Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Our 4th of July Weekend

Independence Day has always been our favorite time of the year. First and foremost, it is the anniversary of when Johnny and I first met at Sharkeez in Hermosa Beach, CA. This year marks our fourth anniversary and it's hard to believe we're going on our fifth! Secondly, the 4th is America's birthday and that's another good reason to celebrate. Happy Birthday, America!!

And so our adventure began early Friday morning as we packed our car and headed toward Newport Beach where Johnny's grandma and aunt live. We love them so much for the people that they are, so giving, great hostesses and always in the festive mood! When we arrived at their place, Aunt Jan was dying rice red and blue (which we thought was odd but we didn't say anything). Grandma must've saw the bewildered look on our faces then piped up, "I think you guys think we're gonna have it for dinner but she's making a centerpiece." ...LOL!!

4th of July centerpiece

Later that evening, we went to eat at the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach. Johnny was last there when he was a kid with his grandma and late grandfather. He remembered everything about the place down to where they sat and loved the restaurant for their Polynesian-themed decor. Except that night, there was no decor because they were undergoing construction to conform to fire codes. In the absence of ambiance, dinner was still delicious and the drinks were fantastic! We had their signature drink, the Lapu Lapu (and we got loopy loopy), with our melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs and fried shrimp.

The next day, we took off towards Dana Point in the early morning to catch our boat for Catalina Island. The parking directions they gave us were so screwy, it took us way too long to find the lot and even longer to walk back to the dock for check-in--we thought we'd miss the boat for sure and they'd still charge us $150 for our tickets!! But...we made it!

Johnny on Catalina Express

The ride was a little rough for me as I tried not to get seasick by looking over the water for anything interesting. For a while, it appeared as if we were in the middle of nowhere (a thought that gave me goosebumps) but then we saw schools of dolphins frolicking in the water! It was a sight to see as I had gone shark diving before but never saw dolphins in person.

We first had breakfast at Eat at Joe's and then strolled along Crescent Avenue perusing the shops and at the boats parked in Avalon Bay. It was a perfectly sunny day to be there! Temperatures in high 80's and the slight breeze bringing in the smell of the beach and ocean.

We stopped at a shop that had all sorts of tikkis--many of which Johnny didn't have (yet) in his collection. Since we had much more to see and do, the store was kind enough to hang on to our merchandise until we were ready to leave the island. It was still early and our boat will not return to the mainland until 7 p.m. that evening. Johnny at Avalon Bay

Later that afternoon, we settled in a Armstrong's Seafood Restaurant and grabbed seating overlooking the bay. Johnny had fish and chips and I had spicy tuna. The establishment brings in fresh fish daily and most are caught right off the island. Needless to say, lunch was SO delicious with my Bloody Mary.

I didn't mention that when we first docked on the island, I thought it was neat to see so many golf carts and mini-cruisers. When we later rented a golf-cart so we can go sightseeing around the island, I was then baffled by the sheer number of golf-carts there were. It seemed that EVERY single household had at least one if not two golf-carts. It must be their primary mode of transportation because the roads are so steep and narrow, surely a large vehicle would get stuck or flip over.

Catalina Island is really a teeny-tiny town that sprouted along Avalon Bay. Besides the homes nestled in the hill and "downtown", there's not much to it. Besides the tourist area along the bay, there's not much commercialism elsewhere. Their grocery store is VONS and it's hidden amongst the buildings of homes, hotels and shops. You won't find Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or even a Jack-in-the-Box--places I take for granted because you can always find them in Vegas. Can you imagine buying large consumer durables or moving to and from Catalina?!

After we had driven around the island stopping at the many landmarks, there was nothing left to do but spread out on the sand and soak in some sun. My sweetheart had carried my bag all day while lugging around his backpack and it would definitely be nice to relax after walking around so much. The only problem was that the beach was so small, we couldn't even find a place to squat. The ships kept bringing in tourists throughout the day and by afternoon Avalon Bay was SO packed. People were on benches, walls, napping on the grass and anywhere they could be to rest their tired legs. There was no where else for us to go and we've done everything we possibly could so we hopped on the next available boat back to the mainland...leaving our purchased goods behind (the shop owners were kind enough to ship it to our home).

Enjoy some more pictures from our trip!

The day wasn't a waste though. As soon as we got back to Newport Beach, we changed into our swimsuits and walked down the block to the sandy beach! FINALLY, we got to lay out and enjoy the remaining sun of the day!!

Meanwhile, Aunt Jan and Grandma were preparing a deluxe BBQ feast (though that's how they really eat every day)!! Ginger-teriyaki chicken served with cucumber-tomato salad soaked in rice vinegar, a side of baby artichokes drizzled with olive oil, garlic and parmesian, and sweet corn. MMmmmm!! We all had the best time eating dinner in their backyard. (Aunt Jan and Grandma have a backyard that looks like it came out of a Better Home & Garden magazine).

See for yourself!

We were so excited to go to Hermosa Beach the next day. That's where Johnny and I met four years ago and he hadn't been back to that area for over three years. The small city by the beach looked like just as it had when we left (except we noted that everything was a little older and run-down looking). We had gotten use to Vegas and the new buildings that sprouted weekly. Parking is a nightmare. Mostly meters and you must have a permit to park in the residential areas. The locals can also park at marked meters. When we use to frequent Hermosa, we knew that you park your car, you never leave your spot because you'll be lucky to find another parking space. So we were fortunate to find a church offering $10 to park all day and we were happy to pay. It benefits the church and will be a tax write-off for us!

Our first stop was lunch at Hennessey's Tavern on the Hermosa Pier overlooking the Strand and the big beautiful ocean. We opt for the patio seating and people watched...reminiscing over our days we were glad to have but would not relive. After lunch, we strolled down the strip of sidewalk past joggers, dogs, walkers, skateboarders and people on their bikes. I believe the sidewalk, which is called the Strand, runs from Santa Monica to Newport Beach if you dare take the entire path. Believe me, it's been done!

In Hermosa, bicycles are the mode of transportation as golf carts are for Catalina. Once we were sick of looking at the gigantic houses along the beach, we settled in the warm sand to feel the cool breeze of the ocean. In Hermosa, the air felt like 77 degrees and the heat was much milder than Catalina.

We had a lovely day in Hermosa Beach but enjoyed enough fun at that place for the year so we headed back to Newport to meet Johnny's cousin for dinner. Lindsay took us to California Sushi where they like to bang their rice blocks to the tune of Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight".

When it was time to head home to Vegas, we were sad to leave our Aunt Jan and grandma though we had the best time with them during our stay in Newport Beach.

On our way home on the I-215, we stopped at the Bun Boy in Baker, home of the World's Biggest Thermometer and it was 112 degrees! Not too hot for us--we love the heat and we love to eat! I had never been to Bun Boy and was glad to have had the chance. Johnny had their double cheeseburger and I had a Reuben with coleslaw. Delicious!!

It was good to be home after a nice long weekend. We wanted to be able to relax at home and prepare for the week. Plus we missed our kitty, Winnie. BUT the next day we went to the Hard Rock Hotel! (Hey, how can we NOT celebrate Independence Day and our dating anniversary?!)

The pool was nice, not too crowded as I grabbed some towels while Johnny grabbed a couple drinks for us in Hard Rock's cool tikki cups. We were lucky to find some chairs comfortably next to the pool. AAaaahhhhh!!!

So nice...and then as we were lounging, I spotted this girl walk by the other side of the pool from us. She was skinny with blonde hair, big sunglasses, on her cell phone (what's new) and sporting this god-awful leopard, animal-print-ish outfit. The kind that halters the top, comes down the center across the belly button, exposing both sides of the tummy, and then flares like a big wrap. I thought, oh--this girl SO wants to be Paris Hilton and then...she evens walks like Paris too (her shoulder movement was like how gangly girls moved as if to keep their balance). But then she was also being followed by body guards. I realized those guys weren't just going the same way as she.

I heard Johnny to the side of me mention what awful tan lines she already had and how worse they were going to be with that hideous outfit. And then he asked, "Is that Paris Hilton?"

Then this girl who had been lounging with her boyfriend in front of us confirmed that it was indeed, Paris. We eventually made friends with this couple. Turned out they work in the radio business in L.A. and had heard (her new CD and that) she'd be at the Hard Rock, where they themselves were staying for business (and a Poison concert).

Paris and her sister, Nikki, were at the Hard Rock pool. That's cuz she knew we were celebrating our anniversary and just had to be where the party was!! ;)

As everyone followed her with their eyes to her cabana, I thought, eh...we're just not the starstruck type. Seen Tara Reid and Tiger Woods at the small clubs in Hermosa Beach and I use to work around creative people in Burbank whose names appeared on the big movie screens. I've been to film school and know the media and how it can glorify people. I just don't buy into that.

What I will buy is another of them cool tikki cups they served my margaritas in. They make fantastic water bottles and we've collected red, pink and green so far.

And maybe I'll buy another bikini... I hope all of you had a fantastic holiday weekend and also a happy 4th of July!!


Anonymous said...

I think the big girl in the black is a little envious of you...LoL

Daly said...

I think so too. We chatted for a bit and she was a really nice lady.