I’m still playing catch-up. My last post was about a race two weekends ago… and now I’m gonna recap this most recent, jam-packed weekend!
My friend Rob at Bowflex invited me to the set of a new commercial they were shooting in Malibu. Drake was there!
(Not really. Rob used the Drake Shake app to digitally add Drake to this pic of me and Aaron.)
The commercial was for the Bowflex TreadClimber, one of their products that I’ve used while visiting my aunt and uncle. I had no involvement in the commercial whatsoever, except to pester my friends while they were working and take in some gorgeous surroundings. Bowflex was shooting at a ginormous Malibu estate that had guest houses, a pool, a skate park, a bocce ball court, a zipline, a gym and yoga studio, and an outdoor yoga garden (so you switch up where you do your yoga). And those were just the outdoor features… the main house was off-limits!
Good things seem to happen when I go to Malibu. Like that time I met Giada and ended up on her TV show!
In other news, I got in a great workout on the Baxter Stairs in Echo Park. I call them the Apolo Stairs, because Apolo Anton Ohno once filmed a chocolate milk commercial there, and they’re a great place to work out. 231 stairs that lead to an awesome view of the skyline.
I share lots of photos of the Apolo stairs in this post, but trust me – it’s a tough workout, especially when it’s 92 degrees out. I met my friend Madeleine, and she brought free weights, so that made it even tougher.
Madeleine likes to make a pile of rocks at the top to count her climbs. How many rocks did I accumulate?
EIGHT. I did the math for you:
I spent over 80 minutes climbing stairs, and burned over 1,000 calories!
All this was incredible, but this post wouldn’t be complete without photos from my visit to the Antelope Valley Fair & Alfalfa Festival! Antelope Valley is the western-most part of the Mojave Desert, and the fairgrounds are in Lancaster, a city an hour outside Los Angeles. Even though it’s high desert, around 500,000 people live in Antelope Valley (mostly in and around Lancaster and Palmdale, the two major cities), so this was a BIG (af)fair.
I was supposed to meet my friend Judie there, but Judie ended up having to cancel, thanks to one of her horses needing an emergency shoe repair. We had talked about going for a month, and I was excited, so I went anyway.
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a big fair like this – one that had all manner of competitions, contests, and exhibitions. Judie and I wanted to see the llama shows (where llamas are paraded and judged, like a dog show), but it turns out I missed them. I did see llamas in one of the livestock halls.
Judie used to have llamas, so this brought back all sort of memories of going out to visit her herd. There were also cows, goats, pigs and sheep, one of which was very friendly with me:
There were also all sort of things I’ve never seen before, like an alfalfa competition:
(Don’t ask what makes for good alfalfa; I have no idea.)
There was a table-setting competition. This ‘casual campfire’ tablescape was a winner:
Earlier in the week they had done all sorts of baking and cooking competitions, and they displayed the winners for the rest of the fair, on shelves behind chicken wire:
None of it looked appetizing, though – it all looked like it had been left out for days, which was exactly what had happened.
I had high hopes for the farm and garden pavilion, but that was very similar: plates of award-winning produce that were judged days ago, and were now starting to look shriveled and in need of refrigeration.
I saw a pig racing show, and when they asked for a volunteer, I shot up my hand. They chose me for the important task of opening the start gates at the beginning of each race, and it was fun.
These little piglets (about 11 weeks old) flew around the course, racing to get to a food bin.
And now I have a new title I can add to my resume!
I can’t go to a fair and not check out the rides. They had a ton here, split into two sections: kiddie rides at one end of the grounds, and all sorts of grown-up whirl-n-puke rides at the other. I’d go on pretty much any ride, but lines and costs were a factor, so I limited myself to two: the Cliff Hanger, where you lie flat on your stomach and spin and spin and spin…
…and the Galaxy, a roller coaster. I was intrigued by the idea of a roller coaster than could be broken down and put on trucks, so I rode it.
It was a little coaster (maybe five stories tall), but it got some nice speed and drops.
Finally, the food. I had a big salad for lunch before I left, so I wasn’t starving as I wandered. Even so, I decided to eat dinner at the fair. My advice for fairs is strikingly similar to my advice for farmers markets: Do a complete lap before committing to anything.
There are tons of temptations at fairs – more fried-things-on-sticks than I could even count – so I didn’t pull my wallet out at the first booth with a pretty picture or appealing sign. I took in all the offerings, and then decided what I really wanted. I was tempted by the chocolate-dipped cheesecake… until I saw a sign for deep-fried cheesecake… until I saw a sign for something I wanted even more. (More on that in a second.)
My first quest was to find something healthy, which was a challenge. But I found it, at a Mexican stall: shrimp and octopus ceviche!
It had cilantro, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes and onions, and by definition, ceviche is seafood cooked only by the acid in citrus (usually limes), so it’s super low-fat and super high-protein.
I knew I was going to splurge on something, and I decided on this. Take a guess on what it is:
Did you guess?
No, seriously, guess.
Here’s the answer…
…Deep-Fried Bacon-Wrapped Pickles!
I chose it because I realized I was in a savory mood more than a sweet mood (that meant ‘no thank you’ to all cheesecake products), and also because, at the center, there was a vegetable. Healthy! (Not really, but at least some nutritional value.)
Guess what? It sounded better than it tasted. I ate it all, don’t get me wrong, but it was greasy (shocker!), and the batter and bacon kinda fell apart when I took a bite.
I considered leaving the fair with a chocolate-dipped frozen banana, but decided I didn’t want to spent $7 on it. (The ceviche and pickles, combined, cost $17.50. Add that to parking, admission, and rides, and I had already spent $45.50.)
Even though they weren’t the best, I’m glad I chose the pickles, because I normally don’t see them on menus, and I’m sure as hell not going to make them at home. They were a nice treat, but one I planned for and balanced out with the ceviche and probably a couple miles of walking around the grounds (in addition to a workout I had done that morning).
And that’s how you enjoy a fair without feeling guilty!
Keep it up, David!