Friday, January 3, 2014

The MSU Spartans Go to the Rose Bowl...and So Do We!

December 28, 2013 - January 2, 2014
Los Angeles, Hollywood & Pasadena, CA

We returned home from our Scott-has-a-couple-days-off-from-work-so-where-do-you-want-to-go? road trip to Oregon on Christmas Day, feeling exhausted, but fulfilled.  After a mere two days at home simply preparing to depart on the next leg of our journey (we were only home because Scott had to return to work), we hit the road again on the Saturday before New Year's, heading southbound this time.  We always said that if (when, I mean when!) the Michigan State University (Scott's alma mater) Spartans were going to the Rose Bowl, then we'd be going too!  And then they went and did it!

Tailgating at the Rose Bowl with old friends!

Tickets were pretty hard to come by and plane fares exorbitant (thankfully, we were able to just jump in the car!) but several of Scott's old college friends were making the trip as well and it promised to be too much fun to miss!  

We arrived in LA mid-Saturday afternoon and after a weekend of beautiful weather and sightseeing - admiring the modern design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall (from the outside), wandering (and eating in) Little Tokyo and Chinatown, visiting the Getty Center Museum and beachwalking in Malibu - we were excited to soon be meeting up with our friends, Jim and Laura from Indianapolis and Scott's childhood friend John, whose girlfriend Emma we'd be meeting for the first time.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Late in the day on Monday, we got settled into the beautifully renovated 4-bedroom mid-century modern house in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA, near Hollywood, that John had rented from a work associate.  Much merriment ensued as we caught each other up on the goings on in our lives over the past ten years and after walking to a late dinner at a neighborhood Italian restaurant (which is hazy in my memory after all that wine), we hit the hay.
Catching up with Laura over a California cab at our swanky digs in LA, featuring a funky textured "nightclub"wall
On New Year's Eve morning, we hiked to the Observatory in Griffith Park near the house with John, Emma and Laura, admiring the views from the top, while Jim went off for a "sightseeing" run on his own. 

On the trail to Griffith Observatory with Emma & John
That afternoon, the six of us set off in Jim's rented SUV for the requisite sightseeing on Hollywood Blvd, followed by lunch at an oddly empty sports bar.  

Checking out the signed, handprinted and footprinted concrete blocks at TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman's/Mann's Chinese Theatre) on Hollywood Blvds' Walk of Fame
Since we would be getting up very early the next morning to drive to Pasadena for tailgating before the game, we spent a fun but low-key New Year's Eve at the house, cooking dinner with Jim and Laura, listening to music, drinking wine and watching Ryan Seacrest on TV, staying up just late enough to catch Robin Thicke singing his hit-of-the-year "Blurred Lines" (humorously dubbed "the "rapey song" by Jim) and to watch the ball drop.

Happy New Year from LA!!!
As a special New Year's Eve treat, shortly after dinner, Scott and Jim's college friends, Todd and Nicole (whom we hadn't seen since their wedding in the '90s!) and their kids, Maddie and Josh, dropped by to say hello!

MSU Reunion!
The Rose Bowl - tailgating as well as the game itself - was truly amazing!  Everyone, even including me, the biggest non-football fan there ever was, had such a great time and Scott was so incredibly happy to be there!  Our friend Jim, who was staying in the house with us was able to get four face-value tickets for the game from a friend in Indy who is a big donor and, luckily for us, was unable to attend the game. (So sadly for him, he was in Grand Cayman or somewhere equally horrible over the holidays).  Scott felt that we had some of the best seats possible in the stadium and there was nothing like seeing that sea of green all around us.  

All around us, it was a sea of green and white inside Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena
All the Spartan fans were so excited to be there, the energy, camaraderie and team spirit, both tailgating and in the stadium, was simply incredible.  I admit, I even teared up a bit at the end when they won the game.  And this, from someone who really doesn't care about football!  Of course it was especially exciting since the Spartans were expected to lose.  What an amazing victory!  And as a special bonus, it was really wonderful to see so many of Scott's old college friends too.  We decided then and there that we will definitely be doing this again, should the opportunity arise!  Let's go Spartans!

Jim & Scott, reconnecting with  MSU friend Al, now from Portland
On Thursday morning, in a tired haze, we left for Oakland, just in time for Scott to go into the office for a few hours upon returning home.  In keeping with our typical whirlwind schedule, the following day, an old high school boyfriend of mine and his wife arrived from Michigan to spend the weekend with us at our apartment on their trip to San Francisco.  Unfortunately the visit was cut short, as I managed to fall ill with an intestinal ailment, which seems to be becoming an annual tradition with me.  Luckily, it was not nearly as bad as last year's episode in Korea but an unpleasant start to 2014 nonetheless.  We did have a bit of time to catch up even if I was unable to leave the apartment, so all was not completely lost.

Anna & Colin, visiting from Grand Rapids.  Sadly, I was too ill to appear in the photo with them.

More photos:
The cool architecture of Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Seasonal decorations in downtown LA
Enjoying the sunshine at the Getty Center Museum
The gardens at the Getty
At the Getty
Walking the beach in Malibu
Winter in Malibu...I could get used to this...
Best Peking duck ever!  At the funky Hop Woo in LA's Chinatown 
Scott admires the pool upon our arrival at the Los Feliz house
Even Caroline's got Spartan Spirit!
Scott & Jim were really excited to be going to the Rose Bowl...
4 friends + 5 bottles of wine = a guaranteed good time!
Scott and Jim take an afternoon pool break at our luxury digs
Checking out the signatures, hand prints and footprints at TCL Chinese Theatre

Foolin' around at TCL Chine Theatre on Hollywood Blvd
Where Laura & Jim wanted to have lunch - sorry guys!
Lunch at the Happy Ending, just a couple blocks away from the chaos and teeming masses on Hollywood Blvd
Spartan pride on Hollywood Blvd!
8:00 am: at the Rose Bowl and ready to party (yeah, we're Midwestern)!  Tailgate time!!!

Green and white, everywhere!
The MSU marching band enters the field at half-time

Jim & Laura know it's important to stay hydrated...
Oh my God, they 're gonna win, they're gonna win!!!

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