Monday, March 15, 2010

Great Time in LA

Okay - after four days of basketball I was ready for a break - but what a tournament! That last game against Cal was just about the best game I've attended! NCAA - here we come! We will play on Thursday in San Jose against Marquette. The University of Washington men's basketball team returns to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship for the second straight year when the No. 6 seeded Golden Eagles face No. 11 seed Washington at 4:20 p.m. PST on Thursday, March 18 at the HP Pavilion of San Jose.


I'm toying with the idea of going down to San Jose - intresting idea!

The great thing about having the tournament in LA is that there is never a lack of things to do or see during our down time and the weather is typically nice which makes for great running when it's usually crappy, cold and raining at home. We come home exhausted not only from the basketball but all the other things we cram in before, between and after the games!

We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and our friend Bill picked us up at the airport. Since our first game was not until that evening we headed out to Hollywood to check out the Kodak Theater - the Oscars had been held there the previous Sunday and American Idol (Go Lee!) are filming there now.
It's adjacent to Graumans's Chinese Theater so we looked for Lucille Balls signature which we never found. Next best thing was John Wayne's which Lucy and Ethel stole in one episode of I Love Lucy - hilarious! From there we headed over to The Grove - trendy shopping complex in LA and home to the original LA Farmers Market. Great people watching!

From there we went to the Angeli Cafe in LA for dinner. We discovered it listening to Good Food on KCRW out of Santa Monica. We walked in and chef Evan Kleiman and owner of Angeli Cafe was sitting there when we walked in!

Kent calls me a star F%#*+%^ but I could not help myself from going over and introducing myself and letting her know we listen to her show and love the restaurant! If you are a foodie check out her radio show -and if you are in LA looking for a great moderately priced Italian meal definitely check out the Angeli Cafe. It's right in Melrose.

Thursday was pretty much taken up by basketball with the first game starting at noon. I took advantage of being in an area where the weather was great and started the day off with a six mile run before heading out for the day. The games are held at the Staples Center - as they like to say "The Sports and Entertainment Capitol of the Universe"! It's an amazing facility, home of the Lakers. It's also where they host the Grammy Awards each year and where Michael Jackson's funeral was held last year. The area around the Staples Center has really grown - there are some great restaurants and bars in the area and they just completed construction of the JW Marriott and the Four Seasons - beautiful building and complex. Since we did not have much time we grabbed lunch at the Tap House - literally hundreds of beer on tap and pretty good food - Stone IPA - perfect!

As I said, the games started at noon for session one. We had a break between session one and two and grabbed a terrific dinner at Wolf Gang Pucks. Beautiful restaurant and really good meal convenient to Staples. The roast chicken was delicious!

The last game of the evening on Thursday was the Huskies playing OSU. Before that it was UCLA vs the Sundevils. Bill Murry was there only to be disappointed when the Sundevils lost! (Speaking of Bill Murry, check out Zombie Land - hilarious!) The Husky game was good but we did not get done until nearly 11 pm! That's a lot of basketball - four back to back games makes for a long day!

Friday we only had two games and they did not start until 6 pm so we pretty much had most of the day. I went for a 6 mile run at a near by park before heading out to Malibu. I love the California coast! We drove out to "The Cove" which is a private beach community with a restaurant and had lunch. The Cove is a beautiful beach - a lot of movies filmed here. The tennis team from Texas A&M was there having lunch and afterwards braved the cold waters of the Pacific! Having lunch at the next table was Robert David Hall who plays the coroner on CSI.
From there we headed to Getty Villa to check out the art exhibit there and the grounds. We had visited the Getty Museum last year while here after which we decided to visit the Villa. Both are incredible and well worth a visit!


We had just enough time before the game to take the light rail from downtown out to Pasadena. It's funny that when we travel we frequently take public transportation but I've never taken the light rail in LA. It's such a spread out city that we always get a car. Anyway - it was fun and the section out to Pasadena is above ground and was a great way to see even more of the city.

Saturday I started the day with a 12 mile run. I am training for a couple of marathons - the next one is in Olympia. The training run was not technically scheduled until Sunday but because I wanted to take advantage of the weather and because I knew after flying home on Sunday I would not want to have a 12 mile run hanging over my head I headed out. It was actually a great run. When I head out to do a long run while traveling and have not planned in advance I never know where I am going to end up. The area we stay in Culver City is fine for short runs but I was not sure where I would run for 12 miles without boring myself to tears. As it turns out the running gods were smiling down on me and shorting after heading out I connected with a bike/running trail along one of the canals in LA called the Ballona Creek Trail. Nice - lots of other runners and best of all no traffic! I followed the trail out to Marina Dey Rey, ran around the marina and a local park and headed back.



We decided we had enough time so we headed out to Pasadena (this time by car). We stopped and strolled through the Pasadena Farmers Market and then went to The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. Unbelievably beautiful! The gardens are massive in size and there are several distinct gardens. The desert garden was one of my favorite! There is also a museum and research library on site. We did not really have enough time to see it all and will definitely be making a return visit! Definitely check this place out while in southern California.

After the final game on Saturday which was one of the best games ever - we headed out to have dinner in Beverly Hills. The restaurant - Piccolo Paradiso Ristorante was recommend by a friend of Bill's. It was just off Rodeo drive so we walked around and looked at the incredibly expensive stores before dinner. Rodeo Dr. is worth the experience! Dinner was excellent - very busy hopping place (you will need reservation) check it out!


Right now I'm on the plane as I write this and really tired! We should be home around noon and right now more than anything I'm looking forward to picking up Toby! I'm sure he will be really glad to be home too!
Looking forward to seeing if we can sneak in a quick trip to see the Dawgs in one of the NCAA games! We'll see!

Later -

Jim

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