If you park and walk north, there’s a tiny beach with little bean-like pebbles, instead of sand…
And awesome rock/coral formations, too!
If you head south, well, you hike along the side of a little cliff next to some tide pools, over a bride or two and then… seals. Lots and lots of little seals (or are these sea lions? Need to become more familiar with aquatic life!). We sat and waited patiently and then… little visitors would pop up and check us out!
It’s kind of like Los Angeles… but… the weather is cooler, there are bridges, trains and trees everywhere, and not just of the palm variety. You can drive to several big cities, distinctive beaches and get any kind of food you want. The produce… is amazing. It feels like the California I grew up in… only… something’s different. So, I’ve been calling it “Bizarro LA”.
We’ve been working on getting all settled… the last 2 months have been a blur. So much driving, so much to do.
Here are some pics from our 6th cross country trip in the last five years and what we found when we got to the end of the line…
My (former) office back in Cary, NC. Meg was hiding out in here on the last day. It was sort of sad since she rarely wants to be away from us. Seeing the house all empty was so strange… handing over the keys to the new owner was even stranger!
Tennessee. Near Knoxville. We got to experience lots of interesting hotel smells on this trip.
Hello snow, we didn’t expect to see you here! Before this blizzard hit, we got to hob-nob with the truckers and discuss alternate snow-routes while at a Flying J truck stop in Amarillo, Texas. I thought these seasoned drivers would use their years of experience, navigational tools, someone’s bum knee that could predict precipitation and guide us through the storm safely. None of that. We were told to “go with our gut”. That’s the big secret. Drive ’til you can’t drive no more, which actually did happen. White out conditions… the road actually “disappeared” as the snow accumulated, and it accumulated very quickly. We landed in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We grabbed some delicious truck-stop Indian food and hunkered down for an early evening while listening to the wind howling outside.
The next day, lucky for us, the only stretch of highway they didn’t close was the 30 miles we needed to be on. But, it was closed in every other direction.
We got up to the Bay Area and rented the first place we saw, which was surreal. We stayed at a hotel in Half Moon Bay and waited to get our keys.
I think that’s Alcatraz off in the distance?
She can smell the hustle and bustle
The bay bridge currently has a light show attached to it
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Bridge, take 1
Golden Gate Bridge, take 2
Golden Gate Bridge, take 3
Thought those clouds were curiously nifty
More Half Moon Bay
More Half Moon Bay
We also explored San Francisco, drove up and down some steep-hilled neighborhoods with Meg’s head out the window, poked our nose into Golden Gate Park, approached the Golden Gate Bridge from every angle imaginable and found a few more beaches…
And this… we stopped here. They recently repainted the sign with their new address of “1 Hacker Way”. How fancy.
Down the street from our new home is a silent movie and train museum.
And here is our stuff. If I never see the inside of another Pod again, I’d be a-ok with that!
With all of my online shops on vacation hold, I had the opportunity to try something new to occupy my time while we were in LA.
I’ve been told I should look into doing Production Design by a few people. I’ve heard of it, and thought I was doing it when I made animated pieces and films, but I think I was only scratching the surface when I storyboarded out my pieces, constructed a tiny donut western town or set up displays at the shop. There’s a look and feel with sets and props, but there’s a LOT more involved than that when it comes to real Production Design (with an art department and everything!).
Production Design, or Art Design is more intense than just designing a space or dressing the space or Mise en scene (love that word!)… you are designing the whole feel, look and soul of a film. It’s how in ‘The Sixth Sense’, the color red was introduced when a dead person is in the room. That was planned early on. That secret pop of red props sets the entire tone and mood for the film’s big reveal, which was the trademark M. Night Shyamalan twist. Pretty brilliant… and It’s Pretty intimidating to pull off correctly, if you ask me!
We studied this in film school… how a film uses mise en scene to show that a character is changing, that tension is building… something is going to happen. The film we studied in tremendous detail was Rosemary’s Baby.
As Rosemary falls in with those evil people and becomes pregnant, her sunshiney yellow happy apartment gets darker, the walls seem to shrink and suffocate you… her world is slowly getting scarier and filled with less joy in each scene. Camera angles, camera lenses, strange sounds, make up, lighting, sets and props… all morphing and merging scene by scene towards that last scene with the demon baby. Totally brilliant! (and disturbing!)
So, here I am… a few weeks left in LA and wanting to work in the art department on a film.
A friend of ours told me about Mandy.com. It’s a place where people post jobs for film and television. Some paid, little pay or no pay.
Well, as far as working in the art department of an upcoming production in the small window of time I had, I didn’t have a ton of choices. I ended up applying for two different productions and got called by one. A seven day shoot on a short independent film. I signed up for four days, no pay… in the Art Department as a Production Assistant. Yay!
Since I was new to this, I had no idea what to expect. So, I will describe what I did as a PA in the art department for those of you who are curious…
Call time: 3:40am
Location: Los Feliz to Long Beach to Riverside
3:40 am – fill up my minivan with “crafty” or the craft service food for the day. Pick up the make up artist from Long Beach and drive three crew members to a location in Riverside, CA.
7:30 am- Get to location, unload van, grab coffee for the cast and crew and meet a few other folks on the crew. I was then given the task of watching these items on the set so that they didn’t walk away.
8:30 am – after about 10 minutes of watching stuff, one of the producers comes up to me and says “Please tell me you’re good with babies!” How can I say no to that?
So, I spent the next 6 hours hanging out with an adorable baby, who was starring in a few scenes, and his Mom. Made sure they were comfortable and taken care of and that she had some breaks. Talent babysitting… literally :)
4:15 pm – Load the car back up and drive two of the crew back to Los Feliz. Then drive up to Bel Air/Beverly Hills. Unload van. The location was gorgeous. I then moved some potted plants around.
10:00 pm – Drove to gaffer’s apartment to get a piece of equipment. Thought his apartment building was pretty neat. It’s one of those places that you’ve passed dozens of times, but never been in… so it was cool to see what it was like inside. Caught his roommate off guard when I let myself in with a key. Oops. Drove this audio thing back to Bel Air. Left the set around 11:30 pm.
Call time: 7:00 am (But I got there at 1:00 pm, since I didn’t have a car until then)
Location: West Hollywood night club
First duty… Run to 7-11, get bottled water for everyone. Then I helped move furniture around. The night club had photos on the wall turned into wallpaper of burlesque-ish dancers getting ready. I thought this was a great idea! (I want to make iphone picture wallpaper!).
Second duty – More furniture moving, glass and bar accoutrement moving to set the mood in different rooms. And we added some candles, too.
Since we used this nightclub as 3 different locations, each room had to have a different feel. The first scene was a more cozy bar, so it was in an area with a small, cramped bar with bar stools at the actual bar. The second was the well-lit energetic dance floor and the third was more of a laid-back, sophisticated lounge (this is where the candles were!). One location had all of this to offer. Pretty cool.
Third duty – run and pick up juice at that 7-11 to make mixed drinks for our club-goers. I also got a lime and a lemon. I’m not a cocktail expert, but the other art PAs knew how to mix faux drinks really well! See, I would have totally used real booze… not watered-down diet coke… probably would have ruined every shot with the drunk actors everywhere ;)
This is Zodiac the skink. He was really very cute… in a lizard sort of way. And look, he’s smiling. He was in one of the scenes in the film. Mise en Skink! ;) (I know, I know… but it made me laugh)
Fourth duty – putting ice in drink props and then made sure a few dozen actresses stayed quiet during one of the scenes they weren’t in.
I was hanging out with one of the assistant directors (shown here) and we were “shhh-ing” girls left and right. It was surprisingly difficult.
Before I left, I turned row after row of booze bottles back around so the labels were facing out, since the nightclub was going to open that night.
Call time: 9:00 am
Location: Los Feliz then to the Hollywood Hills
First duty… load up my van and run to a prop house in Sun Valley to return a few props. It was really really cool there. I wonder if they give tours?
Second duty – Drive 2 cornhole game boxes and bean bags to Burbank. I thought this was particularly entertaining because we hadn’t ever really seen the game of cornhole until we moved to North Carolina and here I am… in Burbank… with something that wasn’t brought to my attention until I moved to the sort-of South. (Read the rules and terminology at wikipedia… you’ll see why it’s funny). The owner of the games of cornhole was really really nice… had a fun chat with her.
While waiting, I would check my phone often. I thought this random neighbor’s wifi name in Los Feliz was great.
3:30 pm – Take furniture to Studio City and unload, load more, then take that furniture to West Hollywood and carry it up 2 flights of stairs. Then, I drove to Whole Foods and got some food props for our next location which was in the Hollywood Hills, near the Hollywood Bowl. While a show was going on at the Hollywood Bowl. Did you know that the Hollywood Bowl seats 18,000 but it only has parking for 2,800? We both learned something! So, getting to the next location took some creative map searching since the parking spill off was tremedous. Once I was there, I ironed some hand towels and an apron. Pretty exciting, huh?
As I was ironing, and people were running around me on the set like crazy, I kept thinking… what is the EMOTION I’m trying to convey here? What is the hand towel owner’s character like? Is she totally anal, or messy? Did she have a Sleeping with the Enemy hand towel encounter? Should there be a stain or two, a few wrinkles or should they be ironed perfectly? I went for perfect.
7:30 pm – I sort of helped make a “nanny-camera” bear by removing an eye of a teddy bear. I then pushed some furniture around and then had a very heated discussion about fireplace usage.
We then had pizza, set up some more props including a faux lobster and some candles… and then called it a night around 11:30pm.
Call time: 10:00 am
Location: Los Feliz
This was our last day. I wasn’t on the call sheet for the day, but I showed up to pick up some gas money and help out for a few hours.
I probably should have stayed home because while tearing down one set, I broke a sandbag. It was only a $20 sandbag, but… I know that sandbags can break if they are dropped from high places. Duh.
I’m glad all that was hurt was my ego. And one sandbag.
I enjoyed being on the set, but I must say… the hours were killer. It’s almost like a marathon you need to train for!
And… I learned a LOT, and I met a lot of really kind and talented folks, too.
Can’t wait for the film to come out so I can point out my hand towel ironing skills ;)
I’m familiar with the food truck concept. We called them ‘roach coaches’ in high school. It was never gourmet… in fact, I remember vividly the very last purchase I made with a roach coach back in 2008. It was because there was mold all over my salsa. Period. End of food truck sentence. Gross.
Then we watched this fascinating show on the Food Network. The Great Food Truck Race. Featuring gourmet food served out of brightly colored boxy trucks. I’m listening…
There were several trucks to start and week by week, they eliminated the truck that didn’t make the most money or who couldn’t perform a specific culinary task. The last two trucks to compete both came from Los Angeles. The Nom Nom truck and the Grill ‘em All truck. Pretty cool. The show was a mix of business plan, awesome food idea/theme/branding, good marketing, being at the right place at the right time and great food.
I thought we may accidentally come across a truck while in LA… but I wasn’t going to hunt them down. I mean, come on… who does that?
Then, one Sunday, after dropping off DH at a 3 hour class in Hollywood, I made an illegal U-turn when I saw the Grill ‘em All truck parked on Melrose Avenue.
I had Meg and my Mom’s dog Barkley with me. This made getting out of the car, getting a burger and trying to eat this burger on Melrose Avenue a bit difficult. There were dogs and leashes everywhere. Those gathering for a burger gave the pups lots of love and attention, though, so I was able to enjoy my “Hannah Montana” burger, the plainest one on the menu (and I got a bit of a side eye and mocking tone when I ordered it), while leaning up against a wall, flamingo style.
After consuming my incredi-burger. I was now hooked and willing to chase these things. I had caught the food truck bug, sans roach sentiment.
To make my treasure hunt easier, there’s a food truck app called TruxMap. So you know when and where to get your next truck fix.
The parking lot at Fig Produce was hopping with brightly colored food trucks and tons of people, kids and dogs. Fellow foodies were sitting on parking blocks, curbs, leaning against cars and standing… all eating small portions of food on sticks, in little paper bowls and tiny plates. Everyone was smiling, too. Some of the trucks had large flat panel TV’s blaring salsa music or showing a basketball game. It was like a mini food Las Vegas… in a parking lot.
That night, DH and I each had another Grill ‘em All burger, shared a smoothie and two bottles of water. Almost $40. We missed getting a waffle a la mode from Waffles De Liege, but a fellow foodie in line for a burger offered me a bite of his. After a few moments of hesitation, and wondering why this lovely person would part with some of his treasure, I ate a chunk of waffle off of a stranger’s plate. Why I just admitted that, I am not sure. Maybe it was because it was the best waffle I’ve ever had. EVER. Perfect texture with a sugary crunch layer, smothered in chocolate, nutella and perfectly ripe sliced strawberries. Angels sang. Well… maybe they hummed a little, but there was music from the heavens in any case. (Little did I know, I would enjoy my very own waffle two weeks later in Pasadena, see below.) But at that moment, Jose the waffle bearer was my new best friend. Jose is a carpenter on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, too. His generosity will not be forgotten.
After this magical experience, I dragged my Mom to a food truck gathering at Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena.
Mom and I shared some Asian/Mexican fusion tacos and our very own Waffles De Liege waffle. Behold… the waffle:
The perfect waffle; a scoop of Fossleman’s vanilla ice cream, bananas, pecans, nutella and caramel. Yes. We did. And it was $11. Worth every cent. Although, we couldn’t finish the darn thing.
I think the most interesting truck was the Phydough truck. They sell only gourmet organic dog cookies. For dogs. Not human consumption. People walking up to the truck were mocking the concept, but I couldn’t resist. $12.00 later, I walked away with 8 dog cookies. Two of each… peanut butter & bacon, duck fat, apple oatmeal and pumpkin . The truck was lined with AstroTurf, they had a doggie mascot inside, I paid using a snazzy new ipad credit card thingy and the owner was delightful. What’s not to love? ;)
Our third trip to a food truck gathering was at the Chef’s Center on San Gabriel Blvd in Pasadena.
On this visit, we tried the lemongrass chicken tacos from the Nom Nom truck, our friends had the banh mi sandwiches and then we got in the monstrous line for the Cool Haus truck, the much talked-about ice cream sandwich experience.
See where the truck is? I took the picture after being in line 5 minutes. Yes. That was my place in line… that long winding line.
As if the ice cream gods were laughing at us, as we inched our way to the front of the line, the popular flavors of ice cream were being crossed off the menu. Each time the super tall guy (watching him bend down 2 or 3 feet to get to the ordering window was a hoot) serving up the goods took a pause to remove a flavor, the line got silent, and many audible “NOoooo!”‘s could be heard all around us as a flavor departed into ice cream heaven.
I had my first, second and third choices picked, fingers crossed. But when I got to be the 2nd person in line, my 3rd choice was the only one available, and the lady in line in front of me got the last bit of it. So, seconds away from my turn, and 25ish minutes after I got in that line, I pouted out of line like a four year old not getting her pick of carousel pony.
I wasn’t interested in the beer and pretzel, mascarpone & fig, pineapple mint sorbet or earl gray sorbet flavors. I may have tried the earl gray sorbet on its own (given a different day and attitude), but I was on a mission to try the complete ice cream sandwich package that they’d been bragging about. I made the mistake of angrily shouting “sorbet has no place in an ice cream sandwich!” I wasn’t going to bend, even though I was now branded the ice cream line jerk. So, Cool Haus… you get a big wag of the finger on this one. Uncool. (But of course I’ll try again some other time).
We had other random food truck encounters…
NaanStop in West LA… best Chicken Tikka!
Just up the street in La Crescenta… NomNom for the 3rd time
And our last encounter was tracking down the Grill ‘em All truck one last time, and introduced my Mom to their burgers… She had the Blue Cheer…
Nathan had the Behemoth… which has grilled cheese sandwiches for BUNS….
But I stuck with my simple Hannah Montana… ketchup only… burger… again.
We listened to the planes take off from the nearby Burbank Airport and sat on the curb, surrounded by a dozen Yahoo badge-wearing employees standing and sitting under trees on the corner of a semi-busy street. Everyone was discussing their burger choices. It was a happy burger gathering.
I could totally get used to this. Is Yahoo hiring?
Perhaps we are allergic to planning things, perhaps the OCD runs deep… but when someone asks you “what do you want to do this holiday weekend?”, it usually doesn’t involve a 40 hour cross country drive.
We were supposed to go to my friend’s wedding in New York for the Memorial Day weekend. A leisurely 10 hour drive. But with a series of dog-sitting miscommunications, and therefore a lack of one, we had to find a place we could go with our 72 pound dog. Why not my Mom’s house! The logic, at the time, was air tight.
Cut to us driving on the I-40… and me having a panic attack once we got into Tennessee.
The “for-realsies” kicked in. For example…gas is almost $4.00 a gallon, I just closed my online stores for 4-8 weeks, I will not have my computer friend (only an iphone). ohboy… hand me a paper bag.
So in record time, we got to Los Angeles. Fourty hours in 3 days. Being in Arkansas one night, then in Los Angeles the next, but your vehicle, possessions and dog are with you. Totally surreal. But I have to point out… every Starbucks in this great nation is basically the SAME. How do they do this?!? Even the golden arches have slight variations on their menu and choice of play place… (not that I’ve checked). But… yes. Starbucks… I thank you for making a universal iced caramel macchiato.
So… since this was an EPIC trip… I’m going to break it down into bite-size blog chunks. Because, really… a busy schedule was kept.
I missed seeing many of our California pals (I’m looking at several of you), but… one epiphany on this trip is that we do miss that smog infested, freeway congested, perfect Mexican food bearing warm fuzzy that is Southern California. It’s not a desperate, folk-song writing need… but… we do miss our home state.
So, chances are… we’ll be moving back in the next 24 +/- months (and I will be stalking all of you who I didn’t visit last month). Alas, we have adult commitments to consider before we just pack up our legos and head back again, so it will probably be later than sooner. A few folks, after hearing the news that we were homesick, blurted out such phrases as … “just sell it ALL and get back NOW”. I think they need a dose of the “for-realsies”, too. (A bit of a jolt, they are, those realsies. I don’t like them.)
So, let me gather my thoughts and my 900 iphone photos. I’ll lay out a few more posts and share with you the madness that was our adventure. Oh and 10,000 miles. We put 10,000 miles on our van in 7 weeks. That usually takes 18 months. Our Honda minivan, “Vanna the Grey”, is awesome… our trip was sort of awesome, too.
From San Diego…
To Santa Barbara…
And a whole lot in between… (And even the Colorado River on the way back!)
We saw a LOT… And did a lot!
And had a little photo shoot with our friend Michelle, too ;)
So, that’s why I haven’t been writing… but I plan on making up for lost time in the weeks to come ;)
p.s… oh, and I’ve been painting a lot, too… I’ll share that after sharing the trip :)
= Bronchitis. 12 full days. I’m SO behind on work. Getting caught up has been interesting!
But this last weekend was jam packed with adventures.
My friend from LA was in town and we went antiquing. Here are some random stealth iphone shots:
And then… we went for a quick visit to the NC zoo with our friends who just moved here from Southern California…
The newest members were these albino alligators that apparently are supposed to be good luck…
So, they had a good luck display outside of the alligator exhibit, which our friends’ little boy posed in!
He had a really fun day! :) (So did we!)
We’re fascinated with alligators, so when we saw this squirrel playing in the tree above these sleepy gators, we were reluctantly curious to what he was doing. I got this video, but really, nothing happens until the 0:46 mark, so fast forward :) (I need to work on my editing skills!) Oh, and you may want to click “full screen” mode to see the little guy in action:
It’s a little hard to see, and maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious to watch! (And a relief that he got away without a scratch!)
Pollen, allergies, being outdoors… I guess this means we’re officially in the middle of spring!
And pink blossoms and lots of birdies… And grumpy birds, too! ;)
Two weeks. It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged! One week of the cold/bronchitis and then a last-minute adventure down to Florida. I’m SO glad we went, too… because if anything is going to get you in the Holiday spirit, it’s Disneyworld and their over-the-top decorations. So much so that while we were in Celebration (the Disney uber-planned community) to grab lunch, we spoke to a real estate agent about properties there (on a whim… at first). She mentioned something about how the town gets really into Christmas and they host parades (or something) and it snows (and Santa is there… whatever) in their little downtown area all of December. It was the most exciting thing we had heard in a long time, apparently, because on the spot… my Mom and I decided to move there and began working out the logistics of the whole thing. It could have been the first eggnog latte of the season we had just consumed or how we wanted to never leave our little escape from reality… but we got sucked in… drank the Disney kool-aid and other cliches. After the actual reality and complication of the situation leaked into our perfect dream bubble, we snapped out of it… but… I’m still getting Celebration real estate updates. (Sucker).
I’ll post Disney pics next week… since I have Charleston pics to share, now!
So, we went on this day trip about 3 weeks ago. DH’s parents were here and they have been to almost every state in the nation, except for North Dakota and South Carolina. So… we went to South Carolina to check that off their list!
Unique doors, entryways, fences, gates… fresh paint and plants… a storybook land…
Of course we brought Meg ;)
And…Meg made a friend…
who didn’t move much…
This is our second visit to Charleston… the first one was a year ago, and I think that trip may had more variety, picture-wise. We did the same thing then, too. Wandered the main streets, got funneled into little side streets and took pictures along the way. A walking/picture-taking tour. So relaxing and fun.
For some reason, Charleston didn’t suck us in like Celebration did. Perhaps it’s because most of the Charleston homes start at $2 Million (And I suppose it could also be because Mickey isn’t there).
Minus Sound Research is an artist collective comprised of local North Carolina musicians/artists that was started by Maria Albani and John Harrison in November of 2006. The focus of MSR is to provide the opportunity for musicians to exhibit their visual art and share it with the public.
So we wandered around, sipped on some beer and met some new friends. Here are a few pieces from the exhibit: