L.A. in May

On Thursday, May 10 after work, Erin and I packed our suitcases and traveled to Microtel, an inexpensive hotel pretty close to the airport.  We checked in and walked across the street to the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, which had a cozy bar in the lobby with many Boulevard brews on tab.  We chose to go with a few bottles of the Double Wide IPA (their smokestack series) instead.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Erin and I woke up at 5am for a 5:30am shuttle over to MCI.  The flight was miserable as my feet and lower legs suffered a near frostbite attack from a non-relenting fan.  Once we arrived in L.A., Erin’s friend Jessica picked us up and took us to Toast Bakery Cafe, one of her favorite places for brunch.  I remember ordering coffee and “The Open Face,” which was an opened face croissant topped with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, scallions and hollandaise sauce.  This was a very good start to our trip.

Since we were exhausted from our early morning wake-up and flight, Jessica took us back to her studio apartment to unwind and relax a little.  I fell asleep fairly quickly, which worked out perfectly.  The ladies took advantage of my unconsciousness and went and got pampered with manicures, pedicures, massages, etc.  I was really sorry that I missed out.

Chinese Theater along Hollywood Boulevard

Once we were refreshed, we took a walk down Hollywood Boulevard which has stars embedded along the sidewalk with the names of famous people and groups on each one.  We stopped in XXI, a clothing store that had some great deals that I couldn’t pass up.  I “mannequin shopped” as Erin calls it by selecting a few items I thought looked good on a mannequin.  It worked, because I got good comments the next day when I wore it. We also found the famous Chinese Theater as you can see in the photo.  Jessica’s beau, Csaba, works as a sound designer very close to the Boulevard, and so we got to meet him outside his office building.  He would eventually join us later for dinner. Since dinner wasn’t going to be for a while, we stopped at Maui & Sons and enjoyed some Lava Wings and Nachos with a pint of Anchor Steam.

Back at Jessica’s studio, we watched a few shows on Netflix, enjoyed a few drinks, and got all dressed up to go out on the town.  Allie, a good friend of Jessica’s that lives in the studio next to hers joined us for the evening.  Her boyfriend was out of town and couldn’t join us, so she had to suffer as the fifth wheel.  We taxied to El Compadre and feasted like kings and queens.  Erin and I had flaming margaritas, and I had a massive dish of Arroz con Pollo that stuffed me to the gill.  I’m not quite sure how I ate as much food as I did, but I wasn’t alone in my discomfort as everyone else overate, too.

Our next taxi ride took us to The Den of Hollywood.  Tired from the flight and long day, and extremely full from dinner, we couldn’t make the best of this great place.  I think I was the only one to order anything, and I got a pint of Lagunitas IPA which I shared with Erin.  After we were finished with our beer, the consensus was that we should taxi back home. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Coffee Bean is not even a block away from Jessica’s studio.  I was the first one up and dressed, so I walked down to have some coffee, oatmeal, and yogurt while catching up on the news from my smartphone and journaling about the previous night.  

We lounged at the Coffee Bean for quite a while before heading to brunch at Le Pain Quotidien.  Since Erin and I were about to go to a wedding, we felt obligated to order mimosas.  I had a rustic tuna tartine with white beans, arugula and basil pesto.  While we dined, Jessica spotted Giada de Laurentiis in the restaurant.  Since she was there, we felt that we probably were in a good restaurant (even though she didn’t list it in her favorites on her webpage).  I must admit to not having seen her since I had no idea who she was or what she looked like until afterwards.

Fresh Sprinkle’s Cupcakes

Across the street from Le Pain was Sprinkles Cupcakes, which we decided we could not pass up.  We ordered three cupcakes, found some chairs outside a shop down the street, sat down and proceeded to devour them like a pack of hyenas surrounding a fresh kill.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if passers-by started giving us change in pity of our seemingly famished and dire state.

We followed our cupcake feast with a walk down Rodeo Drive.  I’m not sure if there is an amount of money that I could make that would justify me shopping along this drive, but that is just my personality.

Jessica was nice enough to drive us all the way to our hotel in Woodland Hills, let us get ready for the wedding, and then drive us to the wedding.  We would have to fend for ourselves in getting back to the hotel after the celebration.  Erin’s cousin, Justin, was getting married and we were invited to celebrate with him.  Erin’s folks traveled from Lawrence, KS to experience the wedding as well, and we were able to sit and visit with them during the reception.  I had not seen them since getting back from Germany after the New Year.

 The wedding was set at a gorgeous venue, and the ceremony defined them very well.  Following the wedding we had some delicious hor dourves poolside.  These included chicken covered in a spicy peanut sauce, and crostinis with caramelized onion on goat cheese, and with brie and portabella mushrooms.  They were delightful.

Their sign-in book was replaced by a guitar which I thought was very cool.  Dinner was baby greens, an option of chicken with a creamy lemon sauce with garlic and capers or beef and mushrooms, roasted veggies that included Brussels sprouts, carrots, and zuchinni, and pearl couscous.

The crowd (generally speaking) wasn’t the dancing type.  I tried my best to get the dance floor rocking by requesting Party Rockers, I’m Sexy and I Know It, and I Gotta Feeling.  Nobody else got that feeling.  Erin and I had fun regardless.  The bride’s sisters gave us a ride back to our hotel.  After enjoying a Chimay down in the lounge during the after-party, Erin and I retired upstairs in our hotel room.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Check out time wasn’t until noon.  We ordered room service and had breakfast in bed while watching “It’s Complicated” on TV. Jessica came to pick us up at noon and we drove to the Pacific Palisades.  At the Tivoli Cafe we shared some Caprese Salad as an appetizer before enjoying some panini sandwiches.  Our plan was to go on a hike after our meal, but I almost disrupted that plan by suggesting we hang out in Tivoli and order wine and drink the afternoon away.  Although very tempting, we went with the better and more healthy option of going on a hike.

Down the road a ways, we found the Temescal Canyon Trail Head.  This took us up to a waterfall, which was nonexistent at the time of our arrival (Jessica encouraged us to pretend it was gushing forth).  After hanging out there for a while, I suggested we keep going instead of turning around and finish the loop.  It was a climb, but once we were to the top, it was definitely worth it.  This experience brought up some recent philosophical thoughts I had been having.  Once we were at the top and had this beautiful view of the ocean and L.A., I remember thinking how, back at the waterfall, we had almost turned back there and finished the hike.  Or, back at the restaurant, how I had almost talked us out of hiking at all.  It is hard to fathom how many wonderful experiences we have all talked ourselves out of not experiencing.  We have no frame of reference, because we haven’t experienced them.  But what if we had?

After our hike, we drove down to the Venice Boardwalk.  En route, we passed a hotel in which I caught a glance at a man ferociously masturbating at his hotel window.  What did I expect this close to the Venice Boardwalk?  We got a table at the Sidewalk Cafe to people watch.  Erin and I ordered some margaritas and caught a glimpse of actor Danny Trejo (known for Grindhouse, Machete, and Heat).  He was surrounded by many people on the boardwalk wanting to get a picture with him.  For a moment, I felt sorry for the guy, and for stars in general, and how they cannot have a private life.  And then I thought of all the money and the choices they have made.  Then, I didn’t feel sorry anymore.

We needed a break from the day’s activities.  After a nap back at Jessica’s studio, we cabbed it to The Surly Goat.  Jessica thought we would like this place since it had 27 craft beers on tap.  I remember having a Hammerhead Hanger 24 IPA, a Russian River Pliny the Elder, and a New Belgium La Foile.  All of us thought that the La Foile was the best, so we sent a New Belgium coaster/postcard to New Belgium expressing this love.  Pleeplius wouldn’t have allowed us to go to The Surly Goad without him.  He demanded a picture be taken of all of us having a La Foile.

When the comedy acts started, we left for Barney’s Beanery on foot.  We drank Racer 5 IPAs a Barney’s and I had some fish tacos.  There was karaoke, and so I put my name in for Man of Constant Sorrow by the Soggy Bottom Boys.  I felt that I had a pretty good performance.  Jessica hadn’t touched the Guiness that she ordered, and I couldn’t let it go to waste, so I slammed it since it seemed like a good idea at the time.  We were spent and so we cabbed it back to her studio and passed out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Again, we went through our morning ritual at The Coffee Bean.  We toured homes of Beverly Hills and saw many homes of the rich and famous.  It made me happy to have what I already have.  When in the west only for a short time, In N Out Burger is a must.  We found one in West Hollywood where I ordered a Cheeseburger “Animal Style” with fries and a drink.  Man, those are some good burgers.

Erin and Jessica surprised me with what came next: VIP tickets to the Green Room and a taping of The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  On this particular day, they were taping two shows that will air during the summer Olympics.  During the first taping, we were in the Green Room watching it on TV.  His guests were Paula Poundstone and Emma Roberts for that taping.  For our taping, his one guest was Rosie Perez.  It was very interesting experiencing what happens behind the cameras.  I’ll have an enhanced perspective whenever I watch a late night show again.

For our last night in L.A. we took it nice and easy by ordering take out and watching Haywire with HBO On Demand.  Prior to our trip, I never had a desire to visit L.A. Now that I have experienced it, I look forward to my next visit.

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