Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cool It, California

Winters in California are... well, frankly, they're kind of weird. Although my muggy former city, Houston, rarely got into freezing temperatures, the cooler weather of the winter months was usually consistent and chilly. Rarely did I go a winter's day in Houston without wearing a light jacket or coat. California's weather is a little more unpredictable, especially here in the valley. Some days can be as delightful as early summer, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the high 70s; other days can be downright cold, clammy, and foggy. I've used both my air conditioner and my heater during my California winters, and can even recall doing both in one month last winter. All this being said, I was still surprised to see snow on the Grapevine (I-5) last weekend.

Snow in Southern California!

Now, ordinarily I wouldn't have bothered crossing the Grapevine if I was aware that it was snowing on the mountain - but I had a good reason for taking the chance last weekend. My very good friend (EP) was coming to visit all the way from Florida, and I wanted to be at the airport to pick him up when he arrived. Much to my surprise, the other side of the mountain was much warmer... and sunnier! It is soooo Californian of me to be in the snowy mountains at noon only to find myself on a warm, sunny beach by sunset. Sigh. I had a couple of hours to kill before EP arrived, so I decided to spend it toiling around on the Santa Monica Pier. I'm such a sucker for a good sunset :)

Sunset over the Pacific from the end of Route 66

Pacific Park at dusk

After picking up EP from LAX, we headed towards home, stopping for some amazing Chinese food along the way. We didn't do much else, however. We wanted to get to bed - we had big plans for our short weekend together! On Saturday, we headed for the Central Coast Valley. As we winded our way through the vineyards of Paso Robles, EP was amazed at the variation in climate and topography as you cross California. We saw winery after winery, making notes to plan a future getaway to explore them all. I was surprised to hear that EP had never been to the actual Central Coast coastline, so we headed even further west to Cayucos and Morro Bay. 

There is a fabulous vantage point to look at the bay when you make your way on Highway 46 over the mountains. I must have always timed my previous visits during the dry season because I had never seen it as green as we saw it that day! It was one of the most beautiful scenes either of us had ever seen... (click the picture below to see it larger)

Looking over Morro Bay (with Morro Rock in the far distance)

We took our time cruising through Cayucos, stopping to enjoy some delicious brown butter cookies from the Brown Butter Cookie Company. They are seriously to die for! We enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie each while swinging on the beach and enjoying our afternoon. (Thanks for the cookie, EP!) After we were done, EP bought a few more for friends and colleagues back in Florida before we headed south to Morro Bay.

I have been to Morro Bay several times since moving here - I actually manage a couple of properties out here, which is one of the reasons I even knew the little piece of paradise existed. I always discover something different every time I come, and this time was no different. Much to our delight and surprise, we discovered a couple of sea lions playing in the bay that day. They were so cute! EP had never seen them in the wild before, so it was quite a treat. We watched them for several minutes and took some pictures, before deciding to head back home.

Hello, little guy!

As we headed east, the sun slowly started to set over the Pacific behind us. It made such a lovely light on the hills! EP and I decided to take advantage of the lower light, and pulled over for one last photo on the Central Coast. 

EP and I basking in the warmth of a winter sunset

Back home, I took EP to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in town. EP is a Texan, and had really missed Mexican food since living in Florida. We decided to take it a little easier on his last day of visiting. I treated him to a piece of Matterhorn birthday cake (his birthday was the week before), and he treated me to a yummy burrito (which we smothered in a delicious green chile sauce from back home). We watched Pitch Perfect, and I showed him around town. I also made sure he experienced In N Out for the first time - boy, did we do a lot of eating!

While his trip was short, it was so good to see him! We got to share a lot of stories with each other, and finally got to catch up with one another's lives. I look forward to visiting Florida - maybe a birthday trip is in order for me in 2013? Guess time will tell. It's truly wonderful to have friends like EP in my life - a person who knows me outside of "work" me, and loves me anyway. Thanks for visiting, EP!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dark Night for the Dark Knight

When I moved to Southern California last fall, one of the first day trips I made was to Los Angeles to show my brother around. He had never been to California so this was all very new to him. On one of those early visits, I dragged him with me downtown to check out a couple of museums and to ride Angel's Flight. While my brother was not that excited to try the mini railroad, he's a good sport and happily wandered around the area with me while we killed some time. When we arrived at the top of the hill near Grand Ave, we were shocked to find ourselves on a movie set. It was a hot September afternoon, but the set designers had turned Grand into a winter wonderland with snow on the sidewalks and bushes, fake fall leaves on the trees, and a giant tank truck of some sort hanging out in the middle of the Avenue.

We talked to several of the people hanging out around the tank, but no one would confirm what movie it was for. We finally talked to a security guard who gave us the name rumored to be a cover on the internet ("Magnus Rex"), which led us to believe that this must be for the new Batman flick. When we finally saw some Gotham Police Department cars on our way out of downtown, our suspicions were confirmed. It was so cool!

Needless to say, we were pretty stoked after that to finally see the movie. And the movie didn't disappoint - it was a great end to the recent trilogy. As a film fan, the movie itself was great... but as a fashion fan, the costume design was awesome! I was keeping my fingers crossed that the costumes would eventually be on display at the FIDM Museum's Annual Art of Motion Picture Design exhibit the following February. Luckily, I didn't even have to wait that long...

In December, my brother (who normally hates Los Angeles) suddenly asked me if I wanted to go to LA to do some Christmas shopping and to go to check out a Batman exhibit. Apparently, Warner Brother's was hosting a free exhibit of Batman memorabilia in honor of the Dark Knight DVD release. We couldn't find a whole lot of information about the exhibit online, but both of us are big enough nerds that we decided to check it out anyway. Upon arrival, we were told that the exhibit was broken into three main areas - the entry included various art from the DC Dark & Light exhibit, the middle area contained various costumes and props from the Dark Knight trilogy, and the back room included various vehicles and larger props from the Batman TV show and each of the various movies.

O - M - G! I don't think anything could have prepared me for this!

The art from the DC Dark & Light exhibit included a lot of amazing paintings... and a LEGO Catwoman!

The costume hall included many of the most amazing costumes from the trilogy, including...

Ra's al Ghul from Batman Begins!

Heath Ledger's Joker costume from The Dark Knight!


Joker's Calling Card

And the Joker's Thugs' Masks!

We also saw Harvey Dent/Two-Face's Costume!

And The Scarecrow! (This costume was the source of many nightmares for me afterwards)

And let's not forget, the creme de la creme, both of the recent Batman costumes!

There was also a ton of Dark Knight Rises stuff, including....


And Catwoman!

The vehicle/large prop hall included...

The Original Batmobile

The Tumbler

And the Dark Knight Rises Bomb!

This was an AMAZING experience, and I can't believe it was free. While LA can be a pain sometimes (*cough* traffic *cough*), it sure is nice to live so close to a place that has so many awesome opportunities. Unfortunately, the Dark Knight exhibit is now closed (it was only open for two weeks in December), but you can still check out some of the vehicles on both the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and at the Petersen Auto Museum (no word yet if the costumes will also be on display on the Warner Brothers tour or at the FIDM Museum, but I will update this if I find out that they are). I highly recommend checking those out if you ever have the opportunity. 

Have I mentioned how much fun it has been living in California? Ha!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 - RIP

Happy New Year! And good riddance to 2012! 

Ok...So, I'm being a little dramatic when I saw 2012 was awful. There were definitely amazing moments that made it worthwhile. In an attempt to start my year off on a good start, here is a rundown. Now, this list may contain some melancholy moments, but I did my best to outweigh the bad/sad with the good/happy. Life actually works out that way :)


The start of my first full year in California.
 Spent New Year's Day hiking in the bluffs with my dog. 
Saw my first sunset of the year over the ocean in Pismo Beach, CA.


Spent Super Bowl weekend celebrating the 1st birthday of my friend's child in OC.
Went back to Houston for a business trip! 
Got to visit several friends and old colleagues from Houston.
Flew back in First Class!


Had pneumonia and missed the first week and a half of work for the month. :(
Went Whale Watching in Oxnard, CA!


Visited my family back home in New Mexico. 
Raised beautiful roses at my house (I inherited over 30 plants when I bought my house).
Worked Junior League's Charity Bunco Party - raised $12K for a foster care program!
Hiked in the Wind Wolves Preserve.
Lost my grandfather to brain cancer :(


Flew home for a funeral. :(
A  young cousin passed away :( x2
Met Jennifer Love Hewitt at a nail salon in Burbank (no picture though).
My family visited me in California. We went to Morro Bay, Cambria, and Disneyland!

This is my youngest sister and my brother at Disneyland (their first visit!)


Went to the coast twice for work - once to Casmalia/Santa Maria and once to Ventura.
Worked WAY too much overtime


Spent 4th of July weekend hanging out in LA with my dog and friends.
Worked even more overtime :(
Welcomed my very first nephew into the world!
Also welcomed my friend's first daughter to the world!
Went home to New Mexico to visit both friends and family.


Worked WAY too much overtime - again :(
Spent a lovely day in Malibu to get a break for a day - and went to the Sprinkles ATM!
Hung out with a friend in Ventura... at a Green Chile Roast BBQ!!!! So happy!

Can't you just smell the green chile deliciousness? :)


Really worked too much overtime (see my recurring theme for 2012?)
Went to the West Coast Landman's Institute in Dana Point, CA.

My view for three days - totally made up for the overtime the 26 days before!


My mom came to visit by herself! We had soooo much fun!
We visited Sequoia National Park, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara!

We're both windswept, but loved Santa Barbara!

Celebrated my 33rd birthday with my brother.
Spent the weekend before Halloween visiting one of my best friends in Denver, CO.
She treated me to a Denver Broncos football game! And they won!


Spent the majority of the month tied to my desk at work. Hmph. :(
Attended my first Junior League Wine Fest!
Enjoyed a trip home to NM for Thanksgiving!

Who wouldn't want to visit this little face? (My nephew)


Stressed myself out too much over things that don't matter.
Attended a ton of holiday parties. Made new friends!
Went to the Dark Knight exhibit in LA (will blog about that soon!)

Waited too long to do my Christmas shopping.
Went home for Christmas!
Spent the rest of my vacation either at work (yuck) or sick (double yuck).
Closed a HUGE deal at work, thus taking a huge workload off my shoulders for 2013!

All in all, I guess you could say it's been a year. Won't say it's been great, but it's certainly wasn't as bad as I imagined it in my head. For 2013, I will only make one resolution - to put myself (sanity and health wise) first. I can still be compassionate without sacrificing my well-being. I can still be good at my job without killing myself to do so. I have the power to say no sometimes, and I need to start to use it. Cheers to better health, wealth, and joy in the year ahead!

Until next time...

--- Becks