Archive for the ‘Huntington Beach’ Category

As I mentioned last month, Alan wanted to take his grandsons to Disneyland to celebrate his (Alan’s) birthday last weekend. As I also mentioned, after searching for deals on the internet and not finding any, we had a choice between going to Disneyland and paying $288 admission, or going to Knott’s Berry Farm, which had all kinds of discounts available, for $102. Not too tough a choice. Sorry Mickey.

Being vegan, I also had some other research to do. Amusement parks aren’t known for their healthy food, so I figured that my chances were slim to none that I’d find any options at Knott’s. They do not allow you to bring in your own food. I started by posting on their facebook page:

After deciphering Stephanie’s post, I thought that she had the best idea. I did check out TGIF and Johnny Rocket’s on-line menus, and although Johnny Rocket’s did have a veggie burger available, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that it would be vegan. And TGIF is hopeless, unless you choose to eat lettuce.

Then last Friday, I received this message on Facebook:

You may note that this message was dated May 10. Well, Facebook notifications had been whacko all week, and I didn’t receive the message until Friday evening. I replied back, but had a feeling that Willie was probably off for the weekend. Oh well, I figured I could tell Guest Services, or if necessary, flash them the message on my phone’s facebook app. We were good to go, food-wise.

Our plan was to drive to Huntington Beach early on Saturday afternoon. The boys had a baseball game at 5:00 that we were looking forward to watching. If you’ve never seen six year old boys (and one girl!) play baseball, you should put it on your bucket list. Seriously, it is so much fun. They are so joyous about the play, they are just starting to learn their skills (and the rules), and, unlike the professional pitchers’ games of today, there is a whole lot of scoring. Some scenes from the game:

Last year was T-Ball, this year the coach pitches (this coach is Alan's son)

Batter Up!

Players rotate positions each inning. That's our grandson the catcher

Base hit!

Action shot...check out his mouth as the ball gets closer.

Another hit. Must be that batting glove.

Grandson on the mound!

See dad? There's some hustle here!

I just love this pose.

He lost the other front tooth a little later during the game.

Sometimes it's hard to pay attention when there is so much going on all around you.

Ready for action.

Sunday morning brought clouds, rain, and cold. Alan and I took a run along the coast and I never felt like I warmed up. I hoped that the rain would pass, but long experience told me that a rainy day is really the best day to go to an amusement park. It keeps the crowds away. But, just not pouring, please.

After checking Knott’s website the evening before, we had one worry. The height requirement for most of the ‘cool’ rides was 48″. We lined the boys up (every family has a place on the wall for measuring, right?). They are fraternal twins, remember. One boy made it easy, 49″. Uh oh, his brother just barely hit 46.5″.  We had to hope that they weren’t too picky about measurements.

As we parked our car on Sunday morning, the clouds cleared, the sun shined, it was a beautiful day. We had decided on a food plan. On the way in, we had stopped at Mother’s Market, which has a wonderful deli with a huge selection of vegan salads, entrees, pizza, and more, and picked up enough for lunch. We decided to leave it in the car instead of hauling it around the park all day. I figured we’d be ready for a break in the action at lunchtime, we could head back to the car, drop off any extra clothing, eat our food, then head back to the fun. Which is exactly what we did, and it was perfect.

We  walked into the park with our eyes skyward, checking out the rides. The first one we chose, La Revolucion, had one of those 48″ limits. We decided to try our luck, but unfortunately, when we reached the front, were were told that our smaller twin would not be able to go on the ride. We decided that Alan would ride with the taller twin:

I felt so bad that we couldn't go on the ride. I promised that we'd go back next year, when he would be tall enough.

Click on the pic and you'll see Alan's feet. Way up there and upside down!

After that, we tried one more ride with the 48″ limit, but when that was a no go, we restricted our rides to the ones which we could all ride (the map had the height limits). This is not to say we didn’t have a great time. The boys won a Big Bird stuffed toy at a baseball toss (see, it paid off already!). We rode the log ride (twice!), several of the faster rides in Camp Snoopy, the Calico Mine ride, where I took my final picture. After that, I dropped my camera (on a wooden floor!), and, well, it died.

One of the rides that we check out early because we would all be able to ride, was the Bigfoot Rapids. However, the sign said, “You will get wet. You may get drenched.” When we (the grown ups) saw that, we told them (the twins, who probably would have been happy to be wet the whole day), that, yes, we would ride that one, but it would be the last one of the day.

So, after a brief lunch break at the car, we headed back into Knott’s, where we caught the tail end of the Stunt Show. I was sorry that we’d missed most of it, because I remember it from years ago. Gunfighters, falling off buildings, shooting it out, all that western fun stuff.

The boys decided that they were ready for the Bigfoot Rapids. Even when we reminded them that it would be the last ride of the day, they said that they were ready. All I can say is, good thing it was the last ride. While the boys remained pretty dry, I got wet and Alan got soaked! I’ll also say that the Family Dryer, that costs $5, but seems like a good idea when you are soaking wet coming out of that ride, does not dry jeans. Nope, Alan pretty much had to be wet and cold all the way back to the house.

All in all, we had a really good time at Knott’s Berry Farm. It has great value, the rides are fun, I can’t wait until we go back with taller grandsons!


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Well, I did it. I rode my bike. Yes, I know, my dear readers, that I’ve been writing about riding my bike for over two years now and that it is no big deal.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal. While I’ve been busy wimping out, a month had gone by. Yes, you read that right. More than a month, actually, my last ride was on December 11, 2010!
Last Saturday, I had no excuses. The weather was gorgeous in the desert (in most of Southern California, really). Alan and I were heading to Huntington Beach after the ride to visit family, so we wasted no time getting going. The great thing was, even at 7:00 in the morning, arm warmers were all that were needed. In January!
I felt much better that I’d expected. We only rode 26 miles, a little less than two hours, but it felt perfect.

V for Victory!

The weather at the coast was just as nice. We pulled into Huntington Beach shortly after 3:00. Alan headed straight out to the beach to meet his son and grandsons. After a lovely evening, we got up on Sunday anxious to run along the coast. Another beautiful day, a great six mile run. I felt so good, I even attempted to mix a little fartlek in my run.

Imagine. The weather in January was much nicer than the weather through most of last summer, when it was cold, damp, and overcast. After the run, we sat with the family in front of the house, just enjoying the sun.

What a nice weekend. Best of all, I’ve defeated the wimp inside me. Victory!

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>Shhhhh…Don’t say the title too loudly. I’m not sure I’m ready.

Just kidding. I’ve actually been a Grandma since I was 38 years old (19 + 19, right). I have a lovely granddaughter, who unfortunately lives in Omaha with her mother. That is a story, but for another day.

This story is about two wonderful, five year old twin boys who we just discovered less than three months ago, Alan’s grandsons.

Alan with Dane and Cash

Alan and I were invited to stay over at Lisa and Kelly’s place in Huntington Beach this past weekend. Kelly was playing in a golf tournament in Burbank, and Lisa hoped to stay over the last night with him.  The funny thing is, Lisa kept thanking us for doing them a favor by staying with the boys.  Are you kidding?  We were so happy and excited to have a chance to stay and take care of them we were beside ourselves. Fortunately, our cross country schedule opened up and we jumped at the opportunity.

We were supposed to get there early enough to see the boys play in their soccer game last Saturday, but with one thing and another, we didn’t arrive until just as the game was finishing up. Four word: cat poop/dog vomit. We were bringing our two littlest dogs, Lily and Olivia, along, and wouldn’t you know it. As we were leaving, Olivia managed to step in some cat poop, get it on me, and we both had to get washed up (and I had to change).  Lily, who seems generally to be more comfortable in the car, got car sick (twice!).  Nothing like blaming your lateness on your dogs who can’t defend themselves! It was too bad that we were late. Cash had scored the first two goals (with assists from Dane).

The Tidal Waves–sorry we missed their game.

We all headed over to the house, where Lisa headed up to pack and get ready to go. Alan, I, and the boys took a walk to pick up a sandwich. That was a bit of an adventure (and we’d only just started this twin-sitting!). Our dogs just aren’t used to all that action on Main Street in Huntington Beach. People, bikes, skateboards, other dogs, all jammed on the sidewalks; all this had Lily and Olivia, um, very excited. Lily, all eight pounds of her, was ready to tackle every cruiser bike that rolled by. They eventually settled down, though, and we had a nice walk and lunch.

They were a lot more excited than this, but I didn’t take a picture.

When we got back to the house, Lisa had left, and we were on our own with Cash and Dane.  They love playing with the dogs (and vice versa), so a lot of energy was expended running through the house. We spent some time reading and just enjoying spending time with them. Lisa had stocked up on lots of veggies, so we stayed home for dinner while I cooked up some whole wheat pasta, zucchini and yellow squash, garlic, peppers and artichoke hearts. It was really good, and, we decided, a whole lot easier than going out to dinner.

The next morning, Alan and I did our run in shifts. He ran first, while I fixed breakfast for the boys. I ran next, four miles along the beach. It was cool and foggy and wonderful. While I was running, Alan bravely took both boys and both dogs and headed out for a run with them. I frequently run with two of our big dogs, but for Lily and Olivia this was a new experience. They all ran to the pier and back, maybe a little over a half mile. Fortunately, they all made it back in one piece.

One of only two pictures I took all weekend, believe it or not. Bad, Bad, Blogger!

 The boys had a birthday party to go to, so we got them bathed dressed and they were picked up by a friend’s mom. Ah, rest time for the grown ups. Kind of, anyway, we headed out for a walk around town, had a smoothie, and got home only about 10 minutes before the boys. Guess all this parenting stuff is kind of like riding a bike.

This picture I took with my phone was so bad I didn’t even tweet or facebook it. But here it is, proof we were there.

 Lisa and Kelly arrived home a little later, again full of thanks (really, really, not necessary). We chatted for a little while, then we left for home. Oh, the best part? While the boys had starting calling Alan “Grandpa” a few weeks ago, they’d seemed at a loss as to what to call me. They didn’t seem quite ready to commit. So the best part was, as I was leaving, I got to hear, “Bye, Grandma!”

You know what? It doesn’t make you feel old at all. It just feels great.

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>This past holiday weekend was a mixed bag of great and unpleasant experience.  Ups and Downs.

Saturday stands out as a great day. Another trip to Huntington Beach to bond with the new family. We left the desert early, as much to get out the heat as anything (no, we weren’t anxious or anything). After leaving a sunny, already warm day, we were somewhat surprised to arrive to chilly, overcast weather at the coast. We easily found a parking space near Main St., threw on some warm clothing, and took a little “sightseeing walk.”

As I wrote in my post from last year, Huntington Beach really does it up for Independence Day. 2010 marked the 106th July 4th parade, which runs along the Coast Highway and up Main St. The residents and tourists can start the morning off healthfully with the Surf City 5k. There is a pancake breakfast, a huge expo, and, of course, they finish off the evening with a bang, with a fireworks show at the pier.

Most impressive is the spirit that the residents show.  Most every house, especially along Main St., is decorated to the nines, with flags, ribbons, and plenty of bunting to show their holiday spirit. They even decorate their pets!

As we walked along Main St., we were amused to see the residents of Huntington Beach “staking out” their viewing spots for the parade. Depending on the location, they were either using big sticks of chalk to mark on the streets, or a variety of rope and hazard tape to mark their spot on the tree lined center divider. We have been told that getting the good spot can be a point of contention among viewers (we heard that there have been fights!) and that Huntington Beach only allows marking your spot beginning at 7:00 am on July 3. We arrived around 9:30 and the “spots” were mostly taken. I would have loved to see the goings on at 7:00!

Our real purpose, of course, for the visit to Huntington Beach was to visit the family. Without going into detail, the visit went just great. Alan and Kelly are in the process of getting to know each other and that is going fine. They are a very nice family, and we are loving spending time with them. While we were there, Lisa and the boys decided that they would run in the race the next day, and we rushed over to sign up. I wish I could have stayed over to see them, but we were only visiting for the day.

Our plans for the 4th were to get up and take a long bike ride. Unfortunately, that plan went awry when I woke up Sunday morning with a migraine. Not a debilitating headache this time, but enough to keep me in bed most of the day. Surrounded by my dogs, with the room as dim as possible, I did catch up on some sleep. Always look on the bright side, that’s what I say!

I felt better later in the afternoon, good enough to put together some vegan Independence Day kebobs. They would have been great for the barbecue, but I broiled them this time. No pictures, either, I guess I didn’t feel all that good.

We stayed home at fireworks time, simply because of our dogs. They do not appreciate the bangs and booms, especially from the local “lawbreakers” who sneak in illegal fireworks and enjoy scaring my dogs. If you sense a little anger there, it is because I slept very poorly last night, holding one shivering (from fear) dog, while Alan tried to calm another. A third dog, our Dalmatian, huddled under the bed all night long, refusing our comforting words and calls. She’s really too big to fit there and I was concerned that she’d get stuck and scare herself further. She managed though and crawled out about 2:30 this morning.

So, the 4th of July was rather a bust this year.  And the 5th? A national holiday? Another reason for my lack of sleep was that I had to be at work at 5:30 this morning. Oh, well, it’s still a Happy Birthday for America! I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day!

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>Alan and I headed to Huntington Beach over the Fourth of July weekend. He does race announcing for many races/events in Southern California and has been working at the Surf City Run 5k for the last five years or so. Huntington Beach puts on this race in conjunction with other Independence Day activities to make a fantastic all-day, family-oriented event. This is about the 30th running (they don’t have the number on their literature or website, so I’m not sure) of the race which drew almost 5,000 participants this year. It is also Huntington Beach’s 100th birthday, so there was a whole lot of celebrating going on.

We arrived Friday afternoon and checked into the Hotel Huntington Beach, where the race organizers put us up (nice perk!). We decided on an early dinner, since Alan had to be at the race site about 5:30 am. Call me crazy, but I drag myself up and out on these mornings, too. I usually don’t run in the race that he is announcing, but will take advantage of nice weather to take a run on my own.

We decided to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. It is within walking distance of the hotel, and they have a lot of vegetarian options. You may or may not know, but California recently passed a law (which just went into effect) that makes chain restaurants post the calorie counts of each dish on the menu. This topic really deserves its own post, but let me just say, if looking at an item, for example, one of my favorites, Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with Tomato/Basil sauce, and reading that it has 1057 calories doesn’t give one pause, then one has probably totally given up on weight management. Or, like my husband, can eat a thousand calories in one dish and burn it off before morning. Remember, that’s not counting the bread, salad, dessert, wine, etc.

Well, it did give me pause and I ended up ordering a half order of their grilled vegetable salad. That is one of my favorites too, and it came in at half the calories (plus I had the dressing on the side). That way I could have my glass of wine (and a piece of See’s chocolate) and still be (barely) under the 1,000 calorie count. Whew, when did eating out become such a mind game?

In any case, we got back to the hotel early and got to bed pretty early. Although, nothing is early enough to enjoy the alarm going off at 4:00 am. I fixed us a cup of hotel coffee, which held us as we got dressed, then we stopped at Peet’s for the real thing (thank heaven they open at 5:00 am on the fourth of July!). We got to the race site by 5:20.

Alan headed off to do his thing, and I decided that I might as well do my run right away. I hoped to run about six miles, then I wanted to get back to the race and get some video of Alan “doing his thing.” I plan do make up a DVD that he can use for potential announcing jobs. Anyway, I got ready to run and headed off toward the coast.

The sky was clear and blue, the sun getting ready to rise. Once I got to the Pacific Coast Highway, the road was closed in preparation for the race, followed by the parade. I headed north for a bit. After about 15 minutes I turned around and ran south, to the pier, where they were busy getting ready for the busy day. I like Huntington Beach. I grew up in Orange County, in Los Alamitos, which is just east of Seal Beach, but I’d spent some time in Huntington when I was younger.

I finished up my run and got back to the start line of the 5k just in time for the beginning of the Resident’s race, open to Huntington Beach residents only. It looked like about 1,000 or so had shown up, a great turnout.

For the first time, there were some “celebrities” out to start off the race. Miss USA, Miss California USA (the new one), Miss California Teen (a Huntingon Beach girl) and Miss Universe (all the way from Venezuela) were there. These lovely young women stayed through the whole event (there are three adult races and two children’s races), talking to the crowd, posing for pictures, handing out awards to the kids, even dancing before the start of one of the kid’s races. They were very sweet and everyone (especially the men) loved having them. I believe that after they were done with our races, they were going to ride on a float in the parade. Tough work being a beauty queen!

The citizens of Huntington Beach really go all out for Independence Day, whether it’s decorating their house, decorating their bodies, or decorating their dogs. It was truly a successful event, the biggest turnout they’ve ever had I believe. My husband really loves working at events like this one and he is really good at it. He’s a natural at working the crowd and he celebrates everyone’s accomplishments, whether they are first overall, mid-pack or the very last person across the finish line.

Alan finished up about 9:30. We decided to head back to the hotel, clean up, pack up, and head home. As tempting as the cool coast is, we wanted to be home with our babies (that would be our four dogs and two cats). They are very afraid of fireworks, and although they are illegal in La Quinta, there is always some wiseguy out there scaring my dogs.

Light traffic made us remember how close we really are to the beach–less than two hours away. After such an exciting morning, we were happy to celebrate our country in our own way–veggie dogs, corn-on-the-cob, at home.

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