Wash / Van Trip [part 5]

On our last full day on Vancouver Island we began by going to Avatar Grove after breakfast. Before arriving at Avatar Grove, the road turned into mainly big gravel, with lots of potholes. At one point we almost turned around since it didn't seem we were headed the right direction. We eventually found it, which was quite worth it because we got to see Canada's Gnarliest Tree. 

We ate our packed lunch at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. There were a bunch of Steller's jay birds hanging out by us. They were really excited when a couple got done eating so they could go scrounge for crumbs. I think they were waiting for us to leave as well. 

We walked the trail which took us to Botany Bay and Botanical Beach. We saw some tide pools and unfortunately a deceased octopus. 

After a few hours we took a break and headed to the Renfrew Pub for a beer. It was a little soon for supper, so we went and walked a shorter trail to the water for some more spectacular views. 

For supper it was back to Renfrew Pub. Before leaving we walked the docks a bit trying to get a closer view of an otter out in the water. 

On the way home we made a few stops to get a better view of the sunset. Even our little cabin welcomed us home with a beautiful view.

san francisco [day 2]

Day two of our San Francisco trip was the busiest. We started out bright and early [thanks to still being on Central Time] and went to have breakfast at Blue Bottle

We had planned to ice skate that morning but we were too early and it wasn't going to start for another hour. We weren't too bummed though, since this left time to explore and work on our glutes. 

Upon arriving back at the skating rink when it opened, we were still the only ones there. Although it was nice to have the rink to ourselves for a half hour before others arrived AND to be skating outside and not be freezing [as we would have been in WI]. 

After skating it was time for lunch so we headed over to Jaspers Corner Tap. We had already eaten here our first time to the city, but it was close and convenient so we went again to plan out the rest of our day. 

Instead of resting, we decided to go check out Baker Beach. It was quite overcast and there weren't too many people, however, there were dogs. And lots of them. One lady in particular had six dogs with her. I really wanted to take some photos but felt bad so I asked her first. 

Her name was CJ and she runs Gentle Dog. CJ was very nice and at one point I was talking to her and Eric took off without me. He soon found me after he realized I wasn't behind him. I mean it was pretty obvious. If there are animals, I'm hanging out with them. 

That evening, we attended the first Sketchfest show we had tickets for which was Spontaneanation with Paul F Tompkins. This podcast was not quite a year old when we saw it, but Eric and I had both listened to every episode up until this point and it never had disappointed us, so we knew we were in for a good show. 

The show is comprised of a monologue by PFT, an interview with a special guest and then an improve story which includes 3 additional people. We definitely hit the jackpot with the show we saw. If I had been asked the three improvisers I'd want to see - these three would have all made the top of my list. 

The improvisers were Craig Cackowski, Matt Gourley and Janet Varney, while the special guest was Jon Hamm [yeah, I know I probably don't need to link him to anything but hey, I'm trying to be fair to everyone mentioned]. Oh yes! And the improve is all scored on piano by Eban Schletter

If you ever get the chance to see this show live, DO IT. I can't recommend it enough. You can listen to the particular show we saw here and during the few occasions you don't know what's going on, but the audience is laughing uncontrollably? Well, too bad, you should have been there. Also, you should have been there to hear everyone sing "Don't Stop Believing". That's something you won't hear on the recorded show. 

After the show there was a meet and greet. We decided to wait in line and well, meet and greet the performers. I had brought along a picture I wanted signed if there was a chance, so here it was. 

I'm no stranger to autographs. I still have all my autographs I've collected over the years [I'm not sure if it's more embarrassing that I have kept them all or that I knew exactly where they were].

EXAMPLE A - A magician / comedian from some random show my parents made me go to.

EXAMPLE A - A magician / comedian from some random show my parents made me go to.

EXAMPLE B - Elijah Wood, of course. 99% sure this is not authentic, but a copy sent out in bulk to teenage girls who wrote letters to their favorite teen actors.

EXAMPLE B - Elijah Wood, of course. 99% sure this is not authentic, but a copy sent out in bulk to teenage girls who wrote letters to their favorite teen actors.

Although, after standing in line for a while I began to feel silly. I'm already an awkward person meeting people I don't know. And do I really need an autograph? No. But is it neat to meet the people that entertain you during long drives or while you sit for hours editing photos? Yes. 

So, we stayed in line. And I got my picture of Maude [concerned that she couldn't listen to a live Superego steam because of technical difficulties] signed by 1/2 of Superego. [I had the chance to collect the other 1/2 of the group the following night but still felt weird about meeting and greeting, so I refrained. Not sure if that makes this signed photo more or less rare.]

tl;dr Go see Spontaneanation live. Listen to these podcasts: The JV Club, I Was There Too, Pistol Shrimps Radio + Superego. Make up your own mind if getting an autograph is cool or not. 

santa cruz, part 3

On our second full day in Santa Cruz, we left the hotel early in the morning. The last two nights of our trip we stayed at Hotel Paradox. It was not on the beach, but it was a nice hotel none-the-less. The check-in desk was part of a huge redwood and there were nature-esque decor all around, which I'm a big fan of. 

The morning was cloudy and rainy but we were hoping it would clear up by the time we got to our destination to do some sight-seeing. 

Our first stop was at the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It was not raining, so we got to walk around for a bit. The goose below did not like me taking pictures and tried to attack me. 

Because we were still craving tacos, we drove to downtown Palo Alto to go to Tacolicious for lunch. It was still a little early, so we browsed the farmer's market and did some window shopping before making our taco stop. 

The drive to Big Basin Redwoods was beautiful. VERY curvy roads and almost every other vehicle we passed had a Christmas tree they were hauling home. We didn't get to hike that far into the woods since we didn't have much time before we needed to head back. Also - surprise! It started to rain again. 

The only thing I'm bummed I did not see was a banana slug. Maybe next time. 

Before heading to supper, we went to watch the sunset at Steamer Lane. Many others had the same idea and the beach was filled with couples and families trying to soak up the last of the sun before it set. 

Finally it was the night I had been waiting for - the Aimee Mann Christmas show. It was held at the Rio Theater [iPhone pictures below] which was a bit smaller than we had expected. There were a bunch of seats in the middle-front which were reserved but all others were general admission. We decided to sit on the right side, second row. Yes, we were right by the speaker but knew it wasn't going to be deafening. However, we overheard countless people complain before the show about how it was going to be too loud, or they weren't even going to chance it. Wimps! 

Also pre-show, I enjoyed other overheards like:

"I think it's a small band, her husband is here.", referring to Ted [not her husband].

"Who's the opener?" "I don't know but it will be good since she's a music snob."

The show was filled with both comedy and music. The main story was that Santa was murdered backstage and it was Aimee and Ted's job to find the murderer. The opening for the show was an amazing video of "Murder, She Sang". [I just tried to search for the video since I keep hoping it finds its way online. It hasn't but I found the skit from Wits which must have started this idea?]

Along with being excited to see The Both [Aimee and Ted] I was also excited to see comedian Tim Heidecker. I'm pretty sure no one at this theater understood his humor. We, along with maybe one other guy, were the only ones laughing. Santa Cruz - stop being scared of loud music and comedians! 

Anyway, I just want Aimee, Ted and Tim to know - we enjoyed the show! We laughed with you and also at you [well, mainly just Ted in his baby New Year outfit].