Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lessons from LA

What I learned on my April vacation:

At "classy" hotels you have to pay $15/day for internet access. At "budget" hotels it's free. This is why nobody heard from me for three days while I stayed at the Biltmore and then I resurfaced when we moved to a Holiday Inn in San Diego.

Two-Headed Turtle
Originally uploaded by erink
Apparently two-headed turtles are not terribly uncommon. There's a little freak show on Venice Beach (an official one, I'm not just talking about the general ambiance). For $3 you can go into a little room with lots of displays of animals with extra limbs and such. They had a nice collection of cabinet cards, a bunch of skeletons (some gaffes) two two-headed turtles, a two-headed snake, a naked mole rat, and a dog with an extra foreleg. Oh, there was a sword-swallower too.

Seat covers are "provided by the management for my protection" - but against what?

Pinkberry is way good. They sell frozen yogurt with your choice of toppings, but the best thing is the yogurt tastes like yogurt! And it's not too sweet. Can we have one? I wouldn't mind a World Market in western PA either....

I've watched too much Kitchen Nightmares. Gordon Ramsey inhabited my body for a few minutes when our waiter (at a slightly pretentious place in San Diego) used some sort of torture device to decant our wine. It was a huge production. You had to put the wine in this frame, and light a flame underneath the neck of the bottle, and then turn a crank to make the bottle horizontal. (I'm not sure what the flame was supposed to accomplish, since it was on for about 60 seconds while the waiter decanted the whole bottle into a glass carafe.) The closest I can find is this. I just kept hearing Gordon's voice in my head - and he was saying, "Fuck me!"

Vaud and the Villains - way cool. Not sure they will translate well on a recording and I'm pretty sure they can't tour, but if you are in LA any time soon you must go and see them.

Our zoo is pretty good, but the San Diego Zoo is much better. All the enclosures are nice, they have more types of animals, and the critters are a lot more fun to watch somehow. I think they trick them into being active on Saturday afternoons just for us. There were a lot of baby animals, which helps, and a lot of "enrichment activities" going on - so the animals have things to do and that's a lot more fun than watching them sleep all day. One relative failure, though, the signage and documentation is better at Pittsburgh.

In southern California, rain is weird. It rained a little while we were in the slightly pretentious restaurant, and the staff warned us to "be careful" because of that when we left.

Pike Place roast sucks so much. It keeps me away from Starbucks in the afternoon. At Dulles I walked a mile to get to Starbuck's and all they had was Pike Place Roast (even though it was 7 a.m. - what's up with that?) But we got breakfast from Five Guys and it was very yummy.

Originally uploaded by erink
Bird of Paradise flowers can grow in the ground. I thought they came from flower shops (for $15 a stem).