Monday, May 10, 2010

Huntington Museum and Gardens

Since moving to Pasadena, I've had every intention of visiting the Huntington Gardens because they are only a 5 minute drive from my house and I've heard nothing but rave reviews. Thankfully I saved this event for when my parents came to stay with us. It turned out to be the perfect answer to "What should I do when my parents are here?" And as a bonus, it was Mothers Day weekend.

Not much to say, so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. Photography is not one of my hobbies, nor one of my strong suits, but there were so many beautiful sites that I couldn't help but be inspired.

Here's the conservatory. Inside was a rain forest garden, cloud forest garden, a bog and a plant lab.

Moving on, we stumbled our way towards the Chinese Garden. I use the word stumble because even with the help of signs and a map, it's actually really hard to figure out exactly where you're going. Or to know, for sure, when you've arrived.

Well, then I saw this and I figured we were there.

I was particularly fond of the enormous koi fish swimming throughout the pond.

Koi at Huntington Gardens, Pasadena from Briana Mahoney on Vimeo.

I could've watched them for hours.

Quick story: this video was taken from a vantage point of a flat rock about 4 inches off the ground. While I quietly observed the fish, a pair of children to my right prodded them with sticks. After a few moments, a museum guard wearing a uniform reminiscent of the Maytag repairman walked over and asked me to get down from the rock. Never one to make a fuss, I rolled my eyes and began to walk away. Thankfully, Devin said precisely what I was thinking. "So she can't stand on that rock, but it's okay for kids to poke the fish with sticks?" The guard turned his attention to the kids and offered a half-hearted, "Oh yeah, stop poking the fish."


Next we drifted over to the Japanese Gardens.

And then found the Rose Garden. For reasons I have yet to discern, Pasadena is just wild about roses. So it's only fitting that they have like 5 billion roses in this garden.

Each variety of rose had its own clever name. I liked this one best.

Here I am, posing with my own Sexy Rexy.

Lastly, we hurried through the Australian Garden (having just returned from a 3 week trip to Australia, my parents were not overly interested in the re-creation of this particular habitat), and then to the Desert Garden.

The Desert Garden was as interesting as it was massive.

I didn't really get to spend a lot of time closely examining the plants, and I'd really like to take the free tour on my next visit. Additionally, there were at least 5 museum buildings I didn't even step inside. Certainly I'll have to make a second trip... and maybe a third... and a fourth.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Let me begin this post with Devin's quote from the end of the night at Tributefest. "Of all the stuff you've gotten the Doing Stuff Club to do, this was by far the best...but no one wanted to do it." It's true, I couldn't round up a crowd but I didn't let that stop me. And it's a good thing, because Tributefest rocked.

Held in Santa Clarita, a suburban type city about 30 minutes north of LA, Tributefest is a day long concert of cover bands, beer tents and food trucks. How could I only manage to rally 2 people (Devin and Becca) to go with me? I have no idea. People are crazy.

This was the inaugural Tributefest, and while my spidey senses tell me not to attend the first-ever anything because it's bound to be a logistical nightmare with overflowing port-o-potties, insufficient parking, and a whole mess of cranky staff, I was delighted to discover the entire day was perfection.

After a scenic drive we arrived at Santa Clarita's central park, which oddly had NO signs of any kind like "Concert - This Way." Even more peculiar was the abundance of parking --- and that it was free. FREE, bwa ha ha.

When we picked up our tickets at will-call, the trio of fresh-faced young ladies working at the table asked, "Do you want to buy an all you can drink pass for $25?" Um, yes please! We quickly did the math -- each beer costs $5 (already astoundingly cheap for a concert), so to get our money's worth we'd have to drink 5 beers. Then our 6th would be free. With 30 beers on tap, spread out over various tents, taking advantage of all-you-can-drink seemed like an easy enough task.

It was still early when we arrived. Doing a quick survey of the area, I saw much promise in the day ahead. For instance, there was a giant line of popular food trucks.

And, by the way, even as the concert filled up, the lines were minimal at each of them, and so it was easy to sample as much food as my heart desired. So SUCK IT, Street Food Festival!

We quickly met up with our old neighbor, Micah, who coincidentally was there with a few friends. We decided to join forces and set up our camp of 3 blankets toward the back of the crowd. The event's website recommended you bring something to sit on, which we interpreted as meaning "bring an old sheet," but which a good deal of the other festival-goers read as "set up a shanty town."

Seriousy, some of these people had everything: pop-up shelters, lawn chairs, coolers. Some people brought their own activities like a Frisbee or a football. We even saw a bocce ball set and, at the camp next to ours, a freaking bean bag toss.

We may not have had all that, but we were still comfy and relaxed.

While the Sublime cover band gave a sluggish performance on stage, we made our way through our first few beers. I decided to try all of them. So I started off with Shock Top, then moved on to Summer Ale (my favorite), then pear cider, then some kind of Hefeweizen...And then, I'll be honest, I sort of lost track.

Also once I realized I'd made it to my 6th beer I stopped counting. I wish I'd done what the folks at a nearby compound did and amassed an impressive stack to keep a tally.

But I was trying to be all environmentally conscious, so I'd approach the beer tents with my empty cup and ask for a refill. None of the event staff seemed to like this touch and I think I gave up on that after a few dirty looks.

The second best part of the day was the food. There were so many trucks to choose from, though I decided to stay away from Tastymeat and The Greasy Weiner. I think the best truck name was Crepe'n Around, because it was hilarious to say with a botched French accent.

Here's a run down of the food we sampled:

First there was Don Chow's mexican-chinese food. I had a ridiculously delicious soy-ginger tofu burrito. Only $5!

Then there was Frysmith, where I sampled the veggie chilli fries and Devin had Raja's Fries, a dish that claimed to have french fries but looked like a giant bowl of steak. Each fry platter was $4-$6. Where are the pictures? Oh yeah, we ate everything before I could get the camera.

Next up was a $4 banana nutella crepe from Crepe'n Around. Again, devoured by the group before I could snap a picture.

Lastly, there were a variety of dumplings from the Dim Sum Truck. Each $2-$3. While powering through this bunch of food I managed to get a quick picture, but as you can see, we'd already had most of it. Whoops.

I really wish I'd had more to eat, and with the prices and variety I could have! Darn it. Missed opportunity.

As for the music, most of the cover bands were pretty decent, though I couldn't bother to get my lazy, beer-bloated self off the blanket and up front to check them out.

Here's a picture from our vantage point of Paperback Writer, the Beatles tribute band in their brightly colored Sgt. Pepper costumes.

When The Who's tribute band made their way to stage, I had to get up front to take a look because there seemed to be a great deal of microphone and drumstick choreography happening. Also, I needed to get a better look at this magnificent fringed vest.

While Becca and I made our way through the maze of lawn chairs and toward the standing crowd at the front, she remarked, "It's like a while different world up here!" And she was right! This whole time we'd been sitting in the land of 40-somethings who were chatting and mom-dancing. But meanwhile, up by the stage there were severely drunk 40-somethings singing at the top of their lungs with such enthusiasm you'd think the actual Roger Daltry was shimmying around up there. One very enthused gentleman would punch the air and yell "Come on! Yeah!" every time fake Keith Moon hit the cymbals. It was hard not to have a serious amount of fun standing up front.

And at the end of the night, that's exactly where I found myself for Wanted, the Bon Jovi tribute. Although I could care less about actual Bon Jovi on any given day, I was seriously jazzed about rocking out to some Bon Jovi covers.

And they didn't disappoint. They also managed to draw to the front all of the festival attendees in my age group. We were a minority, but a very excitable one!

Devin was fist pumping.

And here I am, apparently singing into Becca's face.

Throughout the day I kept saying aloud, Why isn't everything this well done? Good cheap food, good cheap beer, clean bathrooms. Even the usually-surly event security were friendly and seemed to let people just do whatever they wanted. "You can't smoke here. Well, actually, go ahead whatever." While the name Tributefest was meant to reflect the line up of tribute bands, I like to think of it as really a tribute to festivals. Lounging around in the sunshine and fresh air, listening to good music and drinking cold beer out of plastic cups.