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Florida 2013- Day 7

Wed. June 19, 2013:

It was so hard to get up early, and not just because we had stayed up so late, but also because I did not want to leave. I was not done with Florida, I still had so many things to see and do. Originally we were supposed to fly out that night, but Air Canada decided to bump us to a much earlier flight. We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for one last caffeine run, it was sad. I used my receipt from last time to get another free donut- alas the chain was broken as I would not be able to redeem the free donut from my new receipt (hint, Dunkin’ Donuts come to Canada, hint).

Airport security was a horrible mess with a giant tight bottleneck and no clear direction, as the check-in. The Dunkin’ Donuts in the airport, no longer on a boil water alert, had only regular coffee and no flavours available- what good is that?! The shops had no good snacks, I was about to say that the airport really sucks, but then I found the duty free shop where I got a giant bottle of flavoured vodka for $20, much cheaper than in Canada.

The flight was crammed; I really do not know why we were bumped to it. The woman beside me fell asleep instantly, before we had even taken off. I had half a mind to wake her up and ask what her secret was. I can never fall asleep that fast.

In the end I did not get to eat an orange off a tree. I did not even see a single orange tree, but the fresh passion fruit more than made up for it. I just have to go back to Florida.

 

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Florida 2013- Day 4

Sun. June 16, 2013:

Somehow I managed to wake up at 9am, feeling wide awake and rested… yet I had only had 4 hours of sleep. Or maybe I was super excited because we were going to the Everglades Holiday Park for an airboat tour. Being the first one awake I was treated to “feed me” chorus from the cats. But it was all a ruse! I checked the fridge and they had already been fed. Instead I took them outside to the backyard and let them roam and it somehow turned into a photo shoot culminating with Przemek climbing the banana plant. Eventually it got too hot and it was time to retreat to the air-conditioned climate.

We found tickets for the airboat ride on Groupon, alas we had to use 3 different computers as we were purchasing 5 coupons. As per usual, we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts; at this point everyone had converted and found something they liked. It was weird because they were having a musical guest. We ordered the equivalent of timbits (munchkins they’re called) and mentioned so and that we were going to compare the two. The cashier mentioned how she had always wanted to go to Tim Hortons, which struck me as odd- but then again who am I to talk when I always demand going to Dunkin’ Donuts whenever I am in the States. The munchkins were nowhere near as good as timbits.

June 16, 2013- Florida (2)

In the Everglades Holiday Park parking lot we saw a peacock, I quipped that he was looking for his car. We laughed at tourists slowly trying to approach the peacocks, and their surprise when the birds flew away. Despite it being the off-season, the place was packed, probably because it was Father’s Day. Or maybe it was because of the Groupon deal? There was a separate (and much longer) line-up for people who had discount tickets. We took turns waiting in line while the rest would go look at souvenirs. There was a stuffed alligator toy that would roll around laugh if you “tickled” it, Lucy was amused by it to no ends. She kept going back and laughing at it.

We lined up early for the airboat ride; standing in the heat at high noon was a sacrifice I was willing to make if it meant getting the best seats. Thankfully the wait wasn’t that long. It was worth it, we got seats at the front of the boat and right by the edge. It was so much fun when the airboat went fast, just watching the Everglades zip by. Our first stop was Vulture Island. It was aptly named. You would look at it and see one vulture, then another…. As your eyes adjusted you would see more and more- and suddenly there were at least 30 vultures, all just sitting there, hidden by the trees.

The first alligator we spotted was a regular, seen often on the tour. How do I know this? Because our captain knew her name (Speedy) and knew she was missing a leg. And also she was not afraid of us at all, she swam about as if she knew the drill: let the happy tourists gawk at and photograph you. Up next we saw her daughter. Saw is a bit of an overstatement, glanced is more apt. You could see the top of her forehead and one eye, off under a log near the banks.

June 16, 2013- Florida (99)

After that our captain pulled up to another spot so we could see some birds. These birds also knew the drill, they got fed and in exchanged we gawked at them. One of the birds was not having it; she kept making sad sounds and refusing to eat. We were told this was because her baby had been eaten by an alligator. We passed by a pretty yellow flower that looked like a lilypad- only it wasn’t and it harbored black widow spiders.

June 16, 2013- Florida (93)

As we were leaving we saw a blue heron, apparently a rare sighting given the time of year. And just to top off the boat ride (that was definitely longer than an hour) we saw one more alligator! This one was not used to people and kept ducking under the surface of the water.

After the boat ride we were treated to a show by one of the Gator Boys (a TV show I’d watched on a previous vacation). He demonstrated gator wrestling for us with one of the larger alligators, who was not having it at all. He tapped the gators top tooth to make it snap its mouth shut, showing us the strength with which it can bite down. It made a large thump sound and verified, in my mind at least, that the presenter was nuts. This theory was further solidified when he rested his chin on the gators chin, keeping it clamped shut, arms outstretched for more drama. The first time he tried this, the gator fidgeted and he had to readjust, it was a close-call. For $5 you could have your picture taken while holding a baby gator. One woman got more than she bargained for when the gator peed while she held him. I was about ready to leave after the show. There had been one lady who did not understand personal space during the show. She kept squeezing in between us, and reaching over my head to take pictures, resulting in a loose embrace of the top of my head, with her camera just above my forehead.

June 16, 2013- Florida (160)

We stopped in a McDonald’s parking lot to steal their free wi-fi; we were searching for the nearest Chipotle. A day in the Everglades ramps up the appetite and we were hungry for burritos. Even still, the spicy steak burrito won, but only because it was massive. Chipotle burritos are intended for two, maybe three people. Not one person. Again we found ourselves in Wal-mart on the way home. This time we were in need of campfire supplies. We ended up, in a fit of giggles, buying enormous marshmallows (as in double the size of big marshmallows).

Just as we were about to pull onto their street, a song came on the radio that everyone insisted on listening to and we found ourselves driving around the back of the neighbourhood. It just so happened that the only people living there (the abandoned housing project, Camelot Estates) were moving out. Ela ended up getting a free bike, they had just left it by the side of the road (along with other stuff, remember that).

The house looked like a tornado had hit it; we had our work cut out for us. As a treat after cleaning and a break, we drove out to Carvel in search of Fudgey. I had forgotten to factor in that it was Father’s Day and we had about half an hour before the place closed. We got there and the guy said he was sold out. And not just of Fudgey’s… all his ice cream cakes were gone. This must have registered on my face, as the guy called the next nearest location (thankfully only 15 minutes away) and asked. They had one; I made sure he called back to dibs it for me. The tension in the car was mounting, would we get there in time? Did he actually formally dibs it for us? Would the other location honour the dibs?!

I jumped out of the car and raced in, slightly desperate. The lady at the counter said they were all sold out, the woman who had been in line in front of me laughed that she too had just come in, trying to buy a Fudgey the Whale. I asked about the dibs, she had no idea. I left in a huff, in the parking lot I motioned to the car with my arms in the air in a sad state of defeat- when another woman from the shop called out. I turned around and went back in to see what the fuss was about. If she thought she could see me another ice cream cake, a non-whale shaped one, she was wrong.

As it turns out, the other woman was the one who put the cake aside for me- failing to mention it to her other co-workers. I was so relieved to hear this. She asked if I wanted Happy Father’s Day written on the cake. I raised an eyebrow and laughed no (there were no father’s there, our dad was back in Canada, their dad was in Atlanta). And then I yelled out: WAIT!! I got her to write PMCEL on the cake as a surprise for everyone. She was really confused and I had to spell out each letter for her. I was happy with my victory.

As drove back we passed by a trailer park that had been wrecked by a storm. We headed to the back of the neighbourhood to see what else the moving neighbours had left out. We hit a gold mine- sort of. We got boxes and boxes of lightbulbs and screws. We got a free flashlight, 2 cabinets with drawers and some wires. The smaller cabinet fit in the car. The larger one however needed carrying. It started out with 3 of us carrying it. Then I swapped out with Ela and took her bike back to the house. I passed Marianne and her mom, both on their way back from dropping stuff off, to help carry the cabinet. I ran back and saw that they had found a new way to carry it. Originally we were carrying it by the edges. Now 3 were carrying it over their heads and others would swap in. It was not easy to swap in for them as I kept getting hit on the head with the twine (holding it closed). Also being the shortest, I could not rest it on my head; I had to use my shoulders- leading to my arm going numb. After some back & forth we finally realized it would be easier for 4 of us to carry it pallbearer style on our shoulders. Only at this point we had reached their street.

June 16, 2013- Florida (177)

We set up a wonderful looking campfire however the humidity made it impossible to get the fire going. We finally got it going with some banana leaves, making Florida that much hotter. We drank fresh passionfruit juice (literally fresh, we had picked it earlier that day) while we roasted hotdogs. For dessert we had obscenely large smores. It was a terribly sticky, gooey mess. Our first bites were filmed with the lens cap on. Their mom kept asking if it was supposed to be so dark, we said it was fine. Only after did we realize it was that the lens cap was on. With four layers of bug spray on, I was still getting bitten, as was everyone else. We retreated indoors, where in the better light we could see on the marshmallow bag that they were intended for smores with a double-sized graham cracker. Hah.

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With all the hubbub surrounding the cake,I could still not really say why the crazy appeal so I pulled up the Wikipedia page and read it aloud. Camilla bailed and left, claiming to have had enough sugar. So with just us and their mom, we sat down and each cut a tiny slice of cake. And then another tiny one. And another. Before we knew it, we had eaten about half the cake! It was that good. So simple (vanilla ice cream, chocolate cookie base, fudge top, cookie in middle) and so delicious. The sugar-crash afterwards put me right to sleep.

 

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Florida 2013- Day 2

Fri. June 14, 2013:

The boil water alert was still on. Apparently traces of E .coli were found in the water and so we had to boil it. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth became a hassle as you had to make sure you used boil/bottled water. This being our first full day on vacation (i.e.: the vacation munchies had yet to surface) I was game for going running. Turns out running in Florida, even at 8 in the morning, is a less than stellar idea. Marianne and I ended up walking most of the route, turning our run into a (much cooler) nature walk. We saw so much nature, at times too much nature for me to handle. I did fine not know that there are spiders in Florida the size of my palm; I could have lived the rest of my life not knowing of these nightmare-inspired creatures with their giant webs. Thankfully they hang out higher up in the treetops, away from human faces that are liable to wreck the webs and lead to spider-stomping. Not helping matter were some vultures sitting high atop in the trees, it was as if they were just waiting for me to collapse from heat exhaustion.

As we walked we could hear the peacocks off in the distance (they run wild in the park we passed through) making a huge ruckus. There was a trail along the paved path for people on horseback- just about the worst place for a turtle to bask in the sun, yet there we saw one. We approached it slowly so as to gently scare it towards the canal. The stereotype about turtles being slow is a lie. This little guy was hoofing it towards the canal. For the grand finale he slid down the bank and splashed into the canal water with an epic *plop* that made my day. As we continued we saw more vultures, this time however there were about 10 of them circling an area: a turtle smooshed by a horse, an exhausted runner? We’ll never know, it was too hot to go investigate.

Passing by Flamingo Gardens we saw two red parrots, a male and female. For some reason they flew towards the Gardens, where the peacocks were being obnoxiously loud. Marianne mentioned that there was a parrot display at Flamingo Gardens that had free admission, alas we were there too early yet we were outside too late. At this point, as we headed back, it was unbearably hot. I would like to point out that is was barely 10am and it felt like high noon at the peak of summer.

There is nothing like working up a sweat and nearly getting heat exhaustion to motivate one to go lounge by the beach. We made lunch and packed it up for eating on the beach. My sandwich was epic: almond butter, peanut butter and cranberry preserves. As per my caffeine addiction, we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts so I could fill up. Happily, they had a new donut: key lime, I was overjoyed, even more so when Marianne informed me that key lime pie is the official pie (dessert?) of the state of Florida! It was delicious, how can it not be? Lime= good, donut= good, crumbly bits on top= good. Something I had (apparently) forgotten to mention when petitioning for a Dunkin’ Donuts pit-stop was that the reason I was so in love with the place was solely for the drip coffee with a flavour shot, and to a lesser extent the donuts (doesn’t beat Tim Hortons). Everyone else had ordered fancy espresso based beverages and then walked away surprised that the flavour was subpar.

Dania Beach was pristine and just gorgeous with a blue sky and nothing but sunshine. I dipped my legs to cool off after setting up the umbrellas and chairs. We were serious beachgoers (as apparently everyone is in Florida) with two giant umbrellas secured in place providing the necessary shade and a cooler for our waters and sandwiches. There is nothing worse than a warm bottle of water in 30+ degree weather.

June 14, 2013- Florida P&S (4)- Dania Beach

While dipping my legs, I found a coconut that had washed up on shore. I found a giant rock, lifted it over my head and threw it down. With comic timing, it bounced off the coconut and landed beside, barely missing my foot. Turns out the coconut was soggy, so I instead adopted him and he sat by our umbrellas, helping keep one of the towels down.

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I tried to lie on my towel in the sun, listening to podcasts but this proved to be a difficult endeavour as the sun was trying to bake me. Even with a hat over my face, I could not take the heat. I retreated to the shade where after a while… it got cold! Shocker! I tried to go back to my towel, but the wind had picked up and was blowing sand all over me, so I took one of the chairs out into the sun, a nice compromise. I was half asleep in my chair (watching pelicans and the Coast Guard fly by put me to sleep) when everyone returned from the ocean. They were shouting and half took off running down the beach. I turned to look and what do you know, the umbrella I thought was more secure (and thus had been paying less attention to) had been blown away. The wind had drastically changed direction. Thankfully the wind was nice enough to not blow any sand onto our lunch.

The wind was so strong the birds could not fly, they were stuck hovering in once place, trying so desperately to fly against it, both sad and funny. A storm appeared on the horizon soon after lunch, but it went out across the ocean and then back to land further north. It had completely bypassed us it seemed. Except it looped back around and came straight for us, threatening not just rain but also lightning. We packed up and left.

On our way back we stopped at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour for a little treat. Little is an understatement. The smallest size ice cream scoop, the kid’s size, was 1/4lb. I love ice cream, but that seemed a bit much to me. Camilla and Lucy saw the economic value in sharing a banana split and thus the Great Debate began. They were almost at the window and wondering if they should rehearse- and they forgot their order. Everyone else ordered and they went last. I was nearly in tears, laughing at the size of their banana split when it was handed over. It was enormous, easily too much for 3-4 people. Their flavour choice was not that great: strawberry (tasted too much like bubblegum), pina colada and caramel. Clearly I was the winner with a giant scoop of rocky road. Not only was it made freshly in-house, it had real marshmallows in it. Where else can you get that? Bonus points for including a plastic drip tray to hold my cone in. No sooner had I walked away from the ordering window, my ice cream was already half melted. The whole thing was a messy, sticky affair. While we ate we laughed about the epic salad Lucy had at the cottage, proving she has a propensity to order too-large dishes.

June 14, 2013- Florida P&S (25)

As we drove, our ride was interrupted by a one-car train, but it was so cute you could not get mad at it. We made another pit stop, this time at the humane society. It was heartbreaking to see all those animals. We got to pet the tiniest little kitten I have ever seen, it kept meowing and it took all my self-will not to adopt it and take it with me in my carry-on luggage. While there we found a cat with my name, as well as two that looked like our cat back home: Mruczka.

It felt so good to shower when we got back; there was a whole layer of sand mixed with sunscreen stuck to me. Turns out I had not put enough sunscreen on my belly, as it was red and sunburned. We got some aloe from the garden. It felt cold and slimy on my belly, but it also provided relief. I was torn.

Kazik (one of the cats) had caught a lizard outside on the patio and was batting it around. He would periodically pick it up by its head and carry it in his mouth. He would chase it, bat it, and carry it around- but not eat it. He had just eaten his dinner and was not hungry, so Ela and I taught him not to play with his food by setting the lizard (remarkably unscathed) free.

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We had another super-Polish supper, with zapiekanki (grilled cheese with mushrooms) for the main course. For dessert we had the greatest idea ever. You see, Nutella is not exactly healthy, bearing more than just a hint of cocoa. We fixed the health factor by spreading it on strawberries. It has now become a staple in our diet. The day ended on a high note, while playing Bohnanza we found out that the boil water alert had been lifted. Our area had been unaffected by the e.coli!

 

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Florida 2013- Day 1

Thurs. June 13, 2013:

Booking an 8am flight seemed like such a great idea at the time. As far as I saw it, my sisters and I would arrive in Florida (state 27 for those of you keeping count) at 11am with plenty of time to enjoy a full day of fun.  About a day before did it dawn on me how early we would be waking up at.

We got a ride to Kipling subway where we were supposed to catch the bus to the airport. Small problem: the subway station itself was not open yet. The only way you could get to the bus platform was by being on a bus. What else could we do? We snuck in by walking up the driveway where the buses enter the subway station.

At Pearson I finally managed to get to the Tim Horton’s I had always seen through the glass but could never access. However I had assumed I would not be able to get to it, so I had gotten coffee before we checked in. I was not about to break my not-using-the-airplane-bathroom streak over a not-so-great cup of coffee.

June 13, 2013- Florida P&S (1)

On the flight I tried watching Full Metal Jacket (the yelling sergeant got on my nerves) and Identity Thief but lost interest in both really quickly. I resorted to reading and having the location map on in the background. The map provided me with more entertainment than it should have. I giggled when I saw that our plane was heading straight for a place called Hazard, or at the idea of there really being a place called Cat Island.

My first view of Florida was an empty flat plain of nothing (which I was later told was the Everglades- my bad). I had hoped to see Cuba from the plane as we turned towards Ft. Lauderdale (the map made it seem so close) alas all I saw was lightening off in the distance- more than mildly disconcerting. As soon as we stepped off the plane we could feel the hot muggy air, the humidity just clung to you. I was overjoyed when I saw a Dunkin’ Donuts, I thought for sure I would be without on this trip. My joy turned to sorrow when I saw that there was a boil water alert out for the county and thus no coffee was being served. My heart sank- but only for a moment- as we wandered through baggage claim, unsure of where to meet our friends, Marianne ran up behind us with a hug attack (Ela had to stay with the car).

As we left the airport a green parrot flew by and landed on a sign behind which storm clouds loomed. No sooner were we on the highway did the sky tear open and rain start pouring. Apparently June is the rainy season in Florida- which explains why the tickets were so cheap. We passed a billboard: Your wife is hot, better get your AC fixed– hilarious. We settled in and sat down to our first meal together in almost three years, of course we had super-duper spaghetti (a staple in our diet).

June 13, 2013- Florida P&S (4)

We watched movies until the rain stopped (thankfully rainy season in Florida means it rains for about an hour or two then clears up). We walked to the back of their neighbourhood to an abandoned housing development called Camelot Estates. I was instantly entranced and ventured off on my own with my photographer’s hat on. It was great, there was one giant model home that had been built and all around it there was open land and the foundations of one house and a project development office. We tried all the doors, alas they were locked. There was an ibis sitting (rather uncomfortably it seemed) on a fence by the canal. We saw a heron by the lake but he got scared of us and flew away which is just as well, I got to photograph him in flight.

June 13, 2013- Florida z (83)

Walking back we met their neighbour who guessed that my sister and I were from out of the country. Marianne and Ela asked if maybe their dad had mentioned to her that we’d be over, trying to figure out how she knew. She claimed to be psychic, one of us (I will not name names) scoffed and she looked at us with a straight face and assured us she was really a psychic. We mused about what actually gave us away (how uncomfortable we were in the heat? Our accents? Our paleness?).

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It was hot and muggy, we were sticky and gross. It was time to head out to the pool for a cool down. It was nice and relaxing to sit by the pool and read. A lizard came up beside my chair and stuck his throat-skin-flap out. When I tried to take a picture he ran behind the chair where he proceeded to eat bugs. After a while of reading I actually got cold. That’s right, sitting on the deck in Florida at 7 in the evening- I GOT COLD. I actually had goose bumps.

June 13, 2013- Florida P&S (24)

We wrapped up the day with a very Polish kolacja (evening supper) of potato latkes and pickled herring. I know it sounds gross, but it was delicious. I won’t even go into the details of our potato latke toppings (Nutella, maple syrup or cranberry preserves) but the cranberries won.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in The Roving Reporter, Travel

 

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Los Angeles 2013- Day 10

Sun. Mar. 24, 2013:

After almost a week, I finally got my California orange fix at breakfast. It was every bit as good as I had imagined. I did not get my free cookie fix, as the lobby still had not replenished. I think it was a lie all along; there were never any free cookies to begin with. I did not miss out on too much, as I was eating cold pizza and donuts for breakfast. As it would later turn out, my “awesome” breakfast was not that filling.

When the cabby pulled up by the hotel, he motioned to us as if he was going to go around the hotel and pull up beside us, moments later he emerged from the hotel lobby and we followed him to the parking lot where he had pulled in. It was awkward to say the least.

The wi-fi in LAX was unbearably slow, we quickly gave up any and all hope of doing anything on the internet which quickly devolved into severe boredom and lots of wandering around the airport. We had to move at some point because a guy seated near us decided that the airport lobby was the place to clip his nails.

On one of my walks around the airport I caved in and got some pancakes to go. I ended up having to eat them rather quickly as our plane was boarding soon. Pancakes are only good in small quantities. By the second one my mouth was terribly dry, but I was not going to drink anything lest I have to use an airplane bathroom. Our day was topped off and our vacation finished with a crying baby on the airplane. Thankfully the baby stopped crying soon after take-off and I was able to watch Chinatown in peace. I tried to watch Brave but did not like it, I was so tired I just ended up watching all the episodes of Big Bang Theory they had on demand.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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Los Angeles 2013- Day 9

Sat. Mar. 23, 2013:

We had to wake up early for the long drive back to LA. The car was due back at the rental place at 1:30pm. I don’t know what kind of car rental place closes at 2pm on a Saturday. We got up early for nothing, the garage where our car was parked (hotel did not have parking) did not open until 8am. We had half an hour of time to kill. We walked over to the UC Berkeley campus. The streets were eerily empty; I wondered where all the crazies from the previous day had gone. Turns out, they were on campus. I was so mad when I saw the guy from last night who would yell at people. Now he was yelling at the campus, or the trees- who knows. The garage was late in opening, we had to stand there and wait.

On the freeway we passed a vintage truck hauling a car shaped like a German WWI helmet. It was an odd sight to see. Someone had made a crop circle in a field that was a cross with the word Jesus horizontally and Saves vertically through it. I do not think it was the work of aliens. We drove through some beautiful scenery of wind turbines on rolling green hills. We passed some cows grazing under hydro towers. We also drove by an In N Out burger that was not listed in the GPS- it made me mad, I was craving In N Out burger; I had been without it for a few days now.

We drove by an orchard that featured scarecrows dressed as ghosts and lots of tumbleweeds stuck against tree trunks. I am not sure if they are more effective or if it is just a relic from Halloween. The agri-scenery was soon tainted and hard to enjoy- the smell of manure overcame it all. It was unbearable, it smelled so bad. We passed three dead coyotes and I cannot help but wonder if the smell got them.

We also drove by the third (fourth if you count Alcatraz) prison of the trip. For a point of reference: that is more prisons than we had previously seen on all our trips combined. We drove by another In N Out burger and my rage grew. Stupid car rental place closing so early, we did not even have time to stop for food. The GPS said we would arrive at 2pm. And then we passed another one! I was starting to lose it, I was so hungry, it wasn’t fair that when we had no time we passed by three In N Out burgers.

Before dropping the car off, we stopped at a gas station to top off the tank. I went in to get some coffee and snacks for the next day. The cashier was really weird. He saw my shirt that said LOVE PINK and pointed out that my jacket was purple, not pink. Then he asked me if I was a LA Lakers fan, obviously I am not. He was disappointed that I wasn’t.

I was voracioulsy hungry by the time we left the hotel to In N Out burger; I stopped at the vending machines to get some cookies. While checking into the hotel I noticed that they had run out of free cookies, I bought some from the vending machine on the off-chance that the stock would not have been replenished. We checked on our way out, it had not been. We were heading to our usual In N Out burger, I think I can say that given we that was where we always went- except that one time when we should have gone there but without prescience we had no way of knowing that the bus would short-turn and we would be walking by.

All week had been building to this moment; I feel there should be a drum roll in here. It was time for the epic 4×4, animal style of course. I had decided earlier in the week, after much investigation (ok fine, ingestion) that animal style was the superior way to eat an In N Out burger. Four slices of cheese, four burger patties, one heavenly meal. I was so distracted by my joy when ordering that I forgot to say sauce only and was stuck with veggies in my epic concoction. Nonetheless I managed to pick most of them out. It quickly turned into a messy affair, sauce all over my face and hands, cheese dripping everywhere. The problem with the 4×4 is that there is so much grease (how could there not be?) that the bun starts disintegrating and the structural integrity starts to suffer. If you have just two burger patties and slices of cheese there are a lot less items that need to be lined up. With the 4×4 it is nearly impossible to get a bite that consists of equal parts cheese and beef, partly due to lack of jaw-opening, but more so the whole thing starts to lean to the side. Some bites were more bun than filling. All in all, it was definitely worth a try and the most fun I have ever had eating but the 3×3 is the perfect size. I do still want to attempt eating a 5×5, just for the messy sake of it, and to get another awesome head nod from the cashier. And let’s face it: there is no such thing as too much In N Out burger, I have yet to encounter that problem. I was actually still a little bit hungry after my 4×4, I had to resist the temptation to order animal fries. But I had insisted that we go to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner that night. You could say I was desperate to wrap up my food plans in California. Or I was just really hungry that day.

Mar. 23, 2013- LA- ps

On our way back to the hotel we passed by an orange tree but none of them were hanging low enough for me to reach up and grab one, I would have to jump- not the best idea with a belly full of burger. In the park we passed a young couple making out- while a hobo watched them. I do not think they were aware they were being watched, given the guy started motor-boating his girlfriend’s chest. Rather than go back to the creepy gas station we went to the 7-Eleven for dessert instead. Turns out Slurpees are different in the US, the only way I can describe it is fluffier and less syrupy. To compliment my (semi-awful) cherry Slurpee we got some berry Starbursts, and my go-to: a Whatchamacallit.

With our stash of candy we streamed TV on Brent’s laptop the rest of the lazy afternoon until it was time to head out to California Pizza Kitchen. It was nice and breezy out, much cooler than earlier. It was really busy but we got a table without having to wait. I thought we were going to order one pizza and split it, but Brent said they were small and meant for one person. They were not, at least not one person my size. Apparently the rules for In N Out burgers and Las Vegas buffets do not apply to pizzas. I was full after half; I only ate one slice of Brent’s pizza (original BBQ chicken). That is fine given it wasn’t as good as the thin crust Sicilian pizza I had. I am not quite sure why it was called thin-crust, as California pizza is made with flatbread, already rather thin. They had a surprisingly large wine list, I could not resist and ordered a California wine, and it was deliciously sweet. I joked about ordering dessert, but I was actually kind of serious. I had a major cookie craving.

We stopped a candy store on our way back. They had an enormous selection of sodas, including weird ones like maple bacon. The fizzy lemonade was much too sweet for lemonade. I was too full of pizza to eat the jelly-filled Sour Patch Kids. As we walked by the gas station, the creepy guy was in the window just staring at the street. Starbucks and 7-Eleven were both sold out of white chocolate macadamia cookies. I ended up going to Subway, and after some confusion, finally getting cookies. The raspberry cheesecake cookie was surprisingly good; given it was basically a white chocolate macadamia cookie with raspberries in place of macadamias. It is a good thing I went o Subway, seeing as the hotel cookies still had not been replenished.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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Los Angeles 2013- Day 6

Wed. Mar. 20, 2013:

Breakfast consisted of Cherry Coke Zero and butter toffee peanuts, not exactly the greatest or healthiest. It was also really messy; I got bits of toffee coating all over the bed, my belly and my book. We got a ride from the hotel down to the rental car place and soon enough we were on the open road, driving north along the Pacific Coast Highway. It was indeed very pretty, as expected.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (5) 

Our first stop of the day was at the Getty Villa, same guy as the Getty Centre. It was designed like a house in Pompeii- before the tragedy. There were a lot of statues of Greek and Roman gods, old armour and jewelry. The main piece on display was a statue of a lion attacking a horse; it was amazing how much detail there was around the mouth of the lion and in the neck of the horse. There were mind-bogglingly intricate pieces of hand-blown glassware dating back to 100BC-100AD. I could not stop staring at them, they were tiny with gorgeous little details- all made of glass. For some reason Getty had a real mummy in his collection, it was more than mildly unnerving to think of this rich oil tycoon purchasing a mummy for his gallery. The one downside to being there so early was that the place was rampant with schoolchildren. We found refuge outside in the botanical garden; you could still hear their loud high-pitched voices in the distance. In the garden we witnessed a hummingbird hovering in place, drinking nectar. It almost looked fake; I was tempted to wonder where the wires were. On our way out we stopped by the café; however it was lunchtime so the place was packed.

Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway we saw miles and miles of gorgeous scenery, further beautified by three pelicans flying by. The thing about the PCH is that it a scenic highway, it does not have a lot of exits let alone highway rest areas. When we saw a McDonald’s while driving through a town, we pulled in. Well, sort of. Brent missed the turn and instead we ended up in the KFC parking lot so we split up. I went to McDonald’s and Brent went to KFC. We were going to split a small popcorn chicken with our McLunch, however KFC decided to stop making popcorn chicken. We had to eat chicken bites, chicken nuggets that tasted too much like real chicken that was unbearably greasy. The soft serve machine at McDonald’s was broken and so were my dreams of a sundae for dessert.

We drove by Pepperdine University, easily one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. They even have a sign warning against trespassing- I guess lots of people had wanted to see the pretty campus. The GPS kept trying to steer us onto the freeway, we ignored it a bunch of times and it finally gave up and let us stay on the PCH. My ice cream craving was only getting worse and then an 18-wheeler of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches drove by. For a while there was a naval base in between us and the coast, ruining the beautiful views. Instead the views were of migrant works picking crops in the field. Once we got back to the scenic part it was ruined again, this time by trucks pulled over in the beach parking. I guess it is a good place to take a nap? One guy had been there for a long time, there was a seagull perched on the roof.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (13) 

We stopped at the Kalyra Winery because you cannot drive up the PCH in California and not stop for a wine tasting. I had a tasting flight, basically 1-2 ounces of 8 different wines (3 reds, 3 whites and 2 desserts). It was a nice way to try all the different wines without getting hammered; I ended up buying the first dessert wine I had tried. While I sipping my wines, the girl struck up some small talk with us. When Brent said we were from Toronto, she thought that was in Japan. Brent made a slight joke about that being wrong, but it seemed to go over her head. She really thought we were from Japan. I now had to fake a deep interest in my wine, so as to avoid the really awkward conversation about fitting in and learning the language and adjusting to a new country. Thankfully there was also a bloodhound dog bumbling about to distract me, he was so cute and soft. The winery was very low-key and laid back, not intimidating at all.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (19) 

We drove back south to the Santa Barbara Mission. I was so excited; I thought this was the mission that they drive to in Vertigo. I was ready to climb up the bell tower and fake fall- only it was not that mission. Brent just chose it so we could see an old mission, and it was along the way to our next hotel. He chose a good mission to go see, as this was one of the only missions left that was still operating as an actual church. They had an exhibit about the earthquake that hit the area in 1925. And of course, we saw some more lizards.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (31) 

Our dinner plans were cancelled because the taco place where we wanted to eat (Julia Child’s favourite) was closed. What kind of a taco place is closed on a Wednesday?! It’s the middle of the week! It was a short walk to the place from our hotel on the main street- we walked over to see if maybe the internet had lied to us and it was in fact open. It was not. But the internet saved itself, by giving us a recommendation for a Mexican restaurant that had been recently voted the best in Santa Barbara. And it just so happened to be two doors down from the taco place.

Los Agaves had a huge menu. It took me a while and a lot of flip-flopping before finally deciding on the chicken mole Pablano. I ordered it because it is one of the main dishes in Mexican cuisine and it sounded delicious. And the menu said it was really hard to make with lots of different ingredients. Brent ended up ordering what I had been considering: picadas (chorizo and other meats on top of flat breads). And he ordered a quesadilla. Brent finally got to try Negro Modello beer, I opted for Jarrito. I was not even sure what it was. Turns out it is a Mexican soda available in a wide range of flavours.

Throw in the free tortilla chips and we were in for a feast, an enormous feast. We made a mistake saying yes to a second (and a third) basket of tortilla chips. But we simply could not help ourselves: they had 6 different house made salsas and guacamoles! By the time our mains arrived we were half full already. The menu had lied, or at least misled. It was supposed to be two pieces of chicken. What I got was two quarters of chicken: half a chicken. I sat there are stared at it for a second, half a chicken smothered in sauce atop a bed of rice. The waitress offered me some flatbread for piling rice and chicken on. I did manage to eat most of it, leaving behind mostly chicken bones- and all the beans. We ended up with a lot of leftovers and sadly no room for dessert.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (38)

Overfed, we walked south in a feeble attempt to get down to the beach. What we did not realize is that first we had to bypass the freeway. We turned back and headed towards the main street, which for sure went down to the waterfront. Along the way we saw an actual functioning Blockbuster. It w

as a sight to behold. We passed a church that had been converted into a skateboard shop, aptly named Skatan. As soon as we got to the Santa Barbara Pier I perked right up, forgetting how full my belly was. I even considered having an ice cream cone, but it was too cold and I was too distracted. There were pelicans dive-bombing into the water trying to catch fish. Then a shiny black head surfaced and disappeared before Brent could see- he did not believe me until he saw the seal himself later. Until then I had just been “seeing things” and there was no “seal”. I had refused to leave my spot, waiting for it to re-surface. It felt good to be proven right.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (42) 

We had a nice walk along the pier; the beach was out the question. It was too cold to take our shoes off and nothing is worth sand in the shoes. A guy with a parrot on his shoulder getting into a car distracted me for a second, but then it was right back to watching the pelicans dive. I just could not get enough of it. But then I got to thinking, this was the ocean I was staring at. How cool would it be to see a dolphin jump out? And then to make things even and not so hokey, a shark to jump from the opposite direction? And then to make things less macabre a whale to surface, blow some water out and swim back under again? Is that really so much to ask for from the Pacific Ocean? That’s the least it could do to make up for always being too cold to go swimm

ing. The whale was added to the montage a little bit later, when I read a sign at the end of the pier saying that whales migrate to this part of the ocean because it is calmer.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (71)

 

 

As we turned around to head back I was faced with a nice surprise. The sun had started setting over Santa Barbara and the beach. It was absolutely gorgeous, the pink and orange streaked sky over the sailboats and palm trees. Even the seal came back to watch the sunset, and avoid my camera. The elusive seal proved impossible to photograph, so while I have no proof, I did see that seal!!! It only occurred to me halfway though that I should adjust the colour balance, as my photos were looking nothing like the sunset. I did end up getting my photograph of a dolphin jumping, but it was just a statue at the entrance to the pier- with the sunset in the background for added effect.

Mar. 20, 2013- PCH (116)

Rather than going back to the hotel I went out shopping. It sucked until on my back to the hotel, on a whim, I crossed the street to Urban Outfitters where I hit a gold mine: babushka and cupcake shaped lip glosses, a red wallet with white polka dots (seeing as my US wallet was barely holding together with electrical tape) and some chicken wing boxers for Brent. I wanted to buy more but it would not fit in my carry-on. To top off my successful shopping trip I stopped at a self-serve frozen yogurt place. People in the US do not understand how self-serve frozen yogurt works. They would wait until the person was done picking flavours and move in a straight line. That is not how it works. If the flavour you want is not blocked, you go for it. You do not stand there like an idiot holding the whole line up. That is why the place was packed. It was awful.

On my way to the mall I had passed a guy singing really bad karaoke really loud across the street. Two hours later he was still there, belting out the “tunes”- if you can call them that.

While I was out Brent had gone a soda run and bought some more Jarrito (fruit punch). We had not anticipated needing a bottle opener for it. After a few failed attempts, I finally managed to pop open in the doorjamb- spilling fruit punch on the wall and my sock and hurting the side of my hand from smacking the top against the doorjamb. Victory was delicious.

Day 6 celebrity sightings: 0, we were too far from LA. I did see a bride-to-be, just thought I would mention it, that zero looks really sad.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Adventures of Pinka!, Travel

 

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