Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tam O'Shanter

I went with two friends to the Tam O'Shanter tonight. YUM, it was a wonderfully tasty return after too many years away. This is the Tam O'Shanter prime rib cut with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato and gravy, and creamed spinach. There was plenty to take home because I started with:

these Devils on Horseback, which are cream cheese filled dates wrapped in bacon. Do I have to elaborate how incredibly decadent they were?! It seems like we also polished off a chocolate lava cake and a sticky toffee pudding, too. Sadly, no photos exist but the taste sensation still lingers.

If your don't know about Tam O'Shanter, it dates back to 1922, and it is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles at the same location and owned by the same family. It is part of the Lawry family dynasty. A Scottish theme is carried out in tartan wall coverings and paintings and menu choices. Who wants to have a food coma with me?!

Click here for Tam O'Shanter's website.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Harvest Moon Festival at USC Pacific Asia Museum

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never been to the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, even though I've lived in the area for 14+ years. Until tonight, that is. I came for the Harvest Moon Festival and was blown away by the celebration in the courtyard.

I thoroughly enjoyed several traditional Chinese dances, sampled moon cakes and tea, and heard musical instruments I'd never experienced before. The children there were making Vietnamese lanterns out of recycled water bottles. Everyone seemed to be having a great time!

The galleries were also open, and I definitely need to plan some time to take a more in-depth look around. I especially liked their hands-on children's space, and I learned quite a bit about trade along the Silk Road. It was my first visit, but definitely not my last!

Click here for their website.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Holbrook, AZ, back to Los Angeles

Yes, Holbrook, AZ, and the wigwams! You may remember my post from five years ago about staying at the wigwam in Rialto, CA. (Click here for post.) Holbrook is pretty much the same super-fun drill, except for the whole Cars movie connection with Mater here.

Two wigwams down, so just one to go. Mammoth Cave, KY, you are on my list!! Seeing those storm clouds coming at me, I decided to hit the road.

My final serving of kitsch on this trip came from Delgadillo's Snow Cap in Seligman, AZ. It is a wacky 1953 burger joint smack-dab on Route 66, with a "sorry, we're open" sign in the window, Christmas decorations year-round, and a cool collection of old cars.

Love the smiley-face potato cake to go with my cheese burger and onion rings! Happy way to end this adventure on return to reality in Los Angeles.

Click here for the Wigwam Motel's website.

Monday, September 14, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Denver to Holbrook, AZ

Today was mostly a driving day. I had reservations in Holbrook, AZ, in the wigwams (!), so I couldn't dilly-dally too much.

However when you see stunning vistas like this one in Pagosa, CO, you take the time to pull off the road. WOW!!

And the adorable little town of Saguache, CO, where I was feeling the BLT vibe as soon as I pulled up.

Delish, and homemade whole grain bread, too! The apple pie I got to-go was out of this world tasty!!

After some shopping at Antiques, Etc. - I bought a vintage sweater guard with matching screw-back earrings, although I really wanted a 3-piece sectional couch - I hit the road for the long drive to Holbrook. You'll have to stick with me to see the wigwams in the daylight!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Competition Day and Rocky Mountain National Park

Competition Day is here! I headed to the fairgrounds early to meet Cameron from Blandford's for some high-altitude tuning. Thank goodness! Then I began the challenge (this applies at any altitude) of "keeping the pipes warm (to keep them in tune)" while not exhausting myself. During this time, another Denver friend - who I haven't seen in 18 years - joined the fun. Now I had two friends to socialize with plus keeping my pipes warm and not exhausting myself.

Here I am chatting with the judge before the first of my two songs. In the end, I did okay. I didn't pass out or embarrass myself, which is still the goal at my stage of competitions.

The 3 Amigas!!

And, I finally earned my Scotch and Irish eggs! Regular readers know about my thing for Scotch eggs (click here for post), but Irish eggs were new. They had mashed potatoes as one of the layers, and were pretty tasty, too!

After hanging out a bit more at the festival, Denver friend #1 needed to head home. She was, afterall, hosting us for dinner later that evening. So, Denver friend #2 and I were off to Rocky Mountain National Park to see some of the sights.

I think were were looking at elk here. Hey, it had been a looooong day, and the elevation was catching up with me again!!

See the elevation? 11,796 feet again, just a bit higher than Boreas Pass. Another dose of Rocky Mountain High!!

Lava Beds and a bit of remaining snow.

Oh, and a happy 100th birthday to RMNP. Beautiful, huh?!

Click here for Rocky Mountain National Park's website.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Day 2 Estes Park Festival

After a late morning of practicing, then yakking and laughing with my friend, we got a late start to the festival. Today was a lot like yesterday, however there were a few things of note.

Piper down! He's still playing while plunked on the ground, and his brother is pounding on the big drum. Kitchen sink piping is what they call it, and this guy won the wacky competition.

And sticky toffey pudding! I'd say it is in the spice cake family, and super-duper delish!

The biggest score was running into my chums from Blandford's out in Rancho Cucamonga (see post) where I got my sassy competition vest and sporran. They offered to help me get tuned up for the competition tomorrow morning. Rock on!!

Click here for Blandford's website for all your piping needs.

Friday, September 11, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Day 1 Estes Park Festival

After some morning practice - and meeting my hotel neighbors who were very pro-pipes - I'm off to the fairgrounds for opening ceremony. Nothing quite like a bunch of kilted men playing bagpipes marching toward you! And can you believe that blue sky and puffy clouds?!

Some of the sights were familiar, like caber-tossing gigantic men, the celtic combo of haggis sided with peat-smoked pork BBQ, and beef bridie (like a meat pie), and the hourly firing of cannons.

This is something I had not seen before: jousting! This was a real competition, not some RenFaire demonstration. First was the light armor where the goal is to touch your opponent's shield at a specific spot. But this is the heavy armor, where the goal is to knock the other guy off the horse! Those of us in the stadium wanted to see an unhorsing, but it wasn't to be. I lucked out and sat by three ladies who knew the sport inside and out. I walked away knowing a lot more about jousting than when I came in.

Later that night, in the same stadium as the jousting, I saw the Tattoo. One of my Denver chums came up to festival to join the fun. She's taking the deep dive into celtic culture and hanging through Sunday. In case you don't know, a Tattoo is a parade of military bands, although this version included a steel drum band, a brass band, and a silent drill team. Oh, and more cannons. Fun, fun!!

Click here for the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival's website.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Como to Estes Park, CO

After another attempt at blowing my pipes at almost 10,000 feet in Como, it was time to head to Estes Park to really acclimate.

I decided to take the scenic 285, as opposed to driving back through Breckenridge and taking the 70. Bonus - the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand was open! (It was buried in snow on my last trip.) Here you see me with my Rocky Dog with grilled onions and bell peppers, and topped with chopped tomatoes. YUM!! While I chowed, several other people stopped by, and I heard the "we ate here before it was in Bailey" stories, which would have been pre-2007. It dates back to 1966, with stops in Denver and Aspen Park, before landing here.

My next stop is Estes Park.

This is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which was Stephen King's inspiration for "The Shining." I have a 4 p.m. tour reservation, and I'm looking forward to getting spooked!

They TOTALLY play it up, including this chocolate bar.

Here's the not-as-scary version of the hedge maze.

The tour was information and fun, and I'm glad I was able to squeeze it in my busy Estes Park visit!

Coney Island Hot Dog Stand does not have a website. Street address is 10 Old Stagecoach Road in Bailey, CO.

Click here for the Stanley's website.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Como, CO

Did I mention that I'm in Colorado for a piping competition at Estes Park in a few days? One of the bonuses of visiting my brother Mark in Como is that he's at 9,796 feet. You may remember my trip to Big Bear last month (click here for post), elevation 6,750, in preparation for Estes Park at 7,500 feet. After huffing and puffing and barely blowing the pipes down, it was time to see the sights.

Como is a Historic District, a former railroad settlement, and the starting point for driving the Boreas Pass to Breckenridge. Railroad service ended here in the late 1930s, and the town slowly faded away. My brother is one of about 20 year-round residents there, and he's a rancher. I was the first bagpiper that a few neighbors had ever experienced in Como!

City folks have Neighborhood Watch signs, and country folks have Ranch Watch signs.

I've seen some of this area before, when it was covered in snow, during my January 2014 visit. (Click here for post.) This time, it was sunny with beautiful blue skies, and the Boreas Pass was open.

The aspens were starting to turn, and the Leaf Lookers weren't clogging the Pass just yet.

Following my brother to the other side of the tracks.

Boreas Pass side of the Continental Divide, at 11,482 feet.

In Breckenridge, we picked up some steaks to grill, hoping that a shot of iron would help me adjust to the thinner air. Tomorrow I head to Estes Park to start getting real.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Moab, UT, to Como, CO

I start day #2 at the Apache Motel in Moab, UT. It's the first of my Native American-themed hotels on this run. The Apache's claim to fame is that John Wayne stayed there many times while he was shooting westerns in the area. There is even a John Wayne Suite, although I did not get to see it. I was in Moab primarily to see Arches National Park. My take on the geological story behind Arches is that the foundation of the structures is salt-based, which can't support the heavy rock structures. Crumbling rocks, wind, and water combine to create some amazing scenery.

Broken Arch is pictured above.

Super-zoomed picture of Delicate Arch.

Windows Arches.

As you can see, some of the Arches you can walk right up to, and others are far away from easy access. But it's good, because far away equals better protection for these awesome natural resources.

After several hours driving around the Park, it was time to head the Mini toward my brother's house in Como, Colorado.

In Grand Junction, CO, I stopped at the Village Inn, a old-school-looking diner. I couldn't decide what I wanted, until I saw that I could get a half Reuben sandwich and a small Southwest salad combo. Yum!!! (I got an apple pie to-go to share with my brother, and I can tell you it was delicious!!)

I made it to Como after dark, and you'll get to read about that adventure in tomorrow's post.

Monday, September 7, 2015

She Had to Leave Los Angeles Roadtrip: Los Angeles to Moab, UT

Yes, I had to leave Los Angeles! I'm heading to Estes Park, Colorado, for a piping competition, and I've planned quite a roadtrip to get back and forth. Thanks for joining the fun!

First stop is Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, CA, about an hour outside of Vegas. One thing I've learned about the Mini is that I need to take stretch/restroom breaks much more frequently than I need to gas up. Alien Fresh Jerky also provided me with a slice of cheeze. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for the opening of their UFO Hotel! Recognize the Bun Boy's thermometer blazing in the background? It is screaming at 93 degrees.

Black Bear Diner in St. George, UT, was my first real stop for food. Can I tell you about the hot, parmesan-cheese scattered, fresh kettle chips? They were so good that I didn't even notice until the last few bites that the Tri Tip Dip sandwich pictured here is not the sandwich that I ordered? Anyway, it was deeelish!!

All along this route there was beautiful scenery that made we want to take another look at my geology textbook.

These two were from the same pull-over spot.

This one was about 30 miles later. Such majesty! After this stop, it was pedal to the metal to get to Moab and the Apache Motel.

Click here for Alien Fresh Jerky's website.

Click here for Black Bear Diner's website.