Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Grunion are Coming!

Last year, after years and years of hearing about the grunion run, we decided to head out to Cabrillo Beach to see what all the fuss was about.

First, let's start by defining grunion. In layman terms, grunion is a type of fish. "Grunion are known for their very unusual mating ritual. At very high tides, the females come up on sandy beaches and dig their tails into the sand to lay their eggs. A male then wraps himself around the female to deposit his sperm. For the next ten days the grunion eggs remain hidden in the sand, but at the next set of high tides the eggs hatch and the young grunion are washed out to sea ("

Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it is quite interesting to witness. The "grunion runs" happen late in the evening, about 10, 11pm, during the summer. There are hundreds and hundreds of people on shore waiting for the arrival of the grunion. Many people bring buckets to catch grunion (...and eat them??).

Volunteers ask the crowd to keep their distance and to avoid flash photography while everyone awaits the arrival of the grunion. As soon as the grunion arrive, the crowds can see the silvery fish flopping on the shore. Then the volunteers move out of the way and people start rushing towards the water (some to observe and others to "fish"). It can get pretty chaotic (if you bring young children, please be careful), but it is definitely worth experiencing at least once.

We didn't stay long, an hour or so was enough for us. Most of our time was spent waiting for the grunion. Please be aware that sometimes the grunion are a no show, so don't be disappointed if this is the case. Be sure to bring some blankets and some snacks!

For more info, visit:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skydiving, anyone?

Yes, I know, sky diving is not exactly for the faint of heart, but if you're scared, I encourage you to overcome your fears and give it a try. I only tried it once (quite frankly, it was enough for me) and with the exception of the extreme heat that day, it was an unforgettable experience.

After much research, a few of us decided to try skydiving at Skydive Elsinore in Lake Elsinore. The day went something like this...
Naturally, you start the process off by signing your life away; the signing of the waiver is even documented on video. You don't jump alone, so you are introduced to your tandem buddy who is later strapped to your back. You practice a little on land and then it is a matter of waiting until it is your turn. You board the plane, sit side by side with the other jumpers (about 20 people total). Don't be alarmed if the plane door is open, apparently it is normal for it to be open as you take off. I, of course, nearly had a heart attack. Oh yeah, and don't make the mistake of looking out the window like I did, it only scares you! Seeing a lake look like a spot doesn't really make you feel better about jumping out of a plane. Anyway, at a certain altitude you start preparing for the jump. You and your tandem buddy are strapped together and when it is finally your turn you approach the open door. You crouch down, rock back and forth and on the third rock, you jump

It goes by so quickly that I don't remember a freefall feeling whatsoever! I do remember that we were moving so fast that I couldn't breath normally, but the adrenaline was rushing!! My tandem buddy tapped his watch to notify me that it was time to pull the parachute (otherwise, I would have completely forgotten) and then we glided down. It was great!!! When we landed, my legs wouldn't stop shaking, but I felt like I had just taken the world on...and won!

Looks like one tandem jump along with video and photos is now running at $279.00. For more information, visit:

If skydiving is just too much for you, you may want to try iflyhollywood. It is indoor skydiving using a vertical wind tunnel. I won't even try to explain it, check the website out and I think the pictures & video speak for themselves. Seem safe and its cheaper, too with a Double Flight First Time Flyer Package starting at $59.95. For more information, visit:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Joshua Tree Jeep Tours

If you like the desert, you may want to look into taking a Joshua Tree jeep tour. Looks like a fun experience, as long as you don't wait to to take this tour anytime during the summer! I've actually never been to Joshua Tree (I know, I'm lame!), but if and when I go, I wouldn't mind taking one of these jeep tours.

There are various companies that offer the tour and the average cost is about $125 per person for a 4-5 hour tour.

For more info, visit:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hiking in the L.A. area

I really enjoy hiking! I guess after spending most of the week in an office, who wouldn't want to be outdoors, right? For the most part, I frequent local parks for hiking: Runyon Canyon, Franklin Canyon, and Fryman Canyon/Wilacre Park.

Runyon Canyon is great, but you have to like dogs if you plan on hiking here. This park is not as lush as some of the other local options, but it is always busy and there are a few different trails to explore. Since there isn't a lot of shade, I like to go in the mornings when its cool. As far as parking is concerned, there are a few free spots if you enter through the Mulholland Dr. gate. Otherwise, look for street parking. If you enter the park through the gates at the bottom of the hill (near Franklin and Fuller), your only option is street parking.

Franklin Canyon is great. I feel like I've left the city when I visit this park...I guess it is because there are so many trees and even both a lake and a pond (with fish, frogs, turtles and ducks). You can enter Franklin Canyon Park through the entrance at the top of the hill (near Mulholland Dr and Coldwater Canyon) or through the entrance at the bottom of the hill (off Coldwater Canyon and Beverly...near the Beverly Hills Hotel). There are plenty of free parking options throughout the park. Beware: there are cameras at the STOP signs in the park, so be sure to make complete stops otherwise you'll receive a ticket in the mail.
Fryman Canyon (Laurel Canyon and Fryman) is more lush than Runyon Canyon, but not as lush as Franklin Canyon. It is a good option for a fairly easy hike. Parking is available on the lot for $3 or you can just park along Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Griffith Park is another great place to go on a hike, but I'm not as familiar with the trails there The views are spectacular! Every now and then, however, there are mountain lion spottings in the area, which needless to say, freaks me out! There is plenty of free parking throughout the park.

Beachwood Canyon is pretty cool, too, but I did have an encounter once with a coyote. Oh yeah, and every now and then you may have to share a trail with a horse (or two, or three). The stables are nearby, so horses are a common sure to watch your step! From the trails in Beachwood you get quite close to the Hollywood sign, which is pretty amazing. There are several parking spots near the entrance (Sunset Ranch) at the top.
Don't let my phobias of wildlife get to you, though, if you want to enjoy some time outdoors try a hike at one of these parks. There are plenty of people around and you don't have to worry about getting lost.

For more info visit:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hollywood Bowl

Tickets for the Summer ’09 Hollywood Bowl season went on sale this weekend! There is no excuse, whether you’ve never been to the bowl or you have, you need to get tickets to at least one show this summer.

Gather all your friends, bring some food and wine and enjoy a beautiful Southern California evening at the bowl. As usual, there is a wide array of performances to select from. From Mariachis to Abba; Eric Clapton to Poncho Sanchez; Natalie Cole to Depeche Mode and Tchaikovsky to the Beastie Boys. Tickets prices start as little as about $10 for many of the shows. Of course, you get what you pay for, but if you’re there to just drink and hang out with your friends then what does it matter where you sit, right?
For more information visit:

If you’ve never been to the bowl for a show, parking is a nightmare, so I highly recommend the taking a shuttle! You can get shuttle information on the Hollywood Bowl site.