Exploring La Jolla California (Part 3)

I woke up on Sunday morning knowing that we had just about a half day before we needed to hit the highway, leave the ocean breezes and drive through the scorching desert back home to Phoenix.  It really wasn’t as depressing as it sounds.  We knew that our La Jolla visit was going to be short and we also knew that we will be leaving for Scotland and Ireland in a few short weeks.  (Stay tuned for more on that.)

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market_FlowersAfter enjoying our free breakfast at the hotel I spent a little time surfing the web to try to get some ideas on things to do in our last hours there.  I thought about heading downtown to check out some shops and galleries, since we didn’t do any of that on Saturday, but wasn’t sure when everything opened.  Then I stumbled onto a reference for the La Jolla Open Aire Market.  Since it was in the middle of summer, I was thinking it might be a great place to pick up some delicious So Cal produce to take home with us.  Turns out it was all that and so much more!

The Market is held every Sunday at the playground and all proceeds benefit the La Jolla Elementary School, just a block or so from downtown.  What a brilliant way to bring in additional funds for our budget conscious schools!  I would imagine it’s a fair amount of work to coordinate, but even if you only did it once a month or a few times a year I would imagine that you could bring in a decent amount of money for your favorite educational institution.

Because of it’s location at the corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street you run into a similar parking problem here as you do trying to get to the beach.    So Terry was nice enough to drop me off at the entrance and drive around until he found a parking space.

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market Produce

Admission is free, which is always nice.  Once we walked inside we were immediately flooded with vibrant sights, irresistible smells and perfectly lovely sounds.  We enjoyed a talented guitar player and vocalist right at the entrance (sadly, I didn’t get his name).  Some of the vendors that caught my eye offered fresh flowers, produce, children’s clothes,  fine art photography, jewelry, home-made soaps and more.  There was also a woman selling gorgeous orchids for very reasonable prices and I was so tempted to buy one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how it would fare in our trek across the desert (or if it would make it through the border check going back into Arizona).   Here’s an extensive list of their vendors as of the latest update.

We did stop and buy some peaches, green and wax beans and a loaf of rosemary bread.  Mmmmm…

As we wandered around the booths I couldn’t help but notice the amazing scents that wafted through the crowds.  At the far corner of the market there was a concentration of food vendors that were obviously competing for our appetites. This was one time that I was disappointed to have had a free (boring) breakfast an hour or so before, because I really wished that I could justify buying one of the delicacies that was tempting my taste buds. Using all the will-power I could muster, I walked past the Turkish Grill and squeezed by the long line for the Creperie.  I was able to talk Terry into getting a huge cup filled with fresh sliced mangos and melon.  Let’s call it dessert after breakfast.  It was delicious!  I’ll tell you, if I lived nearby I would do brunch every Sunday there until I had tried out all the food vendors.  They smelled and looked THAT good!

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market - Little Girl's Dresses

Then on the way out we spotted a booth called “Gingersnaps” with these adorable little girl’s summer dresses.  I was SO tempted to buy one or two, except the fact that I don’t have any grandchildren yet, and didn’t have an immediate plan to attend a baby shower, so I wasn’t sure who I could give them to.  I did think about my little friends, Emolyn and Elsie, but just didn’t have it in the budget to pick up something for them that day…and Terry would have thought I was crazy…maybe next time.

Here’s a small gallery of a few more enticing vendors from the Market.  It was a such an unexpected adventure, chock full of treasures of all shapes and sizes.  Oh, don’t I wish it was Christmas shopping season already!  What am I saying!  It’s Christmas shopping season all year long, but it’s also vacation season, so we had to save our pennies for the big trip in August.

Hey, I’ve decided to add one more post about La Jolla, so stop by later this week to see what other treasures we found there.

What’s your favorite open air market and what do you love to buy there?

2 Great Casual Places to Eat in Encino

A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Southern California to see Amy & Andrew and to use a hotel gift certificate that was going to expire. What a great excuse to get out of the heat!  We stayed one night in Tarzana with the kids and Saturday night we stayed a couple of hours south in LaJolla.

Because food is always a key ingredient in any trip, I thought I’d share a couple of the places that we ate.  Three of them were excellent and one was very good. It’s hard to rank them because they were all very different, so I’ll list them in the order that we ate them.  See what you think.  I’ll share two from Encino today and two in La Jolla tomorrow.

The Stand – When Terry and I were making the long drive from Phoenix, I started thinking about The Stand about 2 hours before we got there. It’s THAT good.  We went to the one in Encino, but there are a few other So Cal locations as well.  Amy & Andrew introduced us to this place a year or so ago and we have loved it every time we’ve been there.  In addition to the great food, the awesome outdoor eating area just adds to the experience.  I don’t know about you, but a breezy alfresco meal always tastes better to me somehow!

I was analyzing this cozy spot that’s right next to a very busy city street.  They’ve creatively planted trees and tall hedges to provide shade and sound proofing between the diners and the cars.  This could easily be replicated in Phoenix.  They might have to close down for a month or so in the summer. Then again, if they had misters in a shady area like this, it could be a year round venue.  Anyone willing to try it?  We’ll definitely be your regular customers!  Randy & Linda, How bout it?  You could close down in the summer and head out of town!

The Stand Encino

On this visit I tried their Chicago style hotdog with sweet potato fries.  I’ve heard so  much about it, but had never tried it.  I’m not a huge fan of the poppy seeds on the bun.  I can take or leave them. They don’t add a lot of flavor and I always worry that they’re stuck in my front teeth when I’m finished eating.  Otherwise, this was delicious!  Terry shared my fries and got a chili dog and liked it so much that he went back for another one.

Here are a couple of posts that Amy did about The Stand too, with even more photos.

Hotdog at the Stand

More Than Waffles – Encino

This is the first time we’ve been here and if I had looked at their website before we went, I probably would have ordered something different.  Not that my club sandwich wasn’t good, but some of the other breakfast items look AMAZING!  Terry got a very hearty omelette with waffles on the side. The smell of freshly made waffles is so scrumptious. He was kind enough to share a bite of his with me. Everything we had was excellent.

Amy & Andrew

What a great time to be with A & A and explore a few of their favorite spots.  They live in a great area for cute little eateries.  We love going there and trying out their discoveries.  Of course, we’d love going there no matter where they live.  It’s the people, not the place that we love the most.

Soon I’ll share about our day in La Jolla looking at the seals and sea lions.  And the little boy who needed a little bit of “mom-type” help.  It was so much fun!

So Cal Resorts

Our whirlwind trip to So Cal…

Monday through Weds this week, I needed to go to Southern California to visit some potential venues for our next Getaway at Bo’s Cafe for work. It’s my job to research and gather info so our team can decide on the best location at the best price for our exclusive fund-raising and marriage retreats for 25-30 influential couples from around the U.S. and Canada. Our guests are folks that generally have the means to stay wherever in the world they want (literally) so we need a place that’s luxurious, yet somewhat reasonable in price. Impossible, you say? Well, we’ll see…

I didn’t want to go by myself, so Amy graciously came along to take pictures of the places while I walked and talked with the sales reps. It was a huge help for me to not have to keep track of taking photos so I could concentrate on questions and just observing the place. Don’t I look like I’m concentrating on something important here?

To save money we drove to So Cal instead of flying…about 5 hours or so each way. Amy slept in the back seat for part of the way over and used her backpack as a pillow (above). She also decided that part of her photo assignment was to see how many pics she could take of herself in the mirrors that we passed during the tours. I didn’t count them, but I’m sure there’s at least a dozen or more.

All 7 of the resorts we visited (basically in 2 days) had either 4 or 5-diamond AAA ratings, except one that was 3 diamond. The one that was 5 diamond, was clearly superior to the others, so I hope we’re able to work a good deal to be able to go there. The other properties were all very nice, and places that Terry and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay, (if the room rate wasn’t too high). But since we’re expecting guests with somewhat higher standards, we’ll try to go with the highest quality that we can afford. As a non-profit, it’s a delicate balance between spending money for higher quality and not appearing that we’re being frivolous…it’s my job to try to find that balance.

These are the resorts we visited, in order of my current preference, based on factors like, overall beauty and cleanliness onsite, location, proximity to fun activities, amenities, guest rooms, meeting rooms, food, etc.:

Four Seasons Aviara – Carlsbad
Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort
Hilton San Diego
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
Rancho Bernardo Inn

I could go into detail about each one, but I’ll let you look at their websites if you’re interested. If you want more info on any of them, I’ll be happy to answer any questions or give my personal comments.

For now, I’ll share just a couple of tidbits that were fun about the visits. The outside photos here are of the Four Seasons Aviara which was head and shoulders above the rest. A beautiful resort inside and out.

Click on the photo of the table full of water and treats to see that the Hilton San Diego set it up just to welcome Amy and me. WOW!!! At this same table, we were also introduced to the General Manager of the resort, the award winning Head Chef, Hermann Schaefer, the Hotel Manager and some other man that I don’t remember his title. Talk about intimidating, but certainly made us feel important & special!

These shoes were worn by our sales rep at the Paradise Point resort. She was a sweet young lady and did some creative things for us as well.

By the end of each day we were pretty tired from all the driving and walking so we just relaxed in the room. On Weds night we were trying to get home to see the Suns play the Mavs for a critical basketball game. We listened to the first half on the radio coming home and I got to see the 2nd half and the TWO overtimes on TV at home.

I had a fun time and was so glad that Amy came with me. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun by myself.