Monday, August 31, 2009

Carbon Leaf with Sleeperstar, 28 August 2009

This was the first AMP event of the year, the welcome back concert on campus. They brought Carbon Leaf and Sleeperstar to Lake Matoaka. I like Carbon Leaf, plus it was free for students, so I decided I'd go. It was at 8, and I left at about 7:45 with my friend from freshman year, Amallie, who I hadn't seen since we were sophomores. When we got there Sleeperstar had already started playing. I hadn't minded getting there late since I only cared about Carbon Leaf. We sat in chairs at first but then I suggested we stand so we could get a decent spot. Sleeperstar soon played a version of "Such Great Heights" and it rocked, and I suddenly realized I was really enjoying them and had been before. They were pretty dancy, and not overly loud. It began pouring, really coming down, and I was glad I had brought a raincoat. The stage was under a cover so rain didn't stop anything. They played a song called "Texas Rain" which seemed appropriate. We were dancing and everybody was really into it and it was extremely fun. Eventually Sleeperstar went offstage didn't come back despite everyone calling for one more song. But then they had to set up for Carbon Leaf. I actually only know two Carbon Leaf songs. Their new stuff sounds a lot different. They were really loud and I guess I was standing next to the speaker that the guitar was coming through because pretty much all I could hear was distortion. I went to the bathroom and then went to the Sleeperstar merch tent, where I met the band. They were super friendly and nice and I bought a CD and a poster which I shoved down my shirt, hoping it wouldn't get ruined. I went back to up near the front but got progressively more headachy because I could feel the loudness squeezing in my head. After I heard "Life Less Ordinary" I had to move to the back of the amphitheater because I couldn't take it anymore. After they played "The Boxer" which was the last song before the encore I made my way back to the dorm. I wasn't as into Carbon Leaf as I expected but it was cool to hear the two songs I knew. The rain poured the entire time which you would think, for an outdoor concert, would make it miserable. But actually it just became ridiculously fun. The Sleeperstar part was probably the best concert I've been to. The Carbon Leaf part was just so-so. And my poster didn't get totally ruined! Score.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The last day in SF and campus

Our last day, Jeff and I attempted to eat at Assab, an Eritrean restaurant, but it was closed for lunch. Then we got some food from Bean Bag Cafe and some fruit from a fruit stand. Then we played Mario Kart Wii until it was time to head to the airport. The flight went smoothly, and we met a guy from Snow Hill, MD! We had trouble finding Jeff's mom's car because while she gave us a very specific location, she did not tell us which lot. The flight got in early, but between having to get luggage since it had to be gate checked and finding the car we got to Jeff's at 1:30. Then we had some mac n cheese, and then went to sleep. In the morning I stayed as long as I felt possible and then came to Williamsburg. Left my ID at Jeff's, which was annoying but he mailed it to me and I got it today. One of my headlights was dangling out but the campus police fixed it. Went to the activities fair and saw lots of people I knew. Today I had classes and picked up my ID and went to lunch with Zach and his new girlfriend Kat who I have Culture and Cuisine with. Went to Juggling Club and eventually Skittles showed up (besides me and Sabrina) and we also got 2 new freshman, a guy named London and a guy named Joe. Then I hung out with Edris for a while and now I am procrastinating going to bed for some reason. Mom is coming to help me move the rest of my stuff tomorrow. I also talked to Will on the phone for a little while which was nice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vancouver, Seattle, SF part 2

Monday, August 17: Hannah, Jeff, Laura, and I got ready to leave at 9 and actually left around that time. I drove and we went across the Lion's Gate Bridge then along the highway to Squamish. We stopped at Murrin Lake and stayed there for several hours. Jeff and I went up the hillside then he kept going and I went along and went around the lake then down a long path which I jogged on. Then I sat and read by the lakeside. Later on I ate lunch and Jeff got back then we went bouldering and scrambling up some rocks. Then we went to Shannon Falls which was very pretty. We drove by the Stawamish Chief, which is a huge cliff face which people climb up. Jeff drove back and we went to Laura's. Then Hannah, Jeff, and I walked to Safeway for dinner stuff and Jeff went to take Laura to work and Hannah and I went to a little café. Then back to Laura's and I made myself a box of mac and cheese. After that Amy returned (she had wandered in the city for the day) and we went to Granville Island. We caught the tail end of the Public Market but everything else was closed. Jeff, Andrea (Laura's sister), and I got some gelato. We sat on a dock for a while then walked around and met up with Gavin and Liisa. Then we went to see the sunset at English Bay and walk around in the gay district. We got some food (Beard Papa's, and Jeff got some falafel). Then went to a Korean place and did karaoke for an hour in a room which was fun but I had to pay for 3 people. Sally came and sang with us too. Afterwards Amy and I got some subs at Subway, then we all went to bed.

Tuesday, August 18: We got up and left Laura's around 10:30 or so and went to Lynn Canyon Park and walked over the suspension bridge which was pretty and terrifying (for me). Then we left Vancouver. The drive wasn't long but we had to wait at the border for quite a while. We got through no problem though and went on towards Seattle. We went to Babeland, a vibrator store, so that people could get some stuff. Then we tried to go to Mighty O Donuts but failed because it was closed. So we went to a café next door and got wireless and made a plan. We went to Bengal Tiger, an Indian restaurant, for dinner. It was quite good (I got vegetarian tikka masala) but really hot in the restaurant (turn on some fans, maybe?). Then we went down the street to Green Lake and watched the sun set. After that we tried to find a Motel 6 by the airport and ended up actually at the airport but got to the Motel 6 eventually.

Wednesday, August 19: We were all up and out by 10 and went straight to Pike Place Market. We spent an hour there and it was amazing. So many vendors, so many free samples. There was a cool antique shop nearby and a great artisanal cheese place. There were some cool street performers. We saw someone selling really awesome animal hats made of recycled polarfleece. Lots of fruit, interesting pastas, and plenty of fish. We went up to the place where they throw the fish but didn't stick around long enough to see anything. After that Jeff and I got grilled cheese sandwiches at the cheese place (called Beecher's, it claims to have the best cheddar in America and it very well might), then we went to Pizza Pi for Amy to get vegan pizza. The grilled cheese sandwiches, which had 2 types of cheese, basil, and tomato, were the best I've ever had! Next we went to Mighty O Donuts, which is all vegan. It's delicious! I got a sprinkled donut. After that we went to Discovery Park and over to West Point Lighthouse. There was a pretty beach and view of the Puget Sound. We then drove to Portland, passing through downtown Seattle and by the Space Needle. Jeff and I grabbed subs at Subway for dinner. We got into Portland and put our stuff in Hannah's house. Then Hannah drove us half an hour or more to her friend Cailin's apartment and she was cool; we played Ticket to Ride and played with her roommate's dog, but we were there for far too long. Then came back to Hannah's and slept in the little room again.

Thursday, August 20: We got up early to drive back to Yuba City. It was a long drive and not terribly exciting. Got Taco Bell for lunch and Subway for dinner. Watched Waiting for Guffman at Amy's and then went to bed.

Friday, August 21: Got up and Amy took us to Sacramento, then we bussed to San Francisco. We took the city bus to Patrick's apartment and hung out for a bit. Then we went to Ike's Place for dinner. I got a sandwich with veggie turkey, raspberry poppyseed French dressing, Havarti, and some veggies - delicious. We ate in Dolores Park and watched people playing with dogs and doing capoeira. Then we went to Tartine, a well-liked SF bakery. I got a chocolate chip cookie, which was very good and had extremely rich chocolate almost throughout the cookie. After that we came back to Patrick's and watched some Survivorman. There is a street food festival tomorrow that we are probably going to.

Saturday, August 22: I slept in a bit later than Jeff because I didn't sleep much due to a toothache. We had bagels around noon. We then set out for the SF Street Food Festival on Folsom between 25th and 26th. We decided to walk there and walked most of the way down Mission, which was pretty cool. The festival was jam-packed but had lots of good looking food. The lines were ridiculous, though, so we didn't get anything there. We walked around the block to look for some restaurants and ended up at Quickly Froyo, some sort of Asian crepery with lots of fried stuff. We both got avocado pesto crepes, Jeff's with fresh fruit and mine with fries. It was delicious, but I had trouble eating it due to my tooth. We had stopped at Walgreen's on the way to the festival and I had gotten some Anbesol so I was able to numb my tooth after lunch. We walked back through the festival but it was still really crowded so we decided to do some sightseeing. We took the BART to near Chinatown and walked through Chinatown. It was really cool, and we walked in a lot of awesome colorful packed-to-the-brim souvenir shops. We then walked up Columbus to find the City Lights Bookstore. We went the wrong way at first but got there eventually. We sat reading poetry there for a while, and a guy criticized my taste in poetry. Eventually our batteries were recharged and I decided I'd like some Italian for dinner. Luckily we were right at North Beach, the Italian neighborhood. We walked past lots of expensive places including the Stinking Rose, a garlic themed restaurant. We ended up at Pomodoro, because it had the cheapest fettucine alfredo. It ended up being on penne but was delicious and there was good soft warm bread with delicious stuff to dip in. Then we made our way back by bus to Patrick's and went to bed.

Sunday, August 23: Today was our Exploratorium day. Thanks to Amy's sister Becky, we (Jeff and Patrick and I) got in free. Before that we had bagels for breakfast. We bussed over to the Exploratorium and along the way found a thing set up where you could try out Wii Sports Resort which was fun. Finally we were near the Golden Gate Bridge! The Exploratorium was amazing and fun. So many crazy exhibits, all interactive! Neat. Though you had to fight off children to do anything. Oh well. We stayed until they closed then started to head back. I still hadn't eaten any lunch and wasn't feeling so great. We stopped at a KFC/Taco Bell and I got a snack (mac n cheese and 2 soft tacos with beans) as did Patrick and Jeff. We then stopped by Japantown and I got a tiny notebook and a couple adorable erasers. Next we went back to Patrick's and looked for where to go to dinner. We decided on Burma SuperStar and bussed there. However, there was an hour wait. But they had a sister restaurant, B-Star, just a block and a half away. It had a smaller menu but it was very good. It was quiet and a nice atmosphere and the food was delicious. I got a medium-sized bowl of butternut squash soup. It was sort of like a bisque, and had cumin, coconut milk, basil oil, and sunflower seeds. Amazing! And exactly the right amount of food. I also got ginger lemonade, which was fizzy, and just gingery enough. Awesome! Now we're watching Food Network at Patrick's. Tomorrow we leave for NoVa - kind of sad! Tal called me today about room stuff - I'm moving in so soon!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stanley Park and stuff

We were supposed to get up at 10 (and Jeff and I did and took showers) but everybody else moved slowly. We eventually got out of Laura's house and took her to an apartment she was looking at and then went to a park and looked at the water and the view. There were blackberry bushes and we ate blackberries off them. Then we went to go to the Kits festival in Kitsilano but it wasn't on the street. We eventually found the festival on the beach, but it was more a sports thing than a hippie thing. We then went to Stanley Park and went to Prospect Point which was beautiful and then went to Second Beach and walked on the seawall. After that we went to Naam, a vegetarian restaurant which is really popular and had a big line. We met Gavin and Liisa there. It took a really long time to get our food and we had to split up the group, but the food was really delicious. I got an enchilada and also got double charged (I paid for the whole bill but Liisa also paid in cash). Then we went to Calhoun's for tea and talking. Now we're going to go to bed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A bunch of stuff up to the first night in Vancouver

Tuesday, August 11: We got up at 7 in the morning and went to catch a city bus on Haight Street. The bus was really crowded so we had to stand awkwardly with our luggage. We got to the Greyhound station and picked up our tickets and waited for the bus. Finally, it came and we got on. On the trip I watched the latest episode of True Blood and then read. There were a lot of stops to pick up people but we got to Sacramento exactly on time. I saw Amy and Jonathan from afar. Jonathan is her gay best friend who I had heard a lot about but hadn't ever met. So we got our luggage and got in the car with Amy. She took us to Yuba City, where we went to get lunch at Sunflower Café. I got a vegetarian burrito. We ate at Amy's house and I finally met her dog, Shelby. After that we went to a café called Has Beans for the free wifi and did some trip planning. We went back to Amy's house and read for awhile. Then we ate leftover vegan kugel which Amy had made and was really good. Then we watched 17 Again with Zac Efron which was pretty cute. At 9 we picked up Taylor and Jonathan and went out near the Buttes which are the smallest mountain range in the world to stargaze. We sat next to a monument (and Jeff and I sat on top for awhile). The Perseids meteor shower was going on and it was pretty cool. Amy's friend Mike joined us later on. Taylor (a girl) was convinced she was hearing people scream and I tried to reassure her that it was a donkey and some horses but she continued to be freaked out. Some cops pulled up really fast and asked us what we were up to and we were like stargazing, and they were like are you all over 18, and they took our word for it. Their dog was barking madly. Then we took everyone home and then went to bed.

Wednesday, August 12: We got up at 7 again and I had some cheerios with almond milk. We left at about 8 on our road trip. After a while we got up near Mount Shasta and it got really windy and beautiful. We were on the road all day pretty much (until 5 or so). We stopped in Ashland, Oregon for lunch at a place called Pangea. I got a tempeh wrap which was really good. Finally we got to Salem, Oregon, to Hannah's friends' house. They weren't sure where to have us sleep. We went out to dinner at Venti's (I got a falafel bowl with feta, which was a sort of odd mix of salad and falafel on rice). Then we went to this café that allegedly has some of the best chai ever, and I got a vanilla chai and it was in fact quite good. We went to the 'waterfront' which was just on a little stream and then went to a bar. We played never have I ever with the rule that you had to clap when you put a finger down and many drinks were spilled (I did not spill my water). Then we were going to go home. Hannah had driven and she had had two drinks and I tried to get her to let me drive but she has a manual and doesn't like other people driving it anyway. I wasn't really comfortable riding with her and neither was Jeff. There were 7 people anyway and 2 of them were walking the mile and a half back so we walked with them. It was cool because one of them, Peter, was an econ major, and the other, Will, was a classics major. Also Will liked Dexter. We got back to the house and I tried some elderberry liqueur. I slept on a couch and Jeff slept upstairs on a floor. I did sleep well, though I got woken by a cat scratching to get in. The next morning Amy and I discovered that the cat making all that noise was really tiny (though not a kitten) and adorable.

Thursday, August 13: Today I got up at 9 (sleeping in!) and took a shower. Hannah took us on a tour of Willamette University which she goes to. It's pretty. We then went to Pita Pit which is like Subway but with pitas. I got a cheddar pita, and it was really good. After that we left for Portland (Hannah drove separately, though). We arrived at Hannah's house in not too long since Portland is only 30 or so miles from Salem. After that we tried to decide what to do. Eventually we went to Voodoo Doughnuts which is quirky, has weird doughnut flavors, is really popular, and is pretty cheap and delicious. We then went to Stumptown which is a well-known coffee place and sat and ate doughnuts. After that we went to Powell's City of Books, which is gigantic and amazing. We spent hours there. I got 4 books and had to restrain myself from getting more. We had taken the MAX in (public train, and we snuck on without paying) but we walked back to Northwest (where the car was parked) and went to a Mexican restaurant called Laughing Planet Cafe. I got a quesadilla with cheese, corn, pesto, and peppers - it was cheap and extremely delicious. After that we went to a 'vegan' strip club called Casa Diablo. It was the first time I'd ever been to a strip club. I got a drink and we sat around the poles and a stripper sniffed me. We moved to the tables after a while. It was a little uncomfortable but fascinating to watch other patrons' reactions. Also I went to the bathroom and all the strippers were in there and I found out what they do if they have their period. So basically it was interesting but I don't want to go again, really. We went after that to a different bar called Bye and Bye which was a hipster bar. Then we went back to Hannah's and attempted to procure sleeping space. It ended up being me and Jeff on a cat-pee covered air mattress shoved into a tiny room with a twin bed where Amy slept. Not ideal, but oh well.

Friday, August 14: We got up and went to a vegan strip mall which had a grocery store, tattoo parlor, clothes store, and bakery. Amy was really happy about that obviously. We then went to Hawthorne street and to Peet's coffee, then No Fish! Go Fish! Which has these fish shaped sandwiches filled with various things (I got one curry vegetable, a garlic parmesan, and a banana and chocolate). Then we went in a thrift store and I unsuccessfully looked for sneakers. After that we drove to Hannah's aunt's gallery to check it out. We then went back to Hannah's house to nap for a while. After that we went downtown to see Time Traveler's Wife which I thought was fairly good. Then we went to a bar called the Tube and I started getting a nasty headache and so Jeff and I left and walked around for a while. We met back up with Hannah and Amy and Hannah's friend Ari later and took the Max back home and went to bed.

Saturday, August 15: We got up at 9 to leave by 10 for the Saturday market but as we were leaving Hannah got into a fight with her mom and we had to wait for her until after 11. So we left Portland instead of going to the market. The drive was nice and pretty. We stopped in Puyallup for gas and somewhere else in Washington for the bathroom. We also stopped in Seattle for lunch at Araya's, a vegan Thai place which had a good buffet. We played Contact and Marry, Do, or Dump and had to wait awhile at the border but got through pretty easily. We got to Laura's house and she wasn't there yet so we broke in through her window. She has a nice little apartment - Jeff and I had our own room! We went out to Ceili's Irish Pub for Laura's friend's birthday. I wore my cleavagey dress. Laura left her ID and tried to sneak in unsuccessfully and Hannah, Jeff, and I waited for Amy to bring Laura back for an hour. We got delicious fries and pesto aioli while we waited. Then we met Laura's friends. I got bored but later danced and had some fun. A girl told me I had 'really cute glasses' and another girl pushed Jeff and I together, saying she thought we liked each other. We then came back to Laura's and went to sleep.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Upper Haight, Golden Gate Park, Buena Vista Park

This morning Jeff and I got up around 10:30 and took showers. Then we went to breakfast at Mojo Café (I think) on Divisadero which is a bicycle repair shop as well as a café. We got bagels (poppyseed for me; sesame for Jeff). Then we came back and started walking around the Haight with Patrick. We started off in Lower Haight but it was pretty dead so we went to Upper Haight (literally it's up a hill). It is certainly a hippy part of the city. Lots of smoke shops, Tibet shops, hippy stores, and funky thrift stores. First though we went in the anarchist book shop. They had a list of all the free food in SF by day of the week. After that we started going into thrift stores. At the first one, Crossroads, I found a good purse but decided to get them to hold it and shop around. We went in lots of other ones. I finally found a really cute little dress at Buffalo Exchange. We walked all the way down to where Haight runs into Golden Gate Park. Then we walked into the park a ways, through a tunnel and to hippy hill. We sat there watching people for a while. I saw an adorable puppy. After that we walked back to meet up with Tracy. On the way a girl was like "hey I see you're walking with a hot girl, can I follow you home?" I laughed and then realized I had just been paid a nice compliment. We found Tracy and walked up the other side of the street. We stopped in at more thrift stores and at Loyal Army which has really REALLY adorable t-shirts. After that I bought the purse from Crossroads and met everyone back in Buffalo Exchange because Tracy wanted to look there. It was nearly 3 by this point, so we decided to grab lunch at the Pork Store Café. I know what you're thinking - but you've gone vegetarian this month! However, it was vegetarian and even vegan friendly, as nearly every restaurant seems to be in this city. I got a California Veggie Burger which was a garden burger with avocado, sprouts, tomato, lettuce, and jack cheese. It was delicious, though I opted for the salad instead of fries but was less than impressed with the salad (though it did have green peppers!). After that we made our way back to Patrick's. Before that though, Jeff and I went up into Buena Vista Park, to see the good view it had to offer (and, oh yes, it lived up to its name). The fog was rolling in over the city; it was magnificent. So that was a nice little hike. On the way back we stopped in a comics shop and I got the second Y the Last Man hardbound volume. Then we went to the truffle store (both of these were on Divisadero) and got some truffles. Looking forward to eating those! Next Jeff and I played some Wii at the apartment (yes, there's a Wii - it's a really sweet apartment, and has lots of electronics thanks to the roommate that works for Google). We played Mario Kart and Mario Party. After that all of us went to On the Corner Café, which is indeed on the corner of Divisadero and Oak. Jeff and I both got the Buffalo Mozzarella Pesto sandwich, which was incredibly good. Patrick's friend Sarah was there for a while, and after she left we attempted to play Agricola (this café had lots of board games) but failed because none of us knew how and it was really complex. So instead we played Ticket to Ride which I love and Jeff won (doesn't he always?). I talked to Amy and she is really excited about tomorrow - so am I! Though it means I'm leaving San Francisco, a city about which there is nothing I don't love. Oh well, we are coming back for a bit later!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Castro and the Mission

Sunday, August 9: Today Jeff and I had breakfast with Patrick and his girlfriend, Tracy. We had bagels with Lucerne cream cheese (which is really good!). Then Jeff and I walked around nearby neighborhoods. First we went into a game store really close to Patrick's apartment - it was a great store! We went to Divisadero and kept going as it turned into Castro. A few blocks later we were in the Castro, the gay neighborhood. We found lots of cool stores in the Castro, and there was a group trying to adopt out older dogs on the street. There were lots of gay couples around, and lots of dogs. It was a really cool neighborhood. We then turned left on 18th street to walk towards the Mission. We passed Dolores Park which is supposed to be really interesting and came upon Bi-Rite Creamery on the left. There wasn't a line at the time and we got some strawberry kiwi sorbet and took it to the park to eat. We talked to a woman getting support to overturn Prop 8 but they wanted money, so we pressed onward. We got cheese samples at a random little market and then saw a bakery with a huge line (turns out it was probably Tartine, which was highly recommended). So we turned right on Valencia to walk up in the Mission. First we came upon Paxton Gate, which was described by Eric and Patrick as the 'gothic plant store'. They meant more like Victorian gothic than goth, I discovered. It was full of taxidermied animals, weird books and plants. The one notable thing was the taxidermied mice dressed up to look like different things, like pirates, a bride and groom, a priest. They were amazing. Next door to that was the pirate store, 826 Valencia. It's well known - it was made into a pirate store to front for a non-profit teaching center (because they couldn't be just that due to zoning regulations). It became so popular that there are stores like it in NYC, Chicago, Ann Arbor, LA, Seattle, and maybe a couple other places. It was amazing and hilarious. We wandered into lots of other cool shops, including some vintage clothing stores. Eventually we got hungry and ended up at Ali Baba's Cave, where I got the most gigantic falafel sandwich (it was on lavash) that I've ever seen. The roll thing Jeff got wasn't very good so he just ended up eating half my sandwich. I had been craving falafel and this didn't disappoint. The sun was making me feel dizzy so we went in lots of shops. We wandered back up Valencia and found Good Vibrations, which is a really well-recommended vibrator and sex toy store. They even had display models of all the vibes so you could really tell how loud and powerful and everything they were! It was great. We then stopped in at a café called Muddy Waters and got some delicious root beer that seems to be everywhere here. The bathroom was covered in graffiti, and there was an old anarchist outside, and a guy doing bong hits. SF is a very hippy city. I saw so many VW buses today! Anyway, we found a by-the-pound vintage clothes store, and then made it back to Patrick's. We relaxed for a while and actually met one of the roommates, Megan. Then Patrick, Tracy, Jeff, and I played Settlers of Catan. Jeff won. After that we went to this amazing café on Divisadero called the Bean Bag Café. I got Millano pasta which had tomatos, spinach, cream sauce, and pesto. So good! Tomorrow I think Jeff and I are going to do some shopping in the Upper Haight, and check out Golden Gate park, and potentially go up to Buena Vista Park.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The day of the Greyhound

Today was the grand greyhound bus trip. Yes, it was long. Yes, we went through monotonous scenery for hours and hours. Yes, we had to get up early just to wait an hour at the bus station. But it was all worth the whole arriving in San Francisco part. Los Angeles was fun - don't get me wrong - but if I had to describe it I would say it is a conglomeration of suburbs as opposed to a real city. It's so sprawling, and besides that, even nice-looking neighborhoods have the potential to be really dangerous. So seeing the skyline of San Francisco was a fresh new start (and besides, the air is really fresher - not so smoggy). On the bus Jeff and I read a Cosmo together, and read books. There was a stop in the middle of fucking nowhere when we got some burritos at Taco Bell. Got to SF around 7 pm. Patrick picked us up and promptly got on the Bay Bridge going back towards Oakland by accident. We got off at Treasure Island and it turned out to be a lovely view of the city. Let me tell you - it's cold here, at least at night. I knew to expect that, but still… anyway, then Patrick drove us to his highly swanky and awesome apartment which is located at 952 Oak Street which is in… Hayes Valley and/or Central North SF, I can't really tell on Google Maps. It's nice, and very close to those Full House opening credits houses. We walked through a neat little park to get here (up a big old hill). San Francisco immediately struck me as similar to Wellington because: it's on hills near water with some little islands, it has ridiculously changeable weather, and it just has that nice vibe that I got from New Zealand cities. Jeff and I walked a couple blocks to Little Chihuahua on Divisadero. We shared a plaintain and black bean burrito (AMAZING) and a grilled veggie taco (yum). They had lots of salsas and cool ambience. We walked along the street and saw some nice coffee shops and a comic store and a game store. Looks like a cool neighborhood!

Los Angeles!

Hey there internets, I have been away for a while because I couldn't connect to Eric's internet. But don't worry, I've been keeping a journal! So here it is:

Let's start with Sunday, August 2nd. I had another motorcycle lesson with my dad, this time in Nandua High School's Parking Lot. I worked on some emergency stopping, fine-tuned my shifting, and got up to 25 mph! I looked up class options - it's looking like taking one at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton right after classes end would be good. I helped out with some chores, took a nap, then went up to Jeff's. I got there about 9. And yes, stayed vegetarian all day (pb and banana sandwich, cheese sandwich, mac and cheese and fruit from Wawa on the way, and a vegan breakfast burrito when I got to Jeff's).

Monday, August 3rd: Jeff and I got up around noon. We went to Safeway to get Jeff some travel size toiletries. We then dallied around and he did some packing. We watched the latest episode of True Blood (as in, Sunday's episode). For lunch we had a cheese omelette. For dinner we had mac n cheese, fresh sauteed squash from the garden and fresh cucumbers. We went out to a delicious café in Annandale for dessert called Le Matin de Paris. It was a Korean French-style bakery, and I got a piece of chocolate roll cake. Jeff got this utterly divine doughnut that had a bit of custard and was covered in cake. Then we came back and went to bed.

Tuesday, August 4th: I got up at the godawful hour of 4:30 am. Jeff's dad drove us to BWI for our 7:15am flight. We checked in quickly (no bags to check) and got through the security line in a relatively timely manner, for the length of it. Then we sat at the gate waiting for our flight. I got an Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzel (mmm). The sun was glowing a magnificent orange over the runway, and lit the tail of our plane in a fascinating way. Jeff got a bagel and cream cheese. The flight boarded and we were near the back. The flight attendant had to move my suitcase for it to fit (we were some of the last to board). As we prepared for takeoff, some small children behind me touched my arm through the cracks between the seats. Jeff and I were across the aisle from each other. I read Dead Until Dark for most of the flight as well as listened to my iPod. Jeff let me use his noise canceling headphones which were great - I want to get some. I also slept for about an hour. We touched down in LA half an hour early. We were picked up after a little while by Jeff's brother Eric and his girlfriend Melissa. We first dropped off our stuff at Eric's apartment in Olympic Village, North University Park (1170 W Adams). Then we walked to the 23rd street café to get lunch. This was a place with American, Indian, and Mexican food - you can imagine my delight. Jeff and I shared something not even on the menu, which Eric knew about because he is a regular there. It was malai kofta, or vegeterian meatballs. It was a thali dish which is a lunch thing with a whole bunch of sides. It was delicious. Eric, Jeff, and I then walked around USC's campus and saw the big Rose Garden at Exposition Park. Eric showed us the film school which is mostly now in a brand new building. I am very curious about where in relation to where we are it is that Amy lives during the school year, and where she works and stuff. We then came back to Eric's and decided to all go to a pool. We got ready, took Melissa by her apartment where she was checking out, and went to the pool. This wasn't just any old pool. This pool was on the roof of the Standard Hotel in downtown LA. We found some parking and walked over and got into the elevator. It was clear from the lobby that this was a fancy, and trendy, place. The elevator took us to the 13th floor roof, and the doors opened out on a lounge/dance floor area with unicorn topiaries, a hippo-shaped trashcan, and a bar. We went up the stairs and there was a small but elegant pool surrounded by various lounge chairs. To the left were these red pods which had waterbeds in them. When I saw those I realized that I'd seen this place on TV before, though I don't remember in what context (potentially an episode of Nip/Tuck, or maybe a Travel Channel Show?). Jeff and I took in the fabulous view first. Then we lounged by the pool, cooled off in the water (it was pretty hot today). After a while, our friend Senya came to hang out with us. To give you some context, Senya is currently on a roadtrip across the US on his motorcycle. It just so happened that he was in LA at the same time we were. We talked to him about his trip, which sounds crazy awesome and amazing. I have to remember to tell my parents he said he rode the Tail of the Dragon. Eventually he left for San-Francisco-wards and we left for Eric's apartment not long after, stopping at a grocery store (something like… Ralph's?) on the way back to get stuff for a grilling meal. We had grilled asparagus, veggie burgers, and portabella mushrooms (which I tried a bite of Jeff's and surprisingly it was good!). Also pita and hummus. I accidentally elbowed a cactus on the front porch while attempting to save the Wheat Thins (success) and so my elbow hurt for a while. Eric went to take Melissa to the airport (she is going to Vancouver for a while, since she is from there, to visit relatives, though she'll be back in LA by the time we get there). Jeff and I attempted but failed to connect to the internet, so instead we read but actually just fell asleep really quickly. We got back up at about 8 (remember, that's 11 our time and we've been up a long time). Now we are trying to stay up a while longer so we don't wake up too early tomorrow, though we are getting up at 9 anyway. The plan is Eric will drop us near Melrose/Hollywood area to explore and then shuttle us to our Jeopardy taping when it's time. Yay! Great first day, I'd say!

Wednesday, August 5: Jeff and I got up at 9 and got ready for the day. We left a little after 10, headed for Hollywood. Eric dropped us off at Hollywood and Vine. We started walking in the direction of Grauman's Chinese Theater and all that. We looked at all the stars in the sidewalk and ogled at the Scientology Test Center, and stuff like that. We got to a place called Babylon Court which had big elephants on columns, and lots of stores, including a Beard Papa's, which excited Jeff (it's a Japanese chain of cream puff stores). We walked around and went up to a walkway that had a nice view of the Hollywood Sign. I saw a guy with a rubber chicken and a sign for a Lucky Strike Lanes, which is apparently a chain (Amy works at one of them). We then got lunch at Johnny Rocket's. We shared cheese fries and I got the veggie burger (actually I'm pretty sure it's even vegan). However, the waiter brought it out with bacon on it, which it definitely didn't come with and I didn't ask for. I got them to take it off, then they still tried to actually charge me for the bacon anyway - ugh. And they didn't even get it all off! Don't worry, I didn't eat any actual bacon (though probably inadvertently some grease from it). After that we got a vanilla cream puff at Beard Papa's, which was delicious, though I dripped cream all over my legs. We walked by Grauman's Chinese Theater (my shoes are the same size as Bruce Willis's!) and saw Madame Tussaud's (man, what a realistic Samuel L. Jackson they had outside!) but didn't go in. We walked all the way down to La Brea, checking out the crazy street performers and being constantly hassled for tours of the stars' homes and to take some hip hop CD (definitely a scam, that I have heard about). We made our way back, stopping in an H&M because the air-conditioning beckoned us, a magic shop (where I got juggling balls and Jeff got a contact juggling ball), a costume shop, a prop shop, a souvenir shop, and several shops that looked like sex stores but were just lingerie stores (oh, and we saw a Frederick's of Hollywood… in Hollywood. Imagine that.) Along the way we walked through a movie filming outside the Guinness World Records museum. It was a New Line Productions film called Valentine's Day (so, I'm guessing a romantic comedy or maybe just a comedy). I look forward to seeing when that comes out and knowing I was potentially in a frame (but almost certainly not). We got back to Vine when Eric called and had us meet him on Sunset and Vine. I stopped at a Border's to pee and a very nice employee let me in the employee bathroom! Eric then took us to Culver City to the Sony Pictures Studios for our Jeopardy taping. We had to wait around a while, at which time I got some water from a vending machine. Then we walked to the studio, going through security first. They seated us, and Jeff and I at first were sitting across the aisle from one another which was sort of uncool. The seats were really comfortable. At first the contestants had a rehearsal. Then Johnny Gilbert, the announcer, talked to us for awhile. There were 3 shows taped. One guy at the first show was a 2-day champ. He won the first and second shows we saw, then lost on the 3rd. It was so amazing to be there. Alex Trebek talked to us during the commercial breaks. He is actually really funny, and playful with the audience. It seems like he has a really good time. After the 3rd show they raffled off some mini Jeopardy games but we didn't win. Oh yeah, and Jeff and I got to sit together for the 3rd episode. We got out of there about 7. Eric picked us up and we went to an Italian restaurant near the USC campus for dinner. I got cheese tortellini - mmm. We glanced at the lovely 'restaurant row', which is actually just a whole bunch of fast food chains in a small area - potentially one of the highest concentrations in the city. Apparently LA is a very fast-food oriented city. Also it is one in which you must have a car to be able to get around well. Eric's van is having some problems so we may be taking the bus to either Venice Beach or Little Tokyo tomorrow. Should be fun!

Thursday, August 6: Today Jeff and I awoke around 10:30. We decided to do stuff within walking distance because the van was in the shop and the bus looked like it would take forever. We grabbed lunch at the 23rd Street Café. I got a grilled cheese sandwich with really well-seasoned fries and an orange soda. We then walked to Exposition Park to go to some museums. We went to the California ScienCenter which was full of little children. There were some cool interactive exhibits (plus it was free). We also went to the African-American Museum which was free but not very good. Then we checked out the Air and Space Exhibits of the ScienCenter, which were in a separate building. Some of them were good. After that we went to a Robek's Juice and shared a delicious raspberry-strawberry-orange smoothie. We took some pictures of birds in a nice little courtyard. On the way back to Eric's we stopped at a shitty grocery store called Superior and got some snacks for the bus trip on Saturday. We forgot to look through the $1.99 DVD bin for a shitty movie to watch. After that we hung out at Eric's a while, then he dropped us off near the Staples Center in downtown LA. We walked around a bit, then grabbed some pasta at ESPN Zone, then walked some more, then got hokey pokey ice cream at New Zealand Natural (that's right, they have a New Zealand Natural store here!). We then went to Lucky Strike Lanes (which has a dress code, 'cuz it's also a high class lounge) and bowled a game. Jeff scored 105, and I got a terribly bad 33. Kind of embarrassing. We sat around gazing at the 20 screens playing the same ad, and then got picked up by Eric. Tomorrow: the beach!

Friday, August 7: Today Jeff and I had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch (mine also had Nutella and bananas). Then we set out for Venice Beach. Jeff drove Eric's van and I was the navigator. The freeway was busy but we got there eventually. There was an awesome breeze blowing over the beach so it felt really nice. After finding parking we set down our towels near a lifeguard station. The water felt nice. We did some walking down the beach and watching surfers. There was a cool spot where the waves were crashing over the rocks. Eventually we walked over to the fitness area, that gives it the name Muscle Beach. We walked down the street with the sidewalk shops, which was reminiscent somehow of Nassau. After that, we drove back to Eric's and took showers. I noticed I was red like a lobster (argh). That's what happens when there's not a cloud in the sky, I guess… I probably missed some spots with sunscreen. After that we went with Eric to El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant which was pretty good and pretty reasonably priced. He then drove us up to Sunset Strip and just into Beverley Hills. Suddenly the van started overheating. Jeff and I were sent to get oil but then I had to pee so I found a public bathroom in Mel's Diner. Then Eric found some oil and we got back home okay. Tomorrow we set out for San Francisco: exciting! Well, except for the 7.5 hours on the Greyhound...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Motorcycle Lesson

Today I got up and went with my dad to the deserted parking lot of Accawmacke Elementary, a school near my house. He drove the Honda Rebel and I drove my truck. We started out in the bus lot and I did some straightaways until I got used to starting without stalling out and putting my feet up. Then I worked on shifting, which is not something I'm used to. After that I moved onto turns, which I found rather simple. Then we moved into the car lot which was bigger and I started incorporating turning and shifting all together. It was really fun, awesome, and I made a lot of progress! I can drive a motorcycle now! Still not all that well, but hey! All I need is practice.

Also, it was Day 1 of Veg Month. I had, as usual, a cheese sandwich for lunch. My family was eating steak for dinner (and oh man it was flavored with wine and garlic and smelled heavenly) but they had me make homemade mac and cheese as a side, plus my mom made a really good fruit salad. We had blueberries, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, and nectarines - mmm! Also those delicious Sister Schubert's rolls. So, you know, I resisted the steak, but my meals of the day weren't especially healthy. Oh well. I'll work on it. The fruit, at least, was a good move!