Sunday, January 28, 2007

Diving in Catalina : Day 2

Well, today was much clearer than Saturday! I was so excited to wake up to bright sunshine and it was definitely warmer this day. Ok, so the water wasn't warmer, but at least we had sun to warm up. We started off with another big breakfast and we were a bit tired today from our crazy night the night before... ok, so it wasn't too crazy but I do think I had a little too much wine. It was a beautiful day this day-- the sun was out in full effect and it was going to be so much nicer to get out and warm up than it was yesterday. The dive this day was much more beautiful- it makes such a difference to have the sun peaking through the kelp beds and the visibility always is so much better. Thank goodness our wetsuits dried pretty much all the way so it wasn't too bad getting back in them. The water seemed a tad (just a tad) bit warmer today but I think it just seemed like that because the sun was out, although this time I could feel my feet the entire dive! CP took some great shots this day and my favorite shots are the ones he took 1/2 in the water and 1/2 out of the water. See this one with Nathan about to get in and you can see Casino Point behind him-- very cool. The next one that I love is this of the kelp.. he took it really close up and it looks like it was taken with a black background in the back but these were all taken on the same dive. This would be awesome as a screen saver! Very beautiful.
This next shot was of Emma and I trying to get this sea star that was living in the can out of there! Emma found the can to bring back to the surface but this guy just wouldn't come out... I really hope that one day you guys can experience Catalina Island. I know I've blogged about this a couple of times already, but it really is a beautiful, relaxing place to get away from the hustle and bustle of LA... actually, anywhere. The water here is beautiful, the island itself is gorgeous and the people are very friendly. Check out the cars of Catalina! Mostly everyone here has golf carts- and there are different levels of golf carts (some are really tricked out)- and then there are some cool little cars like the ones in the picture below. I haven't really ventured off Avalon but I hope to camp on the other side of the island next time around. If you ever want to go, let me know and I will take you there in a heartbeat!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad! I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you on your special day and wish I was there to help celebrate with you. Hope Rose gave you the little present from me and hope that you enjoy it! Hopefully, you can double it- or more! It makes me sad that I am so far away from you and mom but I hope that one day we can all be in the same area again. I hope to see you guys around Easter time but until then, I will be sure to call you lots and we will keep blogging to keep in touch. Thank you for being the best dad in the world and for being there for me always. You are with me in my heart wherever I go. I don't know what I would do with you and our wonderful family- you guys mean the most to me. I love you so, so much!
*This picture was taken in the Bahamas during Thanksgiving... titled: Dad and his baby girls.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Diving in Catalina : Day 1

Last weekend, CP, his son Nathan, Emma and I went to Catalina to do some diving! We left on Friday night and headed down to Long Beach to catch the Catalina Express, the boat that takes us over to Catalina Island. We were all so worried about the traffic, especially leaving at 5ish on Friday to catch the last boat out which departed at 7pm. Fortunately, we all made it with no problems (no wrecks on the 405 or the 710) and all made it there at the exact same time, literally parking at the same time. We had to all drive separately but it turned out ok.

We got to the island a little after 8pm and after we checked in to the Hotel Mac Rae (where I usually stay when I go there) we all met back up to go to dinner. There weren't too many places open and still serving but we found a little restaurant on the water, had some wine and some junk food... oh and we can't forget the peanuts. What fun it is to eat the peanuts and throw the shells on the floor... seriously, it was fun. After about 20 takes, CP finally got a pic of Emma throwing the shells over her shoulder! We woke up on Saturday and all met for a hearty breakfast at Sally's. We stuffed ourselves just in time to get our gear and make it out to Casino Point to dive the underwater park. It was a bit overcast this day and cold.. but we were all so excited to get in the water! We went to Scuba Luv to get some gear that we didn't have, our tanks and carts to walk over to Casino Point. The island is so beautiful and its a bit of a hike to get to the point...well, when you are lugging a ton of gear. Thank god for those carts. I don't think we would have made it without it.
We get to the point and even with it being overcast and not to mention JANUARY, there were plenty of divers there- and a few classes going on too. We decided to swim out and around the class so that it wouldn't be so crowded. That first walk down those stairs into the cold water and submerging yourself always shocks your system! It takes about a minute to catch your breath and feel the water rush inside your wetsuit. Even though it was so cold (57 degrees!), I was so happy to be in the ocean. We all re-group, make sure everything is cool and down we go. The kelp forests are just so beautiful. Even though it was overcast, diving through the kelp is just so much fun. There was a lot of sea life and a diver that came out right before we went in saw a seal playing in the area we were headed. Well, we didn't find the seal but CP did point out an octopus that was hiding in a hole, we saw some flounder and some other cool fish that I don't know the names of. And of course, the girbaldi fish (the bright orange ones!) that are so playful and fun to watch.
After the dive, we tried to get out of our wetsuits as fast as possible, get dry and warm up. We broke down our gear and headed back to the dive shop to drop off our empty tanks. It was nearly 2pm at this time and we were all starving! We found a place right next to the dive shop and had some killer quesadillas... that hit the spot. We then decided we were going to hike around the island and got a map from Leslie at the museum to find out the route we should go. It was fun tooling around the island... we hiked for a couple of hours at least. We made it all the way up to the Church up in the hills. We had fun entertaining ourselves along the way and we have come to the conclusion that the island is haunted and that King Kong lives somewhere there- we saw all the signs. Ok, so Nathan came up with this but it was so believable. Did I mention that Nathan is going to acting school? Well, after hearing his crazy, made-up story..... I have a feeling he should be a screen writer! After the hike, we went and washed up and headed down to a nice restaurant for some awesome seafood! We brought some board games with us and decided that we were just going to take over some place and play games, eat and drink until they kicked us out. And that's exactly what we did. Emma taught us how to play cribbage first in the room before we left for dinner, you know- our pre-party, and then I brought mah jongg and we spread out the tiles on the table and played all night! I taught the white people how to play and they picked it up very quickly... my mom would have been proud. They also had "beginners luck" because CP won the first hand... I think. Actually, he was winning all night long- thanks to me since I was just feeding him winning cards for some reason. It was so much fun playing mah jongg and we didn't want to stop- but had to because they were closing down. Oh well, good times.

Monday, January 22, 2007

CP comes to visit!

Last Sunday, my friend CP came to visit me here in LA! Ok, so he wasn't just here to visit me- he was doing some tests for Scuba Labs up in Ventura and also his son goes to USC here! He stayed with me for the week and we had the best time... the last time we saw each other was when we were in the Galapagos together last summer- but it seems like years ago when we took that trip. I guess so much has happened since then.

It was so much fun having him as my guest and showing him at least what I know of LA. The day he arrived we decided to go check out the Santa Monica Pier and when we got there, we stumbled upon a memorial for all the soldiers that died in Iraq and they put crosses all along the sand, in perfect lines, to represent each one. It was really moving and something just comes over you as you look out on the crosses stuck in the sand from the water to the strand. Some crosses had pictures of soldiers next to it and bunches of flowers in memory of. It was right around sunset when we walked up and it was a perfect sunset. We also rode bikes together throughout Venice Beach and rode down to Santa Monica and ate lunch on the beach as well. It was such a fun day and we even went for a nice run on the beach (literally.. it was brutal!) and of course, the day this day was perfect- which I can't say about all his days here. It just so happened that part of the time he was here, it was so cold here we broke all kinds of records and it even snowed up in Malibu which is the first time it has snowed there in 40 years! But a little snow didn't get us down and later in the week- the sun came out and made it up to us. I must say we had some very nice days on the beach. He also got to see Ron one night when we went to this incredible Thai restaurant called Natalee Thai- there are a few locations here in Los Angeles but its the best .. and reasonably priced! Well, the weather cooperated the second half of the week and the day he left- the weather was perfect. I know, just in time for him to go. I do want to say that the time I most enjoyed together was when we played guitar for each other one night- well, lots of nights. I would play a song and CP would play a song- it was sooo much fun and CP is really great on the guitar! I need to keep practicing and getting my bar chords down! There were so many great times with CP, too many to blog, but I will have to post about my past weekend... and that is to come soon!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Congratulations Dave and Michelle!

Earlier this week, I was in Vegas for some meetings and a client of mine, Tim was there and it just so happened we were both there to witness something very special! My boss David and his wife Michelle renewed their vows at the Graceland Chapel by you guessed it.... Elvis himself!!!! He walked her down the isle and also married the two of them. We got a sneak peak at the "authentic" marriage licensce but we missed out on seeing the pictures from the ceremony and the video (which I still want to get my hands on!). So instead of going to the actual ceremony, we got the next best thing- the reception! Ok, so it wasn't a real reception- but Tim and I met them at a steak house inside the MGM Grand where they were staying for a glass of wine to toast to the happy couple! Here is a picture of the happy couple! I wish them all the best!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Geisha House in Hollywood

If you have never been to the Geisha House in Los Angeles, you must check it out! In honor of some guests that were in town, we decided to go out in "Hollywood" and heard that the Geisha House was the place to go. We rounded up a group of people and hit the scene. I have to say it was your typical scene, where everyone was beautiful and the place packed them in like you wouldn't believe. The wait staff were all either actors or models and they were absolutely stunning. This waitress reminded me of Britney Spears.. she was nice and oh did the boys think she was REALLY nice. The place was all red and posh with a DJ spinning on the top floor and people rushing all around like crazy. And as for the food (isn't that the reason people come here?), the sushi was really delicious and my favorite is a cross between the Geisha Lips and the Fiery'll have to order it and check it out to see what I mean.

Here are some pics from that night. It had been since Christmas since I'd seen Ron and Emma together so it was nice to have them out and spend the little time I did with them.. as it is with Eric, their next door neighbor that has become a good friend of mine these last few months. It was a really nice night...rounds of drinks, sake flowing, great sushi and good company. I'm sure that we will have many more nights at the Geisha House.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my beloved mother's birthday and I am sad that I am not with her to celebrate her day. I just wanted to post something as a tribute to her to let her know that I am thinking of her (like always) and that I miss her so much! Thank god that Rose and Roger are there with her to help make her day as special as possible, but we all know it couldn't be that special since I'm not there! Just kidding.

Mom, hope they treat you to a nice day today and I love you and miss you so much!

Geaux Saints!

I had to share with you a poem that an old friend of mine Todd Graffagnini ("Graff" to most) sent to my girl Molly Mazzolini ("Mazz" to most) that I loved and had to post. We are proud of our Saints and I've got my gris gris in full effect and will be doing my voodoo dance until they make it to the Superbowl! Cross your fingers and oh... order those Black and Gold king cakes that are so popular these days!

Our Saints, Our City, Our Soul
Out of the fire
And up from the flood
A great team is born
Made of guts, steel and blood

Their history a low one
No one can deny
Their new rise a slow one
But oh now so high

This team I speak of
Is of Black and Gold
And travels the gridiron
So brave and so bold

Their symbol is royalty
We call Fleur de lis
And proud New Orleanians
Watch it with glee

Come Duece and come Reggie
Come Drew and come Joe
Come Marques and Terrance
Now go beat the foe

The course is set plainly
There is clearly a goal
Go show all the world
A storm can’t kill our soul

To the men in black jersey
The tights and the cleats
Know that we love you
In wins and defeats

And to you, Sean Payton
The coach of our dreams
Thank you from all of us
Who give jumps, yells and screams

You have given us purpose
You have given us hope
You have given us will
And a reason to cope

To all the Saints
Who reside in the Dome
Thanks for making our city
A proud place to call

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Griffith Observatory

After a few days of gray, cold weather, we finally got a great day of sunshine, clear skies, although still a bit chilly. I planned a day to go up to the Griffith Obserbatory located in Griffith Park in the hills, next to where Ron lives in Los Feliz. It sits up high in the hills and overlooks all of Los Angeles and you can see the whole city from all angles. It was so clear this day that you could see out to the beaches and up in the mountains. It was so beautiful. The observatory just re-opened after being closed down for a couple of years due to renovations. There are a few places where you can park and take a shuttle and I reserved us a space on the shuttle that left from the Greek theater (an outdoor amphitheater which is great to see live shows) and took you up to the top of the hill where the observatory was. Inside, there is a planetarium which was really neat and had a 40 minute show that you could buy tickets to. There is also a full on space exhibit that teaches you all about the planets and the design is just amazing. There is also an outdoor cafe where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful views. Its free admission to get inside and I recommend everyone going and experiencing this! Here are some pics of Mike and I on one side and my friend Tim and I in front of the Hollywood Sign- these backgrounds look fake! I met Jane, Paul, Jason and their friend Andrew there and I hadn't seen them in so long (they are from New Orleans but have lived in LA for 10 years or so). Here is a picture of Jane and I before going into the show! You might also recognize the photo below... this is the place where Demi did that fight scene in Charlie's Angels which was actually the last movie filmed here after it was closed for renovations. I had to blog this pic! So, if you come to visit me- I will definitely take you up there!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Time with family

Hi everyone! I know its been some time since I've posted but things have been busy since the holidays and getting back into work mode and just being back in LA have taken some time to get adjusted! The other night, we went over to Antoinette and Rex's house and saw Auntie, Ana and her kids Sebastian (the baby not shown), Nikki and Daniel who have grown up so much! Here are some pictures of us that night... Antoinette made us an awesome dinner and it was so good catching up with everyone. I hadn't seen Ana since the Philippines 18 years ago and it was nice to see her again and everyone else too. We don't nearly see each other often enough and since we are all in Los Angeles, I hope that we can keep up dinner at least once a month or maybe every other week. This is our family here and its nice to have them close by! Hopefully there will be more pictures to come!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nate comes to visit!

This past weekend, it was a very nice surprise to see my good friend Nate, who I lived with for a bit in New Orleans post-Katrina (I still owe him huge for that!). We met through a mutual friend who I used to dive with at the Aquarium and have been great friends since... he's practically part of our family! He was out visiting his parents and family for the holiday in San Diego and then spent the New Year here in Los Angeles. It has been over 6 months since I had seen him last but when I saw him, it was just like we saw each other yesterday. Because he grew up in San Diego and went to college in Santa Barbara, Nate was practically a native of LA... although don't let him drive too much because he will go postal on you! It was nice to have him here- it was like old times. One day, we went running on the beach (like we used to at Audubon Park) and you just couldn't beat the weather that day (ok, so you can't beat the weather everyday really).

We spent a couple of days together and it was so great to catch up. One night, we went to get some sushi and then saw some live music and Ron met us over here in Venice Beach.
I also got to meet his friend Miranda who I've heard so much about. I met her briefly one time when she visited New Orleans (she actually went to law school at Tulane) but this was the first time I really got to sit and talk with her. She lives here in Los Angeles and its always great to meet someone new and I hope that we are able to hang out more and become friends. She is hilarious and we had a great time that night. I can't wait until Nate can come out again, although I have a feeling I will see him in New Orleans before I see him here. I'll be there in April for Helen's wedding and I am so excited about seeing everyone! Come back and visit anytime Nate and know that I miss you very much!