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LA Dodgers Baseball

Mexican themed party and then off to the ball game

sunny 23 °C
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I enjoy watching baseball so I was excited to be invited to go and see the LA Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers at the Dodgers Stadium in Downtown Los Angeles. However beforehand there was the little matter of a 30th Birthday Party! Now I don't normally blog family get-to-togethers but this was a little different as it had a Mexican theme.

There were sombreros, lanterns and Mexican food of course (and the red plastic "Solo" beer cups that seem to be used at every American party) but what I had not seen before were pinatas. These are fancy papier-mache shapes normally filled with small toys or candy that a child normally hits blindfold with a bat until it breaks and then everyone dives in and grabs the contents spewed all over the ground. Being an adult birthday the toys and candy were replaced with tequila miniatures, party poppers and cigars!

Mexican themed party time and I'm asked to don a Sombrero!

Mexican themed party time and I'm asked to don a Sombrero!


Party Time - trying to break open the Pinata by hitting it with a bat

Party Time - trying to break open the Pinata by hitting it with a bat

A bit later on I was introduced to the quaint American drinking game of beer pong in which players throw a ping pong ball across a table with the intent of landing the ball in a cup of beer on the other end with forfeits of drinking the beer until one side or the other clears all their opponents cups. We actually did quite well and finally lost in the final :-)

It's getting late - time for Beer Pong!

It's getting late - time for Beer Pong!


Me posing behind a cut-out at a Mexican Restaurant

Me posing behind a cut-out at a Mexican Restaurant

Partying done and after a good night's rest it was time to make our way downtown to the Dodgers Stadium for the game. On the way we drove past the Staples Centre home of the LA Lakers NBA Basketball Team and saw some of the skyscrapers of LA close up.

Making our way down the Freeway - Dodgers Stadium next exit

Making our way down the Freeway - Dodgers Stadium next exit


The Staples Center - home of the LA Lakers NBA Basketball Team

The Staples Center - home of the LA Lakers NBA Basketball Team


Skyscrapers in Downtown LA

Skyscrapers in Downtown LA

After a short wait at the barrier we had our first proper view of the stadium. We parked up in the enormous open air parking lot outside and then made our way to through security into the stadium to find our seats not far behind the Dodgers dugout.

In the queue for the Stadium Parking Lot

In the queue for the Stadium Parking Lot


Our first view of the Dodgers Stadium

Our first view of the Dodgers Stadium


View outside the Dodgers Stadium

View outside the Dodgers Stadium

Major League Baseball stadiums are always impressive and it was a bright sunny day in Southern California. Warning, now follows my attempt as a foreigner to explain Baseball! Baseball is a bat and ball game played between 2 teams of 9 players on a diamond of four bases. The pitcher throws the ball at a batter who has 3 attempts to hit the ball before running around the bases as far as he can while the other team tries to get him out by catching or tagging him or the base he is running to. Runs are scored when the batter gets all the way around or if he hits the ball out of the ground (a home run). Each innings lasts as long as it takes to get 3 batters out and the teams then switch sides with the game lasting 9 innings (or longer to get a result).

Our first view of the game

Our first view of the game


The Dodgers pitcher pitching at the Milwaukee Brewers

The Dodgers pitcher pitching at the Milwaukee Brewers


Close up of the LA Pitcher pitching the ball

Close up of the LA Pitcher pitching the ball

The Dodgers were pitching at the Brewers when we got to our seats with me wearing my newly purchased LA Dodgers T-shirt and carrying the traditional baseball match fare of beer, Dodger Dog and bag of unshelled peanuts. The Dodgers dominated the game with their pitcher Clayton Kershaw not allowing anyone to score against him while Carl Crawford batted 2 home runs. At the end of the 7th innings everyone stood up and had a stretch joining in the traditional corny song of Take me out to the ball game. The Dodgers went on to win the game 2-0 in just two hours, very quick for a baseball game!

The stadium scorerboard, the Dodgers are ahead :-)

The stadium scorerboard, the Dodgers are ahead :-)


It's the Milwaukee Brewers turn to pitch at the LA Dodgers

It's the Milwaukee Brewers turn to pitch at the LA Dodgers


Enjoying the game with my cousins wearing my new LA Dodgers T-Shirt

Enjoying the game with my cousins wearing my new LA Dodgers T-Shirt

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beer california sport party videos mexican external_links Comments (0)

Road Trip north to Santa Barbara

Visit to Santa Barbara Pier, the Ronald Reagan Ranch Centre, the Old Mission and another winery.

sunny 22 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I was then taken on a Road Trip north for a few days to see the sights of the Central Californian Coast. After overnighting in Port Hueneme we arrived at the popular tourist destination and resort of Santa Barbara with its main street (called State Street) bedecked in American and Mexican Flags.

Driving down State Street, the main street in Santa Barbara

Driving down State Street, the main street in Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara East Beach

Santa Barbara East Beach

At the entrance onto the Pier was the Statute of Three Dolphins erected in 1982; according to legend the dolphin is a cousin of Santa Barbara's early Chumash Indians and brings luck. Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf that it reaches out to were built by lumberman John P Stearns in 1872 and is the longest deep-water pier between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has been seriously damaged by fire and restored several times (most recently in 1998) but still has many shops and restaurants.

Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf


The Dolphin Statue at the entrance onto Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf

The Dolphin Statue at the entrance onto Santa Barbara Pier and Stearns Wharf


Driving onto Santa Barbara Pier

Driving onto Santa Barbara Pier


Looking back along Santa Barbara Pier from Stearns Wharf

Looking back along Santa Barbara Pier from Stearns Wharf


Looking back along Santa Barbara Pier

Looking back along Santa Barbara Pier

Ronald Reagan was The US President between 1981-1989 and his ranch (Rancho del Cielo aka "The Western White House") is located atop the Santa Ynez Mountain Range north west of the city. The ranch itself is closed to the public but there is a centre dedicated to his life on the ranch and love of horses just a short distance from the end of Santa Barbara Pier. Ronald Reagan had been o close to the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who had died shortly before our visit and there was a glass tribute case to her on the ground floor.

The Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara

The Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara


Photographic Portrait of President Reagan greeting visitors at the Reagan Ranch Center

Photographic Portrait of President Reagan greeting visitors at the Reagan Ranch Center


A piece of the Berlin Wall greeting visitors at the Reagan Ranch Center

A piece of the Berlin Wall greeting visitors at the Reagan Ranch Center


Tribute case to Margaret Thatcher in the Reagan Ranch Center

Tribute case to Margaret Thatcher in the Reagan Ranch Center

Upstairs there was an impressive multimedia desk illustrating episodes from Ronald Reagan's presidency surrounded by artifacts from his Ranch. The largest item on display was the Scrambler CJ-8 Jeep he used to get around the ranch but other things included his cowboy hat, saddle and boots along with the chainshaw he used to tidy up trees.

The large multimedia desk in the main gallery of the Reagan Ranch Center

The large multimedia desk in the main gallery of the Reagan Ranch Center


Ronald Reagan's 1983 CJ-8 Scrambler Jeep

Ronald Reagan's 1983 CJ-8 Scrambler Jeep


Ronald Reagan's Cowboy Hat and Saddle at the Reagan Ranch Center

Ronald Reagan's Cowboy Hat and Saddle at the Reagan Ranch Center


Ronald Reagan's riding boots

Ronald Reagan's riding boots

There was also the desk used for radio broadcasts to the nation during his presidency. It was from here during a 'mic' test that wasn't meant to be recorded Ronald Reagan made the humourous comment "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you that today I have signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes." Needless to say the Soviets were not amused!

Desk used for Presidential Radio Broadcasts from Ronald Reagan's Ranch

Desk used for Presidential Radio Broadcasts from Ronald Reagan's Ranch

The gem amongst the many sights to see in Santa Barbara however is the Old Mission (the first of five old missions I was to see in Southern California - for the record the others I went on to see were at San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines/Solvang, San Luis Rey de Francia/Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano). Established in 1786 with the church mostly rebuilt following an earthquake in 1812, it has over the years served at different times as the Cathedral Church for both the Los Angeles and Monterey Roman Catholic dioceses and as a result unusually for a mission church has a double bell tower.

My first view of the Mission at Santa Barbara

My first view of the Mission at Santa Barbara


The Sacred Garden inside Santa Barbara Mission

The Sacred Garden inside Santa Barbara Mission


An old ox cart on display inside the Santa Barbara Mission

An old ox cart on display inside the Santa Barbara Mission

Inside the Mission grounds there was an historic mausoleum used as the final resting places for many of the early Franciscan friar and founding family inhabitants of Santa Barbara with a further 4,000 Chumush Indians buried in the Cemetery Garden in the shadow of the old fig tree. The church has statutes to both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic behind the alter and is the only Californian Mission to have a crypt.

My first view of the Mission at Santa Barbara

My first view of the Mission at Santa Barbara


The Sacred Garden inside Santa Barbara Mission

The Sacred Garden inside Santa Barbara Mission


An old ox cart on display inside the Santa Barbara Mission

An old ox cart on display inside the Santa Barbara Mission


The historic Mausoleum within Santa Barbara Mission

The historic Mausoleum within Santa Barbara Mission

Attached to the Mission Church is also a small museum containing many paintings and a number of rooms recreating the life of the early Franciscan monks who lived at the mission.

Making our way through the old rooms of the museum at the Santa Barbara Mission

Making our way through the old rooms of the museum at the Santa Barbara Mission


Paintings on a Staircase at the Old Santa Barbara Mission

Paintings on a Staircase at the Old Santa Barbara Mission


Paintings of Franciscan Friars within the museum inside the Old Santa Barbara Mission

Paintings of Franciscan Friars within the museum inside the Old Santa Barbara Mission


Recreation of a typical Mission Kitchen from the time the Mission was founded

Recreation of a typical Mission Kitchen from the time the Mission was founded


Unique Chumash Indian altar constructed for the 1789 church

Unique Chumash Indian altar constructed for the 1789 church


The Old Mission at Santa Barbara

The Old Mission at Santa Barbara

We then continued north towards San Luis Obispo but not before stopping for some wine testing (known as a flight, see after going wine tasting in 3 countries I'm finally learning the jargon!) at the nearby Foley Winery.

The drive upto the Foley Winery near Santa Barbara

The drive upto the Foley Winery near Santa Barbara


Old tractor by the entrance to the Foley Winery

Old tractor by the entrance to the Foley Winery


Rows of vines at the Foley Winery near Santa Barbara

Rows of vines at the Foley Winery near Santa Barbara

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches churches museums california wine piers missions mexican us_presidents Comments (0)

Hearst Castle

'La Cuesta Encantada' (The Enchanted Hill)

sunny 26 °C
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Having checked into the Cliffs Hotel above Pismo Beach near San Luis Obispo we continued our road trip to the Central Californian Coast with a visit to Hearst Castle. The Castle was built between 1919 and 1947 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst on a hill 1,600 feet (488 metres) up overlooking the Pacific Ocean where his goldmine tycoon father George and philanthropist mother Phoebe Apperson Hearst had often taken him camping when he was a child.

The view down to the ocean from the winding road up to Hearst Castle

The view down to the ocean from the winding road up to Hearst Castle


The view of Hearst Castle from the approach road

The view of Hearst Castle from the approach road

The castle was built in a "Mediterranean Revival Style" with no expense sparred and filled with historic European art. Invitations to come and stay in one of its three visitor cottages called the Casa del Mar (House of the Sea), Casa del Monte (House of the Mountains) and Casa del Sol (House of the Sun) were highly coveted by the Hollywood and political elite (including Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Bob Hope, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill amongst others) during its heyday of the 1920s and '30s.

Me in front of the main facade of Hearst Castle's Casa Grande

Me in front of the main facade of Hearst Castle's Casa Grande


The view of Hearst Castle's Casa Grande from the Southern Esplanade

The view of Hearst Castle's Casa Grande from the Southern Esplanade


The Cottages around the Main Terrace built for visiting guests

The Cottages around the Main Terrace built for visiting guests

The 115 room main building is called the Casa Grande features two bell towers and was inspired by a Spanish cathedral although it doesn't contain a chapel. Inside the decoration and furnishings are lavish and we did a tour of its ground floor including the 82 feet (25 metre) long, 30 feet (9 metre) high and 24 feet (7.3 metre) high Assembly Room which is the largest and most imposing of the La Casa Grande Rooms and a treasure house of architectural features and art objects such as a French 16th century stone fireplace and many tapestries.

Inside the Assembly Room of the Casa Grande

Inside the Assembly Room of the Casa Grande


The French 16th century stone fireplace in the Casa Grande's Assembly Room

The French 16th century stone fireplace in the Casa Grande's Assembly Room

The dining room is called the 'Refectory' in keeping with tradition for religious houses and universities. From its ceiling hang the banners representing the districts of Sienna that compete in its famous twice annual horse race. The Billards Room has a 15th century Spanish ceiling and is dominated by a late 15th century Franco-Flemish Tapestry. The Casa Grande also has its own Movie Theater furnished with log seats and walls covered with damask fabric and gilded cast-plaster caryatids where the Hollywood elite would be entertained with the very latest movies and where during our tour we were shown snippets of home movies of Charlie Chaplin and others visiting the castle.

The 'Refectory' or dining room inside the Casa Grande

The 'Refectory' or dining room inside the Casa Grande


The Billard Room inside the Casa Grande

The Billard Room inside the Casa Grande


The private Movie Theater inside the Casa Grande

The private Movie Theater inside the Casa Grande

The castle also has two luxurious swimming pools - the outdoor Neptune Pool includes Ancient Roman columns from the 4th century and is surrounded with carved marble statues of nymphs and swans; the indoor Roman Pool is surrounded with mosaic tiles fused with gold foil, Italian lamp standards and marble statues of famous Greek and Roman gods. The Roman Pool wasn't used much as it was part of a Gymnasium complex (which included the tennis courts built on the pool's roof) that was never completed because Rudolph Hearst eventually ran out of money to do all the building work he planned.

The Neptune's Pool at Hearst Castle

The Neptune's Pool at Hearst Castle


Another view of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

Another view of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle

The indoor Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

The indoor Roman Pool at Hearst Castle


The Roman Pool's diving board at Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool's diving board at Hearst Castle


The tennis courts above the the indoor Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

The tennis courts above the the indoor Roman Pool at Hearst Castle

The castle also once housed the world's largest Private Zoo and included many exotic species such as antelope, camels, giraffe, kangaroos and yaks. When Rudolph Hearst ran out of money he sold off the zoo animals but several of the zebras escaped and their descendants are now often seen grazing the hills on the way up to the castle. Rudolph Hurst died in 1951 and in 1957 the Hearst Corporation donated the castle to the state of California who have maintained it as a state national park where despite its remoteness it attracts about one million visitors per year.

Fenced enclosures once used to cage animals for the private zoo

Fenced enclosures once used to cage animals for the private zoo

A short distance up the coast from Hearst Castle is the 7,500 strong elephant seal colony at Piedras Blancas. It's an amazing site, there are no elephant seals any where else along the coast and then you come across one large cove where they so tightly pack the beach that it looks like the aftermath of a battlefield.

Elephant Seals packed on the beach at Piedras Blancas

Elephant Seals packed on the beach at Piedras Blancas

Elephant Seals packed on the beach near the rocks at Piedras Blancas

Elephant Seals packed on the beach near the rocks at Piedras Blancas

We then returned south towards San Luis Obispo, stopping to see Morro Bay and its distinctive Rock on the way. Morro Rock, first named in 1542 and a useful navigation landmark along the coast, is 576 foot (176 metres) high volcanic plug, the first of nine stretching inland known as the Nine Sisters. In San Luis Obispo (affectionately known as 'SLO' by the locals) we popped into town to see its famous Thursday night Farmers Market along Higuera Street and sample the night life.

The Rock at Morro Bay

The Rock at Morro Bay


Sign on the beach at Morro Bay

Sign on the beach at Morro Bay


The Thursday night Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo

The Thursday night Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo


The Mission at San Luis Obispo

The Mission at San Luis Obispo

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches churches buildings volcanos california palaces missions marine_life videos mexican film_locations Comments (0)

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