SoCal 2016, Day Two

… way later than I wanted to get to this, I’m back for the second day of our baby trip to Southern California.

We spent the night in Santa Barbara in a Holiday Inn Express, but the building used to be a different hotel and is on the National Register for Historic Places.


We ate a bit of the hotel breakfast (yay pancake machine!) but wanted better coffee so we left the hotel and walked down the main drag in town. We couldn’t really find a good local coffee shop, so had to settle for *siiiiiiigh* Starbucks. It’s okay, though, because we bought a “You are Here” LA mug for our friend Jeremy who collects them. After coffee, we were apparently still hungry and stopped at a local restaurant, Joe’s Cafe, for second breakfast.

I had this breakfast sandwich, which sounded really good on the menu, but was actually quite underwhelming. Good breakfast is hard to find for us, because we have kind of mastered breakfast in the kitchen …

After that, we left the hotel, drove around town for a while so I could see the places Brandon went when he overnighted there a few years back, and then back on the PCH to head back to LA.

Stopped on the Pacific Coast Highway.

We decided to do this trip on the complete fly and not plan for it – completely NOT like us at all – and while it kind of worked on day one, it failed us on day two. We ended up back in LA not knowing what to do at all
(though we randomly did find ourselves at the home of Jeopardy! …). I wanted to see Rodeo Drive, so we drove through through the hills to get to Beverly Hills. We didn’t actually stop to browse Rodeo (though maybe we should have), so no pictures from that.

From there, all Brandon knew was that he wanted to get his toes in the sand, so we randomly headed to Hermosa Beach.

Enjoyed the sign on this place.

Feet in the water.

Brandon looking out over the water.

I wrote in the sand.

Dinosaurs enjoying the view.

After beach time, we found a hotel pseudo-near the airport in Long/Manhattan Beach, chilled out for a while … and then went to probably one of the worst possible options for dinner …

Yep, Sizzler. Neither of us had eaten at one in, geez, probably close to 20, 25 years?, and after a very … adequate … dinner, we decided we don’t need to go back for at least that long again. See ya, Sizzler, see you again when I’m in my 50s. Maybe.

Since dinner was, shall we say, disappointing, Brandon found us a local ice cream shop. They didn’t have my standbys, unfortunately (coffee and/or mint chocolate chip), but they did have a killer chocolate that worked quite well.


Ice cream consumed, back to the hotel to sleep and then off to LAX the next morning to head back to Denver.

SoCal 2016, Day One

About a week or so ago, Brandon and I decided we needed to get the hell out of dodge (that is, Denver) and go on vacation. Okay, truthfully, we decided that quite a ways back, but we actually only managed it in late February. Brandon had some days off so I just decided to take them as well. We also figured, hell, we have the airline benefits, we may as well use them!

My criteria were as follows:
– warm
– no more than one time zone away (sorry, east coast/alaska/hawaii/world)
– flight preferably no longer than two, two and a half hours.

We ended up narrowing it down to northern California, southern California, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Arizona (probably Tucson). We really didn’t want to do the latter two, as we always go there. About a week out, Brandon started keeping an eye on flights and we decided on SoCal.

Early Wednesday the 24th, we hopped a flight to LAX and started a mini vacation.

Our first stop, since we were kind of hungry? LA icon, Randy’s Donuts.


We split two doughnuts – a glazed twist and a chocolate frosted.


Super sugary and super delicious. We’re still partial to Donut Maker here in town, but they were definitely tasty.

After Randy’s, I remarked that I’d never actually seen the Hollywood sign live (or close enough to get a picture of it), so we decided to go somewhere we could see it. The internet said a great viewing spot was actually on Hollywood Blvd, so off to play tourist it was.

The old 7-Up machine caught our eye; loved this old motel.

We found a meter off Hollywood Boulevard and then it was off to explore some. As we’re not the most hip when it comes to pop culture, we completely spaced that the Oscars were that Sunday, so a good chunk of the Walk of Fame was blocked off for show setup.


We were still able to access Graumann’s Chinese Theatre and see the hand/foot prints in cement, though, which was totally awesome.


Harry Potter!

Concrete panels. Plus Bogey’s message is hysterical.

R2D2 and C-3PO’s “foot prints” cracked me up.

The “Rocky” nerds in us enjoyed Sly’s message.

I chose to unrealistically put myself in Donald’s webbed prints …

The internet was also accurate in that the shopping center there did have a great vantage point for viewing the Hollywood(land) sign.


After that, it was looking at all the stars and finding some of our favorites.



Not a star, but loved the sign.

Best. Graffiti. Ever.

I’m not sharing all my star photos, but the ones I snagged were Sylvester Stallone (Rocky!), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones is my spirit animal), Alex Trebek (Jeopardy! for life), and Al Michaels (Do you believe in miracles? YES!).

At that point, we were pretty hungry, so off to In-N-Out it was. I think the dinosaurs were more excited for it, though …


After lunch, we decided on something slightly more high-brow and headed to the La Brea tar pits. Thanks to our Denver Museum of Nature and Science membership, we were able to get in for free (much like the Natural History Museum in Vegas we go visit). Hooray for reciprocity!


Flowers in bloom near the pits.

For some reason, “Asphalt and People” cracked me up. However, this also shows an atlatl, which are freaking cool as hell.

Husband pulling up metal rods through the asphalt.

Cross-section of the pit.

Active dig site.

After La Brea, we made Santa Monica our next stop.

There was a tiny, cheap aquarium at the pier, so we stopped in.

If it’s on a pier, is it really the last burger *on land*?





After that, it was off to the Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Barbara for the night.


Sunset in Santa Barbara.

On the pier.

Not dinner, but loved this place aesthetically.

We did end up eating at a place called Longboard’s Grill, also on the pier. It … was okay. The clam chowder just reaffirmed my decision to not eat it outside of New England (or maaaaaaaybe San Francisco/Seattle). Brandon’s swordfish
was over peppered. Really, good swordfish just needs a bit of lemon (and perhaps a dash of butter) to be delicious. My lobster roll, well …
… I’m realizing how important the proper bun really is for the enjoyment of a good lobster roll. Longboard’s? Did not have it.

After that long day, back to the hotel …

(day two coming soon.)