Sunday, December 31, 2017

a few of my favorite things from 2017

While I'd like to forget most of what happened in 2017, and still kind of feel like I'm living in some sort of whacked out alternative universe, there were a few things that happened that made me happy. They were mostly simple things -- music, well-written/acted/produced television, friends, family and cute little people starting to display their cute personalities :)

Favorite New Song: This just makes me happy every time I hear it :)

Favorite Moment of Television: DRACARYS!

Favorite Moment with My Favorite Little People: Cousin Swingtime

Speaking of my favorite little people, they dominated my "Jar of Joy" this year -- shocker ;)

  • 1/1/17 - 4-mile walk to and from and all around Lake Balboa. Gorgeous day after New Year's Eve rain..
  • 1/3/17 - Escape from Jury Duty after only 2 hours!
  • 1/16/17 - Won $50 Amazon gift card from work for the 4th quarter FitBit challenge! 
  • 1/20/17 - My niece Teegan is born! 
  • 1/21/17 - Women's March LA.. I was one of 750,000 united for goodness vs. evil! And then, I went to meet Teegan in person! LOVE
  • 1/22/17 - Facetime with Kaden
  • 2/16/17 - Birthday at Burke Williams + yummy dinner with mom and dad
  • 2/17/17 - Nieces day with Teegan and her big sisters 
  • 2/18/17 - Bday dinner #2 at Buca de Beppo with VIPs
  • 2/19/17 - Bday dinner #3 with BFFs
  • 2/25/17 - Quickie unexpectedly returns to the lineup. Kings beat Sucky Ducks 4-1!
  • 3/25/17 - Drive to Vegas early for Kaden Time (before CinemaCon)
  • 3/31/17 - Auntie Kim and Kaden day playing and doing "the diggy"
  • 4/8/17 - Walk MS in Thousand Oaks. Mom is named this year's "Most Inspirational Walker" in a surprise (to her!) announcement :) 
  • 4/22/17 - Saw Dave Grohl and his mom talk about her new book "From Cradle to Stage" at the LA Times Festival of Books
  • 4/27/17 - Business class cubbie to Australia!
  • 4/29/17 - Land in the land down under and see the Opera House
  • 5/5/17 - Meet a koala bear in Sydney
  • 5/13/17 - Chevy Metal w/ Dave Grohl @ Conejo Valley Days
  • 5/20/17 - U2's Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary concert at the Rose Bowl
  • 5/27/17 - Kaden's 1st Birthday Party!
  • 7/2/17 - Kari and Kaden at my 2nd of July BBQ! Kaden's first time in the bounce house is NOT a success ;)
  • 8/12/17-8/13-17 - Listening to U2 in Joshua Tree and seeing the milky way in the clear night sky during the meteor shower
  • 8/21/17 - Total solar eclipse in Oregon with JZ and RZ
  • 8/23/17 - Buying baby Nikes for Kaden and Teegan at the Nike employee store
  • 8/26/17 - #saturdayswithteegan start :)
  • 8/30/17 - Hamilton at the Pantages! Finally!
  • 10/7/17 - Cal Jam 17! Foo Fighters live!
  • 10/14/17 - Gorgeous sunset on the way home from San Miguel Island
  • 11/8/17 - Trip to Vegas to see Kari, Kaden and Aunt Gertie. Kaden's new thing is giggling whenever the dogs bark
  • 12/9/17 - Collected 31 toys for tots at Christmas Cocktails. My friends rock! 
  • 12/10/17 - Downtown Adventure day + The Nutcracker
  • 12/17/17 - Holiday lights at the Venice Canals with Mo and Qball
  • 12/23/17 - Kaden and Teegan meet in person and play and swing and open presents together!
  • 12/27/17 - Took Kaden to the LA Zoo!

back to the channel islands... way, way, way back

After seriously spraining my ankle earlier this year hiking on an island, you'd think I'd be hesitant to go hiking again on another, farther away island. I would've thought that too.... except Island Packers only goes to San Miguel Island once or twice a year. So I wasn't going to pass up this trip in October!

Neither was my friend James, who sprained his ankle a week before and was wearing an ankle boot to protect his injury. He was a total trooper considering there is no dock on San Miguel Island... you get to the island via one of two tiny motor boats loaded on the back of the big boat.

Yet, halfway into the literal 3-hour cruise to San Miguel, I started wishing I had passed up the trip for a while... that was the roughest boat ride I'd ever been on. Seeing two pods of dolphins didn't make up for getting as close to puking off the side of a boat as I've ever been. Ginger candy didn't work. My motion sickness bracelets didn't work. And five other people puking off the side of the boat next to me definitely did NOT help. It was bad. (Adventure organizer Linda has given me motion sickness patches to try on the next trip :p)

However, once we finally got out to the island, and my stomach settled, the fun of the adventure set in. We made it to the shore without getting drenched (although on the return trip to the boat we were not so lucky, as a wave washed over us while we were loading).

You can only hike with Island Park Rangers because San Miguel Island was used for military tests in the past. (We had to sign a waiver saying we wouldn't sue Island Packers or the government if we stepped on a bomb.. I'm not kidding.)  So Linda and I joined the hike that was supposed to go to the Caliche Forest (James stayed on the beach with his ankle boot and a book). But after hiking through the sand and up stairs built into the side of the hill....

.... and then up the path and around the bend, our volunteer Ranger guide missed the turn-off for the forest and didn't realize it until we'd gone about 30 minutes in the wrong direction. We tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and followed him for a while longer in the correct direction. But when it became clear we would never get to the Caliche Forest in the limited time left before the boat had to leave, we turned back and visited the Cabrillo Monument on our own and look photos of all the vegetation. It was quite a contrast to the pretty green-ness we saw on Santa Cruz Island in March.... everything was dried out from the hot summer and fall. But it was still cool to visit one of the first islands explorers discovered when arriving on the west coast.

Remnants of an old windmill

Loading back up on the big boat

We stopped in a nearby cove on the way home to see the elephant seals sleeping on shore. 
We had a great sunset view on the boat ride home, which was MUCH smoother than the ride out. 

jamming in the san bernardino sun

Most people who hang out with me know that I despise the Forum and I hate Dodger Stadium, each for various reasons that inconvenience me. And there are a very select few musical acts I will go to those places to see in concert. Yet there is one single band I've seen at both places... and that fact should explain why I trekked to god-forsaken San Bernardino in October when it was a billion degrees outside for Cal Jam 17 at Glen Helen Amphitheater.

That band had an idea... and I and 65,000 other sweaty people joined in...

The parking was a nightmare -- we ended up on the other side of I-15 and had to walk a mile each way to the venue. (How about some shuttles next year Dave?). And I already mentioned it was a billion degrees outside in October. But other than that, for an outdoor, all-day music festival, the event was actually pretty well organized. There were tons of food and beverage stands, water stations to fill up water bottles, and a bit of shade here and there.

We arrived around 2:30 so my friend Lisa could see/hear Royal Blood on the main stage while we cooled down with shaved ice. Then we went in search of cooler temps and found them (after waiting in line for 20 minutes) inside the air-conditioned tent housing the Foo Fighters Rock n' Roll Museum,  which was packed with two decades of memorabilia -- everything from the "footos" in the "Big Me" video to Dave's throne from the Sonic Highways tour and the cast that necessitated said throne...

Dave's motorcycle throne from Love Ride 2016

The "White Limo"

The knitted band name from the "Run" video

Wigs that aged the band in the "Run" video

"Best of You" lyrics

"Big Me" video's famous "Footos"

"Wasting Light" recording chart

My favorite guitar in the world :)

Photos from the Sonic Highways recordings/shoot.

Dave's original post-op drug-enduced sketches for the "throne"

After spending an hour in the air-conditioning, we went to get dinner, then settled into seats for the night's top three acts: Cage the Elephant, Queens of the Stone Age, and my beloved Foo Fighters, who played until past midnight with many, many special guests.

Enjoy this sampling (and be thankful I spared you the train wreck of Liam Gallager trying to sing "Come Together" with the band and Joe Perry -- that was almost 3 months ago and my ears still hurt)...

Foo Fighters "La Dee Da " w/ Dave Koz and Allison Mosshart @ CalJam17

 Foo Fighters and Rick Astley "Never Gonna Give You Up" @ CalJam17

 Foo Fighters "Dirty Water" w/ Inara George @ CalJam 17

 Foo Fighters and Joe Perry "Draw The Line" @ CalJam17

vintage trailers, total eclipses and oregon gardens

It's not every day you see a solar eclipse. It's even more rare to experience its "totality" where the moon completely covers the sun, darkness falls during the day, and a chill feels the air.

This past August 21st, I was lucky enough to be in the path of totality for this year's total solar eclipse -- the first to cross the entire United States in almost 100 years -- strictly by a chance conversation. Last January, I was hanging out with my dear friend Jen and planning my next visit to her home in Portland. She had already planned a trip to a vintage trailer park to go "glamping" with friends the weekend of August 19-22nd, and invited me along, as their rented vintage trailer had a convertible sofa. So I said yes... and found myself in the middle of Oregon wine country with a great view of one of nature's coolest shows on August 21st between 9:30-11:30 am PT.

But before we talk solar shows, let's talk about the vintage trailer park. It's called The Vintages and it is awesome!

Situated across the road and around the corner from the Stoller Family Estate vineyards (which was also lovely and makes a great pinot noir and rose'), the Vintages rents out a bunch of vintage trailers and airstreams, each complete with a grill and vintage bikes for riding around the park and to a small town down the road.

(They also have TV's complete with Roku, so I was able to watch the 2nd to last episode of Game of Thrones this past season as soon as it hit the HBO Go app, while the other "glampers" we busy making s'mores ;)


The other excellent thing about The Vintages was that it has a big empty field right next to it, which was PERFECT for eclipse viewing! We all pulled our lawn chairs over to the field along with our breakfast and eclipse glasses, and watched the eclipse from basically the comfort of our front yard. 

Here was my Samsung Galaxy S6 camera phone photo of "totality"... it was amazing watching it slowly get darker and darker in the middle of the morning. The lights in the trees of the trailer park came on as dusk fell a few minutes before totality, like they had the evening before. And it definitely got chilly. It was very cool to experience!

And one of the other "glampers'" friends is a professional photographer, Jason Tang, who drove up to join us and had a massive telescopic camera. He took this amazing time-lapse photo of the eclipse, from six feet in front of me :) 

After the eclipse, we turned our lawn chairs around and watched a line of cars back up on the road back to Portland and laughed because we had nowhere to be. Then we hung out and swam, read and ate snacks all day. 

The next day we took a detour back to Portland by way of the Oregon Garden, which was gorgeous in late summer. Here are just some of the photos from the various gardens they have cultivated there... it's definitely worth a visit if you like flowers and are in the neighborhood.