Sunday, July 4, 2010

California Here We Come!

We are in LA! For our anniversary we decided to plan a week long vacation to California. Our plan is to see LA for a few days, then drive up the coast for 2 days, and then end up in San Francisco. It should be a great week, I think! We left the evening of July 2 after work.

On the plan from Dallas to LA we met a really cool guy named Reggie Helms who helped us map out our trip! He looked over the CA map with us and pointed out all of the hot spots and lesser known spots that we had to see. He was very sweet and encouraging! We finally arrived in LA at about 11pm LA time (1 am our time). We jumped in our super awesome rental car (Kia Optima, haha) and started out on the freeway. Forrest's quote of the night was "I feel like I'm driving in Dega!". The freeway had 10 lanes and the cars were whizzing all around us. I can't even imagine what it would have been like at rush hour! We finally arrived in Los Feliz to stay with my friend Alecia from law school and her husband Matt and adorable dog Maggie!
Alecia and I at Law School Graduation

They are the best hosts! They had purchased snacks for us and had our room and bathroom stocked with anything we could need! Their condo is beautiful--Alecia did a great job decorating! It was so late when we arrived we basically jumped right in the bed and fell asleep.
The next morning, Saturday, we got up and met my cousin Paul at Square One for breakfast. It was SO good! Forrest had Eggs Benedict and I had a delicious omelet! My cousin is an actor in LA and has been there for 7 years. I don't get to see him very often so it was a great treat to hang out with him!

We saw so many neat things while we were in the area. The restaurant was right by the Scientology center (which was BRIGHT blue)

and also the Saban research center! What do they research there, I wonder??

Paul was gracious enough to drive ahead of us so we could find Hollywood and our tour. We got to stop outside of the Capital Records building, an LA landmark, and got our first glimpse of the Walk of Fame stars! I didn't know that the stars actually pay for these things themselves. When I get an extra $25,000, I will have to get one! Then we parked at Hollywood and Highlands, an awesome shopping and eating center that is next to the Kodak theater, where they have the Oscars!

We got to walk up the same staircase that the stars do when they enter the theater! Next we explored Groman's Chinese Theater--it was SO amazing and very unusual!

It of course is the sight of the famous hand and foot prints of the starts. We saw John Wayne and the Harry Potter kids, complete with their wand prints! We also saw Michael Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame--it is the most popular star! We really couldn't get close to it because of all the people crowding around it. No problem, though, because we had to board our bus for our Hollywood tour! While our tour guide, Heather, was a little on the wacky side, the tour was very informative. She took us up and down Hollywood Blvd to see all of the sights, and then we went to Mullholland Drive to have a great view of the city and of the Hollywood sign! That thing really is amazing!

At Mullholland Overlook

Next, we drove through Beverly Hills and saw the homes of several stars, including Charlize Theron, Orlando Bloom, Bob Barker, Dr. Phil, Cathy Bates, and lots more! We also saw Rodeo Drive and the Sunset Strip. I felt like I was in a movie! After our tour, we went to Mel's Diner for lunch, which was amazing! It is a 50's diner style restaurant that was featured in many movies, including American Graffitti. We sat outside on the Sunset Strip watching LA happening around us while we had burgers and a huge banana split!

We then drove through town back to Rodeo Drive to wander and window shop. There were so many beautiful things, however, they were a tad out of our price range!

There was a Bugati outside one of the stores. Do you know what that is? I didn't! Apparently it is like a million dollar car. Hmm. Seriously? Parked on the street?? I guess, though, in the words of Sheryl Crow, "This is LA!"

Then we bought a map to star's homes and drove around looking at the gorgeous mansions that are in Beverly Hills. We saw MJ's home where he passed AND the Playboy mansion. While we were loitering outside of the mansion, some BUNNIES drove up to get inside! We talked to them and Forrest had his picture taken. How cool!

After a leisurely drive through the gorgeous neighborhoods, we went back to Alecia and Matt's to get ready for dinner. They took us to an Italian restaurant called Pace, one of the 38 places you must eat in LA. My lasagna and Forrest's halibut were delicious, as was the warm chocolate cake! I was glad it was warm because it was freezing to me outside. I didn't really know that it got that chilly out there. I mean, it is California, after all. (Famous last words.) After dinner Matt drove us through Studio City and downtown LA. It was so cool to see all the studios, especially Disney, which is held up by the 7 drawves. If we had been there during the season, we could have gone to work with Matt and see a taping of How I Met Your Mother, since he is a writer for the show (how cool is that?). Alas, no such luck on this trip! Downtown was full of lights and flashes and we were able to see the Staples center, home of the NBA champs Lakers, and the new Ritz Carolton, which looks like something from the future. After our tour we were exhausted and crashed again!
This morning we went across the street to Mass at Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church. It was beautiful and the music was amazing! They had a great folk group and a wonderful lead singer. I think Mass is so much richer when the music is good. I think the best Mass I have ever been to was on our honeymoon in Antigua--they had a steel drum band and played Michael Jackson! Mass lasted nearly 2 hours but it was so much fun! We were dancing in the pew! Anyway, let me get back on track! Now we are getting ready for lunch and a hike in Griffith Park. More news to come!

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