Well we arrived in Los Angeles about noon, waited for the shuttle to take us to the car rental place, got our car and headed to the Radisson by LAX. Even though the hotel was right next to LAX, we were not bothered one bit by the aircraft landing and taking off. After settling in at the hotel—I unpacked and placed all my clothes in the drawers and in the closet, but Kristy (my sis) did not—we turned on the GPS system, which we name Allie, in the Dodge Charger we rented and drove to Santa Monica Pier. As the sun began to set, the lights on the rides on the pier began to shine brightly against the sky, and it made for some pretty cool shots of the rides. After photographs we ate at the Mexican Restaurant. We had crab nachos. I do not recommend these, as they were just “okay.” But the drinks were darn good. I had an on-the-rocks-dirty-with-salt margarita, and Kristy drank an amaretto margarita…YUM YUM………the salsa and guacamole were good too. Then we headed “home” and went to bed. We were still on EST and CST time, so we went to bed fairly early.
We woke up around 5:00 (PST) and drove to Marina del Rey for some sunrise photos of the boats, stopping by Starbucks for my usual venti-quad-no-whip mocha, and skinny chai latte for Kristy, on the way. Since we had not actually driven to the marina to see where a good place to take photographs would be, the photos were just not that great. We went back “home” and got ready for the day. We planned to drive to the Joshua Tree National Forest, which is about 2 hours outside of LA. It was a great drive, and we saw many many many wind turbines, though we did not stop to take photos. Perhaps, I’ll get those on the next trip. In addition to the Joshua Trees, there were many cool rock formations in the park. We took lots of pictures. By the time we left the park, it was too late to make it back to LA for sunset photos, so once again we headed “home.” We ate and drank in the restaurant at the top of the Radisson. We had quesadillas, screwdrivers, wine, and pizza. Again we went to bed somewhat early.
This was a very full day. Again, we were up by 5:00 am and traveled to Kenneth Hahn Park, again with coffee and tea. Kenneth Hahn Park is in the middle of LA, and gives a great view of downtown, Hollywood Hills, and the other Mountain ranges. It was soooooo beautiful to watch the sunrise over LA from Kenneth Hahn Park. I highly recommend catching day’s beginning from here. After Kenneth Hahn, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the day. We used Allie to guide us to Sunset Blvd via La Cienega (this is a really really long street, as many are in LA). As we passed Norms Diner, we were suddenly hungry, so we drove around the block and parked at Norms. Norms was fun, and our server was great. The food was excellent as well. I ordered 2 scrambled eggs, hash browns (YUM) and an English muffin. Kristy ordered a California omelette, hash browns and an English muffin. After Norms, we headed to Griffith Observatory to check it out for the next morning’s sunrise, via Sunset Blvd. Once the researching for the next morning was complete, we headed back to Sunset Blvd to drive it the entire length to the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood and ending in Malibu. Point Dume in Malibu was the location for sunset photographs this day. We parked at Point Dume State Park, but had to climb some rocks to get a secluded section of beach where I wanted to take the photos. We arrived somewhat early so it was easy to see where I wanted to set up to watch the day end. While we waited we walked in the water (it was COLD), just sat, and Kristy wrote her name in the sand. Then the sun began its final descent, and the almost-full moon ascended above the rocks behind us. A family played in the water watching the sunset as well. After capturing the sunset shots, I packed my camera and tripod and we began our rock climbing back to the other side. As we were climbing, my attention was called to a guy that we were getting ready to pass on the rocks. He was traveling in the opposite direction than us. He kept pulling his hood over his face, as if he didn’t want anyone to see him. He didn’t do a very good job of hiding, as I think I recognized him as an actor. Before I realized who he was (if it really was him), I asked him how he was. Specifically I think I asked, "Hi. How are you?", though I can't recall precisely. He didn’t answer, and instead, just stared at me as we passed each other. Once we made it the other side of the rocks, I took my camera back out and took some more shots as the night sky moved closer. After pictures, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We had reservations at Ago on Melrose Ave. It was a quite a cute restaurant and the food was very good. We started with wine, white for me, red for Kristy. We ate a fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil as an appetizer. Then for the main course, I had a Marguerita Pizza (I Love pizza!), and Kristy ate shrimp ravioli. Then to top off dinner, we ate tiramisu and some delicious rich chocolate mousse for dessert. YUM YUM YUM. I recommend this restaurant if you are in LA. Then we went home.
Oops…we forgot to set the alarm, so we missed sunrise this day. But that was fine because we were able to sleep in just a bit. So we got ready for the day, and headed to the Ivy for brunch. Lunch was good though, and the bloody mary’s were quite spicy. I ate huevos rancheros and Kristy had crabcakes. After lunch, we headed over to NBC Studios to see where Ellen’s Studio is, since we were planning to try and get Ellen tickets the next day. Once we saw where we would be going for Ellen, we headed to Mulholland Drive. It was a very curvy but very fun street to drive. There were many cool houses and great views of the city. We drove it all the entire length one way, turned around and drove it again in the other direction, stopping to catch the views of LA. After driving Mulholland Dr, we instructed Allie to take us to Point Vicente, near Palos Verdes. This was one of my favorite photograph spots of the trip. On the point is a working lighthouse on top of rugged cliffs. The glow of the setting sun reflected on the rocky cliffs and created a dramatic setting. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! After sunset we drove Sepulveda (also Pacific Coast 1) back to the hotel. For dinner we ate at In-N-Out Burger. We each got a cheeseburger, and fries, though I had my fries animal style (with cheese, grilled onions, and their special sauce). You should have seen the line in the drive through at this place. There were cars lined up for at least a block. It seemed to be a very popular place to eat. And it was good good! Then to bed we went.
Monday 1/21/08 (my birthday)
Originally we planned to get up really really early to wait in line to TRY and get Ellen tickets. We decided against this and instead started the day by heading to Rodeo Dr at 5:00 am or so. Upon arriving to Rodeo Dr, we each did cartwheels in the street in front of Georgio Armani—just for the sake of doing them (and possibly the start of a non-profit organization called Cartwheel Club with details to be determined). After Rodeo Dr, was Starbucks, where Kristy ordered her skinny chai latte, and I ordered my usual venti-quad-no-whip mocha. With coffee and tea in hands, we drove to the Griffith Observatory for the morning sunrise, since we had missed it the day before. As we approached the driveway to the observatory, we were told that the road was closed because a movie was being filmed. We parked along the edge of the road and walked up the hill. Once near the observatory, we headed to the side that faced downtown LA. The clouds were dramatic as the sun began to arise above the mountains. A colorful rainbow and beautiful clouds hovered over the lush greenery of the hills and valleys near Griffith Park and the observatory itself. The light was perfect, and it was a breathtaking and stunningly gorgeous morning. Afterwards Kristy found out that the movie being filmed was “Yes, Man." We hung around for awhile until the rain stopped the filming. When this happened we headed over to NBC Studios to see if we could by chance get tickets. Kristy and I had both tried to get them online to no avail. A production assistant, however, was kind enough to hand us stand-by tickets when we asked for them (because it was my birthday I think). With tickets #228 and #229 in our possession, we headed back to Griffith Observatory to watch more of the filming. We watched the filming for a bit, and then headed to the Denny’s on Alameda Ave. for lunch before the Ellen show. Moons Over My Hammy is what each of us ate. Then to the show we went. There was a lot of waiting, but everyone was nice and tried to pump us up for the show. Though we were not able to be part of the audience, because a lot people with guaranteed tickets showed up. We still had a blast in the riff raff room!! Ellen even came in and danced before the show started. At the end of the show, a production assistant came looking for Kristy Harris. She said that they wanted Kristy to perform her “talent” that she has filled out on the pre-show survey……We were laughing so hard that they wanted to see her throw a basketball really high and then catch it behind her back. Who knew she would be called on it. She was able to do it though, even after years of not having done it!We went back to the hotel for a drink, and then returned the rental car and Kristy flew on a red-eye flight. I took a shuttle back to the hotel and left early the next morning……..Overall, it was an awesome trip!