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...