28 August 2006

Before this evening can end....

It's after 10p. Sunday night and the helicopters are still buzzing around. I can barely hear myself think and even if I wanted to sleep I couldn't. It's Emmy night (or rather ANY awards night) in L.A. and god forbid you want some peace and quiet. After having a couple of drinks at The Abbey - the local watering hole - with Abby and our friend Rebecca - I admit I've got the munchies so I indulge and allow the chips to soak up a food - less dinner while I rest my tired dogs. But I digress. Really the point of this is to say that it's very strange living so close to all this Emmy action and not actually being a part of any of it. Or am I?

As the 3 of us discussed politics, our respective places in this world, my upcoming birthday and world peas [intentional misspelling] we people watched and for a few hours forgot that it was Emmy night. But then we walked up Santa Monica Boulevard towards our respective homes and it was very clear - as limos flew by and helicopters hovered we walked around the neighbourhood going about our business while secretly hoping we weren't the ones walking. You see, we all live behind 'restaurant row' and this is one of the areas where 'stars' and their people come to party.

Rebecca headed home and as the helicopters continued (the Emmy's were actually over by this time since everyone sees it live but us) Abby and I walked down to Melrose Place hoping to catch some bit of the Entertainment Weekly party. We had seen them setting up for the shindig, noting that the place we wanted to go for lunch on Saturday had been turned into a press runway. Our hopes, however, were quickly dashed as everything had been struck - it must have been a pre party we mused, not knowing since we aren't in the Know.

After we strolled through the 'hood, watched more limos and listened to more helicopters, we headed back to my place and watched the Tivo'd Emmy's. Which, if you really think about it is double taped because, as I said before, they don't air live here, and I've got that 30 minute 'live' delay going...and I've still got the munchies, I'm a little buzzed and for some reason I'm writing this blog. But why not, right? It's not like I have a party to go to, right? All I can do is sit here, watch the TV, feel disappointed because Peter Krause lost the best actor award, and listen to the damned helicopters as they stalk the famous winners and losers of the night. Huh.....just like everyone else.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

21 August 2006

Before I leave you again, before the light of the dawn...

I took Suz to the airport very early on tuesday morning, way too early, in fact. My traveling companion, fellow adventurer, and very dearest of friend is now in NY on her way back to Scotland. I feel a little empty as I write this, not knowing what lays ahead, and hoping only for the best for us both. It's funny, she's spent the last 10 1/2 months traversing the oceans and lands of this world yet still we find ourselves in the same place. Both of us unsure of our respective futures, both of us not knowing what adventures are yet to be had. It's a cool thing, though, what my Dad has told me since I was a wee kid. As we packed the canoe for our week long camping trips to some unknown island in the middle of Lake Ouachita, or paddled the Mississippi at midnight, he always said 'whatever happens, for good or bad, it's still an adventure and if you remember that you'll always be okay.'

So here I am sad for her departure, grateful for my most amazing friend, and for a bucketful of memories we made these last 2 weeks. She's not only amazing because she reached out to me and really got me through those 2 years after my mom and my last grandparents died, but because she did what we all should do. Go see the world, go sleep on a cot in Thailand, or simply visit the friends you haven't seen in far too many years. You'll be glad you did. Life is too short not to make every day an adventure. Thanks Suz for reminding me of that, and thanks Dad for giving me the tools to recognize what every day can be!

So before I leave you again, before the light of the dawn, as Billy Joel wrote too many years ago....go ahead....book that flight or pack the car and get the hell out of dodge!!!!

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

PS. On another note: This past week LA bid adieu to it's one and only Country station, KZLA, which was turned into some kind of noisy commercial - laden dreck. While I'm not a fan, Abby is, and for her I'll shed a tear as we are faced with one more less interesting spot on the dial. R.I.P. KZLA.....

14 August 2006

I'm Leaving Las Vegas, Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh.....

Over the last few months via email Suz informed me that while she was on this side of the world she had every intention of going to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. She asked if I wanted to join her and I told her in so many words that I'd never go to Vegas in the middle of August, or ever, for that matter. It's not my kind of place and I can think of so many other ways to spend my time. So I'm not sure how this happened but one day last week after much discussion I found myself agreeing to go with her and packing up Abby's wee VW that Suz and I had dubbed "Hamish" on our way back from Santa Barbara. I figured, what the hell? I should at least experience this place once in my life.

We hit the dusty road early avoiding traffic and driving the 6 hours (with stops) through desert to get to Vegas around 12.30p. OY. What a place! I shook my head in wonderment thinking "how could my friend Joanna have lived in this god forsaken city for 2 years?". I still don't have an answer to that question, but I will tell you, at night it's quite a different sight! The sky was lit up like 11 Burning Man festivals and there wasn't a star in sight. In some ways I found it really cool, and interesting, but in other ways the crowds were far too much for me. In addition, at midnight for it to still be near 100 degrees was not pleasant. I hate the desert. Okay, maybe that's too strong a feeling, but lets just say the green of New England and other places that are wet is much more to my liking and understanding. By the way, I've never heard that many southern accents north of the Mason Dixon Line in my life. Maybe there was a convention.

The highlight of last week's adventure was for me, in all honesty, the Grand Canyon. Despite the very long bus ride and the worlds' most amazingly annoying nails on a chalkboard tour guide, it was quite a trip. We chose this tour company because it was the only one that allowed you to get off the bus and actually walk along the rim of the canyon for 2 1/2 very short hours. No words can properly describe what we saw and felt, so I will just leave it at that. But needless to say I do want to go back, raft down the river and spend at least a week or so there, because only then will I feel like I've really experienced the canyon the way I want to. No strangers jamming their elbows in my ribs, and no fighting to get to the rail to see down 1 mile into the earth.

Thankfully the tour bus driver shut his freakin' mouth for the ride back and drove us through parts of Arizona I never thought existed. Wow! It was so beautiful and amazing that it made me want to spend more time there as well, standing in the rain, watching the lightening, feeling wet, and cool. It was a welcome reprieve from the dry, dusty, burning feeling of Vegas. While I could never live that far from an ocean, I could easily spend more time there amongst the trees and rolling hills.

Overall it was a very great 3 days and I'm glad to have gone to and left Las Vegas. It truly is something, like most everything, one should experience at least once in their life.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!!!

07 August 2006

There's a Dylan song on from 'Highway 61'

My dear friend Suzanne is on a year-long round the world trip and one of her stops is here in LA LA Land. She started off in Scotland and made her way east from there, thusly landing here as she nears the end of her trip. We haven't seen each other in 6 years we figured (we met as camp councelors in Maine one summer long ago) and knowing how much she 'loves' LA I decided getting OUT of LA was the best way to spend our time together. I needed to get out of town, and she thinks this place is a waste of space. So this past thursday we hopped in Abby's wee VW (cheaper to drive than the Jeep) and headed north to Santa Barbara with the top down and the tunes on. Suz had never been in a convertible so this was a real treat for her as we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway/Route 1 and she got to see Malibu and everything else in between.

We arrived in time for a quick walk around town and a late lunch at one of my favourite SB spots - Brophy's. With a small wait we got a table on the deck overlooking the Marina. It was so nice to be there on the water, to feel the cool air as I ate a bowl of chowder, and to be with an old friend. We hadn't been sure when we left LA how we would stay over - it was a possibility that we might just grab a hotel, but I packed some camping gear just in case. By the time we ate lunch it seemed to be too perfect NOT to camp. After a walk along the beach we decided it was time to set out and find a place for a night or two. I had asked the folks in Santa Barbara Outfitters if they could recommend a campground not too far out of town so they suggested a place called Paradise Road off the 154. Off we went, but when we got there it felt too hot and too far inland so we headed back up the 101 to El Capitan State Beach. We were promptly turned away by a snooty park ranger who stated 'oh we're booked up 7 months in advance and so is every place along the coast - but good luck!'. I was thinking 'how could this be? It's a thursday!'. So I left feeling discouraged, and we drove back into town, went to a movie leaving it up to fate as to where we would sleep for the night. That's the cool thing about traveling with some people, they roll with it and don't stress figuring 'hey, worst case we sleep in the car and find something tomorrow night or head home'.

After the movie it was about 8.30p and we headed back to Paradise Road. We lucked out. Boy did we luck out. They too, we found out, were booked months in advance but had 3 'first come first serve' sights. We grabbed one and set up camp. Apparently this being the 'fiesta weekend' didn't help matters. Everywhere we went in that area was crowded with visitors, rodeo people and parade goers. I have to say - one of the things that is getting to me about this area is the fact that everywhere you go to get out of the city is nearly as crowded as the neighbourhood in which I live - which has also become more crowded in the last 5 years. It's getting harder and harder to escape from people, get some peace, and just hear the crickets.

One of the best couple of hours we spent was when I convinced Suz that her life wouldn't be complete unless we went ocean kayaking. I assured her I had done a lot of paddling in various forms and that she was in good hands. Convincing her that her life wouldn't be complete unless we paddled under the ginourmous pier dodging the supports was another story, but she caved (or I may not have given her much of a choice since I was steering) and we made it out alive. It was awesome!!! No one was around and it was one of the coolest things I've done in a long time! I may have just discovered the trick to escaping humans in Southern California - get out on the water in any way, shape or form you can...just get out there! Hop in your car, put on a Dylan tune, and head to the ocean!

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!!