I got my first sunburn on my forehead today after sitting in my backyard which means summer is coming. There is not a bad month in SoCal, but I love the summer. It got me thinking about all the things I love to do here. I'm a little tired of theology, so here is a completely trivial top 10 list of the things I love to do in SoCal. Feel free to add your favorite things (for example since we live at the base of the mountains I really should have included hiking on the list, but I just don't take advantage of it enough).
Here's my top ten in reverse order:
10. Hanging out at The Grove. I can live the rest of my life without shopping malls but I do like cruising around in Old Town Pasadena and Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. But I totally love going to The Grove in Beverly Hills (even if we do have to take Sophie to the American Girl store everytime we go). the Grove has the coolest Apple store and Barnes and Noble around. I can spend the whole day eating at the Farmer's Market - I live for the english toffee. I also think its the best star gazing location in L.A. Rarely do we go there without seeing somebody who is at least medium famous.
9. Running the LA Marathon. I finished the marathon the last two years but I still haven't run a good race yet. Nevertheless, there is something totally cool about running with 25,000 people. This year the race started at Dodger Stadium and finished at the Santa Monica pier - great course. I need to train harder for 2011, but I hope to keep running the race. It's also a bonus to get to help raise some money for my friends at Child SHARE.
8. Show Shoots. I haven't been to a sit-com, talk-show, or game-show shoot in a while. But I miss the old-days when Deb was working at Warner Brothers and we were regulars at sit-com and pilot shoots. Its sort of a long night when you go because you have to laugh at the same scenes two or three times. But it is really cool to see "behind the curtain" to see how a show comes together. One of our top memories from the 90s was when Deb and I were seat-fillers at the Emmys.
7. Sporting Events. I obviously love to watch my kids play sports. Caleb has recently turned us into a swim family. But even without an NFL team in town, somewhere in the Southland there is a professional sporting event taking place. I prefer Dodger games, but the kids like the Angels. I'll go in a heartbeat to see the Kings or Ducks: whichever team is winning. And it is super fun to go see the Lakers (if you can get tickets) or even the Clippers. If Blake Griffin gets healthy, I'm ready to jump on the Clipper bandwagon. Maybe the most fun we've had at a game was last year when the boys and I went to an LA Galaxy playoff game. We were "this close" to Beckham.
6. San Diego. If you need to get away for a couple of days the primary short-range destinations are Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Vegas, or San Diego. Nine times out of ten I pick San Diego. We love Balboa Park, the Zoo, Sea World, hanging out at Point Loma, and eating fish and chips at Anthony's Grotto.
5. Theatres. There are theatres everywhere, but we are kind of partial to seeing musicals at the Pantages and movies at the El Capitan. I love the organist who plays before the movie at the El Capitan. We went to see Enchanted there when it opened and the actor who played the prince (James Marsden) was sitting across the aisle from us with his family and a couple of cast members from X-Men. It was fun to watch someone watch themselves on the big screen. We also love going there with out of town friends and grabbing ice-cream next door to the soda parlor and ordering "Mickey's Magic Hat" (8 scoops of ice cream, at least one can of whipped cream and all the fixings).
4. Disneyland. So far we have been persistent passholders. The thing that makes Disneyland great is the way the park changes with the seasons. Being a passholder is nice because you can go for two or three hours and not feel like you have to squeeze every minute out of your time there. Our favorite time to go is from October through the end of December. There are many moments that I start day-dreaming about Disneyland fried chicken and pineapple soft-serve.
3. The Beach. My goal this summer is to learn to surf. I consider myself to be a world-class boogie boarder, but its time for me to get up on my feet. During the summer we try to hit the beach at least every other week. 50% of the US population lives within 50 miles of either coast. My goal is to someday move within 50 yards. Everybody has a favorite beach, ours is probably Manhattan. I love going to Venice because I like to walk the strand, eat, and look at all the unique (a nice way of saying wierd) people. But my wife usually freaks out at Venice. Last summer a school of dolphins swam by all but one day we went to the beach. Sometimes they come within twenty feet or so from where you are swimming. Apart from having to vacuum the sand out of the floor mats, I like everything about the beach.
2. The Rose Parade. Some longtime Pasadenans act like they could live without the parade, but I still love it. We've been spoiled the last four years because we've had friends or family living at the start of the parade route and so we've been able to go out late New Year's Eve and see the floats as they are lined up beneath the lights. I think its amazing to see a million people descend on the city each year and camp out all night. Pasadena has made a contract with God that it is almost always a Chamber of Commerce day on January 1st. A couple of years I've had tickets to the game as well. The world's best parade in the morning followed by "the grand-daddy of them all" footbal game in the afternoon is the perfect way to start every New Year.
1. The Hollywood Bowl. I know that at some level this makes me a nerd, but I think my favorite thing to do in SoCal is go to an LA Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Everyone brings a picnic dinner and kicks back and enjoys great music. I can usually only afford to sit in the middle somewhere but that's perfect because its right at the level where the HOLLYWOOD sign is visble just over the ridge. The weather is usually spectacular and the whole canyon just echoes with history. I hope I never move again, but if I do, I know that I'll sit on my porch on a Friday night and wish I were sitting at The Bowl, eating fancy sandwiches, and listening to John Williams directing his most famous movie scores.
Life is good.