San Diego Quaren-Queen!

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Me on the bow!

What does a blog that mostly focuses on trip reports and travel do when travel is off-the-table for awhile?  Go dark, in this case!  But I want to continue writing so while COVID-19 is limiting travel, I’ll start writing my deepest, darkest, TMI secrets.  I kid.  There is absolutely no way that’s happening.  I have been reading blogs that are on pretty impressive writing streaks so, no time like the present!

After spending the first part of May in a hotel room in LA, I came back by bus on 13 May. The Mercy pulled in on Friday, 15 May and, overall, it’s great to be back.  It’s an honor to serve and be part of a ship whose mission brings so much hope.  It’s also nice to be back home since the surge/backup capabilities of the Mercy weren’t needed- which is a good thing! I’m glad LA didn’t have an overwhelming situation similar to NYC.

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USNS Mercy, back in San Diego (5/15/20)
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We rule the roost!  Deal with it!

You know who else is happy to be home?  The birds.  That may be an overstatement.  They loved my in-laws house.  They seem to tolerate me.  But at least they were good houseguests (by report) and they certainly don’t seem to have missed any meals.  #quarentine15, but maybe in grams.

Things looked pretty good when I got home.  The houseplants and garden looked good, and I have one baby zucchini, one stunted tomato, and lots of blossoms.  Fingers crossed!  I also fixed the internet, aka, waited for the Spectrum Repairman to fix the internet.  Two-part solution: replace the corroded external connector and, when the connection was still dead, replace the modem.  Success!  The internet is now “blazing fast!”

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So many pieces that look the same. Sand!

I have started many quarantine hobbies.  SMS and I are working on a puzzle.  I cannot think of a more mentally draining endeavor.  I sit down enthusiastically and within 5 minutes, I feel like an eye-strained, pattern-blind monster with no energy.  It’s great!

I also made sourdough bread, which turned out pretty well.  Starter thanks go to my sister- and brother-in-law.  I followed the Tartine recipe, which is insane.  I took it one step at a time.  It made for a delicious loaf of bread.  My tips for next time (oh, yes, there will be a next time) are to use my standmixer at the first combined dough step and, biggest thing, use baking flour, not all-purpose.  I mean, the recipe even said this but I had what I had on-hand.

Finally, I bought knitting kits and started the first one.  Now, I’m the proud maker/owner of a cowl, perfect for the start of Summer!

I have read a lot over the last three months.  I watched Call My Agent/Deux Pour Cent, which is an amazing French show about a Parisian talent agency.  I’m trying to figure out a show that SMS and I would both like, but that’s sometimes tough.  The Great is out.  SMS knew that from the period piece costumes alone.  I’ve heard great things about Ozark but we watched the first episode and he thinks it’s a show I’d quit because of violence/nightmares, a là Breaking Bad.  That could happen.  The search continues.

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This past weekend, we extended our quarantine bubble and had a Medlock Ames wine tasting with my in-laws (4 other people, 6 total).  The takeaway lessons were low since it was easy to talk over a Zoom tasting but everyone thought the wines were great.  We also talked about the book Cork Dork and the utility of the Coravin system.

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Finally, I got some super-cool Facemasks as a frontline worker from Mark’s cousin’s company Goldsheep!  They are great and I’m really appreciative to Keri and her team!

The best 48 hours in LA!

Excuse the blatant SEO attempt but I would love to get more blog followers in 2020.  Why this year and not, say, several years ago when blogs were actually in their heyday?  Eh, who knows?

So, since SMS was already in San Diego and we had the weekend to ourselves, we decided to take a road trip to LA.  We meant to leave around lunch, but tragedy struck…

Edward-bird, the most skittish and food-avoidant of the four paraquitos, bolted for the door as I was leaving for work Friday morning.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye when he had already made it outside.  Although we waited around all day and tried to lure him back, he was nowhere to be found after a brief 10 a.m. sighting by SMS.  I am sad, although his real parents (aka, my Mom and Dad) seem to be handling it well.  Maybe because they told me to let them fly out the door months ago.  But I will not!  At least not all of them.  So, now there are three…

After dusk, we locked up the apartment and headed up to LA.  We stopped for a charge at One Paseo and had dinner at North Italia.  It was delicious and an easy stop, one we hadn’t planned or researched but still ended up with a great dinner.  We arrived in LA, parked in the public parking lot (saving $30/night, yeah!), and walked to the hotel.  We stayed at the Kimpton Everly, where I had booked a last-minute reservation under the military rate.  I was expecting a room over the dumpster but instead, we got a room on the top floor, #16!  The view was spectacular, day and night!

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Amazing room and view on the 16th floor!

After a coffee, we headed out to SQRL, a very cool cafe in Virgil Village, LA.  We ordered coffee, the Big Tot, the ricotta toast rainbow-jam style, and the sexy Saturday biscuit, which, if you ate too many of them, would make your figure decidedly unsexy!  It was delicious and a great, if crowded, place to eat.

After the huge breakfast, we went to Runyon Canyon for a hike.  We were not swarmed by the paparazzi nor did we see a celebrity but we did see beautiful views of LA and the large houses/estates in the surrounding area.

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Ready for our close-up!  See the Hollywood Sign/Smudge between our heads?
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Panorama View!

After Runyon Canyon, we attempted to go to the Getty but the traffic back-up was insane. So, we made a quick change of plans and went to the Huntington Library.  We grabbed a quick lunch at the cafe before wandering around the gardens, which were spectacular. My favorite was definitely the cactus garden, although the entire place was beautifully done.

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Reach for the sky!
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Cactus or kale?
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It looked like a scene from Alice in Wonderland

We also walked through the Japanese garden, which was quite nice and had an interesting bonsai collection.  I don’t usually pay too much attention to bonsai exhibits but this was pretty cool.  I liked the bonsai that looked like little forest groves in miniature.

 

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Hanging out on the hill in the Japanese Garden

We went back to the hotel and went to Cleo for dinner.  A blogger/podcaster I follow recommended it.  It was fine, but I wouldn’t go back.  SMS put it best when he said it felt a little Gaslamp-like (downtown SD)- sort of tourist-trappy and overpriced.

While we were walking back to the hotel, we saw a ton of muscle cars and low-riders cruising and parking on Hollywood Blvd.  It was quite a scene with loud music from most of the cars and lots of spectators.  I feel lucky we walked by!

After a good night’s sleep and a room-service breakfast (such a treat!), we headed out to the Getty.

The Getty is such an architectural delight in addition to great museum.  We stood on several balconies and admired the views.  We also went to the visiting Manet exhibit focussing on his later work, which was excellent.  We also visited some of the permanent collection.

The left photo is of Manet’s “Still Life with Oysters and Champagne,” which matched our festive mood with oysters the night before and the New Year coming up!  I think icon paintings are super cool and “The Coronation of the Virgin” by Gentile da Fabriano was my favorite of the bunch.

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In the Manet exhibit, the side description had the most spirited quote from Manet regarding a gift of mandarin oranges: “Since M. Étienne Barroil is a gentleman he sent me a taste of his sunshine.  When I go out, I fill my pockets with them and given them to the local children…They’d probably prefer money, but I prefer to give them something I enjoy.  The pleasures of this world!  They’re made of things that mean little to some but a lot to others.”