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Monday, March 31, 2014

in da (strip) club

so although my road trip and hotel stay was totally a solo outing, i wasn't truly alone in san diego. my friend delovely details was a hot chocolate blogger ambassador like me, so she and her husband were down for the night too. in fact, she's the one who alerted me to the deal for the hotel. it was nice to know that i had friends nearby - on the same floor, even.

dinner was in the heart of the gaslamp district, just a ten-minute walk away. when i suggested this place to DD, she actually thought i was trying to drag her along on a different kind of adventure:

i don't actually know if she was relieved or disappointed to find that it was just a clever name for a steak joint. and not just any old steak house - one with a twist. you order your cut of meat and sides, and then you get to season and cook it yourself on one of several communal grills sprinkled throughout the restaurant. 

the hub despises places like this ("i'm not paying money to have to cook my own food!"), so i have to grab these opportunities whenever i can. 

first course. it was...well, a salad. nothing special. 

then our garlic bread and meat arrived. 

inside, it was a lot noisier and rambunctious than our nice, quiet table out on the patio. there were big screens playing music videos and people just hanging out having a good time. 

at the grill was a full lineup of wet and dry seasonings for the meats. 

i went with this one:

we read the posted instructions and then carefully put the goods on the hot grill. 

back at our table, our sides had arrived. lobster mashed potatoes for mr. DD and me to split:

seafood-less au gratin potatoes for DD:

and then a little green...you know, for color. 

plate o'happiness. 

we stuffed ourselves silly and capped it off with a giant slice of cheesecake. on the way back, we eyed this fun party bike thingy:

with a hilly 9 mile run ahead of us the next morning, we called it a night relatively early. back in my room, i changed into comfy clothes and flipped through the channels to find something fun to watch. 

and before i finally fell asleep, i laid out all of my gear. 

it was kinda cool knowing that i wouldn't have to tiptoe around in the dark as i got ready. not that i didn't miss my family, but i was glad that i wasn't going to risk waking anyone up in the morning. 

of course, i woke up hourly throughout the night, but that's neither here no there. heh. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

going solo

i'd signed up to run the hot chocolate 15K down in san diego months ago. i booked a hotel in the gaslamp district via one of those deal-a-day websites, and i was looking forward to the getaway.

and then the hub ended up booking a business trip that happened to fall on the same weekend. the teen wasn't feeling it and wanted to stay home. then the bean got invited to a birthday party for one of her friends. 

with a non refundable hotel room, a race that covered the distance i needed to run while i train for the hollywood half, and MIL in town and perfectly happy to stay home with the bean, i found myself prepping for a solo road trip. i don't think i've ever done this before, or at least not in over a decade. i was super excited - a full day and night all to myself? um, yes please!

i packed a bag, kissed the bean goodbye, dropped the teen off with her dad for the night, and hopped in the car.

i ended up sitting in a crapload of traffic as i headed down south. but i was in too good of a mood to let that get to me. i cranked up the radio and had a dance party in the car all the way to san diego. i had a blast, and before i knew it i was pulling up to the valet at my hotel.

home sweet home!

the sofia hotel is one of those historic hotels that's been renovated and modernized as best as possible. the rooms are still super tiny - but perfect for little ol' me.

i still needed to hit up the race expo to pick up my bib for the run. i could see on my map that it wasn't far from the hotel at all, but when i asked the front desk nobody seemed to know where the san diego concourse was. i was pretty annoyed at their unwillingness to help me, but thank goodness for the maps app on my phone. and come to find out, it was literally around the corner. how the hotel staff didn't know this, i'll never understand. i'm convinced that they were simply lazy as hell. ugh. 

inside, it was just as i remembered from last year - only with fewer vendors and no free jars biscoff spread.

there was a dance party going on in there, but i rarely dance in public and besides, i'd already had my fill of dancing in the car. 

there was a super long line for chocolate fondue, and they ran out in no time. 

i grabbed a cup of hot chocolate instead, and then i went back to the hotel to relax. 

as much fun as i was having with only myself to answer to for once, i did get hit pretty hard with a dose of "OMG, i miss my family."  

man, i am such a wimp. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

baby love

my dear friend weezermonkey is a mommy!

i was so excited when we were finally able to coordinate schedules so that i could stop in to meet her adorable baby girl. with our friend and OG SFAM trish free to come in on her lunch break, it turned into a really fun GTG. 

watching the monkey in action as she tackles the craziness of new motherhood was sweet and wonderful and awesome. plus, i totally got a kick out of seeing all of the baby paraphernalia around her fabulous home. we talked and laughed and ate lunch while baby monkey slept peacefully, and even got to hang out with mr. monkey for a bit. 

i had to get a shot with the canvas hung on the wall that i'd heard baby monkey was always captivated with:

a little closer - look at how beautiful this little doll is!

oh, how i miss that precious new baby smell. and it seemed like forever ago since the bean (and the teen) was that small. there is nothing like cradling a newborn in your arms, and i had to squelch the urge to just cover her little head with kisses.

i'm just so happy for my friends! they're going to be such awesome parents, and baby monkey is one lucky little girl. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

disney disappointment

disneyland often has fun little bonus perks for their annual passholders. the teen and i try to take advantage of these special events as often as possible, and usually end up having a really great time.

a few weeks ago, they announced that there would be an after-hours party at california adventure for passholders whose passes expired between random dates in march and june. while we didn't qualify for this ourselves, my friend delovely details did - and since she was allowed to invite two extra guests, she offered it to us. the timing was just right, because although it was on a monday night, it happened to fall on the very day that MIL arrived for a visit. 

we waited until the bean was all tucked into bed for the night before hopping in the car for the drive down to anaheim. the moment we made the turn towards the parking structure, though, we knew instantly that this wouldn't necessarily be a walk in the park. considering it was almost 9:00 at night, this was quite the traffic jam just to park the car. 

it only got worse as we approached the gate where we were to check in and receive our wristbands. like, there were so many people standing in line that we couldn't even find the end of it. 

when we finally did figure out where to hop in, it was clear that the cast members were completely unprepared for the pandemonium. they were frantically scrambling to keep people in orderly lines and laying down tape to follow. 

it was particularly annoying to get to this point and watch people in the other line try to merge with ours. i had to direct a couple of people who tried to cut in front of us to the end of the line...way behind us. i'm just glad they didn't, like, beat me up or anything. 

finally, a full hour after we'd pulled into the parking structure, we got here. 

of course, this jerkface managed to cut in front of the people ahead of us. unlike me, they were too polite to say anything. instead, i took a picture of him. made me feel a little better. 

yaaaaaay (it was still st. patrick's day, by the way, hence the hats).

after all that, we were hungry. so we headed into cars land for some grub here:

festive food. 

have you heard about these "social clubs" that have begun gathering at disney parks? we were amused to find one of them in line ahead of us.

okay, you knew i had to. 

it was totally fine, in case you were wondering. a little green food dye never hurt anybody. 

here's the list of the evening's festivities:

after we ate, we decided to get in line for radiator springs racers - which the bean hates. we only had a small window of time left before the park would close, so this would be our one ride for the night. 

the posted wait time was 45 minutes, which wasn't too bad. and we were pleasantly surprised to be at the front of the line in half an hour. 

we plopped into our seats, fastened our seat belts, and pulled up to the launching area where another cast member checked to make sure we were buckled in safely. "enjoy the drive," he said. 

and then we sat and waited. and waited. and waited some more. not a good sign, not at all. when the engine cut out and they made an announcement that said the ride was down but would be restarted as soon as possible, we knew we'd gotten screwed yet again. a couple of minutes later, we were escorted off of the ride. UGH. 

think we were a little irritated?

as we trudged up the stairs towards the exit, we were all handed one of these.

um, what the heck? sure, presenting this ticket would get us right to the front of the line...but it expired in about thirty minutes. and when we pointed that out, we were told "well, you guys are passholders. you can come back tomorrow."

WUT. rude.

the very last thing i wanted to do was head into hollywood land and take a picture with mike wazowski. he's not one of the characters that's usually available, and we had just enough time to catch him. 

or so we thought. despite the fact that the flyer said he'd be there till 12 and it was only 11:30, we weren't allowed to hop in the line. this is the closest I got to him:

i. was. SO. ANNOYED. there was pretty much nothing that evening that went right. i mean, what the hell, disney?? this entire event was completely mismanaged and unorganized and just crappy all the way around. cast members had no idea how to handle the hordes of people that arrived for the party, not even bothering to check for annual passes anymore by the time we were given out wristbands. and then they were completely unhelpful when things went wrong inside the park. 

this only adds to the growing discontent i've noticed when it comes to disney. that first 24-hour party they did was a giant cluster. runDisney isn't much better, with the ever-increasing race entry fees and merchandising issues at the expos. the dumbest thing of all is how high those fees have gotten, but because the races are all selling out in record time, they can justify it. their just-announced avengers-themed race weekend sold out in just a few hours, which is just nuts. 

i know, i'm rambling. my thoughts are all over the place when it comes to disney these days. i just wonder what walt would think of what's become of his company. 

after all, in his own words, "it all started with a mouse." hmmm. 

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...