Touristy Tuesday: Anaheim, CA Edition

Touristy Tuesday is back! I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these! I fell out of touch there for a bit, but I’m back on the blogging bandwagon.

After our week in Vegas, Abe and I were ready for a change of pace. We hightailed it out of Sin City and headed toward the most wholesome place on Earth – Disneyland! We spent one week in Anaheim, recovering from the raucous adventure the night before.

Our take on that “Disney Magic”

Abe had never been to Disney before and since we were staying blocks from the park we made it the number one priority for the week. And miraculously we still had enough money left after Vegas to afford the gate entry!

We had a great time exploring the park in the day. We did the Buzz Lightyear ride (a personal favorite) and Abe smoked me with his laser accuracy. They must teach you how to use space lasers in the Navy, because for never having been to Disney he had some real talent there.

We also did some classic rides, like Space Mountain and It’s a Small World After All. I had missed It’s a Small World the first time I went to Disneyland and didn’t realize how old school it was. I can definitely see why that song is infamous now.

After spending the day in the most magical place in America, we ventured over to Hollywood.

The Tater Team with the Giant Idaho Potato Truck was in town! They travel so much that we were bound to ‘ketchup’ with them again!

That Tater Team Ellis and Kaiti, plus the driver Paul, came with Abe and I to a show at The Second City Comedy Club. We were meeting up with Lady Ketchup Kylie, a former Hotdogger from Class XXIV, and her friends.

I had seen a show at The Second City in Chicago with my friend David in May right before starting the job and was really excited to go to another performance. This one was a lot different. It featured Fred Willard (Second City alumni) and it was all Halloween skits, that were scripted. The Second City is known for improv, so that was kind of surprising. Even still, it was a really good performance. Until that week I didn’t even realize that there was more than one location for The Second City!

We went back to Disney later in the week, this time to Downtown Disney. Now clearly I misunderstood – I was hoping to take shots with Buzz and Woody and then do a toast with Mickey Mouse.

I don’t care how ridiculous this photo is. It’s Disney!

Apparently that is NOT what downtown Disney is! None the less, we enjoyed our $15 drinks and the people watching that came with.

Work while we were in Anaheim was pretty fun as well. We went to a Latin Festival, and while it was a long day, there was great entertainment.

That included BMX bike tricks, Abe’s favorite Latin band, and watching a team assemble a 1,500 foot long burrito!

(Yes, it was delicious. I snagged Abe and I two 6″ sections – which is more burrito than anyone really needs.)

We also had a maintenance day in LA, which meant that Abe and I made a make-shift office at Manhattan Beach. Will I ever find a better job than one where I get to walk the beach and hang out on the pier all day?

After Anaheim we made the drive to Phoenix, Arizona. No touristy Tuesday for Phoenix because I was just there for two days before leaving for D.C. and the Marine Corps Marathon. (Big shout out to Abe for packing up all my stuff when I didn’t come back to Phoenix and had to meet him in Albuquerque!)

We are going back to Anaheim next week though and I’m looking forward to making the most of our final time in LA while in the Southwest region with the Wienermobile!

Touristy Tuesday: Boulder, Colorado Edition (And a little LA adventures for good measure)

Finally – we had our long-awaited trip out to Colorado! I’m especially excited to write a recap of this last week for Touristy Tuesday because I got to spend it in the Boulder and Estes Park areas! Not only are those absolutely awesome cities, but that also means quality time with my family!

We made it to Boulder Sunday after quite the drive in from Salt Lake City. While we didn’t stop anywhere cool, like the Middle of Nowhere from last week, we did have a good time.

Abe and I played 20-questions (with no question limit – haha) but we played it with characters from the road. I write on this blog about all the new friends we’ve made, so you can tell that we have quite a few people who play with, but we also included literally every single person who has made an impression on us. Funny bartenders, quirky consumers – you name it, we made each other guess them! For TWO. HOURS. It was actually a great way to look back and reflect on all the cool people we’ve met on the road though!

 

Because we got into town so late I decided to stay in Boulder and leave the trip to Estes for the next day. So glad I did. Abe and I went to Pearl Street (it’s Boulder – of course!) and went to the Mountain Sun bar, which has live music every Sunday. It was packed! Not only was the music great, but the people were awesome too. Being Boulder, I knew the sundresses could probably stay packed, but even my jeans and tank top were dressier than most of the people in this place! Everyone was so laid back – such a nice break from California.

Naturally, Abe and I left with a cohort of new friends, including one guy who does market research for a Boulder company. Yep – that’s right – market research in Boulder. Basically my dream job! Of course I had to be best friends with this guy! When we swapped numbers at the end of the night I put him in my phone as “Future Co-CEO” so you know it’s going to be a promising friendship!

The next day, or rather 5 hours later, I got up and did a run, rounding out 50 miles for the week. Then after sweating out all the white wine from the night before, I hit the road and headed up to Estes Park to see my family!

My aunt and grandma both live in Estes and I was lucky enough to see them pretty recently when I came out for the Bolder Boulder in May. This trip though I took the company car and headed up the canyon where it fared quite well actually! When I got into Estes I took it right down Main Street to the arts and crafts fair that was going on downtown to meet my Aunt Karla. Talk about a warm welcome – the whole town was there to greet me!

My aunt, grandma, and I all headed to lunch at their favorite Estes establishment – the Mountain Home Cafe. If you ever find yourself in Estes make sure to check this place out – a really nice local family owns it and the food is great! The rest of the day we spent surprising various friends of theirs around town with the Wienermobile, which was a blast.

Of course one of the best parts of seeing family (besides of course seeing your awesome family) is the food! My aunt made all my favorites – granola and chips and salsa! (Not to be eaten together of course!) The next best thing – pets! My aunt got a little kitten in May and I got to see little Earnie again on this trip!

The rest of my time in Estes Park was low key and just hanging out – a much needed break! Before I left back to Boulder I had breakfast with my grandma (Mountain Home Cafe – I’m telling you, yumm!) and gave her a Facebooking 101 tutorial along with teaching a course on the Art of Copy and Paste.

Wednesday night I went out with the Future Co-CEO. I love seeing a town with the locals because they always know the best places to go! We went to this Pearl Street bar with Big Jenga. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – Jenga with enormous blocks.

The best part of Big Jenga though is that each block has been graffitied on so when they fall and you’re picking them up it’s basically like that magnetic poetry on the fridge – they form a story… a very drunk, vulgar, and incoherent story, but a story none the less!

 

After Jenga we picked up some paddles and played some ping-pong, only to be challenged by another couple. The Future Co-CEO had casually mentioned having won two tournaments in his day, so there was no saying no when they challenged us. Now, you think your odds are pretty good at winning when one of the two players on a team has won a ping-pong championship right? Well the guy on our opposing team was on his college team! What are the chances??

As the night went on it turned out that the couple we had been playing against met through Mensa. Yes, that’s the genius society. When it came to playing Big Jenga with them they certainly had an unfair advantage – actually commenting on the different properties of each block choice. WAY. TOO. SERIOUS. Just kidding though because they were actually absolutely awesome and a ton of fun to hang out with!

I imagine this is how they play Jenga at home…!

Eventually we decided we should probably actually get to work, so the extra-curricular fun slowed down a bit. I did do some running while in Boulder though. It’s crazy – there are just so many bike paths! They’re all connected too, which actually overwhelmed me. I like to just get on a trail and zone out, the options made me have to think too much about my route.

Friday we headed to Colorado Springs for an event at the Fort Carson military base. I was super excited about this trip, having lived in Colorado Springs when I was younger! After work we went and scoped out my old stomping grounds. What a trip down memory lane.

The company car in front of my old apartment building back in Colorado Springs!

Of course the number one thing I had to show Abe was Garden of the Gods. It was just as spectacular as I remember. I can’t believe I used to walk there every morning with my mom – how lucky we were!

We made it back to Boulder after a long drive, but it was Friday night and there was no calling it an early night. It’s the SW team – choose your own adventure, but always choose an adventure!

Abe and I met up with Traci (akaTaligatin’ Traci) a former Hotdogger, and her boyfriend. We had a total blast barhopping on Pearl Street with them! There was some deal going on in Boulder where if you wore a mask bars would give you certain specials. While we didn’t participate, the number of costumes and masquerade masks made for great people watching.

At one bar we got to chatting with the guy who was responsible for $7 worth of the jukebox  music. That led to us sticking around to give him the thumbs up/down for each song! He had 6/7 thumbs up – not bad!

We ended the evening the way a Hotdogger reunion should end – with hot dogs from a hot dog stand! Somehow I was convinced into ordering an Elk Dog, which was SPICY!!! When in Rome though… I mean, how do you not go to Colorado and get Elk? Haha!

We took off from Colorado on Sunday, California bound! After spending a few weeks out of the Golden State it was a little weird to go back, but we did, with 16+ hours of driving ahead of us. Day one of driving was a blast. Of course, Abe got a chili dog on the way, what is now becoming a drive day tradition for him!

We also made a stop along the way at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Featured on a majority of the Utah state license plates, this was one National Park that I HAD to see!

It lived up to its license plate infamy and was absolutely stunning. We were able to drive through almost the entire park, which was breathtaking.

Not only was I able to cross one more National Park off my bucketlist, but I was also able to proudly get another stamp IN my National Park Passport. That’s right, not FOR it, but actually IN it! I’ve got about 6 little slips of stamped paper just waiting to be cut and pasted into my passport because I always forget it. This time I actually remembered! It’s pretty ridiculous how much joy this $11 book brings me!

After our scenic detour we headed to Richfield, Utah – almost the exact halfway point between Denver and LA. The next day we were hoping to make another detour to the Hoover Dam outside Vegas, but after 15 hours of driving we just weren’t up to it. We will have to revisit that when we actually come out to Vegas next month.

We probably didn’t need to rush into town though, because when we finally did make it to San Bernardino we didn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. First, while entering LA, we were cut off by this madman driver who was driving dangerously aggressively. I was so concerned I actually called the cops and it was sweet victory when we saw him pulled over 10 minutes later! Making magic, saving lives! Our second welcome came when we were approaching our hotel and at the street corner there were three cop cars and a fire truck simultaneously arresting/bandaging this guy. Oh California, it’s so good to be back!

Despite the cornerside commotion, we were undeterred and eagerly checked into our hotel for the week – the Route 66 Wigwam Motel. We were supposed to be staying in TeePees for the week! What an iconic place – Americana at its finest – I mean, it was featured in cars!

The motel itself was very charming and peaceful. Each room was a separate Wigwam and they were adorable. The area surrounding the hotel was another story. It was the absolute ghetto! So scary that I didn’t even want to leave the Wigwam compound on my own.

We made it one night in the TeePees, but after that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to last six more days. A fun novelty, but the unsafe neighborhood and sketchy Wigwam bathrooms were enough for me. Luckily, I managed to get rate at a Hilton Garden Inn. Hello hotel points, fluffy towels, and continental breakfast!

We washed off the long double-day drive with a few beers and margaritas at a local dive. That was pretty much the highlight of the week.

San Bernardino proved to be one of the calmer places we’ve been. That was fine though because with 100+ degree weather and the great hotel, we were fine just relaxing by the pool! Although we didn’t go out too much, I did make some good progress on the latest book I’m reading “When Everything Changed” which chronicles the women’s movement from 1960 to the present. My grandma got it for me while in Estes and now I’m on this big women’s liberation kick, having also just ordered a few more books, including “The Feminine Mystique.”

Our week in San Bernardino was spent at the Route 66 Rendevouz, which was actually a pretty fun place to work. We met a TON of crazies (one guy said that downloading images online would lead to people not buying groceries) and the corn-on-the-cob guy hooked me up with free corn every day, so the Iowa girl in me loved it!

While we were leaving the festival we did have one other fun story, which was when a fireman stopped us at the gas station and had us come take a picture at the station. Normally we relish these opportunities because it means a free carwash for the company car, but because we were putting it up for storage we knew we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it. Turned out to be worth it though – they gave us a great tour of their facility and let us explore the whole place! Our tour guide went to Nebraska, so, while I’m not a big fan of his school, he had that Midwestern charm and friendliness that I crave whenever we’re in California!

That’s about it for Boulder and San Bernardino! This last week we spent in Madison, WI for our Hotdogger Fall Staff Meeting and the 25th Class Reunion of Hotdoggers. Now THAT will be an exciting blog! As for now, we’re currently in sunny San Diego and as always, if you know anything to do, anyone to meet, or anywhere to go – make sure to let us know!

Touristy Tuesday: Claremont, CA Edition

This week we reluctantly left Monterey and headed back to the LA area! The drive down had it’s highs and lows, as in – low on gas and high on stress.

After the six hour drive, Abe and I checked into the hotel. As Mitch Hedberg would say, “I can’t tell you what hotel I’m staying at… but there are two trees involved.” I booked the hotel in Claremont, CA which is where my friend Aaron from my Mizzou days lives. I knew it was a cute area with a lot to do, and as an added bonus it turned out Aaron only lived about a mile away from the hotel!

Our first night in town Abe and I met up with Aaron for dinner. We went downtown to Claremont Village to a local place called Eureka Burger. They both tried the beer samplers, but I went with a local white wine. We all had early bedtimes that night though (Aaron being in med school and all) so we called it a night after dinner.

On our first day off Abe and I were determined to have a Ferris-Bueller style day, only the LA version. The La Brea Tar Pits, Hollywood, Sunset Blvd., the sign, were all on our to-do list. To start the day we met up with Kevin, another friend of Abe’s from the military. Kevin was also playing tourist for the day and was seeing a lot of the sights for the first time as well.

After picking up Kevin in the company car we took off to the La Brea Tar Pits. I felt like I had done my homework, having watched the movie Volcano at least somewhat recently!

I was a little disappointed when neither Tommy Lee Jones nor Don Cheadle were there to greet us with news of an impending geological disaster, but it was still very cool!

The geology nerd in me loved it! The tar pits are actually asphalt and on cool days they’re not even viscous! Our tour guide Jesse was an absolute doll and I wish I had time to ask him where he went to school and what he studied that led him to the Tar Pits. He was outshined though by these two middle school boys who knew an impressive amount about geology and spent the entire tour WOWing all of the adults!

From the La Brea Tar Pits we moved on to your more traditional LA experience – Hollywood Boulevard! Having already been to Hollywood several times, consistently pretty disappointed, my hopes weren’t too high. Well let me tell you, when you’re driving a 27′ long hot dog it’s a lot more fun!

At the Walk of Fame in Hollywood – Foreshadowing of things to come this week!

We also grabbed some equally enormous slices of pizza while on the strip.

This pizza this came from is 28″ in diameter!

With the promise of a shiny dime to whoever saw the Hollywood sign first, we set off to find it. What’s weird is that it’s surprisingly difficult to see around Hollywood! We looked up the best place to take pictures of the sign at, and sure enough, we ended up getting some good ones!

That night Kevin and Abe hit the town, while I hit the sack. I had hopes for a big run in the morning and felt I had already had my fill of dates with celebrities for the year! You would think exercising such good judgment would have scored me some good karma points, but that next day was when the company car spent the morning parked along the freeway.

Thursday we were off to Torrance, California for the town’s 100th Birthday and classic car show. With the company car still in the shop we joked that she also had a birthday this week – her 76th birthday, and at that age everyone needs a little TLC. However, Penske called us at the event and we were able to pick up the Wienermobile and surprise everyone at the event.

Even with the company car in attendance, she still may have been one-upped by some even cooler cars and drivers.

Friday night I headed back down to Claremont Village with Aaron. Before we went out for the night, I stopped by his house and formally met Mr. Bittles, his cat. While the cat was a new addition to the Chambers’ household, I recognized a few familiar items from his college days. Including some scandalous coasters I may have jokingly made one Friday Crafternoon and the infamous OPEN sign.

It was a high class evening with drinks at the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue Bar. The Band – Big Papa and the TCB – was incredible! You might actually recognize some of their work – they do the song in the Papa John’s commercial.

I stuck with white wine for the fondue, but switched to my new favorite – Black Russians – later in the night. I meant to be in bed by 10:00, but between the music and the good conversation that just wasn’t going to happen. I love catching up with Aaron when I’m in LA because we always have so much fun together and pretty much have an identical sense of quirky and sarcastic humor.

On our final night in Claremont I convinced Abe to do something I had been wanting to do since we arrived – go see the Music Man at the Claremont Dinner Theater, which was next door to our hotel.

I absolutely adore musicals. I mean, one summer in Kansas City I saw the entire summer lineup of broadway shows at the Starlight Theater. If that’s not enough, my iTunes is pretty much a show choir soundtrack. Being an Iowa girl, I especially love The Music Man! It’s so whimsical and charming, with such good tunes, that it will never get old. After talking Abe into going, he convinced his friend Duane to come with us – I guess misery loves company!

We all had a blast though! The dinner portion was, admittedly, just alright – your typical banquet chicken/beef/veggie + starch options. The drinks and cast were phenomenal! We caught the show on its very last evening performance and you could tell the cast was really putting their all into it. Everyone from Music Man Harold Hill to little Winthrop was outstanding!

I had one more stop in the area before I could call the week a success though. My friend Michelle from Mizzou, who I have known since the first day of freshman year, had moved back home to China my senior year and I hadn’t seen her in about 15 months. She since has returned but transferred to Cal State – San Bernadino – right in the area! Monday we managed to get together for lunch and catch up!

This last week in Claremont has been really great – the perfect mix of adventure and playing tourist, but also getting together with college friends.

Up next: Simi Valley, California. It’s just the first day of the new week and I already know the next edition of Touristy Tuesday is going to be awesome! But as always – any recommendations for what to do, where to eat, or people to meet in Simi Valley?