Sunday, August 22, 2010

#133: Abalone Cove

Make a day out of Palos Verdes; stop by Wayfarer's Chapel, then head across the street to Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.

Dirt path to the shore

Abalone Cove is known for their tide pools. I wouldn't say the tide pools were teeming with sea life, but we did spot a few sea anemones, star fish, small crabs, limpets, mussels and a rock louse (gross!).

Head in this direction to the tidepools

Parking is $5. In the parking lot, there's a vending machine where you can get water and soda for $1. Follow the map the parking attendant gives you, and head toward the Abalone Cove sign. Walk along a dirt path to the shore. Once you get to the water, it takes about a ten minute walk to get to the tide pools. For most of the way, you will be walking on rocks, so it might be a good idea to wear shoes.

Rock path to the tide pools

We saw some people picnicking, but it didn't seem like the best place for that... There was lots of decomposting kelp washed up on shore, and thus flies all over the place. It was also pretty windy.

On our way back to the car

Once you reach the bluff, you can cross a channel to see more tide pools. It seemed a bit dangerous, though, so most people didn't risk it.

Have fun and be safe!

#132: Wayfarer's Chapel

Thank you "Hybrid" for commenting on my Escondido Falls post and suggesting Wayfarer's Chapel as a place to visit!

There's a little waterfall inside the chapel!

Built by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son, the Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes is a place where people can meditate, reflect and enjoy the beauty of nature. The church's walls and ceiling are made out of glass, so everywhere you look, you get a beautiful view of the trees. The property overlooks Abalone Cove with a gorgeous view of the ocean. Around the church are small gardens, benches and a tiny visitor's center.

Couples who got married at the church

The church is busy with weddings on the weekends, and the only time it is guaranteed to be open to the public is on the odd hour for half an hour. We barely got there in time (I think we arrived at 1:20), but that was enough time to enjoy the interior. At 1:30, they roped off the area and no one except wedding guests were allowed past the ropes.

Parking and admission are free.

After you've seen the chapel, go across the street to check out the Abalone Cove tidepools!

The ceiling

Tree that split, then grew back together!
Outside the chapel
View of Abalone Cove from the chapel

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Monday, August 16, 2010

#131: L.A.'s Best Desserts

I'm gonna need your help with this one. I don't have a huge sweet tooth, so I don't try a ton of desserts in L.A.. Here are some of my top picks, but this list is by no means a comprehensive one.

What are your favorite desserts in L.A.? Leave me a comment below!

Popcakes: I went to a dessert tasting event a couple of weeks ago put on by Savor Los Angeles. Most of the offerings were "meh", but Popcakes really stood out from the rest. It's just what it sounds like--cake in the form of a lollipop. I tried the chocolate (the blue one shown above) and the red velvet (the red one). The cake was so moist, and the flavors and textures were outstanding. They don't have a store front, but they do take orders online. The pops also come in star shapes. I think this would be a perfect party favor!

Maple Bacon Donut at Nickel Diner: This is a favorite of Brad's. I don't think any guy can resist bacon. The only problem is that Nickel Diner is in downtown, and the area can be kind of sketchy late at night. There's limited street parking as well.

Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar at Animal: Another one of Brad's favorites. You see a theme emerging? The bacon chocolate crunch bar marries dark chocolate, peanuts and bacon... A perfect threesome! See #70: "Oh No You Didn't!" Desserts

Bulgarini Gelato, Pazzo's, Scoops: These are the three best gelato shops I've tried in and around L.A.. If you're feeling adventurous and in need of a sugar rush, hit them all up in the same day (#6: Do a Triple Gelato Run)!

M Cafe's macrobiotic desserts: For being relatively "good for you", these desserts taste so decadent. My favorites are their chocolate tart (I don't know the exact name, but it's a dark chocolate tart with gold leaf on it) and their carrot cake.

Bhan Kanom's coconut sticky rice and banana wrapped in banana leaf. Located in Thai town. I love this whole shop, but this dessert in particular calls out to me every time.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

#130: Grand Performances

Photo from fineartsla

Friday night we caught an awesome show downtown at California Plaza put on by Grand Performances. Grand Performances hosts free shows throughout the summer at the plaza, and I've always been meaning to go. Brad got out of work early, so it was the perfect day to beat the traffic and head to downtown.

Friday's show featured Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba, an electrifying group from Mali. Dengue Fever, a surf/psychedelic rock band that is fronted by a Cambodian pop singer, also performed. Both groups were amazing.

The shows are always free, and parking is $7.50 under the Plaza. There is a Famima, Panda Express, an Italian restaurant and Starry Kitchen if you get hungry. We had some steamed pork filled buns from Famima (meh) and a bulgogi "burger" from Starry Kitchen (yummy!). You can get the food to-go, and eat it while watching or waiting for the show.

Before the show

We got there at 6:30 for the 8:00 show, and there were already people sitting down and reserving seats, so the first rows were all taken. By 7:00, the seats were about 1/3 filled, and by 7:30, the place was about 2/3 filled. Even if you come at 8 or later though, you can still find a place to stand and watch the show. If you like to dance, there's a little area by the bleachers where people were standing and dancing. I would not recommend sitting on the lower level of the bleachers for this reason--your view would be blocked!

the bleacher area on the right

The plaza is pretty big, and they set up lots of chairs all over the place. They allow alcohol, but not dogs. It got pretty cold the night we went, and there were people with blankets and even a woman with gloves.

Here are some excerpts from the Grand Performances website about the two groups last night:

Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba have deep roots in the griot tradition. The ngoni – considered to be the banjo’s ancestor – is at the center of the band’s energetic live performances. When paired with the bass ngoni, callebasse, percussion and vocalist Amy Sacko’s transcendent voice, the group’s pulsing, hypnotic sound compels audiences to dance.

60’s-era Cambodian pop meets psychedelic rock when Dengue Fever takes the stage. Sung in English and Cambodian, the band’s music has found homes in film and television shows such as Must Love Dogs and Weeds.

Coming up later this month: Korean B-Boy champs Last For One, a puppet show by Paul Zaloom, and Turtle Island Quartet's homage to Jimi Hendrix. Click here to see August's calendar.

Dengue Fever's Seeing Hands

Dengue Fever's One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula

Bassekou Kouyote

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#129: X-Games

Cam Sinclair's double back flip. This trick put him in a coma a year ago.

This year was the seventh consecutive year L.A. hosted the summer X-games. Brad got VIP passes through his work, so he took Friday off and we headed downtown.

When he told me we were going, I was actually just as excited about the free food as the actual competition. The VIP area of the Staples Center had a whole buffet spread with bacon wrapped hot dogs, sliders, chinese food, dessert and tons of other stuff. We watched the motocross "Step Up" and "Best Whip" competitions there. We also caught the women's Vert skateboard finals and the men's BMX Vert finals at the Nokia theater. During the men's bmx vert, one guy popped out his shoulder twice! I didn't realize there would be so many injuries and people falling down... It made for an intense day!

If you don't have a VIP pass, you can just buy tickets either online or at the door. I think tickets for each event might have been around $15-20, and parking was $20 right across the street.

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