10K, 15K, 5K, Amtrak, Amusement Park, Beach, Beer, California, Camera, Drink, Family, Food, Half Marathon, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Movie Stars, Movies, Muscle Beach, Ocean, Photograph, Pier, Railroad, Running, Travel, Vacation, Venice Beach, Wine
June 24th 2013: Our vacation takes flight at a small airport near Ithaca, New York, where we board a pond skipper for Newark, New Jersey and a much larger 737 for Los Angels or as the hip and happening call it LAX.Now I am not a huge fan of flying. Its not that I don’t like it but I have a difficult time being cooped up for hours on end. With that said the throttle of our turbo prop accelerates us into the air like an eagle who has just grabbed dinner from a river. Fifty short minutes later we are wheels down in Newark for our three and a half hour layover before jet setting for Los Angeles. By now you are probably cringing and saying NEWARK, oh that place is horrible. This might be true of the surrounding landscape however the Newark Liberty International Airport is pretty impressive. Ok here we go, throttled up our 737 thundering down the runway, jet engines belting out thousands of horsepower propelling us like the rockets red glare to our eventual cruising altitude of 34,000 feet at 420 MPH.
Finally settled into our five hour and twenty two minute flight, time to breakout the Macbook and watch a few films to pass the time. Up first is “Battle Los Angeles” http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/battlela/site/. I figured it was an appropriate theme. Next in my movie collection “A Good Day to Die Hard” https://www.facebook.com/DieHardMovies another classic film to watch with plenty of explosions, gunfire and crashes to warm the cockles of ones soul, right! Wow, fifty minutes and we are wheels down in Los Angeles. The boys have been in a total Nintendo DS coma to this point and Julie has been reading most of the trip. Slap, up goes the window shade, looking down I could see the landscape growing closer and closer as we begin our final decent. The city of Los Angeles begins to appear in the distance under a cover of smog.
Making our way through the terminal and to the shuttle which will take us over to Hertz for our rental. Luggage loaded and we are off to see Julie’s best friend Tracy, her husband Tex and two month old daughter Mollyrose in El Segundo. Shortly after we all made our way to dinner at a wonderful Mexican restaurant over near Manhattan Beach. The bos were not as thrilled with it as us but they survived. After dinner we made our way to Tex’s condo in West Los Angeles which became our home for the following week. Thank you Tex for your generosity!
June 25th 2013: Beginning our morning today with a trip to Santa Monica to see the beach and of course the pier. The boys immediately made their way to the ocean with parental screams to stay out of the water.They say time flies when your having fun. Today was no exception. Navigating ourselves to the California Science Center to meet up with Tracy and Tex to view a piece of American History. Something so cool, something so American that in all honesty when you see it one cannot help but to wipe a tear from ones eye. You guessed it folks that iconic piece of American History is “Drum Roll” the Shuttle Endeavour. If you take a moment and dig through your mental rolodex you might find vivid images seen on television, in text books or on the pages of a magazine. These massive fire breathing beasts hurtling to the stars in full American glory! Today I had the opportunity to experience it, if only for a moment.
Also here is a link to a time lapse video of Endeavour being moved through the streets of Los Angeles. http://framework.latimes.com/2012/10/15/time-lapse-video-space-shuttle-endeavours-trek-across-l-a/
Another wonderful attraction was a massive aquarium at the Science Center. The boys were in heaven! They could have spent days watching the fish. The center put on an interactive show by having a diver enter the tank and speak to the crowd. We even were able to ask the diver questions about the some of the fish, their environment and so on. Very informative and exciting.
Leaving the Science Center we begin to make our way over to “The Grove”. A historic farmer’s market and mall in Los Angeles. Now this is where the fun begins. Navigating through traffic we notice several helicopters circling the area. I say to myself those have to be news helicopters, Wonder what is going on? Getting closer to the where the helicopters are circling traffic is out out control. LAPD is every where and roads are blocked off. Our GPS keeps rerouting us to another closed off street. We are completely lost now! My nerves are shot, throw a New Yorker in Los Angeles traffic and watch out. I tried to go around a barricade and got into a heat argument with an LAPD officer. We exchanged words but we went our separate ways. Eventually making it to our destination we had learned that two LAPD detectives where shot. Ok now I feel bad! Anyway, catching up with Tracy and Tex we grab some much needed food at The Grove, do a bit of shopping. At this point the evening is shaping up to be beautiful. The boys being the troopers they are were begging to go and spend the evening on the Santa Monica Pier riding the roller coaster and ferris wheel. We parted ways with our friends and made our way back to Santa Monica. Having been able to sync my iPhone to our car I was excited to try it out. I dialed up my good friend Charles Freericks whose happens to live in Santa Monica and asked him if he wanted to meet us for a bit on the pier, Chuck obliged.
Exhausted we make our way back to the condo to rest up for the next adventure!
June 26th 2013: Julie, I and the boys made our way to the beach this morning. However I was going to run a bit while they swam. I made my way from Santa Monica to Venice then Venice back north towards Malibu. The weather was perfect for running. Seventy two degrees, sunny and with a slight breeze off the ocean and no humidity. I wound up putting in 12.5 miles that morning. After a late lunch we began our trek north to Ventura, California as Michael and I had a race to run that evening. Instead of the 405 we decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway. Thinking it would have better views than that of the bumper of the stopped car in front of us. You see Michael and I were taking part in the Boogie Nights 5k. A weekly race throughout the summer on Wednesday evenings along the beach http://www.boogienightsventura.com
Making our way north along the PCH we were treated to some spectacular scenery. Unfortunately we did not stop to take many pictures as we still had not figured out time management due to traffic. However it was still pretty awesome.
Arriving in Ventura faster than anticipated we had time to walk around the promenade and the pier. Again the weather was spectacular and absolutely perfect for a race.
Race time was fast approaching, Michael and I began some stretching exercises and posed for a picture together.
Race time! We’re off and I’m feeling good the first mile and then my legs really start to tire. I often hear that sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Well today that stood true as I probably shouldn’t have run the 12.5 miles earlier in the day. Still I’m pushing and working hard. I was able to finish 23rd out of 120 runners with a time of 21:11, I also took 3rd place in my age group. So I really can’t complain. Michael who barely trains finished 72nd with a time of 26:34. I’m proud of him because he ran the race, ran it to the best of his ability and most importantly had fun.
This was a fun race. Not a lot of runners, beautiful scenery and a wonderful environment. Julie who is not a runner even commented on how much fun she had. Ok at this point we are starving! After asking a few locals to point us towards some food we walked into town for dinner. Ventura is loaded with restaurants to choose from. While walking into town I was able to grab a quick picture of this 50’s Chevy Bel-Aire… Love the color on this thing!
Stomachs full, bodies tired we made our way back down the PCH and to the condo again to rest for the next days adventure.
June 27th 2013: The one thing that Max wanted to see while in California is the Hollywood sign. With a little research Julie was able to find information on how to drive pretty close to it. We found ourselves winding through the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills. The roads curved like that of a snake in motion. Winding our way up and up we finally had reached our location only to find others had the same idea.Making our way back down steering ourselves towards Griffith Observatory. “Griffith Observatory is a facility in Los Angeles, California sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with an extensive array of space and science-related displays. The observatory was featured in two major sequences of the celebrated James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which helped to make it an international emblem of Los Angeles.” http://www.griffithobs.org At this point we were all getting hungry. I wanted to head to Venice Beach to look through some of the shops there. In doing so we found Danny’s http://dannysvenice.com/home.html. Danny’s was featured in a scene from the movie “I love you man”. The menu looked good and the food was but I have to say the service was horrible. We waited an hour for our food and the restaurant was not even packed. Food and drinks consumed it was time to shop at Venice Beach. The boys were not thrilled, they were even a little creeped by all the pot smoking shops. Definitely an interesting crowd to say the least. One thing we did find entertaining was a group of guys who were putting on a show. You can view a somewhat short video clip by following the link http://youtu.be/XCSDysj6w9c. With dinner plans rapidly approaching we headed back to the condo to relax a bit and get dressed. Making our way back into Santa Monica to meet up with Julie’s friend Kelly Spizman who had taught with Julie at the Maine Endwell but recently moved to California. Also joining us was friend Charles Freericks, his wife Alicia and children Rachel and Bradley. Having never been to a Bubba Gump restaurant we made this our place for food. Loved the atmosphere, the food and drink and company. After dinner the boys ventured to the Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier http://www.pacpark.com. It is so funny that the boys loved this place. Never wanted to go to Universal, Disney and etc… Heck we’ll take it, saved us tons of money, extremely long lines and personally I could care less about Disney. So kudos to the boys! I told them its money in the bank for Hawaii….
June 28th 2013: This day started with a trip to the beach. Julie and the boys splashed in the pacific while I ran ten miles. Returning from my run I joined them for a cold dip in the ocean.
After the beach we made our way over towards Beverly Hills to the Mall in West Field. There is where we fell in love with the new Tesla Model PS http://www.teslamotors.com A bit pricey but we will see what our future holds. Plans were Later that evening we met back up with Tracy, Tex and Mollyrose for dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen in Westwood. Michael was feeling tired and wanted to relax. We dropped him off back at the condo and Julie, Max and I met up up with our friends. After dinner we walked over a block to Diddy Riese Cookies http://www.diddyriese.com where we stood in line for an hour. Chatting up a storm the line seemed to move quickly and we were treated to some of the most spectacular ice cream sandwiches. Max gave it a thumbs up as he is our food critic.
June 29th 2013: Early morning Michael, Max and I picked up our friend and tour guide Charles Freericks and made our way east to Cajon Pass. Cajon Pass is a mountain pass between the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. Cajon is at the head of Horsethief Canyon, traversed by California State Route 138 (SR 138) and railroad tracks owned by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. As a railroader and a fan of railroads in general this is considered Mecca, or pretty darn close! The sheer volume of trains that traverse this pass is staggering. All that Chinese crap we buy at Walmart’s, Target’s and so on moves across this route, along with some domestics. You see the United States is used as a land bridge and our railroads play a huge part in making this happen. By using the U.S. as a land bridges it shaves days of travel via ship and the Panama Canal.We saw so many trains this day it was like shooting fish in a barrel. However we were treated to a nice surprise at Summit, California while watching the show. The Pantera was a sports car produced by the De Tomaso car company of Italy from 1971 to 1991, the last one being delivered to a customer in 1992.
June 30th 2013: Our last day in California and I needed to run. 6.2 miles on the beach to start the day. Yesterday we promised the boys they could spend more time on the pier in Santa Monica. It is so funny how much they enjoyed it! But they had to go with us first to the LaBrea Tar Pits and Page Museum http://www.tarpits.org. Ever since seeing the movie “Volcano” I’ve wanted to see this natural wonder. I know dorky but hey I’m on vacation.The Page Museum was really cool. They had complete fossils of Saber Tooth Tiger’s, Sloth’s, Camel’s, Condor’s, Bison’s, etc.. that were recovered from the Tar Pits. Very fascinating place. After torturing the boys here we made our way back to the Santa Monica Pier. Finally arriving after an hour and a half drive consisting of ten miles. The beach traffic was insane. Finally arriving and $25.00 later to park we made it. Frazzled but we made it. Julie and I gave the boys a cell phone and sent them on their way. We made our way into the bar at Bubba Gumps for a few cocktails to calm our nerves. After spending time on the pier and as the sun began to set we made our way over to meet up for the last time with Tracy, Tex and Mollyrose for dinner. This time we ate at a restaurant that I have not seen yet on the east coast. It is called “Stacked” http://stacked.com and you build your food on an iPad, send it to the kitchen and voila your food arrives. Well the boys thought this was the best think since sliced bread. I think the servers got tired of coming to the table… Maybe not such a good idea to have one here on the east coast. After dinner we said our goodbye’s and thank Tracy & Tex for their hospitality, company and most of all friendship. They have a beautiful daughter and I sincerely hope that we will get to see them real soon.
July 1st 2013: Flight from Los Angeles to Newark at 10:42 AM = Delayed 90 minutes due to tornado watch on the east coast. We’re in the air around 12:30 and pilot hopes to make up time. Again cruising around 34,000 feet at 400 mph. Upon landing in Newark we have thirty minutes to make our connection. Running through the airport we made it to our gate to find we are delayed one hour due to weather conditions in Ithaca, New York. Our flight will now leave at 9:30 PM. Forty five minutes later our flight gets delayed another hour due to weather and finally cancelled leaving us stranded in New Jersey. The airline was claiming they would bus us home but had no time frame. Boys were exhausted as were we. So Julie and I decided to rent a car for the the same price as a week in California and drive home. Leaving the airport behind and making our way west we finally hit 300 Hollerith Ave around 1:30 AM exhausted, safe and well traveled. We loved our trip, made some wonderful memories and are now planning our next adventure.
Happy Travels to you!