Monday, July 28, 2008

California - I thought vacations were supposed to be relaxing!

*Warning* This is going to be a long one.
Annie and I decided to take a trip for some much needed R & R to Southern California. We thought it would be fun to go spend a week on the beach, watch a baseball game, hit up Six Flags, etc. However, due to a series of unfortunate events, it was the worst vacation ever.
We started out early on Saturday morning (July19) and things seemed to be going well. We were making good time, had some good tunes going in the car, there wasn't a problem in sight. Then some how we got off our schedule and Annie was starting to get a little frustrated that we were going to be getting to California later than what we had expected.
Starting out our long drive down to Cali.
About 30 miles outside Vegas, as I was taking a turn driving, I noticed that the car was shaking a lot more than it should and then I heard a thud and saw a piece of tire come shooting out the back of the car. Fortunately, the tire did not blow out and I was able to get the car safely to the side of the road. However, we were out in the middle of nowhere and because there were no emergency lanes to pull over into, we had to drive down off the side of the road so that we would have a level spot to change the tire. A nice guy stopped to see if we were ok and if we needed help changing the tire. Of course Annie and I would have been able to change the tire, but if someone else was willing to roll around in the dirt to get it done, by all means we were going to let them. Though it was nice to have someone else change the tire, the guy was kind of weird. Annie asked where he was headed and he said that he was just out for a drive. (I'm sorry but with these gas prices no just goes out for a drive anymore) Then as we were putting the tire and everything else away, he asked if he could have the tire iron back. Annie and I looked at each other like, great now he's going to whack us, because it was kind of weird how he had asked for it. Then he offered to follow us all the way back to Las Vegas, where he had just come from, to make sure that we got to a tire store safely. We were just about to the freeway and he signaled for Annie to pull over. She gave me another wary look and made sure I knew where her gun was hidden. (Maybe we were going a little over board and being too suspicious of someone that was being very nice, but hello, two girls out in the middle of nowhere and a guy that's kind of acting strange. What would you do?) He only wanted to ask if we wanted to take the highway instead of the freeway so we wouldn't have to deal with as much traffic. We made it safely to Las Vegas and found a tire store (thanks to my phone) and were back on the road in no time.

Of course we had to stop at In-N-Out first for some yummy burgers and fries.

Not sure what part of California this was, but I love sunset pictures, so I couldn't resist taking one as we were driving along.
I don't remember what time we finally got to her sister Kristen's house, but we were met with more frustration as we arrived because we had a very hard time finding parking in the apartment complex. We were starting to get dizzy from circling the block so many times.
Of course Annie had energy to wrestle around with her cute nephews before it was time for bed. They decided that a pillow fight was in order.

Her nephew Andrew. He would drag his blanket and pillow out into the hall and just lay down like he was so exhausted that he was just going to sleep right there. Of course his older brother decided that it wasn't time for him to bow out of the pillow fight just yet.

Annie's nephew Alex, winding up for the attack.

The kids won this round after Annie hit her head.

Sunday we went to sacrament with Annie's sister and brother-in-law and their ward is ridiculously huge. They said that they get all the tourists in the summer months because their ward starts at noon. Chad, Annie's brother-in-law said they had over 600 people in their ward that day. After sacrament, Annie and I headed back to their apartment to get changed and get ready for the Boston Red Sox vs. Anaheim Angels game.

Angel Stadium

Waiting in the hot sun for the game to start. I think it was in the bottom of the first inning that we had these two guys come up to us and say that they were supposed to be in our seats so we were getting our tickets out to make sure we were in the right spot. Before we could even say, "Oh, sorry we didn't realize we were in the wrong spot," this security lady showed up and started yelling at us, "come on girls, move right now!" Sheesh, it was a simple mistake. We had the right seats, just not the right section.

Boston up to bat

Boston Red Sox players watching the game

This is the view from our seats. I would have liked to have been a little closer, but really, the view wasn't bad. The only thing that sucked was that we thought we were going to be in the shade just a few innings into the game, but we were wrong. The shade was just about to hit us when the game ended. Needless to say, we were really sweaty and gross after the game got over.
Monday, we hit the beach. We got started a little later than we wanted to though and once we finally got to the beach, we didn't stay very long because the only parking we could find was meter parking and we only had enough change for an hour and a half.

Driving down Balboa Blvd. as we were trying to find Newport Beach

Annie soaking up the sun

Some of the beautiful beach front property on the boardwalk. As cool as the beach houses were, I'm not sure that I would want people constantly walking past my house.

This is on the other side of the pier from where we were

Annie with her nephew Andrew, after we had gotten back from the beach.

This is where the really bad part of our trip came. We found out Monday night that one of Annie's nephew's had tradgically past away. I felt so aweful for Annie and her family and pray that her family can find the strength and peace they need to move on from such an aweful situation. I debated finding a flight home because I felt awkward being in the middle of a family matter when I only knew one of the family members. I decided to stay and support Annie, not to mention that I didn't want to pay $250 to fly home, and I didn't want Annie to have to make the long drive home alone. We also had tickets to Wicked and a hotel in San Francisco that were non-refundable, so I had hopes that we would still be able to do those things.

Wednesday we babysat some of Annie's nieces and nephews while the rest of her family worked on moving her sisters family. I was impressed with the work they were able to get done. They moved all of her sister's family's belongings and got the house all cleaned in 5 1/2 hours. We didn't have any problems watching the kids, they are all pretty well behaved. I feel bad cause I didn't get any pictures of Annie with her nieces and nephews that we were watching besides the ones below.

Andrew fell asleep on his Aunt Annie

Aunt Annie got a little worn out and decided to take a nap with Andrew.

We were able to make it to Wicked Wednesday night, which made me so happy. I've been looking forward to seeing this musical since I heard the soundtrack a year or two ago. It was an amazing show and I highly recommend anyone to go and see it.

The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles

Hollywood Blvd.

Me and Annie just before going into the theater

The seats that we had ended up being way closer than I thought they were going to be which I really liked, but I wish that we would have been in the middle instead of off to the side. I didn't miss any of the important stuff, but I still like being able to see the whole stage. The theater was much colder than I was expecting it to be and my legs were frozen by the end of the evening. We also had a lady that was sitting behind us that smelled like pee, so that was another drawback to the evening. It was good to get out though and try to enjoy what little we had left of our vacation.

Friday was the funeral for Annie's nephew and it was a very sad day. We went to the wake afterwards and then packed up our things to drive to San Francisco where we had our hotel reservation. Annie, trying to be a nice friend and trying to make sure that I got something out of our trip asked if I wanted to stay on the freeway to get to San Francisco or if I wanted to drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. I made the stupid mistake of saying let's drive up the coast. (stupid, stupid, stupid) How I wish I could turn back time to that moment and say, stay on the freeway. So instead of a drive that would have only taken us about 5 hours it took us about 8 hours. The Pacific Coast Highway stopped at one point and we had to get on the 101 and decided that we would stay on that instead of trying to find our way back onto the PCH. We ran into stop and go traffic at one point and decided that we should get back on the freeway, but at that point we were already so far west that it would have taken us just as long to find a route back to the freeway that we had no choice but to stay on the 101. It was a miserable drive because we couldn't go as fast, we were both tired, I didn't want to drive with the crazy Californians so Annie had to drive the whole way. We were both very exhausted when we finally got to the hotel.

The coast off of the Pacific Coast Highway, this is where the 1 ended and we realized we had to get back on the 101.

Saturday morning we slept in to try and catch up on some much needed rest that we hadn't had the whole trip. About 11:15 we had a knock on the door and it's the cleaning lady asking if we are done in the room yet. We told her we would be done at noon, when check out time is. Then she proceeded to stand outside our door talking on her walkie talkie, telling who ever she was talking to that she was waiting for us to get out of the room. Then at 11:45, the front desk called and asked when we were going to be out of the room. Who does that?! If I pay good money to stay in your hotel and check out time is not until noon, don't bother me until then. I can understand a call from the front desk checking to see that we will be out at noon, and then leaving us alone, that would be ok, but waiting outside my door, that was just not acceptable. When we did leave the room the cleaning lady was still there waiting, and she had this look on her face like, it's about time you finally get out of there. Does she not have other rooms to clean? It was very frustrating.

We went into the city so that I could see San Francisco and get some pictures. We parked at Pier 5 and walked all the way to Pier 45. Annie had seen a sign that said the parking was closed down by Pier 45 so we decided we would get a little excercise in for the day and boy did we. Our legs and feet were so sore by the end of the day.

The Bay Bridge

The aquarium at Pier 39

Some of the shops at Pier 39. It was a really cool Pier with lots of fun shops.

This is the Crepe Cafe where we had breakfast/lunch. It was delicious. Allison, you would love this place.

The carousel on Pier 39


This is where the sealions hang out on Pier 39

They're cute, but they sure are stinky

Fisherman's Wharf

Ghirardelli Square. We stopped here for some ice cream and it was super packed in the shop and we had to wait for ever in a hot, crowded, small store. Not my idea of fun, or refreshing. The ice cream did taste good at least when I finally got it.

A ship off of Pier 45

Walking down the Embarcadero back to the car

I just thought this was a cool shot of Pier 23

Lombard Street - The Crookedest Street in the World! It's not the best picture, but it's the best I could do as we were driving past trying to find our way to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was amazed at how many cars were lined up to go down this street. It was definitely causing some traffice problems.

The Beautiful Golden Gate Bridge

So this picture has a story to go with it. It was the end of our day in San Francisco, we were both tired and sore from walking all day, but I still wanted some pictures of the Golden Gate bridge. I could tell Annie was getting a little grumpy and was way beyond ready to get out of this city, but she was kind enough to swing by the bridge so I could get my pictures. She stayed in the car while I ran out to take my pictures. When I got back to the car I decided that I wanted a picture with her with the bridge behind us. So I asked a lady that was standing to the side of us. OH HOW I WISH I HAD ASKED SOMEONE ELSE! On my camera it doesn't have the little view finder that you look through to take the picture. The screen is what you look at to see what is in the picture. However, this lady proceeded to hold my camera up to her face and kept saying, "well I can't really see anything, but I think I have you and the bridge in there." Then on top of making a spectacle of herself, she took the picture while the wind was blowing all my hair behind me and my mouth is open. Annie was too grumpy and ready to leave that she didn't want to take another one, so we got in the car and left. As I took a look at the picture, I realised how horrible it was, but it was too late to do anything about it. So enjoy a good laugh on me. :)

Steep hills, one way streets, and non stop traffic = very crabby people

The streets of San Francisco

Saturday night, after we had left San Francisco, we decided that we would stop in Sacramento and stay over night and then drive the rest of the way home Sunday morning. I decided that we deserved a little more upscale hotel the second night, so we splurged on a 4 star hotel and it was worth every penny. Neither one of us wanted to find a place to eat, so we were going to order room service, but I started looking through the menu and looking at the prices and thought, this is way too expensive, let's just find a place close by that we can go to. So I pulled up the restraunts that are close to the hotel on my phone and gave Annie the options. She decided on Morton's Steakhouse, neither one of us had heard of it before, and it sounded good and it was only a few blocks from the hotel. When we got there however, we realized that this was a fancy restaurant, and here I was in my plaid shorts and t-shirt, and Annie in her basball cap and jeans. We could have easily turned around and gone somewhere else, but we were both so hungry and tired that we really didn't care. This is the kind of restaurant where everything on the menu is about $30-$50 and it's a la carte. So you're buying the meat and the sides to go with it, they don't come together. The waiter looked at us funny when we said we were spliting the $50 filet minon and that was it. It tasted oh so delicious, however, I don't care how good the steak is, I don't think a slab of meat is ever really worth $50. We also split the creme brulee for dessert, and that I must admit I've had better. It was quite ironic considering I wasn't willing to have the expensive room service, and yet, we chose the most expensive restaurant to eat at.

Sunset outside on our hotel balcony in Sacramento.

Fortunately the bed was exceptionally comfortable, and I really enjoyed the shower. We ended up ordering room service for breakfast and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted even though I had to spend a little extra for it. We did get another knock on the door by house keeping, this time around 11:30, but she was very polite about it, and once we shut the door she left. No loitering and huffing and puffing outside our door. That made me very happy. The downside to this hotel is that we had to pay $17 extra for parking, which I thought was pretty lame considering I had already paid a fair amount of money for a hotel room. On top of that, Sacramento charges a $1.50 tourism tax. What is that about? Thanks for stopping by to visit our city, now you have to pay us? I'm not sure if they do that in all their hotels or what, but I thought that was a little funny.

Our Last stop at In-N-Out. Oh how I'll miss those delicious burgers.
The drive home was pretty uneventful, thank goodness. I don't think we could have handled any more bad luck on this trip. Now we just need a vacation from our vacation!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

I love the 4th of July, probably one of my favorite holidays, one because we get to show our patriotism and two because I love fireworks. It's also a good excuse to have friends over, BBQ, and have a good time. We had some friends over to our place yesterday for a BBQ, a little croquet, and then we walked down to Ann Morrison Park to watch the fireworks. Here are some pictures of the fun we had.

Me, Heidi, and Heather
Heather and Boyfriend (Brandon's nickname we stole from Gilmore Girls)
Jothan cooking up the burgers
Having fun with the camera
Jodi Drake!
Being artistic
One more artsy fartsy picture for the blog
Heather posing for the camera

The group having a friendly game of croquet
Waiting for the fireworks to start with Brandon's family
Heidi, Jodi, and Me smiling for the camera
Annie had to work overtime in the park making sure people weren't being stupid. Brandon snapped this picture of her and Office Crist after they told someone they couldn't have sparklers in the park.
Here are some pictures of the awesome fireworks we enjoyed.

If you look real close on this one you can see some star shapes. Heather has this cool application on her camera that turns lights into different shapes, so I tried out a few on the fireworks.
This one is supposed to be flowers

I love laying on the grass and having the fireworks right over my head. I always wish the fireworks show was longer though, I just can't get enough of them. My favorite is the finale when they shoot off a bunch at a time. I never want to walk back home afterwards either because there are so many people all trying to get home. However, walking really is the best way as opposed to driving or riding a bike. If you're driving, you're stuck in traffic forever, and on a bike, it's a lot more difficult to navigate through all the walkers. We had a good time and look forward to more fireworks next year.