Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kansas City - Los Angeles - Hollywood - San Diego - Done

My I am compelled to describe in excruciating detail my "what I did during my summer vacation" blogs, so I am now three weeks behind in updating any super-important "current events blogs" (e.g. I got to meet Jill (Run With Jill) last week when Meg (Meg Runs) was a superstar and put together a fabulous backyard barbecue (BBQ expertly manned by her husband "Boy Scout"), where I finally met Chris K (The Manly Runner) and his girlfriend, Alycia, and got to catch up with Irene (Magazine Smiles) and her Hubs who I hadn't seen since the SDRnR half-marathon. I also got to chat with Anne (Run DMZ), and Glenn (RunningFatGuy) neither of whom I'd seen in AGES, and now am now the LAST person who was at the event to publicly thank Meg and her husband for hosting the event.
Thanks Meg! (From left, Jill, Meg, BS, Chris, Alycia, Irene and Hubs, Anne, Glenn, yours truly, and Walter)
It was a really fun evening. The individual pizzas finished on the BBQ were genius and I plan to use that particular serving idea at a future event that I host, where I will definitely credit Meg! It was, as is typical, always awesome to meet up with fellow runner-bloggers. So. Much. FUN! Can't wait to do it all again soon.

For  quick update to my current running news...It's summer. I sleep in. It's too hot to run outdoors by the time I drag my ass out of bed, and 'cuz I'm a wuss and HATE running in the heat, I run on the 'mill...there you have it. My overall weekly mileage has dropped to about 10 miles per week. After running two half-marys in less than two months, it's kinda nice to not have a race looming. The Nike Women's half in October seems so far away...

So...if you're not here to read about "My Summer Vacation" feel free to stop reading here... I promise, I'm going to get through the rest of it two parts - Our time in Kansas City and then our rerouted trip back to Los Angeles, then I will try to get back to more regular blog fodder.

Kansas City
So...when we last left off, DramaGirl and I were literally running onto our flight to Kansas City as the airplane door closed. Good thing DramaGirl is FAST. After one scheduled stop in Denver, we made it to Kansas City where we met up with the rest of Walter's Family....just in time to enjoy the heat wave!
DG and I on our way to KC...Yes, I was tired.
Lots of people have asked me this month why in the world we decided to go to Kansas City in July. The whole reason is that Walter's father asked us to. He fought in WWII and his battalion (the 99th) has held annual reunions since roughly the mid '50s. The group had decided a few years ago, that this reunion would be the last. Over the years, so many of the WWII vets have aged or passed away. Traveling for many of them is a challenge.

In any event, my FIL asked us to go...I love and respect this man, and what all the vets did for our country (then and now), so we went to honor him and his army buddies. All bitching and complaining about the midwest heat aside, I'm really glad we went. I looked at the pictures of the men when they were serving in the army and they were just boys, not much older than DramaGirl and my nephew Sam, which made me tear up when I thought about it.
My nephew Sam and DG at the banquet
My father-in-law has a pretty amazing "war story." He fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was captured by the Germans. He wisely threw away his dog-tags, which would have identified him as a Jew. It was toward the end of the war, so they were starving, but also, at one point, he and the other captured men thought that their captors weren't really interested in holding onto them any longer, so they escaped.

The dinner where the men were recognized was really nice. Wanna know the difference between banquet food on the West Coast and in the Midwest?
  • Banquet Dinner in SoCal - Boneless Chicken breast in a light sauce, rice pilaf, mixed vegetables
  • Banquet Dinner in KC - Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
In other words, I ate VERY well in Kansas City. We were there three nights. Twice we had barbecue. OK...YUM! I don't know who invented burnt ends, but if it is the only food served in Heaven, I will die happy. If I lived in Kansas City and had the opportunity to eat KC barbecue regularly, I'd weigh about a ton!

We also tried to stay cool in the 110ยบ and high humidity heat, while trying to see some of the sights in the area.
DG and my niece...I'm going to call her Princess...because it fits...At the Missouri River, which had A LOT of water in it. There was flooding upstream.
Our original plan was to leave Kansas City on Sunday and then go to Chicago, but when I was in Tahoe, one of Walter's cousins (who was in St. Petersburg...Russia at the time) contacted me and told me that Walter's aunt was failing in health and wasn't expected to make it through the weekend. Sadly, she passed the following day, so we all decided to head back to LA on Sunday for the memorial service instead of going to Chicago. Walter's Aunt Gertrude was one of my favorite people. We were bummed about our re-routed trip, but really wanted to pay our last respects.

What that also meant is that we had a flurry of flights and hotel reservations to cancel, and other flights to rebook AND that we would end up in LA without a car or a really good way to get back to San Diego...but we figured that we'd work it out somehow.

Los Angeles 4:30am (KC time) we woke up, drove to the airport (We were in Overland Park, about 45 minutes from the airport), were lucky to get on a 7am flight (Frontier Airlines, which is not my favorite airline) and arrived in LA about 9am (LA time)...We hadn't rented a car, but we hopped on the Alamo/National rent a car van and hoped for the best. The line to Alamo was out the door, but I checked upstairs at National...and NOBODY WAS THERE...I have no idea if I paid too much for a car, but I really didn't care. They had one for us and we took it. We then went to my sister's house (she lives in Manhattan Beach, which is close to the airport), changed clothes and got to the noon service in Redondo Beach on time (WHEW!)

It was quite the day, we attended a lovely memorial service, and afterward,  we were all exhausted. We finally got some food in us after the service around 2:00...almost 12 hours after we'd gotten up that morning, and still without a plan for how we were going to get back to San Diego. In addition, Walter and his brother had started talking about spending a few more days "vacationing" in LA.

Betty texted me and told me that she was headed back to San Diego (she was still at Tahoe), so she picked me up that afternoon in LA and I went back to San Diego. Walter and the kids stayed with my sister in LA for the night.

Are you exhausted yet? I was. Let me tell felt REALLY GOOD to sleep in my own bed.

When you live in San Diego...LA is something you endure, or avoid on your way to other places, or perhaps you try to get to a part of it for an event or a meeting, and you pray to the traffic gods that you don't get stuck in some gridlocked traffic nightmare, and while there are plenty of very cool PLACES in LA, it never really occurred to us to take a vacation there. But we had a few days of vacation time to spend, and some pretty disappointed kids (and a sister in law), so we Vay-Kay'd in LA...

The plan was for me to go back to San Diego, get the car, and return to LA the next morning...but I'd been going, pretty much non-stop, for over a week, so let's just say that I didn't get back to LA the next day until afternoon, but I eventually made my way to meet up with Walter, the kids, my bro and sis in law and their kids the next day at Universal Studios.
Mandatory tour bus through Universal Studios back lot (which was actually very cool).
The next day, we went to Griffith Park and the observatory, which was also super cool and was a totally unexpected thing. The observatory had some really excellent exhibits (and we were a group that included everyone from my 3 year old niece to my 16 year old nephew, to some's not always easy to make a large group happy, but we ended up spending three hours there.
There's a Hollywood sign behind us somewhere....
Nephews, a son, and a daughter
After the observatory, we headed down to Hollywood Blvd, to have some lunch, look at the stars in the sidewalk, handprints in concrete in front of the Chinese Theater, and other Hollywood Blvd eccentricities.
My SIL, DG, and me across from the Kodak Theatre...where is our red carpet?
OH...and if that wasn't enough...After THAT we decided to head downtown to LA Live because Walter heard that it was entertaining. The X-Games would take place over the weekend, so we got to see some of the skateboarders and BMXers do some practice runs.

We decided that knee pads and learning how to fall were probably pretty essential to skateboarding on insanely high ramps.

We drove home that night...tired, but pretty satisfied. It hadn't been Chicago, but wasn't bad for a last minute, substitute vacation in LA.

So...there you have it...two very crazy weeks. To be honest, its been equally busy since we got back...but at least it's all been in the same time zone!


  1. Glad to see you and "Walter" during those crazy two weeks. You're so right about our attitude toward LA. There's so much to do besides sit in traffic.

  2. I hope you finally had some decent chill time!!! I had a busy week, but nothing compares to everything you did! Wow.

    It was great seeing you and Walter at Megs. We're doing the pizzas (again) for sure!

    And, PS, I agree with the summer running thing. Ick, unless you're out the door by 5:30 AM. I'm only doing long mileage summer runs because I had the great idea of doing the triple crown this year.

  3. Ha ha ha! "L.A. is something we endure." Very cute from someone who lives in one of L.A.'s suburbs (I remember an old ad slogan from the 60's - something like "The best part of L.A. is San Diego."

    Time for a nap now after reading your little whirlwind...

  4. Seriously. Anytime you end up in LA and need a ride back to SD- Abbey and I are there. I've mastered the LA to SD drive for the past oh... 23 years. :) It's in my blood. It makes me happy to hear of all the fun (crazy, busy and otherwise) over the summer. I wish I was able to hangout with you at Lahiana's longer. But Abbey's daycare and date night with my hubby was calling. :)