Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Roses

We got on the bus!  Yes, December 31, 2007 we were off to Pasadena again.  This morning we had a leisurely breakfast sitting by the Koi Pond.  I had a chocolate muffin and coffee from the Koi Cafe. The fish were swimming and the turtles sunning on rocks.  It was very relaxing.  We had a delay with people who were late coming down to the bus.  In fact, some one had to go into the hotel and get them from their rooms.  So we were one of the last buses to get to the Kickoff Luncheon and Hall of Fame induction. The luncheon was sponsored by Trader Joes.  The lunch was a cold one and was waiting for us at our assigned tables.  It was delicious.  We had chicken and beef, green salad and pasta salad and a decadent chocolate cake.  We all got a souvenir football ( a small one, table decoration) and a really neat tote bag from Trader Joe's.  Boy did that come in handy hauling all the loot back from California.  You see I had forgotten to leave any room in my suitcase!

Brent Musberger was the announcer for the Hall of Fame,  Emeril was the Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade and he spoke too.  We heard from both coaches and heard both bands.  The Orange and Blue section of the Marching Illini really revved up the crowd.  They so out played and out revved!  those Trojans.

After lunch we got back on the bus and left for Santa Monica.  We walked and shopped and went back to the Pier and walked back to the hotel along the beach.   When we reached the hotel we got out of our Orange clothing and got dressed for supper at The Grille.  The setting was lovely, we looked out on the pool. I ate Squash Latte with grilled Camebert and apple butter for an appetizer.  Then I had Loch Duarte Seared Salmon with rock shrimp chowder and flat leaf pesto.  Wow was it tasty!  The chef came around to check and see if everything was cooked to our liking.  The prestentation was so lovely I felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef!  I did find it shocking that I had to pay $18 for one glass of wine,  I mean really it was just wine, nothing special!  At 8:30 the piano player began to play.  The staff brought us party hats.
After dinner we relaxed in the room and I celebrated the New Year at 10:00pacfic time because that would be 12:00 central and that is when my girls were celebrating.  Then I tried to get some sleep because January 1 would be a long day!!  Sandy stayed up repacking some of her things.

We got up at 5:00 am to get on the bus for the Rose Parade.  There were 12 buses of Orange clad fans from the 3 hotels in Santa Monica!   The bus parking lot was jammed bus to bus.  I couldn't figure out how we were ever getting out of there!  We walked to our grandstand seats but it took a while to get everyone in there because we had to step around all the native Californians who had slept on the street to get to see the parade.
The parade  was really fun to watch. Seeing the floats completed and what thinks opened up and moved on each float was  neat to watch.  The transforming Honda truck that went from a desert road vehicle to a flying space machine complete with pilot was amazing.  Our bus had been held up by the Honda float turning around, the day before as we were going to the Kickoff Luncheon. It took the entire intersection and parts of two streets to turn the thing around.
The Portugese American float got a flat tire right as it approached where we were sitting.  The guys in white suits came with ther walkies and a tow truck backed up down the parade route from the closest side street.  While they were hooking the float up, the Honor Band that was marching behind them, divided and went around the float  and never missed a beat or a step.  
Then we had to find a bus that was going to the Tailgate.  Well we were the second to last bus to get to the tailgate and due to poor planning by the catering company there was no food left when we got there.  There was lots of food left on plates by people who had taken more than they could eat, but alas there was nothing for us.   I expect that all of us who didn't get to eat will be getting a reimbursement for the high cost of those tickets.   Captain Rat and The Blind Rivets were very entertaining and the Orange and Blue Marching Illini played for us again.
Then we entered the stadium!  I am not a crowd person, but I wasn't going to miss this.  The stadium is nestled in the mountains and is quite beautiful on the outside.  It could use some better bathrooms however.   What can I say, the Orange filled the end of the stadium,  our fans had great spirit and really didn't loose it even though the team performed rather miserably.  By the time we boarded the bus I was ready to get back to the hotel. All I had eaten all day was a muffin a banana, a nutrigrain bar and 6 oz of orange juice.  Oh yes and at the Tailgate they finally brought out some rather nasty pasta salad, and we got a little of that.
We walked to the promenade and ate at Johnny Rockets,  old fashioned burgers and shakes!
Then to the hotel to pack and get ready to go home.  As much fun as I had I was really ready to go.  After some delay at LAX,  that is a long story,  we took off.  

Unfortunately I picked up a nasty virus in California and lost my lunch about an hour from Champaign.  I then proceeded to bring that nasty virus into my home and on Friday both my girls had it to.  It took four days to run its entire course.  
Well that is the end of my travel diary!  Next post will be entirely new!

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