Oh man, am I beat! I just had a really fun, super busy weekend with some out-of-town visitors, Allison and Alba. Here we are on the tram, waiting for the Studio Tour to start at Universal Studios.
Allison (on the right) is my 10-year-old niece, and Alba is the 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Spain that is staying with Allison and her family. They arrived bright and early, and I picked them up at the airport and we headed straight to Universal Studios.
I like being diligent with photographing and sharing my food when I travel, when making healthy choices can be more difficult, and I treated this weekend similarly, since I knew we’d be out and about, eating at restaurants, and so on. So here’s a record of everything we did and everything I ate.
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We ended up going on pretty much every major ride at Universal, and decided to eat lunch in the Springfield section of the park, since there’s a lot of restaurants with fun references to “The Simpsons.”
We checked out a couple, including Moe’s Tavern…
…but decided on Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta, where I ordered the one thing on the menu that was labeled as ‘a healthy option’: the chicken caesar salad.
I’ve had this exact salad before, at a different restaurant in Springfield, and it’s not great, by any means, but I didn’t want a giant piece of pizza or a big bowl of pasta, so I made the right choice. I also don’t like eating super heavy or unhealthy things at theme parks because it just doesn’t feel good walking around with a brick of bread or grease in my stomach.
We stayed at Universal until they closed that evening, and they headed over to CityWalk, the shopping and dining center next door, and had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. It felt nice to sit down for a while, after being on our feet all day.
We ordered onion rings as an appetizer to share. I ate two, while drawing mazes for Alba and Allison on the back of a kids menu.
For my entree, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, and swapped out fries for broccoli. I didn’t eat the bun. Well, OK, I ate two bites of the top bun. That’s baked beans in the lower cup, and coleslaw in the upper one, and I ate both.
There’s a Menchie’s frozen yogurt place across the way, where Allison got some dessert, and I sampled one flavor. Allison and Alba got to experience a very rare LA phenomenon: rain! It started raining while we were in Hard Rock Cafe, and kept raining until after we went to bed. I always find rain exciting, because it happens so rarely.
We also had a celebrity sighting: Mario Lopez, filming an episode of “Extra” outside the front entrance of Universal Studios. I pointed him out to Alba and Allison, and they couldn’t care less, because neither had any idea who he is. Sigh. (Check out that one time that I ended up in the background on “Extra”!)
It had stopped raining by the morning, and I was happy about that, because I had a whole lot of things planned, most of which were outdoors.
I made sausage and eggs for breakfast, which we ate with English muffins and fruit.
Then we went on a hike to the Hollywood sign! The Hollywood sign is on top of a mountain, and there are a few ways to hike up there, and we did the shortest route, which is a little over two miles from the trailhead on Innsdale Drive, to the summit of Mount Lee.
I wasn’t sure if Allison would be able to make it all the way, but she did it! She held JJ’s leash most of the time, and he helped pull her up the steeper parts. It was cloudy when we started – we could barely see the sign even when we were directly under it – but it cleared up by the time we got to the top, above the sign, and the views were great.
There’s Allison and JJ in front of the ‘W’. (I guess technically they’re behind the ‘W’.)
Our hike lasted about three hours, and we covered 4.45 miles. It might have been Allison’s longest hike to date!
After the hike we stopped by my house, to drop JJ off. Allison and Alba ate some leftovers from the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, while I had a banana and a mini Larabar.
It wasn’t much, but it was already 3pm, and I knew we’d have a big dinner, so that was enough to hold me over.
From there we headed into the heart of Hollywood. We had fun in the courtyard of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where all the celebrity handprints and footprints are.
(I have a cut on my nose, hence the band-aid.)
I learned my hands and feet are about the same size as Ryan Gosling’s, and Allison’s hands are about the same size as Emma Stone’s.
We also looked up and found the Walk of Fame stars for Matt Damon and Will Ferrell, Alba and Allison’s favorite actors, respectively, and did a little souvenir shopping.
From there, it was off to Santa Monica for dinner. Alba had never seen the Pacific Ocean, so I wanted the last stop to be the beach. We missed the sunset by about a half-hour, but we walked to the very end of the Santa Monica Pier and had dinner at Mariasol’s, a Mexican restaurant. We got a corner patio table with views of the beach and the water.
I didn’t realize until I sat down how hungry I was. I was hungry. I ordered the chicken fajitas, which were very good. Fajitas have been my go-to Mexican restaurant choice since I was a kid – it’s so much fun to assemble everything yourself, and it’s a smart choice, health-wise, because you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want.
I made three fajitas with flour tortillas. I didn’t eat most of my rice. I still had leftover grilled veggies, so I ate those with a fork. Allison and Alba shared an order of chicken fajitas, and I ate their leftover veggies as well.
And since these sorts of posts don’t work unless I’m completely honest, I also have to mention that I ate a bunch of chips and salsa while we waited for our food, and a bite of the chocolate cake that Allison ordered for dessert. See? I was hungry!
There’s a small amusement park on the pier, and we considered going on the ferris wheel, but the lines were too long.
So instead we walked down to the beach, and Allison and Alba spent about twenty minutes wading in the water and taking pictures.
We left Santa Monica around 9:30pm, and both girls fell asleep on the drive home. We all crashed pretty quickly when we got back, only to wake up at 5:30am so they could make their early flight back to Colorado.
We did a lot in two days! And it was all very active. The hike itself would have been plenty of exercise for that day, but we also walked another 1.5 miles in Santa Monica, and another 1/2 mile or so in Hollywood. Plus, probably a few miles at Universal Studios the day before. It seems like the girls had a fun time, too!
Keep it up, David!
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