Posts Tagged ‘beach’

los angeles: part 3

September 4, 2008

Frozen Banana @ Venice Beach

Venice Beach is photo heaven. There is every walk of life there, so much going on, and so much to do. Wanna play paddle tennis? Buy Jamaican Obama shirts? Eat chocolate dipped frozen bananas topped with almonds? How about go to a freak show? Or do you want to listen to one of the many demo CD’s being handed out by aspiring rappers? Oh, I see, you just want to go to the beach, well you can do that too. Well, I only did one of those (the banana, from Charley Temmel Ice Cream), and I also had Argentinean Empanadas. I regret not getting the corn filled one, so I guess I’ll just have to move here so I can try it. I kid. Of all the beaches, this is easily the best landscaping, with palm trees perfectly placed on small hills, and the exercise lanes curved just so.

@ Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is situated near Mount Hollywood, and provides what is arguably the best view of the city, both day and night. Of course, being the city of smog, it’s probably best to wait until after some rain (good luck with that). When I got there, I saw a somewhat prominent man, who I could easily have mistaken for just a regular guy, except he had someone following his every step with an umbrella to shield him from the sun. It was none other than Ken Watanabe, of “The Last Samurai” fame. He was strolling the grounds, taking photos with a brand new as yet unreleased Canon 50D. I thought to myself, ah yes, being the man of influence that he is in Japan, he has the luxury to get items ahead of time like this (like John Mayer and his Blackberry Bold), and must be an avid photographer, since he has all these assistant photographers with him as well. It was only later that I realized he was there for a Canon print ad photo shoot, and that he was a celebrity spokesperson for Canon (particularly their 30/40/50D line). The other photographers were pros taking photos that probably looked like this:

Afterwards, I watched a show at the planetarium, which was a million times better than the one I watched in Houston. It was called “Centered in the Universe,” and the narrator had a perfect voice for the part, and the swelling music got me very emotional. Music always gets me, especially in movies. The scene doesn’t even have to be sad, and I’ll start tearing up inside. As was the case with this show talking about the stars, galaxies, and the universe. Not a sad topic at all, but I guess I just started thinking about how insignificant we really are, in terms of space, as well as time. We are just a species, living in a world, that’s part of a solar system, that’s part of a galaxy, that’s part of a galaxy cluster, that’s part of a universe, during a point in time, where the universe is still expanding from the big bang. What is the meaning, and purpose of it all? I wish we lived in a time where we could even begin to answer that, maybe with other beings with the same questions… I was also able to see Jupiter through one of the huge telescopes they had set up.

Cambodia Town @ Long Beach

I also took a trip down to Long Beach. This is essentially a whole other city in itself. They were filming an episode of CSI Miami on the beach (ironic), not far from the area that’s sectioned off for parasurfers (which looks insanely fun). The atmosphere was very chill, and this was to be expected, as I went on a weekday. I would love to compare all the beaches on equal ground, both weekends and on weekdays, but that will be a project for another time. Not far inland is a mile long strip dubbed Cambodia Town, filled with local businesses run by, and for Cambodian Americans. I asked the cashier at a grocery store for a suggested place to eat, and was directed to Sophy’s Thai & Cambodian Cuisine. I ordered, the Khmer Ginger Deluxe, which was pretty good. As I walked out, I noticed the obligatory celebrity in restaurant photo, and this time it was Matt Damon.

Cromwell Field @ USC

My latest destination was the University of Southern California (yes, the very same enemies of the 2006 National Championship Rose Bowl). I was actually accepted to this school for my undergraduate studies, but ultimately decided against going because of the cost. I slightly regret this, as I have fallen in love with the campus (as well as UCLA’s). It’s just that the campus of my alma matter (Texas Fight!) leaves much to be desired, meaning, it’s not in any way pretty. Never have I seen so many students riding around in beach cruiser bicycles, and skateboards. Even girls in their sandals and dresses were skateboarding. Oh, and they were filming an episode of Eli Stone on campus. I witnessed three major productions in a matter of 24 hours, whereas, I saw two in Austin, after 7 years of living there. L.A. is the entertainment industry, and I love it.

Interesting food I tried: Pizza with Anchovies. I hear about it all the time, as the grossest possible topping, and I never see it as an option. Well, I finally tried it. It was salty.

Places I still want to try: Pink’s, Pinkberry, & Pink Taco


los angeles: part 2

September 1, 2008

I was originally going to put all of the second half of my Los Angeles stay into one post. But I decided that I was going to forget a lot of things (and I think I already have) if I didn’t start posting now.

Central Garden @ The Getty Museum

Getty Museum
This relatively modern museum was filled with great scenery and architecture, but had mediocre exhibits. There were multiple viewpoints that gave a majestic view of the Los Angeles skyline, elaborately designed gardens and streams, and the epitome of modern architecture design. There was one exhibit that fascinated my however, which was “Bernini and the birth of Baroque portrait sculpture.” I never really gave much thought to chiseled statues and busts, until I really examined them up close. It’s really quite amazing how much detail and polish there is in each one of these creations, all from a slab of marble and stone. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of work and pre-visualization needed for this.

Terrible Wax Figures

I parked my car in the Universal City Metro station, and took the Red Line subway to Hollywood & Highland. I love taking subways and public transportation (in the daytime at least, when you aren’t always looking over your shoulder hoping you don’t get mugged), and I especially love the rush of wind you feel in the tunnel about a minute before the subway train arrives. Right at the stop was a big shopping area, which connects into the Kodak Theater. I was in the plaza and somehow ended up being part of a small crowd being filmed for the show “Ten Years Younger” which airs on TLC. Maybe if you watch an episode, you’ll see me in the crowd that’s cheering on some lady who’s supposed to look ten years younger than before her makeover. Right next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater is a lot of construction, and apparently they are building a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. I decided I would have to settle for the Hollywood Wax Museum, which was a sorry excuse for a wax museum. You know there’s a problem when you see a figure, and can’t recognize the actor/character. I mean, just look at the above photo of Jackie Chan. I also went across the street to the Hollywood Guiness Museum, which had a bunch of random facts and memorabilia related to the Guiness Book of World Records. I tried to get into the audience for the Jimmy Kimmel show being filmed at the El Capitan theater, but since I only had a standby ticket, I missed the cut by three people. I ended up finishing the day watching some great improv groups at the iO West Theater (Improv Olympics). The best group was easily King Ten. I laughed so hard I had tears and my stomach hurt. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.

@ Solstice Canyon

Malibu and Santa Monica
I am not sure when the last time I went hiking was, but it was long enough that I don’t remember. Nick and I decided to go to Solstice Canyon over in Malibu to hike on something called the Rising Sun Trail. It was about 1.5 miles each way, on a dirt path, and a lot of fun. It certainly was rising most of the way, and the sun was certainly beating down on us the whole way. At the end of the trail was a little area with the ruins of a burned down house, and a small waterfall. Nick stayed at the bottom of the waterfall and started whittling away on a piece of wood we cut from a tree, while I decided to explore the terrain leading up the waterfall. This was very exhilarating and liberating, to have to stand in a certain area for a few minutes, analyze the terrain, and see how I should climb up. Then I had to muster up the courage to overcome whatever obstacle there was, and then tackle the very next section. Each section of the waterfall had little pools, so it was nice to rest before I moved on. The higher I got, the harder the terrain was to traverse. I loved this experience, it was a test of both logic and physical fitness. After our hiking trip, we tried to high tail it over to Santa Monica to rent bikes, but we were too late. We explored the 3rd Street Promenade there instead, which was basically a large shopping strip filled with tourists and street performers. It was a pretty nice atmosphere, and I’m pretty sure I want to live in the Santa Monica area or the South Bay area if I move to Los Angeles. Which leads me to…

@ Hermosa Beach

South Bay Beaches and Little Tokyo
This was an awesome day. Nick and I went to Manhattan Beach to rent bikes, and rode to Hermosa Beach, then Redondo Beach, and all the way back. It was about 3 miles each way. We took The Strand all the way while marveling at the amazing beachfront properties. There were only two bikes left at the rental place, so I was stuck with a hot pink mountain bike, which actually wasn’t so bad, being in California and all the loud colors everywhere. At Hermosa Beach, there was a music festival, and the streets were filled with arts, crafts, music, and photography booths. There was also a David Bowie cover band playing called “Space Oddity.” All the photography booths really made me feel inadequate in my skill, but also gave me more motivation to improve. I came across this really cool photographer named Robert Kawika Sheer who specializes in long exposure photographs with creative “spirit” shadows. The next stop was Redondo, which had marinas, beaches, and fishing piers. This place had the most tourists out of the three, and was filled with seafood restaurants and fishing enthusiasts. We wanted to try some strawberry topped funnel cakes and ice cream, but didn’t have the time to, because we needed to return the bikes at 6:45. We ended up eating ice cream at Manhattan Beach anyway, at a creamery right next to the bike rental shop. I had a scoop of Dulce de Leche, which was delicious. The day ended in Little Tokyo, which was… very little. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than a little part of Tokyo was put in Downtown L.A. :-P There were hipster style clothing stores, japanese import stores, and of course, sushi. We ate at Tenno Sushi, which I would rate as normal. Their tempura rolls were good.

Other Places I Ate: Mel’s Drive-In, Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, Carl’s Jr., Jamba Juice, Del Taco

I know, my travel blog has started to become just a recount of my activities, and has largely been devoid of personal insight and inspiration. I’ll have to work a little harder in the future in that department.

san diego

August 23, 2008

@ Festival of Sail

San Diego is certainly a pleasant place to be. Although being the place that’s infamous for year round 72º F weather, it was a little hotter than I expected. I stayed with Jim and Reta, who are family friends from back when I lived in Saudi. I call them “Uncle” Jim and “Auntie” Reta though, even though they are of no relation to me. They are completely vegetarian, so I was able to eat everything from mock duck to veggie wraps to hummus sandwiches. It’s not as bad as it seems, although I don’t think I could live my whole life as a vegetarian. Thursday, I met up with Keiwing, a friend from Texas who’s currently in the Navy and stationed in San Diego. We met up at the Festival of Sail by the San Diego Bay, which is a procession of 20 or so tall ships from all around the world, you know, the old kinds with the sails and the masts. We only went on one ship, and the inside seemed to be renovated with modern tiles, so I didn’t really get to see what an old ship would look like inside. Later, Keiwing gave me a tour of his Navy ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, which is a LHD 6. Although not an aircraft carrier, the ship was still huge, and I could easily get lost in it. Dinner was at L&L Hawaiian BBQ, which was quite good in my opinion. We capped off the day going to the beach at Coronado. It was very calm, very relaxing, and there was a bunch of kids and adults decked out in their karate uniforms practicing their moves in the sand and the water. It was a pretty cool scene, especially with the sun setting in the background.

Hot Air Balloon @ Wild Animal Park

The next day, I met up with Keiwing again, and we went to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, which is a separate branch fro the famous zoo, and focuses more on a Safari-like experience. They had everything there from photo caravans, to hot air balloon rides. We just took the regular tram around. I think my favorite part was seeing the gorillas. I know I’ve seen them before, but it’s been a long time, and they’re not like what I remember. It’s probably because of all the movies and television I see that brainwash me to believe they’re very primitive, but gorillas are incredibly human-like. They’re movements are so smooth and… how do I say… normal? It’s almost as if they were just humans inside gorilla suits. There were two gorillas playing around, and slapping each other with towels, it was just like a scene from the locker room. Dinner was at Bucca di Beppo, which is labeled as an “Immigrant Italian Restaurant,” whatever that means. That’s just the beginning of the weirdness. When walking in, we were given a tour of the kitchen, and meeting the chef. There was even a table in the kitchen that people could eat at, as long as you call to reserve it. We were shown to our tables, and on the way, I saw a big family table that was already occupied, and had a 3d paper maché model of the Pope’s head in the middle. Now, I always wondered why pizza was only made with tomato sauces, and I vowed to one day invent/create a pizza that was based on alfredo sauce. Well they beat me to it, because we ordered the Pizza Angelo, which has alfredo sauce, chicken breast, roasted corn, mushrooms, and homemade potato chips. The weirdest combination, but very very good. I highly recommend a trip to this place, just for the quirkiness of it all.

Waves Crashing @ La Jolla Cove

My last day in San Diego, I went to the beach/cove at La Jolla with Jim and Reta. It was definitely a different type of scene, almost like a bay. Parts of it were rocky bluffs, with spots of beach along the way. We set up a tarp in a grassy area and had a picnic while we watched and listened to the waves crash against the rocks. A leisurely walk along the coast brought us to two interesting places. One was a little cove filled with people snorkeling. I unfortunately did not get to do that, but I will in the future in some place nicer, maybe Hawaii. The other place, was another little cove/beach, that apparently used to be called the “Children’s Pool.” Well, one winter, a bunch of seals decided to breed in this very spot, and made it their home. It became a seal colony, but many citizens of San Diego felt like this place belonged to the people. There was an ensuing war amongst animal protection rights people who felt the seals should be left alone, and people who felt that the seals should be moved. Well, it’s currently a public swimming area, and there are signs around the area stating that anyone can swim there. Right next to these signs are signs from animal protection organizations stating that people should not swim there, as it scares the seals away, and they have no place to rest. So it was interesting seeing this little place where seals and people were “swimming together.”