on sunday, after we'd been to church and had lunch with the ILs, the teen and i talked the hub into going out for a drive. the bean had just fallen asleep, we'd spent most of the day before sitting at home doing nothing, and we were kinda antsy.
the hub protested weakly: "come on! it's raining, it's perfect nap weather, and football's on. besides, you guys always fall asleep and i end up driving in silence. can't we just stay home?"
but we persisted. and by the time we pulled through the gate (to change clothes and pick up a blanket to snuggle in), he'd caved. "fine, let's go. oy." yay! i promised i wouldn't fall asleep (no easy feat - he's right, i always doze off in the car) and scampered upstairs to put some jeans and uggs on.
the teen had suggested driving up to the hollywood sign, so we jumped on the freeway. despite the weather, there was little traffic, and pretty soon we were here:
the hub, having found a radio station with a play-by-play of the football game, stayed in the car with the sleeping bean while the two of us hopped out to check out griffith observatory. the teen had never been, and it had been ages since i'd visited.
it was quite busy inside, but we picked our way through the crowds to look around.
we were entranced by this illuminated elements chart.
the various exhibits included these scaled-down versions of the observatory.
it was pretty stuffy in there, though, with all those people breathing all heavy and crap. we exited through a side door, took in some fresh air, and checked out our view. it was cloudy and foggy, but it was still pretty.
the teen, after a little prodding, clowned for the camera with the hollywood sign in the background.
before we trudged back to the car, we took a shot together.
this funny little dog was in the car next to us, barking and yelping at everyone who walked past.
we made our way down to hollywood boulevard, checking out the tourists all along the walk of fame. i always see the signs that designate historic landmarks and think of how sad it is that the area is so shady and seedy, compared to back in the day when it was THE place to be. and so many buildings that have been there for years and years have such interesting-looking designs.
with the bean still snoozing, we found ourselves on sunset boulevard. and as we drove past chateau marmont, i wondered aloud who might be tucked away in one of those rooms, getting ready for the golden globe awards that were taking place later that evening. the hub said "why don't i drop you guys off so you can go check it out? it's supposed to be a really cool hotel, maybe you can go grab a drink together in the dining room and see if you see anybody." well, sure. we're totally starstruck even though we live in la-la land, and so we got out to see what we could see.
sure enough, there were a few paparazzi stationed outside the entrance. the teen eyed them with interest as we tried to walk nonchalantly past.
alas, those were the only pictures we got to take. every single staff member we encountered, from the valet to the girl at the front desk to a server in the bar, took one look at the camera i had slung around my shoulder and stopped us to say "you know, there's a no-camera policy in here."
after the first warning - to which i offered to check the camera in while we were there - i shifted the strap around so that the offending piece of equipment was practically behind me, out of reach, to show that i was aware of their policy and had no intention of sneaking any photos. but after about three more people made it a point to say something, the teen and i exchanged glances and gave up. not to mention, the hotel is truly a safe haven for folks who have a maniacal need for privacy - the public areas were sparse. there was just a small lounge area, a bar, and a restaurant. with all the couches in the lounge taken, the bar being off-limits, and not wanting to leave the hub to drive in circles for too long, we headed out.
as we resumed our quasi-road trip, the teen and i giggled at the name of this restaurant:
we meandered slowly through hollywood, drove down the streets of beverly hills, past the bel-air gates, and then decided to give ourselves a self-guided motor tour of the UCLA campus.
more aimless driving led us to santa monica, into marina del rey, and then we were at LAX. we found a sidestreet that overlooked the runways and pulled over to stretch our legs and watch the planes taking off and landing. the bean had a great time here, pointing and waving at the departing aircrafts.
since it was dinnertime, i called my mom, who lives a stone's throw away from the airport, but got no answer. oh, well. we headed to the new-ish plaza el segundo in search of something to eat and after being told that there was a 25-minute wait at the counter, opted to give veggie grill a try instead. these are phone pics taken while walking and carrying the bean, so they're super blurry.
holy smokes, this place was pricier than we'd expected. i realize that healthy food comes at a higher price (which is totally why i think there's an obesity problem in our world, but i'm not getting on my soapbox right now), but sheesh. fake meat meals for the four of us, plus drinks, came to just under $50. and the teen had asked for the avocado on her sandwich on the side - and they charged us $1.50? i'd listened to the guy read back our order, which he got right, so it wasn't like he thought we'd asked for an extra side of avocado. but the place was super crowded and none of us felt like getting back in line to argue it, so we just blew it off.
when our food arrived, it looked and smelled pretty promising. and as i took a bite of the bean's "chick'n" nuggets, i found that it was quite tasty and had the taste and texture of her favorite meal, but she turned up her nose and wouldn't eat any more than half of one nugget. boo. i'd chosen the "carne" asada sandwich, and the hub and teen opted for the santa fe "chick'n" sandwich.
i'd had high hopes for this place, because several folks i know love it and totally rave about it. and while it admittedly wasn't nearly as bad as some of the other fake-meat products i've doled out at home, it wasn't great. in fact, it was kinda gross. double boo.
i posted a few tweets about how disappointed we'd been in veggie grill (not to mention the, uh, not-so-pleasant aftereffects we experienced, ew), and was really surprised to receive an e-mail from not just an employee, but the co-founder of the company. he was so apologetic and concerned about our negative review of his restaurant, and i thought it was really awesome to find a company that still gives a shit. i still need to respond to him to let him know how much i appreciated that he'd taken the time to contact me.
it's nice to know that customer service still does exist in this world.