Monday, November 5, 2012

N's parents in town/Palm Springs

N's parents flew all the way over from New York to visit us in early September. The best thing about our apartment in ktown is that we can now comfortably host overnight visitors (so come on over, friends)! They did a lot of LA things with N like check out the Getty and tour the Queen Mary, and we all got to spend Labor Day weekend together in Palm Springs.

It was our first time visiting Palm Springs, and we had a blast. I reserved a small house for us through VRBO that turned out to be amazing--small, homey, clean, super pet friendly and it had its own pool and hot tub. I am so into VRBO lately. Staying in a rented home is infinitely better than staying at a hotel, especially when it comes to traveling with Stewie. Plus I love how I get to stay in another person's house for a little bit. It feels like I'm getting the chance to try out someone else's life for a few days. I guess that sounds kind of creepy. Anyway...

We got a discounted rate because I think most people don't feel the need to head over to Palm Springs in the height of summer. It hit well over 100 degrees every day. But it's the desert, so the lack of humidity definitely helped. You know what also helped? Having a pool in the backyard.

The sun's so bright N and Stewie can't keep their eyes open!

Aside from being our first visit to Palm Springs, it also turned out to be Stewie's first time swimming! As you know, he's not the biggest fan of water. But I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see him swim. Or try to, at least.

We tried to make the experience as un-traumatizing as possible, but I wouldn't say he had a good time in the water. But he swam in the end!:
Once he got out of the pool, he ran to N's mom, C, for safety on land:
Stewie: "Please don't let those evil people put me back in the pool, C"
And here's N's dad, K, relaxing with one of the mimosas we made:
How cool is he??
Aside from hanging out in the pool during the day and the hot tub once the sun went down, we also rode the famous Palm Springs tram almost 6,000 feet up Mount San Jacinto. Here's a photo of the tram heading our way to pick us up at the botton of the mountain:
The tram rotates 360 degrees while heading up the mountain so you can see everything.
I don't consider myself afraid of heights, but I was getting kind of freaked out on the tram ride. It's really high!

There's a downright beautiful state park at the top of Mt. San Jacinto. It had a lovely look to it; it's dry, but still lush somehow.
Doesn't this meadow look like something out of Bambi?
How desktop wallpaper-y

So, apparently, a lot of the trees in the park were Jeffrey Pines. And according to a handy sign along the trail, Jeffrey Pines give off a faint smell of butterscotch. Of course, I had to test such an outlandish claim.
sniff sniff snort snort
And it was true. They all smelled like butterscotch and vanilla! I stopped to sniff every Jeffrey Pine we passed along the trail. Some gave off a stronger scent than others. People passing by us gave me weird looks, but they didn't know what they were missing! They all smelled fan-tastic. The next time you pass a Jeffrey Pine, you should smell it. I wish my apartment could smell like them all the time.

Being on top of Mt. San Jacinto certainly gave us a spectacular view of Palm Springs below:

We also had some time to explore the town a bit. Here's C sitting with a statue of Lucille Ball:
And we had a fun time at this random hat shop:
N: "Is there something on my head?"
A couple other notes: we had a fantastic brunch at Elmer's (yum, German pancakes) and we stopped by the Desert Hills Premium Outlets on the way back to LA, where I got to snag a Kate Spade bag for cheap.

A big thanks to C and K for taking some of these photos!

Long Beach Sand Sculpture Contest

I had my eye on this event last year, but we had a scheduling conflict so we couldn't go. But that's okay, because we finally got to it this year!

The annual Long Beach Sand Sculpture Contest was on August 11th. It also happened to be held on a stretch of beach right next to the Long Beach Dog Beach, so Stewie came with us. As usual, he wasn't a big fan of the water (even though it was super warm and felt awesome--it was hot that day!), but we tried to coax him in anyway:

It was the first time we've been to that dog beach, and it was alright...nothing compared to our precious Arroyo Burro, of course. The beach was PACKED. But it was also the height of summer and I was actually sad we didn't bring our own swimsuits so we could join the crowd in the water.

The sand sculpture contest was small but fun. We only stayed a little bit (like I said--it was hot!) so we didn't get to see the finished products, but seeing the work in progress was more interesting anyway.

A big salamander:

Some sand-carved type:

A castle:

There were also a few professional sand sculptors on the side creating this:

Pretty neat, huh? Side/back view:

And, finally, a gratuitous Stewie shot, because he's cute:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And now, traveling back in time to August: The Orange County Fair

I'm going to try to race through the last 3 months of posts I haven't had a chance to write. Here we go...

N and I went to the Orange County Fair on August 4th. We went to the LA County Fair last year, which was fun, but we liked the OC Fair more. It was generally cleaner, more organized and had a lot more interesting activities going on.

There were, of course, adorable animals to see, including these pygmy goats (WANT):

Aside from the regular farm animals, we also saw camels, ostriches and all kinds of pretty song birds. But animal-wise, by far the coolest thing we saw were two real oxen. Yes, oxen--like from The Oregon Trail. I had never seen oxen in real life before, and my jaw almost dropped. They are MASSIVELY HUGE. It was something just being able to stand near them.

We also saw a trick dog show that was fun. All the performing dogs were rescues, which was nice. There was a lot of frisbee catching and jump-roping, but the most impressive trick we saw was this:

Pretty awesome balance there!

The fair also hosted a ton of contests including woodworking, scrapbooking and lots of different foods. All the entries were on display. The most interesting contest, though (in my opinion), was the tablescaping contest.

I'd only heard of tablescapes from Sandra Lee's show on Food Network. I thought it was so interesting that there's a whole competition devoted to them (and kind of weird, I have to admit). They had all kinds of themes, including Disney movies:

Various holidays:

And colors:

And, of course, you can't go to a fair without eating fried food! Aside from our regular funnel cake and cotton candy, we also tried these Australian Battered Potatoes, which were pretty good:

All in all it was a fun day out. OC Fair, we might see you again next year...