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SoCal Standards

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Day 1 

Bolting out of Vegas on a sweltering day via ground travel. We drove a rental last time, which goes by in a flash! We opted for bus travel, aka MEGA BUS. Which is similar to the PNW Bolt Bus company. Pile a ton of sweaty people on a tube seemed like a fun idea... but it was just a sticky ride in our own sweat with little air coming through. HOW GLAMOROUS.  A little dramatic, yes, but really it's a simple and cheaper option if your traveling light. Solution: plug in a podcast and drift away... all of a sudden we're at Union Station in Los Angeles.

LA of course is notorious for the beat-to-death topic of transportation and traffic issues, so: car-less this time, we experimented with the simplicity of the subway system. It stretches from Union Station up to North Hollywood near University of Southern California. For us all we need is something to shuttle us to downtown LA, Hollywood an everywhere in between. Now... introducing my favorite hospitality I've ever experienced... (and we live in Vegas)

The Standard

A modern boutique hotel with design features reminiscent of the Art Deco period. The Standard was once The Standard Oil Company and now historical landmark in "up and coming" DTLA. 

Simple aesthetics in The Standard foyer

This piano along with a string of elevators welcome you at the entrance. On your way to front desk there is a Rudy's Barbershop, the first place I started shearing my long brown hair in Seattle. I did go in for a trim once we settled in. 

The main attraction to this one-of-a-kind hotel is to spend time in it to dream build. Being surrounded by a beautiful building, positive and hospitable people, a social and worldly atmosphere. The roof. Oh god, how I have missed the rooftop balcony amongst skyscrapers; btw DTLA is just a bunch of corporate bank headquarters.... but THAT VIEW...

First drinks at the rooftop of The Standard. Yep, I have a unnecessarily heavy coconut mai tai drink complete with embossed logo. HA!

We dressed up for DTLA dress code to go have a drink in the rotating lounge of the Bonaventure Hotel down the way. Sips: Old Fashioned & Mai Tai

 And since we're on vacation... we ordered the fanciest room service! They even have vegetarian stuff and as Bachelor contestant Corinne would say "cheese pasta."

Day 2

The main attraction for this excursion is that we're seeing... The Muppets LIVE at The Hollywood Bowl. Yes, The Muppets performing live with the Hollywood philharmonic orchestra. Meanwhile... we wake up and find ourselves on the roof. I still can't quit coffee and there is the most adorable coffee alcove (Hermano's) nestled under the staircase in the lobby... I can't even.

Black as midnight on a moonless night.
Amongst a golden 70s 24/7 diner. Complete with hip avocado toast.

We perched on the rooftop alllll day. 

Before we headed down to get ready, margaritas and a sandwich to share from Banh Oui Vietnamese/French fusion pop-up menu at The Standard rooftop.
And off to the subway! By the way, phone GPS lies.. it takes maybe 20 minutes to get to the Hollywood Walk of Fame stop on the subway. Nothing! Compared an hour of commuter traffic.

One of our traditional stops, we wander around the stars, Stu looking for WWE CEO Vince McMahon. Of course we passed many a Scientology book shop, (conspiracy post coming soon), and Jim Henson's studio on our way to Sunset Strip. 

And after eons it felt like... walking in flats... in LA... stupid decision on my part!  "...I cut my foot earlier and my shoe is filling up with blood.." -Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion. 

We arrived at MY favorite place: Toi on Sunset "Rockin' Thai Food." We settled in to some happy hour spring rolls, wontons, noods, cold sake and Chang's. We posted up here for the remainder of the evening until showtime!

So after a few rounds of sake, and added another shirt to my 4 for $10 bad tourist T-shirt collection, we climbed into our Uber, popped an edible each and cruised up to the Bowl. The only other show I've seen here was Weird Al, and there were a few kids, sure; but this night... my god it was like a whole school district and their families. Everyone had a picnic spread and everything! It was a regular minority tailgate for a world famous puppet show!

This was a treat and a memory I will cherish. A little blasted and a little wine kept me warm on this cool night in Hollywood. I have never laughed so hard... Electric Mayhem even did some Bowie covers.

Day 3

It's a day of sport ball. To amp myself up for this all day event of USC football, I HAD to make it to the gym. Luckily, The Standard offered the bare minimum for someone to break a sweat. We showed mom around the hotel, had some breakfast and headed off to the campus to tailgate!

 Before we left Vegas, we placed a bet on the USC Trojans to win with some kind of over. So, with money riding on it, I payed a littttttle more attention. And we WON!

The band rivalry made the energy between USC and Stanford. Being a high school band geek, I can relate; and it's true, the band knows how to party.

Day 4 

Day off. No plans but relaxation. Aside from the Banh Oui pop-up menu, The Standard's own appetizer offerings did not disappoint. After hours of basking, reading, writing and splashing we headed across the street to Public School 213 for happy hour and... maybe some more football.

Yes, Daddy?

And the Cha Cha tradition continues! I love empty bars..

Day 5

Universal Studios

More importantly, a day at Hogsmeade! So with butterbeer in hand, we headed straight off to Ollivander's to pick out a wand. A wand fit for a Ravenclaw graduate; It happens to be the same as Luna "Looney" Lovegood's. So, after a few ciders with a shot of fire whisky, I was feeling the magic coursing through my veins...or liquid hype. We fed Adam an American breakfast (no, British beans on toast) at the Three Broomsticks, more butterbeer before taking on the castle.

Back of the line Muggles!

He went to the dark side.  
About to bewitch some more brews. Make your own butterbeer at home that is almost like the  coveted, magical delicious-ness. 

Patiently waiting for Moe's to open up...

Eventually we ended up in Springfield for one large Duff to carry with us about the expansive Studio City. It was a long day of wandering, riding the rides, getting drenched at Water World, and casting spells. We polished off our vacation with the most relaxing last night ordering room service and vegging out. Thanks to The Standard downtown for having us, we wouldn't stay anywhere else from now on!


Hometown Summertime

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There's nothing quite like it. Coming back to your childhood in one of the more cheery times of year. Summers in my hometown of Langley (Whidbey Island) were spent riding my bike, swimming at the lake or camping on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, in the thick greenery of the Hoh Rainforest.

Day 1)

I just flew in from the desert, so the littlest of forest and city is a shock to me! On this travel day I can say I've been in a car to the airport, the plane, the light rail (our modern Seattle train), a commuter bus (going from downtown Seattle to the ferry boat terminal) yep, I take a ferry to my hometown and back in the car for a brief 10 minutes. Whew, now if that isn't commuter life...

P.S. thanks Alaska Airlines for the free in flight wine. The perfect start going home to my wine maker parents.

Home is surrounded by trees, something is cooking, the door to the deck is ajar... usually a cat milling around. My parents are cat-sitting Trixie "the lap dancer" my Uncle Chester likes to call her heh! She's a curvacious little lover, with some Twiggy doe eyes.

My mom has always been a crafty woman in the kitchen, and she always accomodated my forever evolving eating habits. Dinner comprised of a light vegetarian pasta with a simple olive oil and herb base. My parents recently returned from Paris & Amsterdam... so along with the usual homemade wines, after dinner we indulged in a baguette, herbed brie, walnuts and Asian pear. I have lately been experimenting with being dairy-free... and that went completely out the window obviously. C'est la vie!
Went to bed with the glow of my favorite glittery lava lamp and a little Bukowski.

Day 2)

I'm still an early riser, but mom is up even earlier. Being such an active gym rat now... I have to find activity. So, pulled out one of the many bicycles in the garage to take for a spin into town. It's such a feeling, the speed and the wind makes my eyes water as I ride the short 3-4 miles to Langley. And here is where all your seaside/Rosewood town fantasies come to life...

Low tide overlooking Camano Island
This is where my parents would take me every Saturday, to the bakery for a bear claw.
This is where I would dance in the street at the annual Arts and Crafts festival wth the fellow hippies. This is where I would open my pre-ordered Harry Potter books as they would be released.
This is where I would have one of my first boutique retail jobs.
This is where I would see $5 movies in a single screen movie theater.
This is where our friends group would gather at the coffeehouse, to play music, make coffee and date each other.

Just the small town girl life.

First Street, and the famous Dog House has seen better days

Later that day, we trekked north to the farmland. Greenbank Farm is known for a nostalgic festival that worships the Loganberry, which is this sweeter hybrid of a raspberry/blackberry. Serious berry politics. Mainly the draw here is wine and pie. This tiny cafe gets packed to the gills with Dayle Coopers and his police force all tryin' to snag a pie. And don't even think about coming around Thanksgiving, where like 300+ pies are on preorder and that's not even wholesale. But I digress... my lovely mother works the kitchen and I'm lucky enough to get first pick.

Not the Double RR Diner, but this is also "where pies must go when they die" Whidbey Pies

Dinner was at this roadside shack. Literally, The Shrimp Shack sits just outside of Anacortes (we're on Fidalgo Island, now) proper. Another dietary thing that went out the window, vegetarian-ism. Why do I keep kidding myself?? Um, and did I mention some motha-fucking Manny's beer!? When I'm home.. I'm indulgent...

Day 3)

I love my parent's house. It's nestled in the woods, there is never short supply of great wine and food. Waking up is refreshing. Pour-over coffee and sitting on the porch in the backyard, surrounded by the woods, birds chirping and distant cock-a-doodle doos.

You can always count on finding fun little random knick knacks at the local thrift store. Which there are several here. I spent a whopping $1 on a very necessary tool for success. A little Whidbey magic at work, folks. 
And the beaches... are there some rocky, yet pristine beaches...

    Double Bluff Beach

This will be the first bluff of the two in panoramic view. This beach has some major history dating back to the Ice Age. To this day amateur archeologists and beach combers alike find anything from pretty beach glass to fossils or pieces of mammoth tusks. A little later on in life this beach would be frequented by splashing kids, clammers, and skim boarders. And of course our high school squad partaking in illegal bonfire building, joint passing and boozing. No fires are allowed on the beach, but let's just say there's a sweet spot right around the second bluff that is best kept secret. You'd think we'd have boat cops staked out in the sound...

  Prima Bistro's Tijuana Mule @oldsoulcontessa

Langley will always speak to that temptation of easy-going life. When I see old friends who are in the conception phases of business ownership, or meet new residents that came all the way from NYC or other sprawling cities... it's humbling. My reaction is always: "Damn! How did you choose this town, let alone find it on a map?" One of my lovely high school friends, Francesca is one of those few. She has been all over the world with her South African mother, lived in Austin for a stint. Now, I find her in Langley opening a gallery boutique and slangin' beers down the street from my parents. We enjoyed a charcuterie plate, bone marrow, and several Tijuana Mules at one of my favorite staples, Prima Bistro, which is upstairs of the famous Star Store, where I tried my first jab at fashion retail.

   Fear & Loathing-esque Francesca (above) circa 2006. We shared our first libations together.

Being a twenty-something young adult on Whidbey is like an out-of-body experience. Langley is only in operation until about 10pm and even that's stretching it. It's a simple town of coffee shops, thrift stores, galleries, taprooms, boutiques and the library. So... no nightlife, wait.. yes nightlife, by way of the forest. The enchanted forests... heavily populated with flora and fauna... your in their territory now.

Until next time... Another magical creation by a gifted Langley green thumb.



My City's Filthy / SEATTLE

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 The skyline from GasWorks Park in Lake Union

I haven't written an in depth ode / guide to Seattle since I left. So, I felt a necessary pull to give a "by the district" guide to the Emerald City and its many little microcosms. Here we go... 

A forest of hipsters, anti-social tech crunchers or the legion of boom, it depends on what lens your looking through. Seattle is a watery hustle and bustle of SO. MUCH. right now, (que.. "SO HOT RIGHT NOW"). Which was more or less the reason why I [we] decided to brake away and hit the road.

Hot Tip: Travel in the summer. It's gorgeous. If your going in the fall, like myself, you'll soon find out why everything is lush and green. It will be WET, windy and cold. But, more so, a soggy romance of memories.

Seattle is mobile, walkable and neighborhood exploration is usually a simple bus ride. In college I mooched on a lot of my friends who had cars so, if you want to get somewhere fast, call that Uber that's lurking around the block.


The Worldwide Wakeup Weekend

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I don't know a lot of people that would consider going to a conspiracy lecture as part of their vacation itinerary. But, we did. Here's how it went...

Last time we traversed west, driving seemed fun. Yes & No... Mostly No. There is that option, HOWEVER the quicker and possibly cheaper way is to fly the 40-ish minutes over the barren desert. Depending on your final California destination, here are the airport options:


A Vegas Local's Weekend Getaway

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Walking in LA, Venice & the Great Escape

When it's too hot in the dust bowl of the Vegas valley, the CA coast and LA jungle are calling...

Living on the edge is a perk. We are a minute from state line and can be in another state in merely a few hours, whether it's Arizona or California. So, one long weekend we gave old' blue a rest and rented an average, yet powerful car to take us away.

There's nothing really to do on your way out of the valley besides drive. UNLESS want to take some back roads to the Pioneer Saloon for a pint and some characters.


Downtown Las Vegas; aka Old Vegas

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Coco's Favorites

The Strip is overrated and inundated with very cookie cutter music, shopping and prices. My advice is only go for the pool parties and if clubs are your thing. Head a bit further north to the "Old Vegas" neighborhood where the likes of Dino, Sinatra, and the Mob started their desert playground. 

After some exploration and numerous visits, or romps, my little guide to DTLV is near complete. From a boozy manicures to underground shows, here are a few of MY favorites spots for sips and bites.

Photo: yesmandy_

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