In the Rear View

Wine Country

Wednesday, May 21 2008 at 3:33 PM by Rick

Even if you don't love wine, you'll love Sonoma.

It's a beautiful, laid-back area where people appreciate good company, good food, and of course, good wine. The town center is oriented around The Plaza, which is a park lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. We spent most of our time at the vineyards.

We first visited Gundlach-Bundschu, a mid-sized winery. The wine tasting was well-done and we learned a bit about the company, their vintages and vineyards. Most important, we learned about Chris Loxton.

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Friday, May 16 2008 at 3:54 PM by Rick

Since it was Mother's day, we spent a bit of time at Al's sister's house. Her place was gorgeous, the inground pool was complete with fiery torches and dolphin water fountains and mosaic.

We then went on the grand tour of San Fran. We saw all the major stuff.  We drove down Lombard street, the famously steep street in SF with an impressive number of hairpin turns. After safely navigating that stretch, we watched what appeared to be a Chinese drug deal, followed by a woman pumping gas with rubber kitchen gloves. Talk about germophobia. We walked the pier and Wharf, saw the sea lions, bushman, and cruised the coast for a bit. We crossed the Golden Gate bridge for one photo opportunity, then visited China Beach for a second shot. By this time we were getting hungry, so we stopped off for a bite at the Fairmont Hotel, but not before talking with an old rich woman who, based on her lack of social skills and attire, hadn't been outdoors or talked to a non-servant-type-person since roughly 1930.

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Brotherly Love

Friday, May 16 2008 at 3:44 PM by Rick

Not in Philly, but in San Francisco.

We stayed at the home of my brother Terry and his boyfriend Al, who live in lovely Pleasanton, a peaceful suburb of San Francisco.  Beds were awaiting our sleepy heads, which was fantastic.

The morning after our arrival we went out for breakfast in Pleasanton at a restaurant boasting quite possibly the largest omelette menu in existence--pushing 200 unique combinations. A great start to a busy day.

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Thankee Kindly

Friday, May 16 2008 at 3:37 PM by Rick

To Ali for letting us crash at her pad and for showing us the sights, even in between her crazy schedule. Much appreciated. Big shout out to Scott as well--good luck on the upcoming project.

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Friday, May 16 2008 at 3:36 PM by Rick

Today we drove around Hollywood Boulevard people watching. We saw plenty of wackos. One of our personal favorites was the Anonymous protest, complete with Guy Fawkes masks, outside the Church of Scientology building.

We also went to Hollywood hills and hiked up close to the Hollywood sign. The roads there are narrow, winding, and stupidly dangerous. In addition to the sign and a cult of German lesbian tourists, we saw the most awesome garage door ever--one that looks like a huge wall of shelves filled with books. Seriously, check the pics.

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Dodgers get worked

Friday, May 16 2008 at 3:35 PM by Rick

Since Ali had to work, we ate dinner where she bartends, the Bombay Cafe. She made us some kickass ginger margaritas and lemonades, the perfect complement to our delicious Indian food.

We then went to Dodger Stadium, which was much less satisfying. The Dodgers lost to the Astros, 6-1. It was a generally ugly game with few highlights other than playing hardball with a scalper and almost losing my ID to Julio of security (unrelated incidents). The huge Coronas were cool too.

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The tar pits are just that

Thursday, May 15 2008 at 1:51 PM by Rick

We'd both heard of the La Brea tar pits, but for some reason, expected a little more.

At its geologic peak, the tar pits were gloopy bubbling pools of tar. It's still a naturally occurring seep, but these days it's more of an oil slick on a small pond.

They do have a completely mediocre museum (which, thankfully, we did not pay admission to) and a needlessly graphic life-size sculpture of a mother elephant drowning in tar while her baby looks on in horror.

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On the Santa Monica Boulevard

Thursday, May 15 2008 at 1:51 PM by Rick

The drive through, in, and around Hollywood and Santa Monica was chock full of all the famous streets you hear about: Sunset, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Wilshire, Crenshaw, etc.

We cruised a bit on our way to the Santa Monica pier and once there, walked the typical gambit of artists and performers. Though a bit chilly, the sun was out and the beach front was nice.

The 3rd street promenade had a bit more to offer. The street musicians were a clear cut above the pier folk. We stopped in one of four Starbucks along the way and meandered in and out of a few stores on the way back to the car.

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Papa Razzi

Thursday, May 15 2008 at 1:50 PM by Rick

Flashbulbs were a flutter outside Katsuya, an A-list sushi place in Hollywood.

In the early evening, We arrived at Jay's friend Ali's house in West Hollywood. After settling in and doing some laundry, we went out to dine with the stars.

The joint was trendy, the people were plastic, and the food was excellent. Particularly the watermelon cucumber mojitos and creme brulee. However, we could have done without the creepy blank-eyed Kabuki faces that appear in the mirrors as you're washing your hands. Freaky.

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Into the Wild

Thursday, May 15 2008 at 1:48 PM by Rick

We took the Pacific Coast highway north to LA.

On the way, we stopped at the once-bustling but now abandoned Salton Sea area, near where they shot some of "Into the Wild." It was desolate and we'd already seen more shadowy and suspicious deserted towns, so after a bit of exploring, we moved on.

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