Monday, October 19, 2009

Hollywood, CA

Hello folks! The Whipps are in California again! Wow ... we were here in Hollywood in March, up in the northern areas in June, and back in Hollywood again in October. One can accurately guess we enjoy visiting California! :)

We chose to come to California not only because it's one of our favorite spots, but also because we have a friend from Australia visiting us. Hannah is one of Fletch's Aussie friends that I became friends with via facebook several months ago. She arrived on 9 October and is loving soaking in the American culture. We arrived in Hollywood on Friday the 16th just in time for our routine dinner at In-N-Out. If you haven't experienced an In-N-Out, then you need to head to CA, AZ, NV or UT!!! They only exist in these states!

We've had a fun, but relaxing weekend so far. Fletch has had some time to shop around the music stores while Hannah and I are hanging out about town. Our hotel is usually a bit exciting over the weekend with Hollywood-related activities throughout the late night/early evening hours! Let's just say our mothers shouldn't be here at this time! In fact, I'm starting to think I don't want to stay here anymore if it's a Friday or Saturday night!

I was really excited to try out a hip hop dance class at the 24 hour fitness in Hollywood off Sunset Blvd. I would love to be able to continue taking the classes, but our local 24 hour fitness clubs don't offer hip hop. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted! The instructor even video taped us dancing! I'm sure he won't include any pics of me ... unless it's posted under a clowning class! LOL

Today we walked up and down Hollywood Blvd looking at all the stars on the sidewalk. It is a much touristy area than Sunset Blvd. We also toured the Grauman Chinese Theatre. There is so much history in that building! After taking a little break back in our hotel room, we ventured out to find some homes of the stars. We saw (mainly hedges and fences) several homes including Michael Jackson's last home where he died. :( We also were saddened to drive down Rodeo drive ... after seeing a homeless man on Sunset Blvd making "camp" for the night. It was amazing to see such a difference in societies in a matter of 10 miles!

Tomorrow we plan on going to Universal Studios. Hannah hasn't been to an amusement park for over 20 years. I'm sure we are all going to have a blast! Fletch and I finally decided to buy an annual pass to Universal because of our frequent trips out here. The weather should be nice and we're looking forward to spending some time outside in the sun. :)

Hopefully we'll have some pictures up tomorrow. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

VACATION DAY #7: Friday, June 12th

YOSEMITE!  Fletch and I decided to jog on down to Yosemite at the last minute.  We were going to spend 3 days near the Redwood Forest and 3 days at Lake Tahoe, with a day in between those locations to decide whether or not we would want to extend a day at one of those places.  When I found out Yosemite wasn't too far away from Lake Tahoe, we decided to spend 2 nights at each location.  We both decided this was a great idea even before we got here.  We have been to Yosemite just once before just driving through.  2 nights still wasn't enough for a Yosemite trip!  We spent the 2 days driving through 80% of the roads in the park and hiking all throughout Yosemite Village.  Yesterday we were able to watch a film on rock climbing and even got to meet the rock climber featured in the film!  This was a great way to end our outdoorsy vacation ... and a great way to start our summer planning fun quick getaways.  Yellowstone just may be in our future this summer for sure! 

In a little bit, I'll be going downstairs of our bed & breakfast to have some lovely hot breakfast.  I may eat in the rose garden as well. :) Speaking of outside, we heard that this is abnormal cool weather for this time of the year!  Praise God for great weather!  We have 3 hours to drive to San Jose to catch our evening flight home.  This has been a fantastic vacation.  Next update will be at home. Signing off in California.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

VACATION DAYS #5 & 6: Wednesday & Thursday, June 10th & 11th

WEDNESDAY (Lake Tahoe)

I didn't send a post on Wednesday because we didn't take any pictures.  It was a cold start to our day, but was great after we were able to cancel our meeting with the resort for Thursday without any problems!  
Going to South Lake Tahoe before summer officially starts is silly. There are a lot of things to do d
uring winter and summer.  Everyone kept reminding us it's still spring and therefore the outdoor activities were still closed. :(  We spent the day walking around the shops and
 driving around town.  I was able to squeeze in a LOVELY chair massage after a nap and we watched a movie in our room called "The Changling".  We recommend this movie for anyone interested in American history!!!  
THURSDAY (Yosemite)
Today we drove through more windy roads up several thousand feet (summit was past 9,000 feet) into Oakhurst.  We drove through the entire Yosemite Park and had a huge highlight on our 3 hour drive ... BEARS!!!  Unfortunately the camera battery died, but we do have a lot of pictures of a mama bear and her babies! You'll have to check back tomorrow to see the pictures while the battery recharges!!!  We are staying in a lovely bed & breakfast half an hour from Yosemite's south entrance called Houndstooth Inn.   The wine hour is all night and the house has 12 rooms that are all booked for the evening.  Seems like a popular place to stay. :)  We had an awesome dinner at Todd's BBQ and are wrapping the evening up watching "Michael Clayton" in our room compliments of the owners. :)

Tomorrow's plan is more Yosemite (with charged batteries) and hiking. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

VACATION DAY #4: Tuesday, June 9th

We had a lovely day driving through all sorts of California terrain today!  We left the giant redwoods and entered the vineyards once again which soon turned into farmlands then tall buildings (Sacramento) before going back to farms and then Sierra Mountains into lake towns!  

Our first stop was a winery called Ceago Vineyard on Clear Lake in Lake County.  It was, of course, gorgeous!  We even saw the owner there!  Not only did they grow grapes, but take a look at the lovely lavender in their back yard!

After I tasted 6 wines and walked out empty (my fav was the most
 expensive ... $35!!!) we continued our journey to South Lake Tahoe.  We found a cute In-N-Out in Woodland just outside of Sacramento.  After driving 2 lane roads for most of our trip outside San Francisco, it was weird to hit the capital city of Sacramento during rush hour!  I do love the carpool lane, though. :)  Once we were out of the city limit we started our ascent up the
 Sierra Nevada Mountain range.  It was a lovely drive, but very windy.  We did a lot of climbing and just after hitting the summit of over 7800 feet (we went through a town at 150 earlier in the day) we didn't go down the range very much.  I'm not looking forward to heading back to San Jose on Saturday!  My mama always said "What goes up, must come down!"  Our little Sebring is not a good choice for climbing mountains in!  

Our lovely $49/night room in South Lake Tahoe has ended up being a timeshare room.  It is beautiful inside but we aren't looking forward to canceling that informational meeting on Thursday. Well, we are looking forward to canceling it, but not being harassed to keep the appointment!  
Tonight we drove 10 blocks to Nevada and watched "Angels & Demons" at a theater in a casino. If you haven't seen the movie, we highly recommend you watching it!  We don't have plans for tomorrow just yet, but it should involve having a workout, maybe bike riding, going to the lake, hopefully swimming ... it's all up in the air!

Monday, June 8, 2009

VACATION DAY #3: Monday, June 8th

AVENUE OF THE GIANTS!!! Wow!  That short 3 lettered word pretty much sums up our day seeing God's beautiful creation!  "I Stand in Awe" & "Come Let Us Adore Him" were two of the songs we sang while driving through one of the most scenic drives in America!  I can't write any more other on this!  Words just can't describe the amazing beauty we saw today!  See the pictures below and continue reading about the rest of our day after the pictures. :) 

After driving through the 31 mile scenic tour of giant redwoods, we decided to keep driving north to Eureka. There we stopped at a car dealership to check out any sales at a GM dealership, but were unlucky to find a huge bargain.  We did see the dealership on the news later that night, though!  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Sizzlers which brought back memories of Australia!  It was a sweet treat to find a restaurant we both ate at in Brisbane!

After we arrived back at the motel, we decided tonight would be game night.  We enjoyed playing miniature golf (free at the resort), farkle and Slamming Scrabble (a card game).  Tomorrow's agenda:  winery, driving 6 1/2 hours and South Lake Tahoe!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

VACATION DAY #2: Sunday, June 7th

LAST NIGHT:  We didn't quite make it to the American/Italian restaurant.  Instead we decided to drive around town.  I have crossed over the Bay Bridge several times in my life and always wondered what was on Treasure Island.  We decided to exit off of this enormous bridge half the way across to the other side of the bay to find a spectacular night view of San Francisco skyline.  Of course we forgot our camera, though.  Oh well.  It's an excuse to go back the next time we're in town!  We both had a fantastic sleep in our small quaint Kimpton room.

On Sunday we started our day off with a drive through Lombard Street in between Hyde 
and Leavenworth. Those in San Francisco know exactly where we were!  We found the most crooked street in the world!  It was very, very, very steep as well and, of course, had houses stacked on it!!!  We did take pictures of this one. :)  

After we drove around the area a few times we started our journey to the Redwoods!  To get
 out of San Francisco we had to take the world known Golden Gate Bridge.  Luckily for us it is free to travel North across the bridge.  
Those traveling South have to pay a toll charge (I guess San Francisco's mayor doesn't want anyone in his town but encourages others to leave?) We spent a while walking around the park at the entrance of the bridge and bought a few souvenirs before continuing on our journey north.  

Our plan for the day was Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge, a winery and just stopping whenever we felt like it! Our 4 hour trip to Redway, CA ended up being 7 hours due to all the stops we made!  The journey was beautiful!!!  Unfortunately we didn't stop
 at any wineries but will travel off route to Lake Tahoe to tour a castle with a moat, drawbridge, 100+ rooms (just to name a few) winery on Tuesday.  It was really fun to go from downtown San Francisco with tall buildings to gigantic Redwoods and lush golden grass amongst the hills!  We even got to drive through a tree at Chandelier Park in Leggett, CA!!!  I forgot to look up the address to that one.  Thank goodness we saw the signs for the Drive Through Tree road!!! Besides driving through the tree, I enjoyed the discussion I had with wild turkeys (ask to see the video if you're around!).  

We are now staying at Dean Creek Resort in a motel room with a kitchenette.  We are excited to be here and are looking forward to seeing the Avenue of the Giants first thing tomorrow!!!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures!!!  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

VACATION DAY #1: Saturday, June 6th

TRAVELING: After a late night chat with Ross, Kerryn, Lachlan and Carmody Maguire we decided to finish our laundry and get packing.  Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep.  I had to wake up a little earlier to take Zack to his dog sitters before they left at 8:15 a.m.  I also misplaced my iPod, so I had to take a trip to school to check around there.  Problem #1:  no iPod anywhere.  We had to leave home without it.  We got on the road at a good time, but problem #2:  construction on I-25 and Northgate … just 10 minutes from home.  We were practically at a stand still for 30 minutes.  This caused problem #3:  no cheap parking available.  We arrived at the airport 1 hour prior to departure.  That traffic jam didn’t help us at all!  We decided to park in the garage for extra money.  Once we arrived in the terminal, we saw (of course) a long check in line.  Fletch spotted a worker, so I ran over to him to explain our flight was leaving in one hour.  Let’s just say we were able to get to our gate 30 minutes early with a bit of advice from that nice man!  (Comment below to find out what happened to get our bag checked in early!).  What we thought was a bad start to our travels, started to look good!  While we were walking to the gate I realized problem #4:  I forgot my iPhone in my car!  We were in such a hurry I walked off without it.  Oh well.  If you want to get ahold of me, call Fletch’s cell!  I’m on vacation. J  Our flight was supposed to leave at 11:45 a.m. but the lady at the ticket counter FINALLY updated us at 11:45 that air traffic control was keeping our plane grounded and that we would start boarding at 12:00.  This fixed problem #5 just splendidly:  we were HUNGRY!.  We shared a sandwich from Quiznos and continued to wait … and wait … and wait.  Luckily (our day has been full of luck and bad news) I asked the agent if we were in the right gate.  Nope.  They changed the gate and must have announced it after they said we had 15 minutes to go grab a snack.  Seriously.  They said to leave the gate area to get a snack if needed, but then made an IMPORTANT announcement ONCE … during those 15 minutes we were in line for a sandwich.  It was now 12:15 and the lady said we had to go from that gate (25) to 45 to catch the 12:30 flight!  ARGH!  Another jaunt through the airport and we arrived to find out the plane was STILL delayed until 12:54.  At that point I asked the new agent if I had time to get my iPhone and/or move my car from the garage to a cheaper lot.  Of course she said no.  It took us 30 minutes to board the plane, then another 30 minutes to take off.  I am still without my iPhone with my car parked in an expensive spot, but I’m on vacation with my laptop (e-mail me, folks) and my car is protected against weather! J  Plus our tickets from Denver – San Francisco total (for 2 tickets) was still $249.  No joke. J  

SAN FRANCISCO:  We arrived to the airport after all those delays without any problems (thank goodness!).  Fletch had a beautiful sleep almost the entire way!  What a blessed gift he has to be able to sleep on a 2 hr 40 min flight!  We found Alamo car rentals without a problem as well and are the drivers of a Light Blue Chrysler Sebring 4 door midsize car.  We were able to get to our hotel without a problem as well.  Looks like our day is getting better again. :)  Once we checked in, the clerk blessed (Melissa) us with the knowledge that a free wine happy hour was starting in 30 minutes. :) Woo-hoo.  I had a lovely glass of merlot and then we walked to the corner Starbucks (across the street) for coffee and snacks. :)  The hotel is nice, but small.  I think small is normal for a San Francisco hotel! I'm glad that they offer free Aveda products. :)  Tonight we plan on walking to an Italian/American restaurant to continue celebrating my birthday. :)