Santa Monica Beach Days

The world is filled with beautiful poems, quotes, songs, and images of the ocean. Nothing anyone says, nothing anyone sings, will ever capture the wild and true beauty of the sea. The way the air fills your lungs, salty, cleansing. The way the sand feels in your toes, soft and rough, smooth and sinking. The water when it rolls over you, washing away life and replacing it with infinity. There is nothing so marvelous, so captivating, so healing as the ocean.cropped-20160712_141428.jpg

If you have never been to an ocean, please – if you go on no other adventures in this life – go to the ocean. Go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Let the tide roll over your toes. It will roll right into your very core, and you will be forever changed.

The Duo needed an ocean fix, so they headed to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Santa Monica!

Granted, this is VERY touristy, so if you are looking for something that is a lot more beach, and a lot less people, WORRY NOT! One of our stops was at Carlsbad Beach, and it was glorious. A long stretch of beach, not a lot of people, and very impressive waves. There is parking near the beach, and an easy path to walk down to get close to the water. This is an excellent beach for having a relax, going surfing, or going for a gorgeous beachfront walk.

During our stay in Southern California, or SoCal, we went to Santa Monica twice, and both times were AWESOME! The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous spots in the world, featuring roller coasters, live performers, incredible food, fun shops, an aquarium, fishing, swimming, surfing, the LAST STOP of Route 66… the list goes on and on! One of the shops, the Oatman Rock Shop, claims to be the oldest shop on the pier! Worth a look sea…er…see if you want to pick up some fun 60’s style stuffs. On both our trips, we ate lunch at the delectable Albright. It was soooo good the first time, we went back on our second trip. If you love clam chowder you NEED to try the bread bowl they have. A delicious delectable delight, you won’t be disappointed! The prices were reasonable, the beers were cold, and the atmosphere was awesome!

Walking along the pier is an experience in itself. You never know who, or what, you are going to see performing on the pier! While we were there we saw face painters, jugglers, temporary tattoos, a singing goth 60’s gigolo, and “Rock and Roll Jesus” singing Sublime songs, just to name a few. The acts change periodically throughout the day, and no two days are the same! 20160712_123917

Taking up a large section in the middle of the pier is Pacific Park, featuring roller coasters, a full boardwalk, and Awesome K’s favorite – funnel cake. Funnel cake as large as your head. Seriously. While we did enjoy the funnel cake, we did not get a chance to ride any of the rides, or play any of the games. However, if you are looking for a boardwalk adventure, this is the place! 20160712_161024.jpg

Just a short walk away from the Pier is one of the most well known beaches in the world, Muscle Beach! This is where anyone who was anyone went to work out. Today you can still find plenty of outdoor exercise areas, as well as volleyball pits, bicycle rentals, and some of the best people watching out there! There were a handful of people working on their fitness, which was neat to watch. We would have joined them, but we were still sticky from the funnel cake – which that statement alone should tell you how often we would work out on the beach. 20160712_134630

Do you love Geocaching? Of course you do! So does Saucy G (poor Awesome K can’t seem to get into it)! While cruising the beach, there were some super sweet caches to be had. One that bumped it’s way into her Top Five Favorite Caches was “Lord of the Rings.” Not only is this a fun play on words – as the exercise rings are close by, but this was the first one involving a secret code! If you are a geocacher, and are looking for a fun – albeit easy – cache, be sure to check out the caches around Santa Monica and Muscle Beach. “What is Geocaching” you ask?! Oh adventurer, you are in for a real treat now! Geocaching is an adventure all of its own! Our words won’t do it justice, but the basics are that there are real hidden “caches” all over the world, and one in space, that are hidden for you to find. They are EVERYWHERE, and range in difficulty from 1 to 5 based on the terrain, and the type of container it is. All the caches have a log book for you to sign, and some have hidden treasures in them! If you have a smartphone, you can download a free app that helps you on your hunt – turning it into a GPS as well as your traveling log book. If you have questions, feel free to ask us, or check out these fun videos on YouTube “Geocaching Basics” and “Etiquette“, but like we said – your best resource for your new favorite hobby will be the website. Best of all, it is completely free!

Other not to be missed attractions on/near the Pier is the Loof Hippodrome Carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The Carousel is located inside, near the Soda Jerks, and is said to be one of the oldest around. We can’t back that statement up with facts, but it sounds cool. It IS on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is the #3 Historic Landmark in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium can be found sort of under the pier, just follow the signs. It is NOT in the Soda Jerks hall, which one might be lead to believe. Just head down the stairs behind the Jerks, and you should see signs for the Aquarium. It is pretty neat inside, with lots of interactive areas letting you pet and love on Santa Monica sea life! Just be gentle, and listen to the guides as they help you meet some of the locals.  The main goal of the Aquarium is to Save the Bay, and help bring awareness to what trash, water wasting, and other nasties can do to our sea friends. While we were there we met some other fun Santa Monica locals, animals! A local wildlife rescue was visiting, and brought with them some of their friends to help bring awareness to who, and what, live around us! It is a neat little aquarium, and worth a visit, and help us all HEAL THE BAY!

One of our beach days was dedicated to hanging out on the beach and swimming. No sight seeing, no stress, just beach. It was exactly what we needed! We packed up some waters, a couple little snacks, our towels, and we were off! There may be no better way to unwind than by sitting by the waves. It was a little crowded, even for a Tuesday, but we did go in July, so there’s that. It was still really easy to find a spot, even getting there at noon! We were right near the water, no one in front of us, and we had plenty of room to relax. There seem to be “two beaches” at Santa Monica, one to the left of the pier, and one to the right. It seemed like to the right of the pier was WAY busier than the left side, so we opted to relax on the left.

Our relax day was so wonderful! Everyone, at least once in their lives (but hopefully A LOT more then just once) gets a relaxing beach day. Awesome K brought along his own castle building kit, but opted to give it to a little girl instead. He sat, read, and relaxed in his chair while Saucy G spent pretty much the entire day in the water. One of her most favorite things is to swim, although she is no Simone Manuel! Saucy G did her best to stay afloat, and even rode a small wave or two! One of her next goals is to become a certified diver, like her Old Man before her (the Incredible Old Man was one of the first ever certified diving instructors in Los Angeles!), or at least be able to go diving. The Old Man was, in fact, a Super Hero, so diving like him might be impossible – but that is a totally different EPIC story!

If you are in Southern California, be ready to spend at least one day, if not two, at Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beaches. There is a reason they are some of the most famous beaches in the world! Enjoy your walk on the Pier, get some great food, stick your toes in the ocean, and breathe in that wonderful ocean air. Take a minute to look, really LOOK at the ocean. Hear the waves. Feel the salt in the air. You’ll be glad you did! 20160712_203508

Adventure Pro Tips:

1. Never go outside without sunscreen! This is especially true at the beach. Whether or not you get in the water (although if you are not at least wading in the water you are a silly person), reapply the sunscreen throughout the day. Nothing ruins a great day at the beach like finding out you look like one of the lobsters!

2. BRING PLENTY OF WATER! It is easy to get dehydrated while playing, and swimming in the salt can suck a lot of moisture out. Be sure to keep your insides as wet as your outsides get.

3. Forgot your umbrella? While we were there, we saw a few people walking the beaches selling umbrellas, sand castle kits, and body boards. The prices seemed reasonable, so we bought an umbrella for the day. Whether you buy one there, or bring one with, a beach umbrella is a must! That little bit of extra shade keeps you cool, and keeps you from burning. Please still follow tip number 1, though.

4. While we didn’t see any nefarious business, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Make sure to keep you purse/wallet/monies someplace safe. Our chairs came with hidden pockets for wallets, which was handy. We recommend either leaving valuables at home, or only bringing enough with you for beach day. No need to be swimming with stacks of cash, fish don’t accept that, or credit cards. Just keep it safely secured, and you should be fine. This article has some great ideas for keeping your valuables safe while you build your tribute to Game of Thrones out of sand!

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This is not our picture, nor our sand art. BUT IT IS AMAZING!

 

5. Going to Santa Monica Pier and can’t find parking? Pier parking full, and the only other advertised parking is for $40? Don’t get sand in your socks, we found the spot for you! This site helps you find the parking, and lets you know the costs up front…but if you are like Saucy G that info means nothing to you without a picture, so here ya go!2016-09-07.png

If you take Ocean Ave south east-ish (middle bottom on the right of the picture), past The Lobster, you can turn right onto a road that takes you to the huge parking lot. The parking is cheap, and it is right on the beach! Don’t get scammed! You can also turn right on Seaside Terrace, turn right on Appian way, and that will get you there. The two times we went we parked here, saving us time, money, and a lot of hassle.

6. While walking the Pier it may be tempting to hunt for Poke` whatevers, or to stare at your phone in some other fashion. You are at the BEACH! There are wild and crazy things happening around you! Please look up and look around, it’s worth it! Yes, there are Pokes to be caught, and eggs to be hatched, but try not to walk into or over other people in the process.

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7. Bring two pairs of shoes. Flip flops and sneakers. That way you don’t get sand in your sneakers, and you don’t get burns from your flip flops. Or just wear sandals, but make sure they are comfortable. Walking in warm sands can be difficult, and hot! The $15 flip flops sold on the pier are worth it in a pinch, but not very comfortable.

8. The beach on the south side of the pier, or left of the pier, is the less crowded for a beach day. You are not as close to the parking lot, but it is a VERY easy walk under the pier, and there is a lot more room!

9. Did we mention sunscreen?

10. Funnel. Cake. One serving is enough for at least two people, so save your pennies and just get the one. Did we mention bringing water? Anything and everything on the pier will be priced for tourists, so plan ahead and bring your own bottle of water.

AwesomeSauce Rating: Full House. There was a distinct lack of kittens, and we are pretty sure that Santa Monica beaches are not animal friendly, so no swimming puppies either. The prices can be a bit high, and it can be a wee crowded, but what does one expect of a main tourist spot in the middle of summer? Honestly, this place is amazing, and everyone should check it out at least once, maybe twice. Muscle Beach is a sand dollar throws away, and if you play your cards right, your trip could be free! Nothing beats the ocean, and walking on the sand in the surf. THIS needs to be done by everyone as much as possible.

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Want to see more pictures of our beach days? Looking for the most current AwesomeSauce happenings? Check out our Facebook Page!

Lost in Las Vegas

Adventures hardly ever go according to plan. That is easily an understatement when it comes to ours, but lets not get into that here.

Due to circumstances (STILL looking at you, Thief. May you step in cat barf every morning…) beyond our control, we found new ways to adventure in Vegas! We found ourselves in a Casino Hotel on the Strip, which is fancy, AND expensive.

Adventure Pro Tip: If you are thinking of going to Vegas, and will have access to a car (which is a good idea and a bad idea), then it is best to stay OFF the strip. There are a plethora of other options, and some even have a shuttle service to the Strip.

When we go to Vegas, we usually stay in a Caesar’s Entertainment Property. We have had decent luck with comps, and they are familiar territory. What are comps, you ask? WELL! What a wonderful and weird world you are about to embark on! First off, whenever you go to a casino, make sure you get a Players Card. You can get one at any Customer Service Desk, or they can tell you where to go to get one. You will need a photo ID, so they know you are you. They will ask for a mailing address – you are welcome to decline – or you can give them one. We always give them a mailing address, because they will send fancy coupons in the mail! As far as we know they don’t sell your address to anyone, but don’t quote us. These fancy mail coupons will offer COMPS! Comp is a lingo way of saying complimentary, or comepleaseplayhere. Sorta. The fancy mail coupons usually have comps for free buffet, some free “slot play” where they give you fake money on slot machines that you can turn into real money, or table play, which works the same. Fake money to possibly earn real money. The best comps are when they offer you a free stay! These are becoming more and more scarce, but they do still happen.Total_Rewards_2.35162852_std

To earn these magic comp points, you use your players card at EVERY SINGLE THING in the casinos. Buying an overpriced coffee? Make sure to ask for points and give them your card. Eating dinner? Grab those points! Of course, the easiest way is to use your card whenever you play. You can put the card in all the slot machines, and leave it in during your play. You can also earn points (maybe?) playing table games and poker. Be sure to hand them your shiny new card so you get credit for your play. The card itself can also be used to redeem points at buffets, gift shops, and sometimes on your hotel stay.

WHEW! SO, after your not-so-brief comp tutorial, now you are ready to find a place to stay! As we mentioned, we usually stay at a Caesar’s Property, because of the magic comps, and what nottery. However, this year we had a CAR! Traffic can be mildly terrifying on the Strip, but the rest of Vegas is pretty easy to navigate, and opens up a whole new realm of places to go, places to stay, and ways to adventure. After we left the Strip, we went to our very first Air BnB, just a ways off the Strip. It was amazing! Well, it was different, and cheaper, and amazing in that we had never stayed at an Air BnB before.

Air BnB is a fancy new way to stay places. You can rent almost anything from a person, from a couch to crash on all the way to a penthouse suite. If a person has a space available for you to stay, they advertise on Air BnB. We found some interesting listings, to say the least. Luckily we found a place that allowed our Mews, was less expensive than a Casino Hotel, was a private space (not crashing on a couch or a spare bedroom), and was inside a gated community. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good for a week. (A coupon for you! A coupon for me! Hooray! www.airbnb.com/c/genevieves161)

With the freedom of our little tiny car, and the Air BnB all set up, we set out to adventure a wee bit! We were still a bit shaken, not stirred, about our recent defilination (Saucy G decrees that this is now a word. Defilination – When something has been defiled recently, in the past tense, to an extreme. You’re welcome), so we kept to places we were somewhat familiar with, or that seemed safe. We also stuck pretty close together, and not just because our car is the size of a Matchbox.

 

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Brand New From the Dealership

One of the things we were able to do was to check out Casinos NOT on the Strip! The Orleans is probably the closest to the Strip, and the nicest that we found. If you like slot machines, this place has A TON. There is also a decent sized poker room, LOTS of table games, and a who slew of other things to do! They have a bowling alley, movie theater, kids areas, and lots of different food options. We heard from a reliable source that their laundry service is also very reasonable. They DO NOT, however, allow pets. So, keep that in mind when traveling with your own pet crew. With the re-introduction of UBER to Las Vegas, you can also grab a quick ride from there to the Strip, if you were feeling so inclined. This really is a nice one-stop-shop if you are planning on a stay. Clean, nice, we give it a solid Flush (rating based on the fact that we did not actually stay there, and cannot speak for the rooms. Also, the whole No Mews for Yous policy is a bummer). (Here is an Uber Coupon for you, and one for me! Hooray!! https://www.uber.com/invite/genevieves489ue)

Another place we checked out was Arizona Charlies. This is a local favorite, so we had to see what there was to see. If you are a smoker, this is the place for you! Also, if you prefer low lighting, this will also be high on your list. The slot machines were ok, and the people were VERY nice. The poker area was…well…it left a lot to be desired. Poker, however, is not their main focus. If you want Bingo, then look no further! Charlies has the biggest, brightest, and wildest Bingo Hall Saucy G has seen in a while. It is very clean, well lit, seems to be smoke free, and there is a game every odd hour, so you never have to wait long to get into the action. The Bingo Hall is located on the second floor, next to the 24 Hour Buffet. If Bingo is your Bag, then Charlies is for you. The dining there also surprisingly spectacular! At Ron’s Steakhouse they have (or had, hopefully it is still there when you go), an incredible three course steak dinner deal for $27.99. You get an appetizer, then you get a starter of salad or soup of the day, then you can choose from a few different steak options. Sides can be added for an extra fee, that might be $2? THIS is a hidden steak gem, and is not to be missed. Reservations not necessary, however they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, opening for dinner at 4pm to 9pm the rest of the week. Ron’s Steakhouse gets a Flush with a Straight Flush Draw. Arizona Charlies (without rating Bingo, and Ron’s is a separate rating) gets a high Pair. The smoking, poker area, slots, and lighting left a lot to be desired. Like we said, though, the people are SUPER NICE, so they get the higher rating.

Finally, we decided to go to a place that was literally calling our name…the ADVENTUREDOME! The Adventure Dome is located inside Circus Circus,  which is a whole different world of entertainment. If you have kids, and don’t mind crazy crowds, Circus Circus might be worth a look. Above the main slots area is a whole area dedicated to kids. It is JAM PACKED with carnival games, arcades, a McDonalds, and everything a kid could want. It is very camping (camping = Where do you sleep, when you go camping? In Tents. Intense. Camping is the AwesomeSauce way of saying something is intense. Again, you’re welcome), and very loud. The arcade was pretty sweet, with a lot of different games. Most games were $1 to play, so keep that in mind. We didn’t play any carnival games, so we don’t know their prices. The most notable thing at Circus Circus, however, is the live circus acts that go on above the gaming area. They have high flying acrobats, jugglers, a hula hoop lady, and they all perform above your head as you play. Shows are generally every half hour, but worry not. They will announce when they next show will begin, so you won’t miss a thing. Now, lets get to the meat and taties part of this adventure, The. Adventure. Dome.

This place is AMAZING! Granted, it is not the largest theme park in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in awesome. We highly recommend you get the All Day Pass. The All Day Pass covers most of the rides there, and if you plan on riding rides, it is the best deal. It pays for itself after three rides, basically. It does not cover mini golf, but we got a coupon for a substantial discount when we got our passes. It also does not cover the Sponge Bob experience, which we were ok with. Probably the best part about the Adventure Dome was that there were virtually no lines. At all. We went on a weekday, so that probably had something to do with it, but it even with school being out the lines were almost non existent.

The rides. Oh the rides. Turns out AwesomeK is a bit of a rollercoaster junkie, which is awesome. If you want to see a grown man light up like it’s Christmas and you just gave him a puppy, take AwesomeK to rollercoasters. The first ride we dared was the Canyon Blaster (spoiler video HERE). It is a wee whip-lashy for Saucy G tastes, but it was AWESOME! It took two late 30s somethings, and turned them into giggling, screaming kids again. That right there is worth the price of admission! The second coaster, which is conveniently located at the exit of the Canyon Blaster, was the EL LOCO! There are no words, really. It was, well, Loco. This is probably one of the best coasters Saucy G has been on! Not at all whip-lashy, and it has all the things you could want in a ride. Upsidedowns, corkscrews, screams, all the things. It was AMAZING!!! THREE EXCLAMATION POINTS! LOUD NOISES! *ahem* Anyway, El Loco is not to be missed. If you go, and only pay for one coaster, make it this one. Adventure Dome also has the “take you straight up in the air, then drop you like a silly” ride, which is always a favorite. The going up was scarier than the coming down, and the up is VERY high in the dome, which is pretty sweet. They have other standards, such as the swingy boat thingy, the ride that takes you up then flips you upside down a few times, the one that is all the spinny, on a spinny, which has more spinny (too much spinny for Saucy G), and a few others. There is also a great kid area, with less camping rides for smaller folks.

They have a couple of theater style adventure rides, which (we think) are also covered in the All Day Pass. One of which was the “Pacific Rim” attraction. Rarely will we ever give a very negative review. To each is own, and everyone likes different things. We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, so unless something is so awful and should be avoided at all costs, we do our best not to be negative. The Pacific Rim attraction is one of those rare exceptions. Please, please do not do this. Learn from our adventure. The “ride” is the only real wait we encountered at the Dome, which had us a little excited. Saucy G really enjoyed the film, so this was going to be, hopefully, a highlight of the day. No. NO! First you wait in line, and watch a clip from the movie. Cool. Gets you excited. Right on. When it is your turn, you get filed into a small dark room. OOOH! EXCITING! THEN! WITHOUT WARNING! Nothing. Nothing happens. One small TV, which is awkwardly placed so that only two people can really see it, plays the same clip of the movie you just watched while waiting in line. After the clip is over, you wait in awkward silence, in this closed off black room, for what feels like an eternity. Finally, when you are almost done contemplating all of life’s mistakes that got you to this point, you are ushered into another small room with seats. You buckle yourself in and wait. Finally a projector that is in much need of repair begins to play a scene from the movie. You are supposed to feel like you are in the giant machine, fighting a beast from the depths of the ocean – possibly another dimension – but instead you are assaulted on all angles. You view is not that of the cockpit, but rather you are just watching the movie. The platform you strapped yourself to starts to move and jerk in what, we can only assume, is supposed to be in time with the good guy’s machine. Instead it just jerks you around sort of willy nilly. The hectic jerking could make anyone nauseous, which is the only thrill of the ride. Will I barf everywhere? Will I get a migraine? Who knows!

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NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Turn back now!

After being tossed around like a rag doll, while a broken projector plays a scene from the movie, and the speakers crackle with the familiar sound of brokeness, the ride stops. You are then ushered out, and back into the world. You didn’t even save humanity from the beast! At all cost, please please please avoid the Pacific Rim attraction.

Other than the complete assault on the senses from Pacific WhyGodDidIRideThat, the Adventure Dome gets a SOLID Full House. SOLID. Almost Quads. Absolutely worth it. Great family fun, and not TOO pricey. They might even have a Groupon available, or other such coupon, so keep a keen eye out.

There you have it. Our Post RV Apocalypse Adventures in Las Vegas! Overall it was a lot of fun, and we didn’t die! We will, of course, be back to Vegas. Next time probably without the Mews, and hopefully with less loss up front. Hope you enjoyed! If we missed something, if you have adventure tips for fellow travelers, or want to let us know what you think – please comment!

Stay tuned for more posts from your favorite Duo!