Archive for October, 2007

Los Angeles

October 22nd, 2007 at 12:01 am (AST) by Jake Richter

Day 2 of our Pacific Journey – Los Angeles

We managed to sleep in, at least as far as 7:30am (10:30am for our body clocks, which is stupendously late for us older folks). Maybe that’s a sign that we’re getting adjusted to the time zone already, although tomorrow we’ll move west another three hours in terms of time zones when we fly to Tahiti.

At 9am we met up for breakfast with our friend Mercy, an actor (I guess “actress” is no longer politically correct) who lives in the Los Angeles area, is a regular Bonaire visitor, and also had her backyard redone on Discovery Channel’s Monster House (see video clip here and photos here). Breakfast was at Du-par’s, a popular dining spot at Farmers Market. Food was good, service was okay, prices were reasonable.

After a pleasant discourse in which Mercy shared tidbits of life in the acting business in Los Angeles – it’s a tough business considering how many waiters and waitresses we’ve spoken to here who are also in the acting business – we parted ways and headed to find a FedEx Kinko’s so we could send one of our Xbox 360 video game consoles to Microsoft for warranty repair for something called the red ring of light. On the way to the FedEx Kinko’s we stumbled across the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and more particularly, an exhibit of the paintings and films of surrealist Salvador Dali.

The Dali exhibit was interesting, to say the least (Linda has promised a review here from the perspective of a trained artist). No question that Dali saw the world in a very different way from most people. Some might even say he was “messed up”.

After the FedEx and some mundane shopping at K-Mart and then getting Halloween costumes at the party store, we found ourselves back at The Grove for lunch in a restaurant called Morel’s French Steakhouse, which specialized in cheeses. I’m sure there was steak somewhere, but we didn’t see it. And while their cheese selection was superior to that of a non-cheese restaurant, it paled in comparison to New York City’s Artisanal Bistro where I was fortunate enough to end up a couple of weeks ago.

Elizabeth, our waitress/actress (working with a staff of fellow writer/actor/musician waitstaff) at Morel’s helped us choose a variety of cheeses and imported cold cuts, along with a few wines. As fate and eyes bigger than our stomachs would have it, we ordered too much of everything, and ended up with evening hangovers and food babies (i.e. bellies way too full of food). On top of that we also had cheese fondue (something Bas wanted).

The food at Morel’s was very good, prices fairly reasonable, but sadly service was sub-par. It started off pretty good, but we felt rather neglected as the end of our meal and appetite rolled around. It took about a half hour to get our bill and pay.

After a bit more shopping and a stop for ice cream (including some yummy and creamy pumpkin ice cream) we headed back to our hotel where the kids watched TV, I blogged and mucked about with that necessary pestilence we call e-mail, and Linda, wisest of us all, napped.

A late dinner at a Thai place up the street at a place called Chao Krung revived us a bit. The food was excellent in every way – texture, flavor, and temperature. And service was quite good as well. We never felt rushed, nor did we ever have to wait for someone when we needed them. Highly recommended.

We ended the night with perhaps one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen – Fantasy Mission Force, featuring (not starring) Jackie Chan. While we are big Jackie Chan fans, this movie would have been more aptly named “Nightmare Mission Forced Down Our Throats”. We had foolishly purchased this movie as part of a five-pack of Jackie Chan movies at K-Mart earlier in the day. We can only hope that the remaining four movies are even minutely better. Please, please, be better! Not sure we could take another movie as based as this one was.

Here ends Day 2 of our journey.

Photos of this day can be found here in our Photo Gallery.

 

Bonaire to Los Angeles

October 21st, 2007 at 6:12 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Day 1 of our Pacific Journey – Bonaire to Los Angeles

As the post prior to this one indicates, we started our journey from Bonaire yesterday morning on time. Our visiting friends Martin and Angela saw us off (they are staying at our house for the next week), and we flew with another long time friend, Darlene.

We checked eight pieces of checked luggage for this trip (three of those are stuffed with dive gear for the four of us), and also have the full load of eight carry-ons – four wheeled carry-ons, and four shoulder bags or back-packs. That’s a lot of stuff.

But check-in was no problem on Bonaire. It never has been if you show up early enough.

We had a very tight connection in San Juan due to a schedule change, but thanks to our frequent flyer status and business class upgrades we got to go into the express security line in San Juan and we just barely made our flight. Amazingly, our bags made it to Los Angeles with us, although problems with the baggage delivery system delayed us a bit as well.

We had prearranged with Prime Limousine Service to pick us up in a large SUV to accommodate all the luggage we had, and our driver Gennady managed to just barely squeeze us and our bags into the Escalade he brought to the airport for us. Gennady, an immigrant from Ukraine, was a nice chatty fellow, and curious about Bonaire and living in the Caribbean.

Our Hotel

We arrived at the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in early evening, and got settled into our two rooms – the kids in one, and the adults in the adjacent one. Things work better that way, we’ve found.

The hotel is located a few minute walk from the famous Farmers Market in Los Angeles, and thus also near The Grove shopping area, and we’ve been told that it’s the preferred hotel for contestants on the TV game show, The Price is Right, which is taped at the CBS Studios right across the street.

The Farmer’s Daughter hotel is a bit funky and kitschy, and features an interesting looking restaurant/bar called Tart (we’ll have dinner there tonight). The rooms are comfortable, but spartan. And as we discovered, even though we had reservations for connecting rooms, there were no such rooms at the hotel at all. But we did manage to get adjacent rooms. The front desk staff was friendly, but there was no bell staff to speak of, so we had a lot of luggage moving to do ourselves once we found a luggage cart. Not a problem, but it did delay our getting to our rooms a bit.

After settling in and opening the FedEx boxes waiting for us (one was a color proof of the forthcoming 2008 Richter Art Calendar and the others for Linda’s new Sony Reader – more on the latter later), we headed out to explore dinner options.

Dining Out – Japanese Cusine

We settled on a place called Kado, which offered regular dining on one side and a conveyor belt sushi delivery system on the other. We opted for the conveyor belt sushi side, as we could get fed more quickly that way, and because the other side was loud and noisy with various actors and Hollywood types (Bas saw an actor he recognized from one of the shows he watches) at some sort of shindig.

The food at Kado was quite good, but service was a bit sketchy – many of the waiters and waitresses seemed a bit distracted by the gathering at the other side of the restaurant in the lounge.

Winding Down

After dinner we wandered over to the party supply store across the way to scout out Halloween gear for use on Halloween aboard the cruise ship. We actually have no idea if there will be anything remotely like Halloween celebrated on the cruise, though. We did not buy anything last night, but did study the options, and ended up buying costumes and accessories today.

After a quick stop for soft serve ice cream in Farmers Market, we retired to our rooms for the night and watched a couple of episodes of Smallville, Season 1 with the kids off the DVDs we had brought with us to distract them with. It should be noted that the rooms here at the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel are equipped with good sized flat screens and DVD players – an added bonus as far as we’re concerned, since watching such movies on the small 8″ portable DVD player is a challenge for four people.

That ends Day 1 of our journey.

Photos documenting the day’s travels and explorations can be found here in our Photo Gallery.

 

Our Journey Commences

October 20th, 2007 at 8:49 am (AST) by Jake Richter

We left Bonaire at approximately 7:50am this morning on American Eagle flight 5055, starting a nearly 8 week journey that takes us to Los Angeles later today, then Tahiti a couple of days later.

In Tahiti, we board a cruise ship for an 11-day cruise via Moorea, Bora Bora, and Kiritimati to the Hawaiian islands.

We will then spend another 10 days island hopping, with time on Maui, Hawaii, and Oahu.

From Oahu, it’s back to Los Angeles for a couple of days (during which I will need to be deposed for a patent case I am a testifying expert for).

And then we join our friend Margo Peyton and her family, as well as dozens of others for a flight to Fiji to spend Thanksgiving week there as part of Margo’s Kids Sea Camp program.

After our week on Castaway Island with the camp, we then move on to Viti Levu, the big island of Fiji for another week and a half of exploration before flying back to Los Angeles and spending a handful of days in Santa Barbara at a resort with my brother and his family.

And as our trip winds down, we’ll spend a few days in Miami doing our Christmas shopping before returning home to Bonaire in the middle of December.

Photos will be posted whenever I have some time and an Internet connection.

 

The Diving Family

October 19th, 2007 at 5:22 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

In advance of what I hope will be a trip involving a fair bit of scuba diving, I’m pleased to report that the entire Richter family is now certified to scuba dive.

Bas gets ready for a certification diveKrystyana’s certification has been updated from PADI Jr. Scuba Diver to Jr. Open Water Diver, meaning she can now dive with all other divers (but only to a maximum depth of 40 feet).

And Bas passed all his academics and confined water sessions for diving with flying colors, and also completed two of the four open water certification dives, and thus I have now certified him as a PADI Jr. Scuba Diver. That means he has to dive with a PADI Divemaster or Instructor (i.e. me), also with a maximum depth of 40 feet).

 

First Photos in Our Photo Gallery

October 17th, 2007 at 11:22 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

In preparation for our upcoming 8 weeks of travel all over the South Pacific and Hawaii, I needed to check and see if the underwater housing I had for my Nikon D200 DSLR camera still functioned.

As we’re leaving early on Saturday, and I have been busy with other things, tonight was the first chance I had to get the housing and camera in the water. I’m pleased to say that it worked flawlessly. Below is one of the couple of dozen photos I took.

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Pictured above is a brittle star on a sponge

The dive was a couple minutes from our home here on the island of Bonaire, at Windsock Beach, named thusly because it sits across the road from the start (or end) of the airport runway.

The rest of the photos from the night dive can be found here.

 

Welcome to Our Life

October 17th, 2007 at 10:53 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

After months of agonizing over the software and content to use for this site, we’re doing a soft launch of The Traveling Richters web site tonight. It’s a very soft launch, as we are still missing a lot of content. However, we have all reasonable expectations that we’ll be able to flesh things out in short order, as well as add new material based on our on going travel adventures, debacles, and escapades.

The base purpose of this site is to keep friends and family up to date on our whereabouts and adventures, while at the same time creating a travelogue of our journeys for our kids to use as part of the work they do as distance learners (or homeschoolers or even unschoolers, if those terms are more familiar).

However, as we will also be reviewing restaurants, hotels, and other services and products as we encounter them, we hope this site will be useful to others who stumble across it in time.