Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weekend excursions (экскурсия выходного дня)

For our weekend excursions: Because I took many pictures on our weekend excursions, I have included them in separate posts and linked to them like I did the major storm.

Daria and I have gone hiking some of our weekends. A few weeks ago we went close to home to a place called Paramount Ranch (sorry, this is only in English) where they film many movies and TV shows, especially for the Old Westerns, but sometimes for other genres. We walked from our house with Karma and then went into the Ranch and walked around through the mountains. Saturday, April 5 we went to Malibu and then went hiking up in the mountains there, without Karma. 

February 15 we went to the Queen Mary Ship in Long Beach to see the Scottish Highland Games. Like many of the faires and games that happen here in the US it’s a fun way to experience cultures (often historical, but not always). Most people have Scottish ancestors (like me), but not all (like Daria – but other people without connections go too). You drink cultural drinks (British Beer at this one), eat cultural foods (Scottish Pies), and you can buy cultural items (kilts, Scottish knives, or even just scarves and hats of that different Scottish Tartans). You see different games (like the Caber Toss) and dances, and because of Scotland, the Bagpipes. We used to go to a Russian Fair in San Francisco when we lived there. 

March 15 Daria and I went to Las Vegas to see the band Tool and just enjoy a little bit of the city (although I really don’t like Vegas – I really went to see the band – I love them). We returned on the 16th (one day trip – long drive just for a concert, but it was worth it – that is “I felt justified in doing it) to see PaleyFest for the TV show “Lost.” We got to meet some of the cast (well we saw them from up in the seats we didn’t meet them in person) and people got to ask questions. Unfortunately I left the camera in the car and so we did not get pictures of this. However, that Friday the 21st we went to the PaleyFest for “Mad Men” and for that we did take pictures. On Saturday the 22nd we went with my parents to go whale watching. My mom has always wanted to see whales and so Daria and I hoped that we would provide that for my mom. Sadly we only saw dolphins (which is cool, but mom has seen them before). They saw 12 whales on Friday when we couldn’t go, and a few in the morning, but our boat did not. They think that it was too windy and so it make have been too difficult to see when the whales came up. Usually one looks for the hump of the back rising out of the water or for the spout of water from the blowhole. Then they drive the boat toward the whale when seen from a distance. The wind caused waves so we couldn’t see the whale’s backs and it may have blown the spout over if any had shot water. I was sad for my mom :(

Hiking photos.

Queen Mary/Scottish Festival photos.

Vegas/Tool photos.

PaleyFest/Whale Watching photos.

тоже, ето уже лето. ои, сегодня был +33

PaleyFest and Whale Watching

So the top pictures are from PaleyFest from Mad Men. I do not have pictures of when we saw Lost, but it was quite similar. It was held in the Dolby Theater, the place of the Academy Awards/Oscars - so maybe I sat where Brad Pitt sat - hahahaha, no he would have sat down below, but same theater.

They started by showing an old episode. For Lost it was from the 2nd season. This was the last episode of last season from Mad Men because the final season starts this April.

The interviewer and Jon Hamm. They're all small on stage, but the screen helps us see :)

The rest of the cast. We had Jon Hamm, Vincent Kartheiser, Elizabeth Moss (left), Christina Hendricks (green), Robert Morse (blue shirt white hair), Jessica Pare (blue dress), and Kiernan Shipka. 

The whole cast together.

Elizabeth Moss.

Afterward the people who sat down below were able to get autographs. We were too high up (we call it the nosebleeds or the cheapseats) so we only got photographs.

Outside the Dolby Theater there is a crazy mall. Just some images of Hollywood for you.

From the mall.

On top of the mall looking from Hollywood toward downtown Los Angeles.

And looking below us where they had the premiere for the Muppets Movie (across the street) and the famous Roosevelt Hotel. Also below on the street is the Hollywood Stars walkway and the theater where celebrities leave handprints and shoeprints in the sidewalk for later people to visit.

Starting the boat trip to see whales.

A mural to describe Balboa Village, a beach community belonging to the very wealthy Newport Beach. Fun little place, but too expensive for me to live (or even really visit to be honest).

Walking along the boardwalk there are lots of small shops and an arcade.

A view from the boardwalk to some very rich people's homes. Probably more celebrities. I think almost everyone there has their own yacht. Oi the opulence (I hope you remember that word from the "macabre" lesson, even though it means "rich" and is not about "death").

Yup, all the yachts.

And my mom, dad, and Daria.

A very expensive home and some more yachts. Don't worry, I do not live here. I will never have enough money to live here.

Ahh, now we're getting to beautiful scenery. I love the rocky shores (different than the rocky shores of Scandinavia for those who remember my posts from last year when we went to Stockholm), but I still love them.

And we have some sealife. These are sea lions sitting on a buoy. 

So I wasn't able to get any pictures of the dolphins, but I'm hoping you can see them well enough in these videos. No still photograph, only the videos.

Some beautiful cliffs. Not like Dover, England, but beautiful.

And I will close with someone's very expensive house. I don't know who it is, but that is one person's house, not a hotel. It might look nice, but I still prefer a small little dacha outside of St. Petersburg to that. I like small and quaint things.

Vegas/Tool Concert

Las Vegas is also known as "Disneyland for Adults." You can walk around the streets with open alcohol (you cannot do it in other places in the US), and everyone is relaxed, drunk (or halfway), and usually "having a good time" until they take a look at their money (which in 1 day might be $3000 less than when they started). But it's ok because it meant we paid very little taxes in the state of Nevada when I was growing up there (I lived as far from Vegas as Moscow is from St. Petersburg but it's still one state).
A view of the MGM Grand and a little New York, New York from our hotel room (we did not stay in the large casinos). And a billboard of a bikini contest because nothing says, "Las Vegas" like naked girls.

Another view of the MGM Grand and NY, NY as we started walking to the concert.

A view of different casinos (Luxor is the pyramid) through some palm trees.

Inside the MGM Grand is their golden lion (famous icon) covered by a basketball hoop because March in the US is March Madness (college basketball tournament).

A view of the Strip from an aboveground cross walk.

A view from the other side. Some people are riding an open top bus as they tour the city.

The Excalibur, one of my favorite casinos because I like medieval things and everything inside the casino is medieval like King Arthur.

The New York New York casino. There is an outside roller coaster that you start and end from inside but then go around the casino. Lots of fun for both kids and adults.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day a few bands played outside the NY,NY casino.

Daria on the "Brooklyn Bridge" with the Stratosphere in the distant background.

A couple guys were playing "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns and Roses on two cellos. It was really cool. I hope you can watch the video.

The advertising for prostitutes is everywhere in Vegas. In St. Petersburg you have a lot of flyers (posters/stickers) giving a name and a phone number. Here we drive billboards around.

I am getting ready for the concert!!! WOOHOOOHOO!

Ok, so a little out of order, but here is the Bellagio on the left and Caesar's Palace on the right. Two very famous casinos and 2 of the 3 most memorable from when I was 12 and visiting for a soccer (футбол) tournament. I was awed by those two for some reason. The third is the Stratosphere because it has roller coasters outside and on top (700 meters high) which was really cool for me. I loved it even if others did not. The first time Daria and I went about 4 years ago Daria did not want to do the Stratosphere with me.

Ahh Paris. But not the real thing.

And something of lights I don't even know. I think the Venetian but it might be the back of Paris.

Ok, so back to the Bellagio because it has one of the best light/fountain shows (как около Финландсокго вокзала). Of course this is a desert and wastes lots of water. Beautiful, but wasteful.

Inside the concert. I love the blue/rainbow flame.

A video of one of the songs. I hope it comes out.

And another video. I love the rose stained glass window image.

So I think this is quintessential (наиболее существенный - I don't know if that is correct, but that's what my translator says) Tool. Great images of android beings and the band with the singer in the back left. He does not like to be front and center, nor does he like the light on him so there is light on the drummer, guitarist, and bassist, but not on him. He disagrees with the idea of a frontman in a band and believes the whole group works together to create music, not just one person.

More of the concert.

And after the concert. Don't worry ladies, while most of it is naked women (about 98%), there are naked men too, and yes they advertise on busses for them as well.

In addition to advertising on cars, there is a person about every 20 feet as you walk on the street giving out cards with a woman and her phone number. Many of the cards go onto the sidewalk.

Ahh NY,NY at night. Beautiful.

Different angle, with the Statue of Liberty. Of course this is still just Vegas.

Ok, so I wanted to show you a closer image of the cards. You can also get magazines for free right on the street that look like this. It is completely free pornography.

So the next day we went to "Old Town" Vegas. By "old" I mean 1930s-40s where the gangsters used to be. It is now covered by this roof which gives amazing light shows at night, but we were not there for it this time. This roof was not there when the gangsters were.

A giant slot machine.

A view of the roof, Daria in the middle, and the old street fair of downtown.

And an outside bar so that you can buy drinks (and premade margaritas/cocktails of a variety of flavors - look at that rainbow of machines) to walk around with.

One of the old casinos before they built the Strip with all the fancy ones. This is what Vegas used to be, and most of Nevada's casinos still are.

Another one.

And another one.

And another one. I always liked these better than the new monstrosities. It feels more like a casino than a theme park to me, which is what I would want.

On the drive home I took a picture of some more Nevada mountains. Vegas is in a desert, but it is in a valley. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the US. The entire state is only mountains and valleys. Nothing else.

More mountains.

And more mountains. I love my mountains, oh yes I do!

Ok, so I took this picture because I have no idea how to pronounce this road's name. Zzyzx. What?????

There is sand in this desert valley.

A better view of the sand. Most of Nevada is what we call "high desert" which means that it is a desert, but not usually sand. Just dirt, sage brush, mountains, more sagebrush, some rabbits, coyotes (like a small wolf), and not much else. But here is one of the places where it is actually sandy desert.