went to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery (ok food), then hit a few pubs on the way back. It turns out it's spring break here and the town is packed! We actually slept til 11:30 today! And it was much needed. It's really cold and cloudy today so we just drove around a bit today..I'll post those pics tomorrow!! We have one more full day (with a photo shoot of us tomorrow by the awesome Kim Seidl!) then we are headed home:(. It's a little depressing, but it'll be ok. Ok, gotta go live it up on our last few days!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day Seven: Let's buy a map.

Today was probably our least favorite day so far. It's hard to follow yesterday though. We decided to go ahead and drive all the way to LA today. We didn't have a hotel booked and didn't really know where we were going, so we just started down the PCH. Today's post is nothing but scenery:)
Here's our last view of the place we stayed.

And another along the way...
Got to an Elephant Seal beach around San Simeon..pretty cool, but really windy!

I gotta say, I have a love-hate relationship with my GPS. When it's good, it's all love, but when it gets us lost (which it has many times) I'm screaming at it like it is a real lady trying to mess with me. Today was one of those days. Eventually, we pulled over and bought a real map. Which helped a little. All in all, we can't complain. It was a gorgeous day.
We ate lunch in Santa Barbara at a Pizza joint named Taffy's and met the owner, Greg.
He and his wife were so awesome and helped us navigate around the area and gave us some awesome suggestions. Everyone here is so laid back and nice. It's refreshing.
So, we headed down the coast during rush hour toward LA. Even though they said it would be awful, it really wasn't that bad. We are from Atlanta after all...we know traffic.
We finally got to Malibu right as the sun was setting. Beautiful.

I was a little flustered pulling into Santa Monica with no reservations anywhere. The first place we wanted to stay was booked up, so we booked the first thing we could find. Ended up at the Sheraton (which we now find is a rip off!). After all the driving, we were too pooped to do anything. Just hanging out in the room and relaxing. We still have 3 and a half days to go! Gotta rest up!

We are really excited about San Diego and will probably be heading down there tomorrow night or Saturday. My friend from high school, Billy, lives in Huntington Beach and we are supposed to meet up for dinner:) Haven't seen him in 10 years and am really excited to see him and meet his girlfriend. We are also going to see Chelsea Lately at 2 tomorrow...turns out, it is only 2 miles from out hotel!! Woo hoo! I also want to go check out the Santa Monica Pier and ride the roller coaster! Ok, nighty night. Hope to post more pics and fun tomorrow.

Day Six: Best Day Ever

Yesterday was quite possibly the best day ever. We rolled out of bed around 9 and headed down the coast. We probably traveled a total of 30 miles, but it took about 6 hours. We stopped almost every 5 minutes. The scenery will not allow you to travel any faster...it beckons to you. "Brenda, you must take my picture...you will admire me..."

So, we did. We got a little crazy with the poses since we were tired of the same smiley pics...so we got to jumping and it was hilarious.

We stopped for lunch in Lucia and ate amazing food with an amazing view. After lunch, we stopped at a beautiful spot to just sit and stare. Then all the sudden a seagull appeared. We decided to feed it the rest of our french fries. Then all of his friends showed up. We headed down the road and spotted this human sized birds nest that is at a resort. It was really cool.

Headed down a little bit further and stopped at Ragged Point. Once we pulled in, we knew we had to stay here. Room with a view, wifi and tv (because we are nerds and had to watch Lost!). Here we are at dinner...just check out this crazy beautiful sunset. I ask again, are we dreaming?