I had tortellini for breakfast Thursday morning, if I recall correctly. (Mmm, garlic-butter sauce tortellini.) level_head had to attend to business for a few hours in the morning, so Lady Anne, oceansedge, frostbyt3, feychildthe and I hung out and talked, mostly on the deck. No hottubbing for us this morning, though. Ocean's Edge is very huggable, so I mooched many hugs off of her. Every time I saw her -- even if I'd just walked out of the room and come back -- I'd go: "Vicki! It's been so long!" *hug* It was very cute. Well, to me, anyway. I apologize to the onlookers for any nausea they may have experienced as a result. ;)
(I think I forgot to mention in my prior recaps that kelloggs2066 is very huggable, too, which I took shameless advantage of. And his lap is just the right height for a pillow on long car rides in the backseat. I took shameless advantage of that, too.)
Shortly after Level Head returned, we set out for the Farmers' Market, which proved to be a sprawling open-air plaza. I didn't actually see any farmers at the market, but I was told they were hiding around somewhere. Frostbyt3 managed not to get run over by a trolley, and then we hopped on for the trolley-tour of the place. Mostly big stores with familiar names, like Victoria's Secret. Chains are everywhere nowadays.
After the tour, we walked over to the food-court-style cluster of eateries. After snagging a table, we split up to get food. I got a falafel wrap at a Mediterannean place. A few minutes later Level Head pointed out a sushi stall to me -- I'm sorry I didn't try that instead, though the falafel wrap was fine. :9 A lot of the stalls didn't sell sodas, surprisingly. There was a one place selling Coke products, and when I finished eating, I went over there to get a Diet Coke.
Well, I intended to get a Diet Coke, anyway. But then I saw that they were a little ice cream place, and that soda floats were on the menu. So I got a Coke float with "Chocolate Junkie" ice cream, served to me by a cute and good-natured young man behind the counter. (How far wrong can you go with a name like "Chocolate Junkie"?) As I walked back to the table, I realized I'd forgotten to ask if anyone else wanted anything. Whoops!
I rectified this promptly upon my return: "Would anyone like something to drink or eat from the ice-cream shop?"
Frostbyt3's eyes fixed upon my Coke float. "What is that?"
"It's a Coke float with Chocolate Junkie ice cream." I waggled it temptingly before him. "Want one?"
"How much was it?"
"$3.50. But for you, it'll be free, 'cause it's my treat."
"I can't argue with that price," he conceded, smiling.
"Anyone else want something?" I asked.
Ocean's Edge pointed at the Feychild, who was wriggling in her seat and raising her hand. "I think you have another taker, here."
"You want the same thing?" I asked. She nodded enthusiastically, and I giggled. "OK, that's two. Any others?"
Lady Anne declined, but Level Head and Ocean's Edge opted for one, as well, even when I said that they didn't all have to get Coke floats. Frostbyt3 and Feychild hopped from their seats to come with me and help me carry them back. I got the same server when I returned to the kiosk, and -- demonstrating my English-major math skills -- asked for "three more, just like this one."
Well, one more trip between table and kiosk, and everyone who wanted one was suitably Coke-floated.
After lunch, we set out for La Brea pits. (Ever since Lady Anne pointed out that "the La Brea tar pits" translates as "the The Tar tar pits", I've been struggling with how to refer to the place.) The grounds included an impressively large and fenced-off lake of tar, complete with statues of stuggling mastodons attempting to get out. We looked at this for a few minutes. "So where are the other tar pits?" I asked.
If I recall correctly, Level Head offered in response that tar pits had erupted and submerged over various different parts of the preserve, over the millenia.
The main attraction was not the tar pit itself, but the museum of what had been dug out of the site. The tar pits are not all that old, in fact -- the skeletons removed from them range in age from 10,000 to 40,000 years. Which is old, sure, but nowhere even close to, say, dinosaur-old.
The skeletons were fascinating. A lot of animals were familiar-looking, but out of proportion with what you'd expect from their modern counterparts. There was an extinct camel that stood seven or eight feet high at the shoulder, and an extinct full-grown antelope of perhaps eighteen inches. The ground sloth skeleton was at least six feet tall with a girth to match -- it reminded me more of a bear than anything else. Almost all of the bones on display were actual fossil bones, not plaster reconstructions. Literally millions of bones have been excavated from the site, representing some 10,000 different individual animals. Most of them dire wolves. One display contained row upon row upon row of dire wolf skulls, in a case perhaps ten feet high and thirty or forty wide. Whoa.
I poked my nose into the atrium, which had lots of plants and a stream running through it. It had almost a jungle-like effect in appearance, but it wasn't readily obvious to me whether the museum was trying to simulate pre-historic conditions or somesuch, or merely offer visitors a nice place to walk around. There was also a giant fishbowl laboratory, where you could see people cleaning bones and categorizing finds and so forth.
But it was getting on towards dinner time. After various folks purchased a few souveneirs, we headed out.
We'd taken separate cars for this expedition. On the way down, the Ocean family rode with Lady Anne, because her car is roomier, and I went with Level Head. On the way to the restaurant, however, Feychild decided to ride with us, which was cool. She entertained us with stories of her grandmother's flock of birds. (If I recall correctly: three parrots, two lovebirds, and two other birds whose species escapes me at the moment. That's a lot of birds!)
Level Head chose a route that took us past a Buddhist temple located near a university. The exterior of the temple showed an awe-inspiring attention to detail: hundreds of tiny, intricately carved statues lining the walls near the roof. O_O
A few mintues after we saw the temple, as we were stopped at a light, a car slammed into us from behind. *WHAM*
After making sure we were all right, Level Head got out of the car to inspect the damage and to speak with the other driver, who apparently had been "a little sleepy". (!) The damage to both vehicles was, happily, minor, and the other driver was fine, too. After they moved the cars out of the intersection to exchange insurance information, I got out to take a look. Level Head had to point the site of impact out to me; there was a small dent in the trunk and the bumper to one side had bent a little bit away from the car, but I couldn't even tell at first glance.
Once that mishap was dealt with, we continued on to the restaurant without further incident. We still made it in advance of our dinner reservations, in fact. We met up with Linda and Eddie, a couple of friends of the Lady and her dragon who had also been invited.
Dinner was at a Japanese steakhouse. I ordered sushi -- I have nothing against Japanese steakhouse cooking, but I really love sushi. I must admit, however, that the performance of the chef at one of those cooking tables is way better than watching sushi rolls being made. So this was the best of both worlds for me: cooking-table performance to watch, and sushi to eat. :9
Linda ordered some sushi, too, but the rest were content to load up on table-cooked foods. Frostbyt3 got an impressive pile of stir-fried noodles with meat and veggies loaded onto his plate; he wound up bringing home more than he was able to eat while at the restaurant. After food: presents!
Linda and Eddie brought the birthday girl a set of perfumes in gorgeous glass bottles, and brandy-filled chocolates in a wooden box. I gave her a picture I'd done for the occassion, and was startled when she recognized instantly the inspiration for my composition: the famous Beauty and the Beast poster, with Lady Anne as Beauty and Level Head as Beast.
But the highlight of the evening was undeniably Level Head's gift to her: a platinum band with five sparkly square-cut diamonds. Lady Anne's whole face lit up when she saw it, and she was giddy with delight as she showed it around. It was a real treat to watch. :)
After dinner, we returned to LochHart, and the rigors of the hot tub. Ah, such a difficult life! :)