7/11/13 – When in Napa do as the winos do

Skyped the oldies before leaving this morning and lied some more about when our return flights are, since we want to get home a day beforehand and surprise them. We told Sar and Auntie Ann in secret just in case we need some inside help, and they’ve now decided they’re going to pick us up from the airport! Too, too sweet! Now I’m probably gonna blub at arrivals. Hooray. As we left San Francisco we got to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. That was pretty awesome and we got another great view of Alcatraz from there. We went to an Ihop for brunch just after leaving San Fran. Cue another country omelette and more pancakes, yummy scrumboes! There was a petrol station right next door so we got to feed Klaus too whilst we were at it.

Why is it even called the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s red. Or if we use the technical name: “industrial orange”. Ooooh, fancy.

It was a pretty short drive to Napa so we got to our hotel around one o’clock. Wine country is seriously beautiful – vineyards everywhere you look! We Skyped Sid for a little bit and then headed back out to a winery for our wine tasting tour. They went through the processes of how they make the wine and more info on the winery itself. We got to try two white sparkling wines, one sparkling rosé and two still reds (the reds in particular were vile). I wasn’t keen on any of them, but it seemed to amuse Kel watching my reaction. The guy in charge asked what flavours we could taste in one of the whites and were people saying things like ‘peach’, whereas I quietly muttered ‘vinegar’. I’d anticipated I wouldn’t be a fan from the beginning but hey, when in Napa do as the winos do!

One of my favourite drives so far!

We had takeout pizza for tea (I’m gonna look like a sodding pizza). Got another chunk of writing done and watched some Big Bang Theory, including a brand new episode! Totally can’t wait to catch up on the new season. Then much to my delight, Interview With The Vampire was on! God, I love Lestat. Tom Cruise really is perfect in it. Made me miss Kay a lot though… But Kel did spot that the steamboat (the Natchez) is the same one that we went on! Awesome!

Can you tell I wasn’t impressed? I think the man behind me was enjoying his a lot more!

Advertisements

5/11/13 – Third time’s a charm

Up, ready and packed early to head down to Monterrey Bay for our whale watching tour. We saw (and heard) harbour seals and sealions in the bay before we’d even gotten on the boat. They were a right noisy lot! As we headed out to sea we saw lots more sealions on some Free Willy style rock dam, and even further out we saw some more who even treated us to some jumping displays! Not long into the ride we came across a large group of Risso’s dolphins. I’ve turned into a bit of a spoilt brat really – dolphins just aren’t quite as exciting anymore! It was freezing out on the morning sea, even though we’d layered up in preparation. Plus the mood was dampened by a couple sat near us, who were throwing up over the rail. Eek!

André x1000!

But it was still all worth it because man, did it then get good! We were directed towards a group of at least five hundred sealions (the guy in charge decided afterwards that it was actually likely closer to a thousand!) It was a totally surreal sight but it was all for a good reason – they feed where the whales feed. Sure enough, we ended up in a position where there were humpback whales feeding and blowing water in every direction you looked. We saw the backs, lots of tails and even a few of the heads!

Real lump-in-the-throat moment!

It was truly incredible to watch, and to top it off the water being sprayed from their blowholes created rainbows in the air! It was the single most beautiful, spectacular sight I’ve ever seen. The whales we saw were apparently between fifteen and eighteen metres, wow! Then a while after we came across a smaller group of five (the first group we saw being a number of thirty) much, much closer to the boat. It really was the icing on the cake. Third time lucky!

We had a very quick (and stingy, I might add) lunch at another Chipotle and then hit the road. Drive was about two and a half hours with traffic. Cue more That Anime Show. Was particularly amused when Tatum shared his theory and method inspiration on Kyouya having unrequited love for Tamaki. Too funny! Felt ridiculously tired during the drive though and heavily regretted leaving my Red Bull in the boot, so I made sure I caught up once we got to our hotel in San Fran. We went to a place called Perry’s for tea and I did my new trick of having soup and potato skins. The tomato bisque was gorgeous, but the potato skins were just too much food, Gaston. Then spent the remainder of the night drinking and watching Big Bang Theory.

Mommy, baby!

31/10/13 – So no one told you life was gonna be this way

Early start and quick Skype with Mom so we could make our tour on time. Apparently Star had to have eight teeth out! Poor baby! We got two shuttles over to the Warner Bros. Studios and fangirled over the merchandise for a little while. Got two Central Perk magnets – one for home and one for Amy! We watched a short film first of great Warner Bros. TV and movie moments, then got in the little golf buggy thing to start the tour. First we drove round some outdoor sets that have been used for Shameless, Gilmore Girls and the old 60’s Batman, amongst others. There were a couple of park sections that were used in Friends too – where Ross played rugby and where Phoebe and Rachel went jogging. Too cool!

The corner of ‘Central Park’ where Rachel ran into the horse on Friends!

We saw the studio where they film Big Bang Theory, but couldn’t go in because they were rehearsing right then and there! Instead we got to see the inside of the Two and a Half Men studio. I’m not really a fan, but it was at least interesting to see how much smaller the scale really is in person. We went round a props room and also one with the genuine cars used in movie productions – including the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and all the various Batmobiles! Then whilst we were driving between locations I spotted William H. Macy chilling in a buggy going the other way. How awesome?! I loved him in Sahara and Wild Hogs!

Just chilling with the bat tumbler. You know that’s right! (And ruining the cool image by holding my sunglasses like a weirdo to avoid fingerprints)

The last stop was a costume and prop museum. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos in there, which sucked because they had some really awesome stuff! There were costumes from Man of Steel, The Hangover, Harry Potter (which we’re an old hand with now but they had the twins’ Half-Blood Prince suits, wooo!) and the Big Bang Theory. We got to try on the Sorting Hat too, which actually spoke! I got Sorted into Hufflepuff… I’m doomed to be an idiot. There were also costumes from Friends, including Ross’s red sweater – which I just thought was awesome! Best of all were the Batman Nolan costumes. I totally could have stole the Scarecrow one. And to top all that off we even got to see the inside of the retired Central Perk set and get photos on the actual couch. Serious dream come true!

Not like we’ve waited fifteen years for this moment or anything…

We didn’t have time for eats before our next tour but I grabbed some Red Bull on the go instead (the real stuff, not the Zero crap). We got another shuttle and then got into a topless bus for our tour of the movie star homes. I also nearly wasted precious Red Bull by almost spitting in out in excitement when I saw a huge Justice League mural on the side of one of the buildings as we left the Warner Bros. Studios. We drove up into the mountains and round the famous provinces like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, spying on all the celebs’ houses. We saw both Robert Blake and Larry King out and about – neither of whom we knew who they were, but they were both nice enough to wave back.

A better daytime view from the Hollywood Hills!

We went back to Piper’s for food afterwards. I had more soup and some crazy loaded fries with cheese, chicken, BBQ sauce and ranch – a whole pound’s worth! (That is too many fries, Gaston!) And then we went for a wander down to Hollywood Boulevard for a few hours to nose on people’s Halloween costumes. On the way back we had a drink stop. I grabbed a ball of what I thought was some kind of alcopop, which then turned out to be 20% proof flavoured vodka. Gave my mouth a bit of a surprise! So I had fun mixing it with my Powerade whilst we watched bits of School of Rock and some Conan mash-ups (including him dubbing an anime, too funny!)

A pound of fries! If you want size context then look at how much the plate is bigger than me!

Also a fun fact that we learnt today: It only rains 25 days a year in L.A. Like I didn’t want to live here enough already!

27/10/13 – We’re going on a bear hunt

Got up super early so that we could get our next car and then make the most out of zoo times. Very quickly Skyped the oldies before leaving and even managed a speedy waffle too! The idiot driving the shuttle left early without us and tried to blame US for being late, though we were bang on time, and then he sent us off the wrong way for our Alamo pick-up (our guess was on purpose). We got a small choice of cars, including more Elvises and more Codys. I went for one of the Versas, primarily for the better fuel consumption. So we now have Elvis’s brother Klaus!

Having this picture taken then distracted me from locking the car… I realised a few hours later. Oops!

We then spent the rest of the day at San Diego zoo. The place is huge! Obviously we’ve seen a lot of the main animals at other places but we got to see gorillas, tigers, lions, etc. much more close up. We even got to see polar bears and hippos underwater, both of which were new experiences. Pandas were also new. And we even got to see bears! I’ve never seen bears before! Exactly three weeks too late. Typical. Funnily though, one of my favourites was a husky-lab cross called Miley. They use a buddy system where they pair big cats or wolves with domesticated dogs from a young age. So Miley shared the exhibit with her best friend, a cheetah! We also did a 4D Ice Age experience, where you watch clips of the film and they just turn all the special effects on you. I was sat at the front and pretty much got drowned in bubbles. It was rather amusing.

Smiley Miley – forget the exotic animals; I just want her!

This genuinely scared the bejeesus out of me. Princess Mononoke, anyone?

After the zoo we made a Walmart stop and then went back to the hotel. We were more interested in food by this point, so we swiftly headed back out to Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern. I had tomato bisque, then buttermilk fried chicken with garlic mash, along with some very lovely sangria. We had a joint Miranda recall over some of our favourite parts and both ended up crying through laughing just thinking about it! Simple minds, eh? Spent the rest of the night watching Big Bang Theory and drinking Hard Mike’s Cranberry Lemonade. Such fun!

After three weeks on the dot I finally got my belated birthday wish of seeing a bear!