Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 398: La Brea Tar Pits, Olivera Street, The Grove & Farmers Market

Near the Tar Pits

Day #396 * Hike #447 * New Track #425Thursday December 15, 2011
Camarillo Springs Indoor Arena

My Tripometer: 1.5 Hours * 1 Mile * +25 Feet


Alyssa had a Viper scrimmage at the "indoor" arena.  Of course, turns out that the small field was outside; and it was freezing, for California...  Alyssa played four games, I think, not sure, cause I went hiking...  Ayden and some other young chaps found a lake beyond the arena.  In the pitch black, we hiked around it.  The small lake goes to the golf course.  Cool find.  Playoffs for the Vipers start in a couple weeks...

 Anacapa Mysterious Sunset

Friday, Day 397 was a duplicate track after work at the Verde.  I took the picture from my house before setting off with Sammi on the familiar 2 to 2.5 mile course.  We had less than an hour before complete darkness.

X-Mas Party; not this year, or maybe...  For seven consecutive years, I have attended my work's X-Mas party.  It really is the one day a year that our owner is gracious, of course only invited employees may attend.  It would be an insult not too, but after spending 10 days away from my kids and having the option of taking them to Alyssa's other soccer team's party, I chose to celebrate with the Eagles.  --Actually, I didn't see much of the kids that night.  This dudes house was tight -- HUGE, awesome lights and good friends like Samuel Adams and Captain Morgan.  --Yea, Good Times!

Day #398 * Hike #449 * New Track #426Saturday December 17, 2011
La Brea Tar Pits
My Tripometer: 1.25 Hours * 1.5 Miles * +25 Feet

 We stopped at Starbucks in Ethiopia along the way

 I filled up in VTA for $3.45.  What's the deal here?!

 The Tar Pits

 The waters were bubbling

There were 4 sectioned off areas

Fun for kids!

...and dragons!

I bet this looks cool at night

This was a neat experience.  But our day was not over yet.  We took the CRV, which does not have GPS so we were phoning my dad in Cleveland who used to live out here, for directions and ideas.  About 25 minutes from the Pits, right around the corner from China Town, our next hike begins:

Day #398 * Hike #450 * New Track #427Saturday December 17, 2011
Olivera Street
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +25 Feet

 El Pueblo Park & Union Station
There were many more homeless sleeping in this park.  Very Crummy!

Welcome to Olivera Street (Little Tijuana)

The taquito stand to the left is a very popular spot.  Since 1934, they've been serving the finest taquitos.  Once guy ordered 50!  --Honestly though, all hype.  The frozen ones that you can make at home are better.  Sorry, just have to be truthful about it but at least I tried it for myself.  Their sauce was ok, but I would have preferred fresh guacamole, lettuce and sour cream.

Entertainment while you eat or barter

Step inside for a chocolate filled churro at Mr. Churro

Authentic Mexican guitar (made in China)
Buying this $10 guitar would begin a chain of events in all of our lives.

Entertainment (for tips)

A school dance.  The guy singing was amazing!.
I couldn't understand him, but I will add his clip to my X-Mas video

Old Fashion area, cool to explore.  Thanks Dad!

Bye-Bye Birdie; but the day was not over yet...

Guitar Center Hollywood (in between hikes)

We have a winner!

We stopped by to pick up some from picks to strum the little guitar.  However, we were trapped in this store for over an hour.  Alyssa began playing an electric guitar and the guy showed her some cords.  As usual, she took to it like it was second nature.  Hmm, wonder what Santa's going to bring this year...

Day #398 * Hike #451 * New Track #428Saturday December 17, 2011
The Grove & Farmers Market
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 2 Miles * +25 Feet

 Sammi's first experience on an escalator

 too bad the ice cream place was closed

My first ever Beignet, it was just ok...

Chasing down the trolly

The line for Santa at The Grove was ridiculous.  So, we ventured around the outdoor mall and toured the Farmers Market.  I remember being here with my dad just over a decade ago.  It was my first ever trip to California.  This is a must do if you are going to visit California

Day #399 * Hike #452 * Duplicate Track from Day 39
Sunday December 18, 2011Christmas Tree Lane
My Tripometer: 1.5 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +25 Feet

It's a yearly tradition.  Walk through the old houses in Oxnard to view the best display in the county.  I hiked here  last year: Day 39 Christmas Tree Lane

I didn't have my camera this year and I just looked back at last year and it was during the time that I was unable to upload photos.  Bummer!  There was a Christmas Story themed display right next to the Church.  It even had Ralphie stuck to a lamp post with his tongue.  Cool display but once again, the kids favorite was the Train Table house.  Dude, next year I'm taking pictures!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Updating, for the record: Domi went to the ER

Day #408 * Hike #??? * New Track #???Tuesday December 27, 2011
(Domino went to the ER) &Arroyo Verde Park with Sammi
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 2.5 Miles * +325 Feet

???: I have been hiking every day so it's easy to know what day # I am on.  However, I'm two weeks behind updating this blog and I have literally hundreds of pictures from a dozen locations to update.  Usually I Blog in order but today was significant because we almost lost Domino.

Last night, we came home from a movie and found Domi in a pool of blood.  She has been on steroids because her back legs are weak and its common for her to walk around in a clumsy manner.  She often drags her butt on the cement which chafes her skin and tail.  Some how she rubbed her tail so raw that she ruptured a vein.  You can imagine the rest.  I was in tears laying beside her.  I thought that this would have to be it.  However, $500+ later and two visits to the ER and Vet, Domi is healing.  She is doped up and her way of life is not so great right now.  At least before she still showed excitement by eating and occasionally she jumped around.  She even did a tug-a-war on Christmas by unwrapping a bone.  Hopefully she will be happy again soon...

Today's hike was pretty much, just get it over with.  I took the same general routine behind the hills with Sammi.  I don't like repeating myself much but I know I have a few hikes to spare to stay on pace.


Day #394 * Hike #445 * New Track #424
Tuesday December 13, 2011
Arroyo Verde Park - Home
My Tripometer: 1 Hours * 2.5 Miles * +325 Feet

The longest day of my life continued.  It began with breakfast at Dunkin Donuts 2 days ago, waited in the Auckland Terminal for several hours because our flight was delayed, flew to Fiji, waited 7 hours in their terminal, flew nearly 10 hours to LAX, drove home to Ventura, greeted the kids, emptied our suit cases and handed out the souvenirs and then finally took Sammi to the hills for some much needed exercise.  By the time I got back home from the run, the time on the clock was pretty much the same as it was when we arrived in Fiji, earlier that same day.  We were up for about 48 hours straight, went to bed around midnight and then I was promptly back at work the next day. 

**Double Rewind:

Day #384 * Hike #420 * New Track #400Saturday December 3, 2011
Sky High Sports & Arnell Ranch Park - Camarillo
My Tripometer: 4 Hours * 1.5 Miles (not including Dodge ball) * +25 Feet

This was the day of our trip to New Zealand.  We spent the late morning with our kids in Camarillo at Sky High Sports and Arnele Ranch Park.  My hike for the day only includes the 45 minutes spent at the park.  This was a cool new location that we just happened to come across.  If I recall correctly, you take Arneal to some street that starts with a "D" and then turn left on Sweetwater.  Parking is on the left.  Here you will find a quaint park with a cement running oval and jungles gyms for the kids.  I figured that we were going to be stuck on the airline for basically 2 days so I jogged to keep the legs loose.

We then went over to Sky High Sports where I only expected to sit and watch the kids play.  If you haven't heard or been to this place, it is a must for kids.  I find myself battling in the Dodge ball arena.  It was intense jumping around and getting knocked in the head with a ball by a 10-year-old.  This was a great way to say goodbye to our children before leaving them for 10 days...

Day #385 * Hike #421 * New Track #401Sunday December 4, 2011
Fiji Airport
My Tripometer: 3.5 Hours * 2 Miles * +25 Feet

It's a stretch calling this a hike.  I figured my definition of a hike to qualify for a new track is at least one mile outdoors in a new location.  Our stay in Fiji was limited to the terminal only.  As we walked off the airplane, you are technically walking outside, for a short bit.  It smelt like a tropical fish tank.  The humidity was turned up!  The terminal is rather small, so no crazy adventures like Tom Hanks in that movie Terminal.  We scoured the entire place at least three times in search for an internet signal and souvenirs.  Come to find out that you do in fact have to pay to use Wifi there, so as cheap as I am, I just decided to keep walking circles.  We completely exhausted this fish tank and were dreading the flight home where the layover would be twice as long...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 393: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Otorohanga, Kihikihi, Te Awamulu and back to Auckland

Pic taken along the rotary walk in Otorohanga
Day #393 * Hike #440 * New Track #420
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Otorohanga Kiwi House & Rotary Park - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 1.25 Miles * +50 Feet

Monday morning back on the road.  Destination, the Waitomo Caves.  Along the way we passed the town of Otorohanga.  Of course, we saw another brown sign so we were drawn in:
Our third encounter of a Kiwi zoo like park

Once again, a small dinky park which reminded me of the aviary in Santa Paula.  Hmm, wonder if that place is still up and running or if all the birds have finally been sold???  To keep the tradition, we did not pay to see the kiwi.  However, we walked across the road and discovered a hiking trail which becomes new track #420, hike #440, since starting this crazy adventure.


only about 3 miles of hiking back here

Free bird aviary at trailhead

Pond with lilly pads; didn't see any frogs

The sky had been overcast and finally along our hike it broke open.  We trotted back to the car to cut this adventure short. 

Day #393 * Hike #441 * New Track #421
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Waitomo Caves (Glowworms) and Hiking Trail - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +50 Feet

The Club; Car I parked next to - (Haven't seen one of those in years)

Entrance to the Waitomo Caves

Only point along the tour that we could take photos

The snow like effect is from the rain drops

Oh, this was also the end of our tour :(

Thirsty anyone?  Pay Up!

Actually, the price for a 20 ounce Coke in New Zealand averages between $3.50 to $4.00 a bottle!  Are you kidding me!!!  The Kiwis refer to Pepsi as the generick version of coke so their fizzy is only $2.50.  Fizzy- the term used for Soda, or in Ohio, Pop.  New Zealanders have a very limited section of Fizzy.  They do not carry Rootbeer, instead, Ginger Beer.  They are quite fond of giner appearantly.  Also, they have never heard of Dr. Pepper.  One lady asked what was in it.  Ha, told her 23 mysterious flavors.  I don't think she believed me.


The Caves

These pictures were taken off the sign at the entrance to the caves.  The glowworm tour was sort of a gimmick but we did see many glowworms.  It was sort of cool, unique for sure.  There are many other options down here including black water rafting and abseiling to the bottom of the caves.  There are also several other longer and deeper cave tours.  The glowworm tour only takes you down 30 feet or so.  Our tour guide did mention that there are over 300 caves in the area.  Hmm, I suspect that the locals know of some hiking places that have not been sectioned off for financial gain.
Hiking Tracks outside the caves.

The rain continued but after driving an hour to reach the caves...

Not much of a hike...

Day #393 * Hike #442 * New Track #422
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Otorohanga, Kihikihi, Te Awamulu & Huntly - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 5 Hours * 3.25 Miles * +25 Feet

Streets of Otorohanga

We were in search for some good food after a mediocre day, so far.  We walked in and out of many, dumps!  We also did some shopping at the local consignment stores.  I made one lucky find here; a travel size chess set with two books.  They were asking five and I jewed them down to $4.00.  The books were basic and worthless.  I wrote a novel many years ago and my novel would definitely help the novice chess play moreover than these ancient findings.  The deal was still worth it though for the travel size set that I utilized during our 7 hour layover in Fiji.   

Ate Lunch in Kihikihi

We believe that the owner of this establishment is the son of another hamburger joint in Otorohanga.  Jess refused to eat there, but I ordered a burger.  Um, don't think this was meat from a cow?  Good Food; Not!  After I ordered, we walked into the book store next door.  The lady said that she has never eaten there; the food never appealed to her.  --Hey, it filled my belly and I didn't get sick so, it's all good.

Town of Te Awamulu


Much larger town than the others.  We walked the streets, bought souvenigers and snacked on some desserts.  The drive back from here to Auckland seemed especially long.  The rain probably didn't help, nor did turning the wrong way for 10 miles.  If we had just done some wine tasting then heck, no big deal.  Probably would have turned out to be the best 10 minute ride of my life...  We insterected the town of Huntly and walked along the wide riverbed.  I took photos but they were just blah...

Day #393 * Hike #443 * New Track #423
Monday December 12, 2011 (New Zealand)
Auckland, at Night - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 4 Hours * 2.25 Miles * +150 Feet
Crown Plaza Hotel TV welcomed me personally :)

Walking the otherside of downtown Auckland that we had not hit yet

Decent Beer, John's was better

Walked around aimlessly in search for something Jessi would eat

A Chess Game

The Clock Tower?

The Stratosphere, I mean, Sky Tower at night!

When in doubt, eat at the Mexican Restaraunt

Here's a business opportunity for you Southern Californians.  Mexican food is available at just about every shopping center and hole in the wall out here.  Well, in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, there is only one that we found.  It's tucked away and upstairs.  To our surprise, when we got up there, the place was packed; and it was Monday!!!  The food here was not that good, not authentic at all.  The Chinese owned and operated it.  In fact, nearly half the downtown shops were owned by Asian, not that I have a problem with that, but I have a problem with them serving Mexican food...

Sky Town from our Hotel Room

Day #394 * Hike #444 * New Track #424
Tuesday December 13, 2011 (New Zealand)
New Market and Auckland Airport - New Zealand
My Tripometer: 2 Hours * 1.25 Miles * +25 Feet

This would begin the longest day of my life.  We awoke early to ensure to not miss our flight.  Also, breakfast is the most important meal of the deal and there was one section of town that some Kiwi's told us about that we hadn't checked out yet; New Market. 

We drove and parked at the parking garage in the New Market district.  It looked like a dump.  There was a large "Westfield" sign on the building.  Great, another mall!  There was a Westfield mall downtown Auckland and many Westfield Malls in the LA area.  I think somebody needs to start an Occupy Westfield movement.

After an hour of pacing around, we decided not to eat breakfast here.  We raced back by the airport and ate at Dunkin Donuts.  Hey, what are you going to do.  The other choice near the airport was McDonalds.  Outside our hotel room was a Dennys.  Just no escaping these Great Americans companies...


UP UP and Away...
A small island of Fiji
These are bonus pictures, not a hike...


And this concludes our New Zealand vacation.

How's That?!  ~The phrase used by Kiwis when the ball in a cricket game hits the batter, but only if the ball had the trajectory to hit the stick.  If the ref doesn't call interferance, the opposing team chants out, "How's That?!".  I suppose this is the equivelant of a ref in NFL football blowing a call and the fans shout out, "Bull Shit".  The only difference is, in Cricket, the ref could change the call if he feels the ball would have hit the stick.

I've taken away many decent mannerisms from New Zealand.  Nine days was enough time to feel the experience and refresh myself but to explore the entire nation, we would have needed months.  I hope to revisit and conquer the more fabulous South Island next.  Down there you will see snow cap mountains year round, glaciers, waterfalls and who knows???

**I did want to make one correction.  In a previous post, I mentioned that the Marlborough wine country was nearby Wellington.  Although this statement would be true in comparisson to Auckland, Wellington is still on the North Island whereas Marlborough is on the South.  Marlborough is actually closest to Christchurch; the place where are the recent earthquakes in New Zealand have been epicentered.

My hikes in New Zealand are complete, but I have continued hiking every day in Cali since my return.  I will get to those next...



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