Monday, February 18, 2008

california stars

So just about one week ago I boarded a return flight from LAX after an extended weekend with Brad and Amy in Orange County. Although it was hard to leave the family I had an absolutely wonderful time.

As soon as I saw Brad waiting in the pickup lane at the airport, I was instantly reminded of how many times he picked me up during the Grateful Dead years - red eye flights to Arizona at 3am and Brad would be waiting in the lobby. After a harrowing bus ride from Des Moines to St. Louis (quite possibly one of the worst experiences of my life) there's Brad at the station waiting as I climb off the bus.

Anyway, Brad is where he's supposed to be and we are off to tour LA before heading south to Irvine. First stop Laser Blazer, the video and comic book store owned by Kevin Smith. The comic section is smaller than I expected but there are props from his movies (Ben Affleck's wings from Dogma) and I commemorate the pilgrimage with a t-shirt purchase.

Next we drive through a "fancy" neighborhood where I'm sure famous people live but we choose not to buy a star map from any of the 3000 people selling them nearby. We head up Sunset Strip to view all of the famous rock clubs, and finally park near Mann's/Grauman's Chinese Theater to check out the stars in the sidewalk and the costumed perfomers in front.

Ended the night walking around the Santa Monica promenade where musical highlights included a guy playing a Chapman Stick (cool guitar-like instrument played entirely by tapping) and an eight year old girl singing "Beat It" as if her life depended on it.

The next morning is a 3.5 mile Valentine's Day race. Brad is nursing an injury and can't run so Amy and I pair up and win our age group. This may have been slightly more impressive if we weren't the only ones in our age group. Brad and I then lounge at the pool before touring a bunch of beach towns and hiking a canyon trail in a state park. Later we pick up Amy and have dinner in Long Beach at a place called Baucheef Bistro, grab a drink at Legends Sports Bar, and then explore the Queen Mary cruise ship, now a hotel permanently docked in the harbor.

Wake up and hit the pool before heading to the Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park for a hike to the Top of the World. This extremely scenic trail runs up through the canyon with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. After the hike we hit the beach for sun, salt water, and body surfing. Amy makes an awesome vegetarian pasta dish for dinner and we end the night watching the Grammy's.

We wake up and realize Brad's surf board will actually fit in the rental car with some creative seat placement. We're off to San Clemente to surf and swim. The water is kind of rough so we head up to Huntington Beach for better water. This was my first time on a board and it was awesome. I got up on one knee pretty quickly but we had to return the rental car before I was able to stand up completely. Stopped for a turkey burger at T.K. Burger to complete the surf experience. Amy joined us for dinner at Chipotles and we ended the night by walking around an open-air entertainment complex/shopping mall.

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