The Adventure Starts Here: September 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ending our trip in Los Angeles

Our last stop on our vacation was Los Angeles.  We arrived in LA at the Andaz hotel around 3pm to check in and drop our bags off.  While we still had the car we drove down to Rodeo Drive.  We got back to the hotel in time for a drink on the rooftop pool... once again we had some gorgeous views.

A couple months before our trip Chris read an article about a cool restaurant in L.A. called Son of a Gun.  So Chris did some research and we decided we should definitely go.  The article said that the restaurant only had about 55 seats, and about 35 were for reservations and the rest were first come but had to sit at a large communal table.  So Chris called right away but was told they only took reservations one month before.  Thankfully Chris is a planner and had a notification remind him to call 1 month before.  Good thing he did because Son of a Gun was packed and had amazing food!  It was all smaller plates intended for sharing.  We ordered the Shrimp Toast, Lobster Roll, Mahi Mahi Dip, and a Fried Chicken Sandwich... all which were amazing!  

Friday morning we decided to get up early and watch the sunrise from the rooftop.  We aren't ones to usually get up at 6am for these kind of things, but when you have that kind of view, you kind of have to.  

After breakfast we decided to head back to Rodeo Drive.  Chris was excited when he saw this fancy and expensive car... $1.7 Million.  I can never imagine spending that much on a car... and if so why would you get it to look like a yellow bumble bee.

When in L.A. we were excited to do all the typical touristy things, so we made a reservation to have lunch at the Ivy.  We were hoping to see a celebrity, but even with sitting outside, we saw no one!  We did hear though that 2 days earlier Sofia Vergara was there.

Friday afternoon we had gotten tickets for a live taping of the show "Melissa and Joey".  It seems like not many people have heard of it but it's our little guilty pleasure show on ABC Family.  We had to get there for 4pm, the show started taping at 5pm, and we were there til 9pm.  Unfortunately they don't let you take any pictures while in the taping, but we had an absolute blast.  The show was really funny and Joey Lawrence did some funny dancing in between takes.  

Saturday was the last day of our vacation.  We got picked up early for a Warner Bros VIP Tour.  It was a super cool tour that took us through the Warner Brothers Lot and some sound stages.  The highlight for me was seeing the old Friends' set of Central Perk.  It was super cool to see and we even got to sit on the couch!  We also got to go on the sound stage of the Mentalist and Big Bang Theory.  It was a really fun tour :)

The last thing on our list of things to do in L.A. was to go to Hollywood Boulevard and see the Walk of Fame.  The street was closed down to cars because they were getting ready for a Cirque de Soleil Event on Sunday.  Of course, when we got back home we kept hearing about celebrities that were there for the event... we missed everything!  We did get to walk down and find some cool celebrities on the Walk of Fame... Journey being Chris' favorite :)

Saturday night we had a quick dinner at the House of Blues before catching our flight home from LAX. We had booked our flights using frequent flier miles and were lucky enough to be able to get First Class seats.  It was my first time flying first class so I was super excited.  We had a connecting flight through Philly, but it was worth it to have first class for the red eye.  I still would never call sleeping on a plane comfortable, but at least it was better than doing it in coach.  

Needless to say our vacation to California was amazing!  Though since it was such a busy vacation, when we got back to NJ I felt like I needed another vacation to relax before going back to work.  But such is life :)

Driving down the PCH

After Chris and I left San Francisco on Wednesday, we drove down the PCH.  We had the car for 2 days and a hotel reserved in Monterey.  It was a little cloudier and foggier than I would have liked, but the drive was still a lot of fun with it's very windy roads and breathtaking views.

It took a few hours to get to Monterey, and as soon as we got there we stopped at the visitors' center to get some information on the 17-mile drive.  The drive was really cool and besides stopping at some cool look out points, we also were able to go to the Pebble Beach Golf Course.  Too bad it's $500 to play, cause that would be a cool experience.   After doing the 17-mile drive, we headed to Carmel.  It was a very cute town with lots of little shops.  If it was nicer weather we would have gone to the beach, but at that point it was a little chilly.

That afternoon we checked into our hotel in Monterey.  The Hyatt there is on a golf course, and when Chris told them that we were on this trip for our 1 year anniversary, they upgraded us to a suite.  It was gorgeous and had 2 bathrooms!  We were right on the golf course... too bad we weren't staying there for more than one night.

That evening we drove down to Cannery Row in Monterey to explore a little and have dinner.  It also was a cute little town, so we explored the shops and went into an antique store.  We were hoping to find an old road sign of CA 1 or something like that, but we had no luck.  With the help of Yelp we found a nice place for dinner... The Sardine Factory.  Based on the outside of the restaurant and the name, we never would have expected it to be a fancy steak place without reading about it on Yelp.

Thursday we got up super early to start our 6 hour drive from Monterey down to LA.  Again the weather wasn't great, but we still went on the scenic drive of Route 1.  We drove through Big Sur and I really wish we could have seen more, but the fog was thick.

We hit Santa Barbara around lunchtime, so we decided to drive into town and have lunch at this cute little sandwich place called "Three Pickles".  The name jumped out at us because of Chris' love for pickles.  Chris was getting a little nervous about time because we had to have the car returned to Hertz in LA by 6pm and we've heard how bad the LA traffic can be.   So instead of continuing down Route 1 and driving through Malibu and Santa Monica, we took the faster route on Highway 101.  Thankfully we got to LA in plenty of time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our California Vacation - San Francisco

Last week Chris and I took our week long vacation to California.  On Saturday we flew from Newark to San Francisco.  We were both really looking forward to getting away from everything for an entire week just the two of us.  We had amazing weather and got to see a lot of cool things.  After we checked into our hotel we caught a cable car and headed down to the crooked part of Lombard Street.


Our first day was great, we walked down to the water and had a wine tasting in Ghiradelli Square.  Chris' best friend on this vacation was his Yelp Ap.  He researched a lot of restaurants to find the best places to go every night and what we should order.  He was successful the very first night, and I would have to say it was my favorite meal in San Francisco.  We went to this little Italian place called Frascati.  Chris got some gnocchi (his favorite) and I got this yummy pasta.

I had planned out the remaining 3 days in San Francisco ahead of time, but once we got there Chris added some things and we changed things around a bit.  Sunday we had a great big breakfast at Sears Fine Food (thanks to Yelp again) and then took a cab down to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Everyone kept telling us how great the weather was and that it hadn't been this nice in a while... how fortunate for us :)  We got to see great views of the bridge, and then hiked up this tall hill to the bridge.   That afternoon we had a nice relaxing afternoon in the Golden Gate Park.  We assumed that Central Park had to be bigger, but actually the Golden Gate Park is much larger... crazy huh?

Monday we had a tour planned to Muir Woods.  We got picked up early by our tour guide Tom and he took us from San Francisco across the bridge to Muir Woods.  It was a lot of fun cause there were just 7 of us in our group and we got to do a 3 mile hike through the forest.

Tuesday was our last day in San Francisco.  We decided to head down to the Ferry Building for the Farmer's Market.  We had a nice breakfast and then wandered around the market and picked up some pluots (Chris' favorite fruit).   One of Chris' requests while in San Francisco was to take a tour of the AT&T Park where the SF Giants play.  We booked a tour for Tuesday afternoon and it was so much fun.  We got to go in the visitors' locker room, the team's dug out, and on the field.

Since Tuesday was our last night in San Francisco we decided to head down to Fisherman's Wharf and see the sea lions on Pier 39.  There really weren't that many sea lions... I expected to see so many more!   That night we packed up our stuff and Wednesday morning we woke up early to pick up our rental car.  We had reserved a convertible and requested the Ford Mustang.  However, we were not lucky enough to get one and instead they were gonna give us an Eclipse convertible.  Chris was not happy about this and would not take it.  Instead he started to call around to see if other places had Mustangs.  The manager then stepped in and tried to get us a car that we'd be happy with.  If we hadn't had our luggage they could have given us a Corvette... how amazing would that have been!  But since that wasn't reality, we were thrilled when they were able to get us a red Camaro even if it wasn't a convertible.   Once we had the car we decided to drive down the crooked part of Lombard Street... so much fun!

Good Bye San Francisco!  Next stop... driving down the PCH and stopping in Monterey and Carmel!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011

Chris and I extended our Labor Day Weekend to 5 days off.  We were off the Thursday for the US Open and then Friday we headed to Rhode Island to see my brother David and his family.  We left at 2pm and the traffic was horrible as soon as we got on 95.  What should have taken us 3 and a half hours took us over 5!  They had Chinese Takeout waiting for us when we got to their house... it was much needed after a VERY long car ride!

Saturday we all headed down to Newport for the day.  David and Trisha drove us past some of the mansions and down to the Cliff Walk.  We walked a small portion of it and then decided to find a restaurant for lunch.

After our seafood lunch we walked down to Bowen's Wharf to board our afternoon sail boat around Newport.  It was a very sunny and windy day... perfect for riding on a sailboat.  We had an amazing time and the kids were so good!

After the boat ride we walked around town for a little while and got some yummy cupcakes at Cupcake Charlies.  Kaitlyn was hilarious and while David and Trisha were chatting with a friend we ran into she was dancing outside the store.  Chris put on some music on his iPhone and she just had a blast busting out the dance moves while I videotaped.

We headed over for a quick dinner at Outback and then to go mini golfing.  We had taken Kaitlyn mini golfing on the cruise and she loved it... so she was super excited to go do it again.  She would take her ball and go about a foot away from hole and then putt.  We 4 adults got super competitive and decided to play couple against couple.   Chris and I ended up beating David and Trisha... but it was pretty close between Trisha and David.  Trisha even got a hole in 1!!!  Matthew was the best baby ever and just sat in his stroller the whole time and watched us golf :)

Sunday Chris and I went off on our own in the morning while David, Trisha, and the kids went to church.  Chris and I went back to Newport and to the Tennis Hall of Fame, had a nice lunch on the water, and then took a drive on Ocean Drive to look at the huge houses on the water.

When they got back from church David, Chris, and I took Kaitlyn and Matthew to the park while Trisha made home made pizza for dinner.  We took a nice walk along the bike path to the water and then to the park.  Chris was so good with Kaitlyn, pushing her on the swings and even going down the slide with her.  Matthew loved the swings and was giggling every time David talked in his Cookie Monster voice.

Originally Chris and I had planned to stay through Monday and drive back in the afternoon.  But after the horrendous traffic Friday afternoon we decided to drive back Sunday night in hopes of a fast drive home.  We left Sunday at 7pm after eating the very yummy pizza.  The roads were definitely congested but moving... we got home by 10:30!  We had a fabulous time this weekend but were definitely ready for a lazy day off after a busy weekend with the kids.  Monday was going well until the power went out AGAIN!  Chris and I were really annoyed.  We were in the middle of watching tennis and I had a load of towels in the wash.  When we called JCP&L the recording said they hoped to have it back by 7pm tonight.  Thankfully they were wrong and it was back on in half an hour.  We are not looking forward to going back to work after having 5 days off, but so is life.  Goodbye Summer 2011... it was fun while it lasted!
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