I went on vacation with friends to LA about a month ago. It was a fun trip. I flew out with L, K, A, and M on Saturday 5 August to LAX. We rented a car and drove to Valencia, where we met H and R.
I've uploaded some of my pictures from the trip to a Flickr set.
We went into Hollywood on Sunday and walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard. It was pretty cool seeing the stars on the sidewalk. I especially enjoyed the Kodak and Grauman Theatres.
We ate at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant (Vert) in the Kodak Theatre. If you get the chance, try the chicken salad.
On Monday, K, L, A, and M went to Six Flags (Magic Mountain), and H, R, and I took a day trip. This was probably my favorite part of the vacation. It was very relaxing and beautiful. We had lunch at a little French restaurant in Ojai, and then we stopped and took a few pictures of the lake at Ojai. Then we went to Santa Barbara and spent an hour or so on the beach. Santa Barbara is really pretty, and I think I'd like to go back and spend some more time there. We also walked around in Ventura for a couple of hours before heading back to Valencia. That night, H, R, L, A, and I had dinner at a great place in Valencia called BJs. They have really good beer.
We spent Tuesday at Universal Studios. My favorite part was the Waterworld show. I hadn't seen the movie, because I'd heard it was pretty bad, but the live show was awesome. (I've since watched the film. Wow, it's really terrible.) I don't usually do roller coasters (translation: never), but L convinced me to ride the Mummy. It's an indoor coaster, and it was pretty fun (except that the woman sitting next to me desperately needed a shower, and she kept elbowing me in the face). We rode it twice and got pictures. We took the studio tour, and that was very cool. It was neat seeing the outdoor sets that I've probably seen in scores of movies and TV shows. That's an impressive amusement park--it's really huge.
Wednesday we moved from Valencia to Santa Monica, and we drove out to Burbank to see a taping of "The Tonight Show." That was really interesting to me. They filmed it in real time, so the whole thing just took an hour or so. The band (with Kevin Eubanks) played during the commercial breaks. I was amazed at how small the set is. They really make it seem much bigger on the show. Mariska Hargitay was supposed to be the first guest that day, but she cancelled due to a family emergency. I hadn't heard of the guests who did appear: a rather forgetable actress, a very forgetable musical guest, and an interesting fellow named Travis Pastrana, who did a double backflip on a motorbike at the X Games.
Thursday we just hung out on the the beach, lounged around at the hotel, and checked out the Santa Monica pier. That night we ate a delicious meal at
Sushi Roku at Santa Monica and Ocean.
Friday we drove from LA to Vegas. We'd planned to fly, but that was just a day or so after the terrorist scare. None of us wanted to deal with airport security, and it was just a four-hour drive, so we braved the heat and headed into the desert. It wasn't what I expected. I guess I was expecting the Sahara with nothing but sand and dunes, but there were plants and mountains. It was really quite beautiful. We stayed at the Golden Nugget that night. E and D met us there, and it was really great seeing them. That night we walked around on Fremont Street and saw the light show.
Then Saturday A, H, and I flew home. We expected trouble at the airport (because of increased security measures), but it was no big deal. I think M said it was less than 30 minutes between our arrival at the airport and getting through security.