Monday, June 28, 2010

#125: Wilacre Park in Fryman Canyon

This past Saturday we battled a gang of bees, dodged desiccated dog poop, and conquered a semi-steep descent off the side of a hill... All in a day's work at Wilacre Park in Studio City!

We took the Betty Dearing loop trail, which takes about an hour to hike and connects to other trails in the area. The trail offers pretty good views of the Valley, but the day we went visibility was low.

The Tree People Building

We hiked past the Betty Dearing trail to The Tree People Conservation Center and then turned back. While we were there, we saw a sign for Once Upon A Canyon Night which is a concert/film/stage reading/educational series starting in July and going through September at the park. Click here for more information.

To park, you can pay $3 in the Wilacre lot, which starts you at the trail head. There's also a free lot a little more north near The Tree People building and greenhouse. If you do park there, you will have the option of going on a few trails in the area. All these trails can be a bit confusing, so be sure to print out a map!

The Trail Head

Free the rocks! An educational exhibit by The Tree People.
At the one clear lookout on the trail

Sunday, June 27, 2010

#124: Road Trip to Vegas 2

Last weekend our friends got married in Vegas! This was my first Vegas ceremony, and it was so much fun. They rode into the chapel in a pink Cadillac driven by Elvis! What followed was an amazing weekend of food, friends and family.

Some of the highlights of this last trip:

The Jabbawockeez at the MGM Grand: The Jabbawockeez were the first winners of MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. Now they've got their own show in Vegas! They were accompanied by four members of the break dancing group Super Cr3w. The show only runs sporadically in Vegas, and we were fortunate that it was showing when we were there. It is in the Hollywood Theater, which is pretty small, so no seat is really bad.

The Aria Hotel: This hotel is new to the strip! When we drove up to it, it looks like a pimped out LAX. If you plan on visiting Vegas this summer, check out their deals--it's pretty cheap (~120 a night) for what you get! There's a spa and buffet and a great bake shop on the lower level... Which brings me to the next highlight...

Jean Philipe Patisserie at the Aria: I had the best pan au chocolate of my life here! There are so many beautiful macarons, chocolate desserts and sandwiches in this shop that I want to try everything they have to offer.

Downtown Vegas: It is so surreal to walk downtown Vegas on a weekend night. The band playing YMCA, the spandex suits, the inebriated crowd, and the odd guys playing air guitar all add up to a weird and funny experience.

Japonais at the MGM Grand: Check out my food blog for pics

Ichiza: Check out my food blog for pics

The Wynn's Lake of Dreams: Following dinner one night we came here to rest and digest. This is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a free lake show every 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Fun! Things To Do and See in L.A. this Summer

Point Dume beach, photo from flickr

Happy June everyone! I haven't blogged in a while because I've been really busy, but I got a recent inquiry from a reader (Thanks John!) about things to do in L.A. this summer, and it inspired me to share with you my summer list. Click on the titles to be directed to their websites.

Grand Performances, photo by downtownLA

Grand Performances offers free musical performances and films in Downtown throughout the summer.

Photo from MadeUpDisease

All summer long, Cinespia hosts weekend movie screenings on the lawn of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. You can bring a picnic and blankets too, but no tall lawn chairs. It's a $10 donation at the gate. They just showed Purple Rain (ah, I really wanted to go to that one!) and Beetlejuice. Coming up is Blow Up, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Midnight Cowboy. Get on their mailing list to learn about the upcoming screenings.

Photo from GreatOC

The Orange County Great Park offers free hot air balloon rides Thursday to Sunday. It's first come first served, and it flies up to 400 feet up in the air. The balloon doesn't go anywhere (it's tethered to the ground).

Photo from LAstheplace

Ever wondered what it's like to sky dive? Universal Studios lets you experience the sensation of free falling without the risk. You take a safety course and then get a few minutes in the see-through wind tunnel.

Photo from K1Speed

One of my friends told me about this (thanks Jason!). They have locations in Anaheim and Torrance. For $20, you can experience a 14 lap race in an electric go kart. No experience necessary--just drive and go! They also host birthday parties.

Photo from luchavavoom

Mexican wrestling, ring girls, little people, burlesque dancers and drag queens come together for one crazy theatrical night... Or so I hear... They have upcoming shows on June 23rd and 24th. Get ring side seats ($55) for the most fun.

Photo from L.A. Times

Bob Baker has created an amazing institution here. Admission is $20, and children under 2 are free. The current show is "Musical World" and shows are offered Tuesday-Sunday.

Photo from Laist

On the second Thursday of every month, art galleries throughout downtown open their doors to the public. The event is free. This is one of those things you must do if you live in L.A... and I can't believe I haven't done it yet!

Photo from LAGoodtimes

I hear this place gets really busy and noisy with youngsters, but if you have time in an off-hour (maybe really early in the morning?) then take advantage of this beautiful free beach house in Santa Monica. They also offer yoga, concerts, beach volleyball and other "beach culture" events.

Featuring multi-disciplinary artists in downtown's Little Tokyo, the Tuesday Night Project is held on the first and third Tuesday of the month for free.

Photo from nswest

The Old Town Music Hall offers silent movies accompanied by the Mighty WurliTzer. Shows are Friday-Sunday, $8.

Other Things To Do:

The M*A*S*H Hike in Malibu Creek State Park: Where they filmed the popular t.v. show

El Matador State Beach in Malibu: Lots of wildlife here

Glendale Community College Planetarium: Ah, I'm a sucker for planetariums. This is supposed to rival the one at Griffith Observatory.

Geffen Playhouse: Lots of plays here featuring famous actors and actresses.

Point Dume, Malibu: Tide pools!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

#123: The Wooden Floor Dance Company

There are few performances which are so amazing that they leave me at a loss for words. This weekend's was one of them. I'll just let you watch the videos.

This was my third year attending The Wooden Floor's annual performance at UC
Irvine's Barclay Theater. I left inspired, awe-struck and wishing that there were
more programs like this available to our youths. I highly recommend checking
out their next show.

Taken from The Wooden Floor website...

Since 1983, The Wooden Floor has been changing lives. By integrating year-round dance training with academic assistance and family services, The Wooden Floor offers a creative alternative to youth who might otherwise fall victim to destructive behaviors such as taking drugs or joining a gang. Youth who participate in programs at The Wooden Floor gain self-confidence, improve their grades and acquire skills that help them graduate from high school and attend college at a significantly higher rate than their peers nationally.

The Results:
Since 2005, 100% of students at The Wooden Floor have graduated high school and enrolled in college - far exceeding the national average of their peers.

Click here to view The Wooden Floor's Youtube channel