Archive | October 2007

L.A. / Hollywood


Monday, we got up early for our planned tour of Hollywood, however the road was closed, the smoke prevented us from seeing the ocean, and stepping outside made it hard to breath. So we started looking at alternatives.

We considered moving our vacation to Las Vegas, Palm Desert, or even Lake Tahoe. But, after considering all of the options (and costs for each) most of the family decided to stay put and continue with indoor activities (like shopping). Emilie and Ethan were planning to fly home Tuesday for school anyway, and I decided to fly home too. I would rather be inside at home rather than a shopping mall or the room here, so I’m home now.

However, while we were debating and deciding all of that, they did open the road to L.A., so, we took the tour and saw:

  • Several celebrity homes
  • Hollywood sign
  • Rodeo Drive
  • Sunset Strip
  • Sony Pictures Studio (formerly MGM)
  • CBS studios
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
  • Kodak Theatre

It was sort of a whirlwind tour, but that was enough for us. The highlight was actually lunch. That wasn’t unique, we had family style at Maggiano’s because the tour stop for lunch was a mall-like area with a bunch of familiar chains.

Balboa Island


So far we’ve had nice weather; It has been in the 80s and sunny. We did think that there was a big storm moving in tonight, but it turned out to be smoke collecting in the clouds from the nearby fires outside of L.A. When we went to In-n-Out Burger, we could smell the smoke and even had ash blowing across the parking lot. We could see the fire in the distance as we drove back to the condo, too.

Prior to that excitement, though, we’d been discovering how helpful Yelp can be!

As soon as we landed we went to this local Italian restaurant near the airport, Pina’s Bistro. I was trying to decide between the meatball sandwich and the Italian sausage sandwich, so I asked the waitress for her opinion. When she said, “Well, my mom just finished making the sausage …,” I knew my decision was made!

It was delicious. Roasted red peppers, homemade Italian sausage, and fresh mozzarella on fresh bread. We plan to go back on our last day since it will be on our way back to the airport.

Matt and Jenna joined us Friday evening. Saturday, we spent the morning shopping at several unique places ranging from small boutiques on Balboa Island to large mega-malls like South Coast Plaza. We swam in the pool that afternoon and then in the evening we went to another Yelp discovery, Ikko, for sushi.

This was our first real “no-holds barred” attempt at liking sushi, and this was an awesome experience. Matt is a connoisseur, so we had a guided tour of the offerings, and everything was of the highest quality artistic, tasty, unique and super fresh. We tried everything, liked most of it, and made notes on our favorites. We spent 2 hours there, ate way too much, and had a great time!

Sunday we slept in, went to Balboa Peninsula to watch surfers, and relaxed most of the day. Jenna and Matt had an eight-hour drive ahead of them, so we said goodbye to them around 2 p.m. and then watched Emilie, Ethan, and my dad take their surfing lessons. They had a blast, though it was really tiring for them!

Tomorrow it is off to Hollywood for the some touristy tours!

The O.C.


Tomorrow morning Jantina and I, and most of my family, fly to Orange County (SNA) for a week of vacation! We are using our timeshare in Newport Beach, CA for the first time. Matt Tillman and Jenna are driving down from San Francisco to stay with us for the weekend too!

We are all pretty excited.. Emilie has the most concrete plans, wanting to surf, try sushi, and other California-y things. Jantina and I want to eat at some of the places we see on the MTV reality show, like the chocolate covered bananas from Balboa Island.

We’ll try to keep the blog updated with our adventure!

The Livery

I had lunch with Matt Ratz yesterday at The Livery in downtown Springfield.

I was in Springfield for a car appointment — it seems my tires are chopped and there’s nothing to do about it other than get new tires. I’ll just put up with the extra road noise until I have to get new tires anyway.

The Livery’s menu didn’t have much for vegetarians, but we concocted a tomato and egg pony shoe that was good. They also had sweet potato fries on the menu, but the pony shoe was enough, by far.

I updated my list of Ultimate tournaments attended, which is up to 43. [link]

New (to me) this morning: A new Captain America was announced. — with a new costume (see link for images), he’ll be carrying a gun. [link]

I see there’s a bunch of casting news for the next Star Trek movie. Seems pretty good so far.

And there’s a computer animated Thundercats movie in the works? I missed this announcement. [link] But now it has a director.

There are a few free TV show pilot episodes out there on the Internet, including a few on iTunes. I downloaded some on iTunes and watched “Moonlight” last night. I liked it enough to check out more episodes — if it isn’t on at the same time as something else I already record.

So full

Had breakfast with Troy and Matt this morning and we hung out until noon, talking. With Troy and I in or near Lincoln, Matt took advantage of the holiday to set up a breakfast while he was visiting for work this week. Good to catch up a bit.

Troy let me try Halo 3. Seems like it would take me six months to get used to all the controls.

For lunch, Julie, mom, dad and I went to an Indian buffet in Bloomington and I stuffed myself so throughly that I skipped dinner and have yet to get hungry again. I was not all that hungry because of breakfast, but Indian is irresistible.

The lunch with my parents was to celebrate Julie and my eighth wedding anniversary, which was late last week.