I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas for the UFC, at the Mandalay Bay. I flew out on Thursday night, flew back on Sunday morning, and spent some amazing quality time with a number of great friends in between.
If you have ever been to the fights at either the MGM or the Mandalay, you know the walk out of the arena, back into the casino, is a big pain. A huge amount of people are trying to get through a small space and you are crammed together and bored. As my friend, Tait, and I were inching our way out of the lobby I noticed the Marine Corps booth. I had passed by it a couple times earlier tin the weekend and kept thinking I needed to stop. No, I don’t want to become a Marine, but I did want to do their pull up challenge.
I poked Tait as we watched some poor fellow attempt something that did not in the least bit resemble pull ups. “I need to go over there and do that,” I said. “Will you take pictures?” Of course, Tait was all over it.
I darted over to the table, quickly filled out a “waiver” and went up to the pull up bar. The Marine in charge started explaining to me about doing a flexed arm hang instead of pull ups. I looked at him and said, “Can I kip?” and he said, “Oh, you want to do pullups?” I said yes and he told me to go right ahead. He and another Marine held onto the rack, I flipped off my heels, hopped up on the bar and started doing pull ups. I made it to twelve when the Marine noticed the bolt was coming out of the right arm of the rack. They tried to push it back in with me on it, but it wasn’t working, so I hopped off.
The Marine shook my hand and told me I was awesome. I said I could take any prize I wanted off their table.
Every year my employer, Andy, takes the staff out for some sort of holiday celebration. Two years ago we went out to dinner and the show at the Magic Castle. Last year we went out with a few of our law enforcement students to the shooting range…and shot some guns most people don’t get to shoot! So this year, it was a mystery until the day of the event what we would be doing…
…and we wound up at trapeze school on the Santa Monica Pier! The coaches were very knowledgeable (and also very reassuring!) and we had a great time learning some basic movements and tricks. Personally, I just had a great time swinging on the bar! I think the scariest part for me was climbing up the big ladder. Once I was up there, it was just a lot of fun!
Yesterday morning, Michael and I had the honor of escorting the members of CrossFit Los Angeles who were running the LA Marathon to the start of the race. Because the race started downtown and ended at the Santa Monica Pier, we met them at 5:50am in Santa Monica to pick them up near where they were leaving their cars. We then had a bit of an adventure attempting to drive them to Dodger Stadium for the start of the race. The traffic was backed up for miles on the 110 – people were even getting out of their cars and walking along the sides of the freeway! Luckily Michael is very knowledgeable when it comes to getting around downtown and got us onto the city streets, around the various blockades and nearly to the gate of Dodger Stadium. We saw our gym-mates off and wished them well!
Then it was time for us to enjoy a morning exploring a little of downtown Los Angeles. For living in LA as long as I have (13 years!), there’s a few basic things I’ve never seen….like Pershing Square or Angels Flight. Turns out neither is terribly exciting, but still nice to see in that they are iconic LA. It would be fun to go back down to Pershing Square in the winter when they have the ice rink set up. Angels Flight I always wanted to see, just because of the historic aspect of it — I had no idea they had actually moved it from the original location. We also didn’t actually ride it since we could only think of the old man who died on it a few years ago before they shut it down. I’m sure since it just reopened it’s perfectly safe…but…you know.
Since we were downtown, we also decided to hit up one of the diners we are always hearing about — the Nickel Diner. And, of course, we had every intention of trying out the infamous maple bacon donut while we were there. We ordered the maple bacon donut as an appetizer and split it between us. It was tasty — I mean, how could you not like something fresh and sugary, covered in maple glaze and bacon? And yet, strangely, it wasn’t anything special or mind-blowing.
The decor of the restaurant would make you believe it has been there for decades, when in reality it is relatively new. The service was great and the place was clean and inviting, but the food was nothing terribly special, despite all the attention the restaurant gets for some of the more gimmicky dishes. The portions were very generous and it tasted good, but I wouldn’t drive all the way back down town for any of it.
All in all it was a fun adventurous morning, though. Sometimes, when I’m downtown, and seeing all the cool lofts and how much the area has developed in the last decade, I think it would be fun to live down there…
So, anyone who knows me knows I love cats. I love animals in general, but am particularly partial to cats. I have two of my own – Henry, a Ragdoll, and Casper, a Japanese Bobtail.
This weekend was the annual Santa Monica Cat Show. Yes, they have cat shows and yes, they’re kinda like dog shows! There are judges and all sorts of categories based on breeds. Unlike dogs, they don’t walk around, they’re just taken out of their cages, placed on the judge’s table, examined, and put back in the cage.
In between the judging, the cats all hang out in the general arena area in their cages. Attendants of the event are welcome to go up and down all the aisles checking out all the different breeds. Some owners are more than happy to have you pet and hold their animals, others are adamant you do not touch the cats. There is a lot that goes into the grooming and care of the animals, so it is pretty understandable. While my cats are both purebreds, they would never tolerate sitting still long enough to be groomed like these cats.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and I learned a bunch about some new breeds I was not familiar with. I also did a little early Christmas shopping and picked up a bunch of food samples for my kitties to try out. One of my cats is like a goat and would eat tin cans, the other is incredibly sensitive and barfs up just about everything. The joy of cats.
I also got them a great new bed/carrier called the “Sleepypod“. The top zips off so it can double as a cat bed at home, which is great because then they’re not scared of it when it comes time to visit the vet. What I really love about it, though, is that it can be strapped into the seat with the seatbelt! Puts me much more at ease when transporting my little guys.