Whale Watching At Rainbow Harbor

While in Cali for the ‘Big Miracle press junket, we were offered the chance to go whale watching at Rainbow Harbor.  Some of the writers opted not to join in, but I figured since I’d get a chance to be ON the ocean, I was IN.  Those other gals might’ve made the better choice.  
We woke up to rainy and windy weather.  I thought to myself “no biggie, there’s a cabin, it’ll be LOVELY”.  I’m not familiar with the ways of the water, clearly.  
We ate brunch as our boat, the Christopher (shown below), headed out for the open water.  I made my way to the restroom and then planned to go upstairs to catch the view from above. About the time I was pulling up my jeans, the boat started rocking pretty wildly – or so I thought, not realizing this would be gentle compared to what was coming.  
I made it upstairs just as the captain asked that everyone find somewhere to sit, no matter where you were on the boat.  And so began Satan’s journey to the sea! 

That boat rocked and rolled the entire 2 hours. A few of those dips were so frightening that people were asking if the boat was going to ‘tip’. The guide assured us it was as normal as a little airplane turbulence.  After about an hour, it wasn’t so bad (so I say now), but it was never dead calm.

I’d give a try another chance in calmer weather.  Especially since I SAW a whale and even got 3 pretty good shots with this lens! It was pretty exciting!

I’m grateful that despite the cold and windy and rollercoastery ways of the trip – I did not get sick. A handful of others were tossing their cookies the entire time.  Among them, my partner on the car ride back to the airport.  I still feel terrible that poor Erin had to gather herself and jump on a plane after everything she went through on that crazy boat ride!
When the boat finally got to a point where it was “calm” enough for me to take my camera out without fear of it sailing over the rail, I took a small video.  Check it out here.  One of the guides said the swells were about 5ft. (don’t mind the cheesetastic music, I didn’t add that in!)
Like I said, I’d absolutely give it another go.  The entire crew was fantastic and the views were incredible!

Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills – December Stay

Since I’m heading back to the Four Seasons Hotel in a few days, I figured now was as good a time as any to hurry up and finish this post – almost 2 months after I started it.  Better late than never, right?  I DID already post about the most important part – the Jet Lag Smoothie!
First, I have to say that I’m a no-frills-and-not-fancy-in-any-way kind of person, so when I found out we were staying at the Four Seasons, I was a little overwhelmed.  I had visions of snooty front desk clerks looking down their noses at my $30 suitcase and $10 sunglasses.  Room service delivery men judging me in my $12 flannel pajamas from JCPenney. 
What I expected and what I experienced couldn’t have been more opposite!  
The Four Seasons Bevery Hills treats every single guest like they’re important. From the minute I walked through the door, I was made to feel at home.  No matter how ridiculous my questions might have really been to them, they didn’t show it.  Everyone was friendly and not in that fakey-butt-kissy-friendly sort of way.  It was a genuine “we want you to enjoy every second of your stay here and love this hotel as much as we do!” And you could just feel that the employees ENJOYED their jobs.      
 A few other highlights: 
The WiFi was perfect the entire trip. (this may not seem like an important thing, but it’s nearly #1 on my list for any type of travel) It was fast, and reliable the whole time. 
Even just the basic rooms were spacious and the bed was heavenly.  Basic is sort of a laughable description because there is nothing basic about them!
I could’ve thrown a slumber party in the closet – it was CRAZY huge.
Balcony views were incredible.  If the Santa Ana winds hadn’t been blowing so fierce, I would’ve slept with those balcony doors wide open!
Room service food was AH-MAZING.  And if you were starving and didn’t feel like talking a person (I’m looking at you – my friends who hate the phone), you could order via the iPad on your desk.  No matter what you order, it’ll be great.  The only thing you need to remember is that the ONLY drink you want is a Jet Lag Smoothie. Because I said so.
We ate downstairs at Culina one of the nights and I have been dreaming about the Spaghetti Alla Chitarra ever since.  I didn’t snap any pictures but I’m going to attempt to remember it next time!
 
Photos aren’t the best as I only had my prime lens on and it was difficult to get really good shots without being able to zoom out.  When I get back there next week, I’ll do better.  
You can see the rest of the photos at the “read more” link on the bottom left. 

Daytime view from the balcony.
Stunning night view from the balcony. 
I can’t help it with the food shots. I’m my mother’s daughter sometimes.  I just have to take photos when it looks this good and of course, dessert first.  I actually was so into devouring it that I barely remembered the ice cream was over there to the right.  Melting away. (Slowly since it was on ice)

This was probably one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten in my life!  The sausage was herbed like nothing I’d ever tasted and the tomatoes were to die for. 
Just a random shot in the lobby.  I took this when nobody was looking because I was afraid on that first day to look too touristy.  I won’t be so afraid next week.

Interactive Cafe On Broadway Street

 I came across this cafe when I was wandering near the Third Street Promenade on my first day in Santa Monica. There was a stack of menus outside the door, so I grabbed one for something to look at on my walk back to the hotel.  I knew I’d be up about 2 hours earlier than the rest of the world since my body is set to CST, so I decided that I’d head back over to the Interactive Cafe for breakfast the next morning. 
The food was terrific, inexpensive, fast, and the service was friendly.  I was able to grab some fresh fruit (apples, bananas, etc) and drinks to take back to the hotel with me (saved a fortune in room service and mini-bar costs!). They carried a wide variety of grocery items (including chips and candy and dry goods), prepared sandwiches, bakery goods, cut fruit (pineapple and the like), and more. My recommendation: the strawberry smoothie!
I took my sweet time since it wasn’t busy at all and the Promenade wasn’t opening for a few more hours.  Again, please don’t mind the iPhone shots, but I didn’t want to whip out my full size camera.  

Casa Del Mar Hotel Santa Monica

Last week I was lucky enough to head back to California.  This time around we stayed on the beach at Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. In a nutshell: great location, unfriendly service, spotty WiFi ($12.95/day), and not-so-great and oh-so-expensive food.
 Forgive a few of the shots, they’re from my iPhone.
Upstairs lobby area.
 Upstairs lobby leading to the lounge area and double staircase.
The rooms had beach-themed decor and a homey feeling – complete with books and magazines if you were so inclined.  I was not. 
More photos after the break! 

My particular room had two closets and drawers and storage spaces everywhere.
The bathroom was incredible.  The hydrotherapy tub was my favorite.  So much so that I took 3 baths in about 24 hours.  But I was a good next-door neighbor and left the jets off in the wee hours of the morning. Word to the wise – don’t try to do work while lounging in said tub – things take a soggy turn  when the jets blast up to the next level. 
There was even a ‘toiletries mini-bar’, complete with muscle-soothing bath fizzies for about $10.  And a rubber duckie, of course.  
Bathroom shot #2
I wasn’t so sure about the double window in the bathroom that looked out into the bedroom, but it came in handy when I steamed up the bathroom so much I could barely breathe. 
The bed was perfect – not too firm but not too soft. The pillows were what I imagine marshmallow heaven might be like. Quite nice for curling up in after a hydro bath and watching missed episodes of The Vampire Diaries…..getting work done.
There were three huge sets of double windows along one wall.  They only opened about 6 inches, but enough to let a nice ocean breeze through. 
View from the first set of windows – no zoom. 

Miracles Big And Small

I had a long, mushy post all typed up and at the last minute decided it was just too much and deleted it.

What it boiled down to is that I’m thankful for my jobs. I never, ever take a single day of it for granted.

That said, because of these jobs I’m off to California again. This time I have the amazing opportunity to go whale watching.  It’s crazy to see it typed out much less to think about it actually happening.

I was amazed to see the ocean from the airplane the first time I flew out to L.A., and then the second trip out, I got to see it ‘in person’ and was blown away.  Now, I’ll get to be ON it.

I Want To Toast The New Year With A Jet Lag Smoothie!!!

When I stayed at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills earlier this month, it was an amazing experience.  The highlight of my trip wasn’t getting back to Cali, interviewing Jason Lee, or even staying at the Four Seasons.  It was THIS SMOOTHIE.  Yes, forget the pizza in the corner and focus on the deliciousness that is the Jet Lag Smoothie.  Heaven in a tall glass.  So much so that I ordered it three times during my whirlwind stay.  Sorry Fox.  I know those suckers were $10 each, but I couldn’t help myself. Please forgive me.  Next time I’ll skip the food and just drink these the entire time.  
I’m attempting to recreate it at home just going by the ingredient list from the menu.  
  • non fat yogurt
  • orange blossom honey
  • bee pollen
  • strawberry
  • orange juice
  • bananas
I’ll let you know how it turns out.  It’ll be a whole lot of trial and error where the measurements are concerned.  I just need to get back to Cali and plead with them to sell me a gallon or twelve to bring home.