Saturday, 30 August 2008

LA - Part two... Disneyland!

So, I figured I better get this done before I leave for NYC tomorrow, and have another big blog entry to write.  LOL.  I'm just a travellin' girl (made a lot of stops, all over the world.... points to anyone who knows the song I'm referencing!)

castle & statue Anyway. This entry won't be nearly as long as the others, and I'm not separating them by day... just a general overview of Disneyland... And I think I'll just post the link to the flickr photos, because I'm feeling lazy.

So, in a nutshell, it was awesome. It's actually separated into 3 areas: Disneyland, Downtown Disney, and California Adventure. If I had to compare to Disney World, I'd say land is most like Magic Kingdom, California Adventure is most like MGM (or I guess now it's Hollywood Studios), and there's a Downtown Disney in Orlando too. (Downtown Disney is all shopping, not an actual "park" and you don't have to pay admission to get in there... Orlando's is a little nicer than Anaheim's though)

atop the trainDisneyland was great. The castle is not as big as Magic Kingdom's, but it's pink and pretty :) There's also a lot more Tinkerbell things floating around, I noticed. Many of the rides are the same as Orlando, which was good, because I knew what to expect. The parade was different than any other parade I've seen... and Tink was on the first float! That was super cool.
Errol and Krista wouldn't ride the teacups or dumbo the flying elephant with me... those are the only things I really kinda missed. LOL. Totally loved Toontown. That was one of my favourite places in Disneyland. I also really loved Tom Sawyer Island. We pretended we were pirates, exploring and looking for treasure LOL. We even met Captain Jack (who won't pose for pictures. grr!)

jessieCalifornia Adventure was truly awesome. It was a lot like MGM, but a way cooler version of it. AND, there's Paradise Pier, which is unlike anything I've ever seen... huge roller coaster, ferris wheel... other Santa Monica-type things... it was just breathtaking. I actually REALLY loved California Adventure, I think moreso than Disneyland itself. I think it was also a little more "grown up" than Disneyland... in the rides, and in the people that were strolling around the grounds. The Pixar Play Parade was probably one of the best parade's I've ever seen in my life. Even Errol thought so, and he's a complete cynic. LOL. It was super interactive - all the different floats and people in the parade would squirt water at the crowd (I had to hide my lens every time someone came by! LOL)

princesses!On the last day there, Krista and Errol suggested (after seeing the dreamy look on my face LOL) that we have a 3-course sit-down meal at Ariel's Grotto with the princesses. It was so freaking awesome. We met Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella AND the Fairy Godmother. And Errol got me a crown - which the two of them insisted that I had to wear for the rest of the day. It was a perfect end to a great trip :)

Anyway... here's a link to the pics... Enjoy!
California (a set) on Flickr

And now, I'm off to my happy place, New York City! Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Thursday, 28 August 2008

LA - Part one!

So, I got to LA around 9pm on Thursday Aug. 21, and found my way to the terminal where Errol would be arriving. Not as confusing as I'd thought it would be. His flight was delayed a bit too, so I ended up just sitting on the floor in the terminal (what's up with LAX not even having any benches?!) and waiting for him.

We still hadn't figured out what our method of transportation would be. From everything that I was reading and hearing from friends, it seemed like the only choice was to rent a car (we were going to try and get around by Amtrak and subways) ... but when he got there, we took a shuttle over to the Budget rental place, and the only thing they had available was a full size for like, $70/day. No thanks. So we got on a shuttle back to the airport, and since it was getting pretty late, we decided to take a shuttle out to the hotel in Anaheim. They ripped us off too, but that's okay. LOL. The guy quoted us $15 each. When we finally got to Anaheim like, 2 hours later, the driver says "okay, so it's $10 for the trip, and $5 tip. $20 each" ... uhh... wtf?!
But it was like, 1am (which is actually like, 4am in Toronto), so we just handed him our $20's and were done with it.

When we checked in, the guy at the counter pretty much laughed at us and said there's no way that we would be getting around by train, if we actually intended on seeing anything. So we decided the next morning, we'd rent a car.

I wrote about day one here, so I won't repeat that... but I will show you the day one pictures:

Day two... we decided to spend discovering the beautiful beaches of So Cal. I google mapped some directions, and getting there wasn't too difficult. We started out seeing a tiny bit of Marina Del Rey, and then onto Venice Beach. We ended up parking SUPER far away from where all the action was though (mostly because we didn't want to pay $25 for parking in the lots close to the public beach area when we knew we weren't going to spend more than an hour or two there), so we took a very long, unintentional walk. We couldn't even really walk along the beach, because the sand was too hot, and we didn't have proper shoes on LOL. The streets of Venice were really pretty though. Very European-styled. They even had canals, like in Venice, Italy... though I don't think it was quite the same ;)

We ended up going for lunch at this really cute little restaurant. I had the most amazing sandwich - a California sandwich : grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and some kind of awesome sauce. mmmm. Then we walked down the pier, and towards Muscle Beach gym and the graffiti. There was this super odd Christian bootcamp going on. At first, it was just all this great gospel music and everyone singing along. Then, a guy comes on stage and starts talking about how he used to live on the beach even though he had a home, and would break beer bottles over people's heads just for fun, until he was saved by God. I turned to Errol and said, "let's try not to get stuck here at night" LOL. At that point, I think we took a walk along more streets to get back to the car. I stopped at Coldstone Creamery and got the most delicious ice cream... mmmm. They should bring Coldstone to Canada.

So, we finally got back to the car, and drove to Santa Monica. Santa Monica is absolutely beautiful. The vibe there is awesome. it was the one place that we went to on the trip that I could actually see myself spending an extended amount of time in. We ended up parking pretty far down the beach here too, but didn't think this would be a problem, as we wanted to walk down the beach towards the pier anyway. Errol wasn't feeling so great when we got there, so we sat on a beachfront patio with some overpriced drinks for a while (LOL) enjoying the view.

Eventually, we walked down the path that leads to the pier. The pier is absolutely amazing. There's a full amusement park on it (it reminded me a lot of pictures I've seen of Coney Island, and I'm pretty sure it was designed by the same person.) There's also a lot of history on that pier - it's the end of Route 66. That pier has been the vacation spot of so many people before. It's pretty awesome to think about.

We decided to have dinner at an English pub in Santa Monica... walked through the streets for a while after dinner (man, it gets dark fast!) and then the adventure of trying to find the car began. Sadly, we didn't notice the signs when we parked that said the beach was only open from sunrise to sunset. No, you can't exactly close a beach. But you can make it completely unlit, so people can't SEE anything but pitch black all around them. Yup, you guessed it... we lost the car. We must've spent like, at least 2 hours wandering up and down the beach, trying to find anything that looked remotely familiar. We even walked along the side of the highway, to see if we could see it from the road. It was super creepy, and kinda scary. Eventually, we ended up finding the car (it was, of course, the only one left in the parking lot at that point - thankfully I didn't have a ticket or anything)... but by that time, I was so exhausted that I totally didn't want to go out. We ended up just driving back to Anaheim and I crashed, while Errol stayed up for a bit.

Here's the pics from that day:

The next day, we were going to be meeting up with my friend Krista (who I've known online for at least 10 years - she lives in Rhode Island, but was in LA at the same time... so we decided she'd crash at our hotel room and come to Disneyland with us!). I google mapped the directions again... but... they didn't quite work, and we went the opposite way of where we were supposed to go to. Eventually we ended up finding her, and we hit up In-N-Out burgers for lunch! I was dying to try one of these, and it definitely did not disappoint. Yum!

After that, we roamed around the UCLA campus for a while. Errol's really into seeing stuff like that, so he enjoyed it a lot. I was really impressed that they have botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, and so many other awesome things right there on campus. Ryerson's campus was absolutely TINY in comparison. It was super pretty.

After we had our fill of UCLA, we hit up Rodeo Drive. Wow. I don't think I could even afford to LOOK at the stores there. It was pretty though. I felt slightly out of place. Except for at this one store called The Paper Source. I was so excited that they had a paper store just off Rodeo Drive! LOL... Errol and Krista let me stop in for a bit, and I bought some small cards, and a robot stamp. After we left, I looked at their display in the window, and realized that they had my exact envelope wall hanging as their display! I'll never know if they made it through my tutorial (it's also posted on a few popular craft sites), or if they came up with the exact same idea, but I still thought that was pretty cool.

Then we drove out to Melrose Avenue/Place. All the stores were pretty much closed, since it was Sunday, after 5pm... but it was still kinda cool to see. After trying to figure out what to do for dinner, we ended up deciding to go back to Rodeo Drive (we found free parking here twice, btw. I thought that was pretty darn awesome... wasn't expecting that to happen!) to go to the Cheesecake Factory, since I'd never been there before.
I was totally craving Tex-Mex... but everything of the sort on their menu seemed to be covered in cilantro (Blegh!) ... we had a super awesome waitress, though, who recommended these awesome soft tacos that could be made without cilantro. Everyone kinda laughed at me for ordering tacos... but damn, they hit the spot!
Krista and I also split the most awesome cheesecake - white chocolate macadamia with caramel... mmmmm. So good.

Then we sat in the car, stealing wireless internet, trying to figure out what we should do that night. It took us like, a good hour to decide. We ended up going to Hollywood. First we checked out a bar called The Frolic Room. It was pretty tiny, but definitely a good vibe in there. It was a place that I could actually see myself hanging out in, not like the Viper Room or any of those other bars that we passed the other night. After one drink though, we decided to check out another bar down the street. called Cinespace.

This place was kinda lame. First, they didn't want to let us in, because we didn't have passports (seriously, why do Californians think that Canadians carry passports when they go to a bar... this happened to me TWICE on the trip) ... but they eventually let us in. We had to pay a cover, which was kinda lame, but we wanted to go out and there weren't many options.
The main bar area was SUPER lame. They were spinning really bad 90s tunes in this one room... the beer was super pricey (I didn't drink anything here, because I had to drive, but Errol and Krista were not impressed), and there was this glassed-in room where I guess people were allowed to smoke.

We were just about ready to leave, when Errol discovered another room towards the back of the bar (there was this whole other section that was at the back) ... there was a band soundchecking, so we thought this could be promising. We ended up sticking around. They took FOREVER to get on stage. Which was annoying. Then they finally took the stage, and that quickly became even more annoying. LOL. It ended up being this metal band called The Devils Orchestra. They had a painter set up in the corner, which was kinda cool, because I've seen shows where they combine music and art before. It's pretty neat.
But as we were watching the painter... we realized that all he was painting were pink stripes. Hmm. Between the annoying music, and the annoying painter, we were all exchanging looks trying to figure out what we would do. We decided to see if the guy would actually paint anything worth watching. When he pulled out a stencil, and started rolling black paint... we figured it was pretty much time to go. LOL. I didn't take any pics of this, but I found a full flickr album from that day... so click here if you want to witness the horror ;)

If not, here's the pics from Day 3!

Day 4 - 6 (Disneyland!) to follow in the next blog update :)

In the meantime...

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Monday, 25 August 2008


So, this weekend, I went down to Michigan to stay with Rebecca & visit with Jenny & Lori. It was such an awesome time.

The drive down was pretty awesome - the only "problems" were: the 30 minute line at Tim Horton's. Jeez... I think a tour bus must've gotten off right at the same time as I did. And then at the border, the customs agent asked me all kinds of questions, and made me pop my trunk and everything. I'm not sure why I always end up being questioned so intently whenever I travel alone (and rarely get questioned when I'm with my parents), but I've never had anything to hide, so it's always worked out okay. Hopefully I'll be fine travelling to LA, too. I always get so nervous when they ask me to open my bags.

Exit 69: Big Beaver Rd

Anyway... Drove north on the I-75 to get to Rebecca's... never done that before! It's usually I-75 south, all the way to Florida for me! My favourite was the exit I got off at: Exit 69. Big Beaver Road. No joke... That is so awesome. Haha. I tried to get a picture of the sign, but it was dark the next time we drove by that way, and it didn't really work out so well.

Got to Rebecca's around 2-ish. Rebecca is awesome - her personality is totally what I expected it to be, and we definitely jived well. Wish she lived closer!! Met her sister, Sarah, and Charlie, who is possibly the cutest dog ever. Then we headed out to White Castle to grab a bite. Mmmm! I wish we had White Castle in Canada - it would be such good drunk food! Then we went over to Jenny's place for a bit. Didn't stick around there too long, before we headed out to Woodward for the Dream Cruise. It was so awesome seeing all those cars. Things were so classy back in the 60s. I wish I could've lived then.

olden days We walked over to Rebecca's friend, Laron's place, which was just off of Woodward, for a party. It was totally just us sitting on the stoop of his house with alcohol for a few hours. So awesome... things like that just don't happen up here. I was referred to as "Rebecca's quiet friend" - I think I was just overwhelmed with meeting a whole bunch of new people, plus having just done a 5 hour drive not too much earlier. I'm not normally that quiet, I promise ;)

Afterwards, Rebecca showed me some of downtown Royal Oak, and downtown Clawson, and we went for a bite to eat at a place called Moose Winooski's. I had an awesome chipotle chicken wrap - served with baked nacho chips and homemade salsa. Mmmm. Went back to Rebecca's place and watched some Olympics on TV (first Olympic events I've seen LOL... Michael Phelps ended up setting the record for most gold metals won by an Olympian in one year, which was impressive) ... then we called it a night.

theatrepatterns The next day, Rebecca had to work for a few hours, so she dropped me off in a place called Birmingham, and I killed some time on my own. I totally had a blast just exploring and taking pictures, and sitting down with my Starbucks & book, and just reading on a bench. I ended up finding my way back to Woodward Ave too, where, even though the cruise was over, there were still some people (and their cars) hanging around. I bought a t-shirt from the event too, for $10, as compared to the $25 that they were selling them for the previous day. Haha.

Rebecca picked me up, and we headed to Target (possibly one of my favourite places on Earth!). I actually didn't buy very much though. One shirt for me, a super cute shirt each for both of my nieces, and a wicked pair of Converse (black suede with a shiny pink star) for me. And some random makeup and scrapbooking things. Only, when I got to the checkout, I realized that I had my wallet with Canadian money (and a few American dollars) in my bag, but had left the majority of my money back at Rebecca's house... which kinda sucked, because I had to put it on my credit card (which I was hoping to leave with no balance for my trip to LA - so I'll just write a cheque for more than what's due and mail it before I leave)

After that, we hit a Checkers drive thru (OMG, Checkers is my favourite American fast food - I make my parents go there every time we go to Florida!) and headed south to Lori's place in Newport, MI.

Lori & Rebecca It took us about an hour to get there. Lori was awesome, and just how I expected her (and her husband, Kurt) to be! Lori, Rebecca and I went for a hike through Sterling State Park and took some pictures. I'm glad I wore a skirt, because it was SO hot that day. I was telling the girls that it was the most time I spent in nature pretty much all summer long. LOL. I even ended up with a tan! Who would've thought! Afterwards, we did some quick shopping (which just ended up being browsing), and then went back to pick up Kurt, and Lori's nephew, Kory, and we all went out to dinner. Lori & Kurt treated us to some awesome Mexican food (thank you, again!). Then we went back to her place, where she gave us a quick tour of the yard (including her awesome pond!), before Rebecca and I were off.

Rebecca got to witness my awful Guitar Hero skills that evening (I'm impressed at the number of songs I actually managed to finish, on easy mode - I think I made it to the end of like, at least 4 songs! haha) Called it a night kind of early, before midnight, because I had to be off in the morning.

Fillmore The next morning, I got directions from Rebecca to get to the highway, and that all worked out perfectly... but then when I was actually in Detroit, near the border, there's all kinds of construction down there. I tried to follow all the signs that said "bridge to Canada" ... but I somehow ended up getting off on the 375. So I tried to get back on the I-75 South, but that exit was closed (damn construction!), so I got back on the North, and got off at the first exit, and stopped at a McDonald's for directions. The first lady that I asked looked at me like I was on crack, and then she sent me over to a manager. (I made sure to write down exactly what he said, instead of relying on my memory!) ... he told me a way to get there that was through city streets, rather than taking the highway. It was actually super cool, because the streets he told me to take put me right downtown, so I saw the Fox Theatre, the Fillmore, the new baseball field, etc. It was actually really pretty. I stopped to take a few pictures while I was there.
But then, the road he told me to take came to a dead end, and I had no idea which way to go to get to the bridge. I ended up seeing a sign that said "Tunnel to Canada" ... and, while tunnels kind of freak me out a bit, I figured I'd rather just take the tunnel since I was right there, because I had no idea where I was in relation to the bridge. The tunnel ended up being really cool, actually. There was way less traffic than taking the bridge, and the toll was actually a little bit cheaper than the bridge!

Crossing the border was super easy too, barely got asked any questions. And it took me through a part of Windsor that I had never seen before. However, I was following the signs that said "to all highways" ... and the route that it takes you on is definitely longer than it needs to be. I ended up taking city streets to the "EC ROW EXPRESSWAY" ... and then took that to some rural road, that took me through a bunch of corn fields in Tecumseh, Ontario.... and then finally met up with the 401 at Lakeshore, Ontario. That part of the drive took me about a half hour. And I had no idea where I was, because I had no map, I was totally just following the signs.

There's something to be said about that feeling though. It's like, total freedom. And it definitely reminded me of my favourite roadtrip song - Used To Be Alright by I Mother Earth. "Then you long for the days of trippin' down the long road. Just reading the signs that show you the way. To higher place, to meditate, to feel the quiet of the earth. Yeah that was back when we used to be alright"

(Oh, it was such a perfect moment on the drive to Michigan too - I was listening to my iPod through my FM transmitter, which I always do in the car, but the channel started to get fuzzy... so I flipped the switch to another station, and it just so happened that THAT song was on the radio right at that time! It was awesome)

Okay, now I have a whole lot of stuff to do before I leave for LA on Thursday... I haven't even made a LIST of the things I need to pack.

Photos from the trip are up Right Here!

Oh, and I got my first lomography prints back. They definitely weren't what I expected. Only 3 shots actually came out, the rest of the negatives were all underexposed. I need some more practice with the camera, for sure. I had modified the camera, using a tutorial I found online, so that it could take 35mm film, and I used it at the State Park, so we'll see what those shots come out like (at least I can develop 35mm film a little more cost-effectively and it won't be such a big deal if I get a whole lot of crappy shots)
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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Blogging from LA

Just a quick one as it's 2:20am in Cali (5:20am in Toronto - thankfully, jetlag doesn't seem to have affected me so much on this trip!)
The morning got off to a bit of a rocky start... well, we didn't really wake up until almost afternoon. haha. Decided that we needed to rent a car after all, so we hit up the Budget in Anaheim.

also creepyThe plan was to drive from Anaheim, to Mulholland Drive, then head down to Hollywood & the Chinese Theatre. Well... after getting lost in Burbank, we decided to screw Mulholland Drive... and eventually ended up at the theatre around 3 or 4 pm. Everyone told me that it was kinda gross and dirty down there, but I really didn't find that at all. I mean, there were pockets... but most of the strip was fairly clean and un-sketchy. Except for the Pirate that jumped into a picture with Errol, and then expected a tip for that - when we didn't even ask her to take her picture. (reminded me a bit of a bad experience I had in Paris actually)

Mel's signSpent a good chunk of the afternoon/early evening there, then headed across Sunset Blvd.
Ate dinner at Mel's Diner (awesome!) then hit up the Sunset Strip. Did NOT like this area at all. It seemed so pretentious and plastic. All the so-called "cool" bars that you hear about - Whiskey A-Go-Go, Roxy, Viper Room, etc... every one of them seemed COMPLETELY lame. Then we decided to take a (very long) walk down to Santa Monica Blvd. Walked a lot of that strip (and overheard some very interesting conversations, as we were walking through the gay district LOL) ... tried to grab a drink at The Troubador, but the show was sold out, and you needed tix to get in (even into the bar area, which I find slightly odd) ... so then we started the long up-hill walk back to Sunset... tried to go to The Key Club, but the bouncer there was weird too.

So then we decided to buy liquor and bring it back to the hotel room... which is where we are now! A pretty big bottle of Malibu was only like, $12.99! It would be like, at least $5-10 more in Toronto, so I was pretty happy about that!

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008


So, on Sunday, I had a lovely day with my friend Pete.

We started out having brunch at Saving Grace... I had the most delicious waffles with fresh peaches & blueberry butter. I think I need to learn how to make blueberry butter, because it was incredible.


Then we ended up travelling about 2.5 hours north-east of Toronto, to Pete's cottage in Peterborough. Between the two of us, we had 6 cameras and 3 tripods. Pete is one of the best photographers I know. I can't wait to see his shots... In the meantime, here's mine!

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