Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Explore

It's hard to believe that July is over as of today!  Time is just flying past.  It is weird to walk through Wal-Mart and Target and see school supplies, and know that that part of my life is over.  It's a weird transition that I am going through.

It actually RAINED today!!  First time since we have been here.  It was funny, actually.  I woke up around 6:45, and heard cars driving by (this is normal--we live on a semi-busy street, and we keep the windows open at night), but they sounded weird.  Then I realized--that was the sound of tires driving on a wet street!  It had been so long, I hadn't heard that sound for so long!

Nick and I headed out to the Santa Monica Mountain Conservatory for our Sunday hike.  We were here a couple of weeks ago, but we headed a different way tonight.  Two weeks ago, we visited the NIKE-AJAX site that stems off from this trail.  Tonight, we headed the other direction.  This trail and the NIKE trail form a 90-degree angle to each other.

First--how funny is this??  Same exact car, and from Ohio no less!!  We asked everyone we passed if it belonged to them, but to no avail.  Oh, well--made us both laugh!

 This sign is at the trailhead--we LOVE seeing that sign at the top, because that means OFF-LEASH!!
  The boys love being able to roam around.

We climbed up to the top of a hill, and found these flowers.  Anyone know what they are?  Because I am flower-stupid, and have no idea.

Because of the rain, we were able to finally see down to the coast!

 Above my finger is the NIKE-AJAX site that we hiked to a couple of weeks ago.

Good view of downtown on the left, and the 405 highway on the right.

The boys exploring!

The Sepulveda Dam in the Valley.

After a while, the boys were getting HOTTER and HOTTER.  It was 93 degrees, after all.  They kept finding the shady spots on the trail.

We could look down on a golf course, too.  It is MountainGate Country Club (thanks, Google Maps!).

It was really hot.  I love the hot weather, but I think we will be glad when it gets a *little* bit cooler so that the dogs don't poop out so fast!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Farmer's Market Rainbow

I love the Farmer's Market!  And this week, unintentionally, we got all the colors of the rainbow!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Nick's co-workers told him once, "There are two kinds of motorcyclists.  Those that have been in an accident, and those that will be in an accident."

As of today, Nick gets to move into category one.

Just to start off with, he is fine.  He was going maybe 15 mph, and was wearing all of his safety gear.  The accident occurred in the median, so there was no danger of a secondary crash.

Ok.  Now that that's out of the way....

Talking on the phone and driving is illegal in California.  And impossible on a motorcycle.  So, when Nick called me 15 minutes after leaving from work, my stomach dropped.

He started by saying, "I'm okay".

He was driving behind a VW Bug, and they pulled over to the right, like they were going to park on the side of the road.  But they did an unsignaled U-turn instead, and Nick hit the back left side of their car.  He was going slow, but he was still thrown off the bike about 4 feet or so.  No injuries to him--he has a sore wrist and sore elbow, but nothing bad.  Thank God he was wearing his helmet and protective gear.

Some views of the bike...
Front lights broken and scraped up:

I am so glad Nick was wearing his helmet, when I saw the scrapes on it!

The VW looked really bad.

 These are the front forks that go to either side of the front tire.  The gray parts should not be cracked at all.

Top-down view of the right side (mirror broken, and lights cracked):

Loaded up on the tow truck!

Initial estimate of damage is $8800.

So thankful again, that Nick was protected.  He was going slow.  He was not on a highway.  There was no additional traffic.  The other guy stopped and gave his information.  There was another lady who witnessed the accident.  Nick was able to get up and go into work without any trouble.

We have some minor inconveniences for a few days, but compared to what might have been, I am thankful for the inconveniences.

People have asked if I am nervous about Nick riding here.  Honestly, I am not.  Nick is a smart man, and a good driver.  And although it is very common to say, I know that God is the one who keeps Nick safe.  I believe that.  Right now, a motorcycle is what makes the most sense for him and our family.  And I trust that God will continue to keep him safe.  As He did today.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

About Traffic

I heard a lot about the traffic in Los Angeles.  A lot.  So much, in fact, that I think I built it up really big in my head.

I haven't had a problem with the traffic here in LA.  I have had some traffic jams, but really nothing too bad.  We live in the Valley, so the traffic isn't really too bad anytime.  But we go to Hollywood every weekend for church, and the traffic isn't that bad in that part of town, either.  The big build-up that I had for so long heard about made me think that the traffic in LA really isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

That is, until yesterday.

Nick and I got tickets to a screening of the new movie "Attack the Block".  The movie was scheduled to start at 7:30 at the LA Film School...about 2 blocks over from Hollywood/Highland interchange.  This interchange is where the Kodak theater is, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre--HUGE tourist hangout.

I left my house at 5:00, and was supposed to meet Nick at 6:00 by the film school.  When I told him I left, he said that I would probably be getting there at 6:30.  I thought there was no way that it would take me an hour and a half to go the 22 miles from my house to the school.

Ha.  I'm so Ohio naive.

First, the highway traffic was stop and go the whole way.  The fastest I went was 45 mph.  Then, I followed Google Maps and took a canyon road instead of the highway, which was fine, until it dumped me out right at Hollywood and Highland, where I ran into this:

That is the front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and the normal 6 lanes of traffic were funneled down to 2 lanes because of the mass of people.  I thought that it was a footprint ceremony (celebrities put their foot and handprints in blocks of cement in front of the theatre).  I finally fought my way through the traffic (took me 35 minutes to go 2 blocks), and got to the school for the movie.  I arrived at 6:45.

On the way home, it was worse.  Since I didn't follow the GPS on the way to the movie, and it had gotten me so messed up, I decided to follow the GPS on the route home.  BAD IDEA.  Because then I was re-routed because of this:

Turns out that the throng of people I had driven through a couple hours before were gathered for a movie premiere AND dance party--and it had gotten out of control and started a riot.  There were 3 blocks shut down, and anyone who was in a building was locked in the building for over an hour while the police got everyone off the block.  (Anyone else see the irony of the situation considering the title of the movie we went to see??)  For the news story, click here.

So, because of the floods of people and the detours, what was again a 22-mile journey took an hour and a half.  (and it took me an hour of that to get 3 blocks)


Before driving back, Nick and I went to get some food (STARVING!).  It was 10:30, and I was wondering out loud if anything would be open.  Nick said, "This is LA!  Everything is still open!"  We headed to In-and-Out Burger...and I was stunned to see how many people were eating!  It's not like it was a weekend.  It was Wednesday night.

(notice how so many people are wearing long sleeves??)

During our dinner, I was musing to Nick about how this is by far the biggest city I have ever lived in.  Technically, that isn't true--I lived in Beijing for 2 years, which out-populates LA by about 10 million people.  But, I feel like this city is MUCH bigger.  I think it is because LA really doesn't sleep.  The city was bustling at 10:30pm, with no signs of slowing down.  Beijing had a bedtime of 9:00.  Dayton definitely had a bedtime. Even my little part of LA shuts down about 10:00.

Nick was asking if I would be interested in moving to that part of the city.  I said an emphatic NO.  While I would love to be closer to the "action", I realize that it really isn't my scene.  I like that my (old people) part of LA really isn't that exciting--I love the quietness of the evenings.  And I love my no traffic part of the city.

Until the next...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Favorites

Part of the fun of a new city, is learning your new favorites.  Where are you going to go to shop?  What is your favorite thing to do for fun?  Favorite restaurant?

Over the last month that Nick and I have been here, we have been slowly finding some of our favorites.

Nick's favorite restaurant by far is Poquito Mas.  They have homemade tortillas, fresh ingredients, and lots of cilantro.  Which means, it isn't MY favorite.  But thankfully I have found something on their menu that I can eat.  :)  I actually don't know what my favorite restaurant would be yet.  Still working on it...

We head to Ralph's for groceries.  Ralph's is a partner of Kroger--so we can still use our Kroger Plus Card!  I am also going to be going to the Farmer's Market for fresh produce.

We haven't found a great Mexican restaurant yet.

We have tried many different Chinese restaurants, but the best food is actually in the same block as us: Little Siam.  YUMMY.  Lots of Chinese restaurants here are buffet-style, which means you get a styrofoam container and fill it with 3 or 4 pre-made dishes.  Yick.  Anyone ever have Panda Express?  Same type of deal.  I think it's disgusting, but maybe I am a snobby Chinese food eater.

There are two malls really close to us.  One is like the Dayton Mall, and one is like the (old) Salem Mall.  They are separated from each other by an open block (that they are turning into a Greene-type outdoor mall).  The Topanga Plaza (Dayton Mall) has all of the major chain stores (Am. Eagle, Sephora, Apple, Journeys, H&M, etc), plus a Target, an awesome food court (much more high-end), and a bunch of high-fashion places, too (Michael Kors, Armani Exchange, Jimmy Choo).  The Westfield Promenade (Salem Mall) has a bunch of no-name stores and karate dojos.  But they also have the Barnes and Noble, Maggiano's, Corner Bakery Cafe (which is like a Panera), and the AMC Theater.

The best fountain Mt. Dew spot is the 7-11 near us.  There aren't many McDonald's close, but the one with the best sweet tea is the McD's in the Wal-Mart.  (which, btw...we live within 5 minutes of one of 3 Wal-Marts in all of Los Angeles County.  not sure if this is a lucky thing or not.)

Places we miss:
Los Reyes mexican restaurant
El Toro mexican restaurant
China Garden/Dragon City

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday Explore

We skipped our traditional Sunday Hike in favor of a touristy day.  Our friend Jud came into town for the weekend from San Diego, so we decided to show him the town.  After a morning service at Ecclesia, we headed to the famous Pink's Hot Dog stand.  We were able to go, thanks to the awesome generosity of a student, who gave me a gift certificate as a going-away present (still don't know how she did it--you can't buy them online!).

Pink's is at the corner of Melrose and La Brea Avenues, really close to Hollywood Blvd.  It has been in this location for 71 years!

There are over 50 different hot dog combinations that you can get here--a lot of them named in honor of the celebrities that created them.  Jud had an Emeril Bam! dog, Nick had a Philly Cheesesteak dog, and I had a sauerkraut dog.

The outside seating area is nice and shaded, with a lot of fun artwork along the walls.

(super-short new haircut alert!)

Nick's hotdog is on top, while mine is below.  Both hotdogs were amazing!  The onion rings were delectable, too.  We also had fries, which were seasoned like Arby's curly fries--fine by me!

We both decided that we will DEFINITELY be returning here--yummy food!  (beware--cash only establishment!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Time for Everything...

I have tried to post from my phone for the last couple of days, but it hasn't been working.  Sorry about the lack of updates!

There are a lot of things that I am doing for the first time here.  Yes, some of these things are kind of ridiculous that I am doing for the first time.

1.  First time making freshly squeezed lemonade--from the lemons on our tree out back!  Little bit of a learning curve--next time we will use less water--but it was still good!  I feel like I am a better cook out here--maybe its because I actually have time to think about it?

2. We got our first package!!  My mom's dear friend Robyn noticed that we were going hiking a lot, so she bought these water bottle/dish combinations for the boys.  You know what is awesome?  We actually had one of these, and I noticed that during the move, the spout had ripped off.  I was just thinking that we needed to get a replacement.  What perfect timing, Robyn!  It's just like camp and college--when you move away from home, packages are awesome!!

3.  This morning, I went to the Farmer's Market for the first time!  I bought lettuce, spinach, tomatoes (best tasting tomatoes ever), sweet corn, tortilla chips (Homeboy chips--made by ex-cons--don't you love the name??), pomegranate dressing/marinade, flowers, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.  All for $32.  The most expensive things were the dressing and the chips.  I am definitely going to be visiting here every Saturday.  It's only about 5 minutes from my house!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stuff Christians Like

This post really spoke to me today:

"Because I think he knew how important relationships are. I think he knew that if you build a platform and when you stand on it no one really knows you, you’re alone. There might be a crowd of people around you, but if nobody knows you, that’s the worst kind of loneliness there is."

Beach Day

Nick had a business meeting in San Francisco today, so I took the dogs to Summerland.  They had a good time, and have been zonked out ever since we got back!

Note to self: an excess of sea water makes the dogs have unfortunate bodily functions.  I found this out the hard way.  Yuck.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Explore

(again, camera phone.  I actually took my point-and-shoot tonight, but the batteries were dead!  picture fail)

For tonight's Sunday explore, we traveled to the San Vicente Mountain Park, about 15 minutes southeast of our house.  Thankfully, today was one of the clearest days that we have had since arriving in LA, so we were able to see the full view from the top of the lookout.  It was a steady 1000-ft. climb to the lookout from the parking lot, but a nice wide dirt road led us there.  Nick didn't enjoy it--he kept getting buzzed by bugs--but we are glad we came.

In the 1960s, this area housed one of sixteen LA area NIKE-AJAX supersonic anti-aircraft missile radar sites.  It is no longer in use, but the outbuildings and the platforms still exist, along with a self-guided tour.  It was neat to walk around the site and view the buildings that are slowly being overtaken by nature.  Awesome that we don't have to live in fear like most Americans did during the Cold War.

Gus and Waldo and I at the sentry post.  It used to be guarded 24/7.

This tower is where one of the main radars stood:

A view back down the path we came up, and into the Valley:

From the top of the radar tower, looking over the eastern part of the Valley.

It was amazingly clear today--one of the clearest days we have had!  You can see downtown LA on the left.  We could actually see the coastline all the way down to Long Beach--this view is amazing!  You can see why they chose it as a missile radar point.

Me and my boyz

Slightly more zoomed in, with downtown LA in the background.

Waldo the sentry guard:

Gus wants to be a watchdog, too!

The end of another perfect weather day here in sunny SoCal!