Road Trip - DaBelly reader and writer rock SoCal
By Naughty Mickie
 I make an effort to reply to as many e-mails I receive as possible, but when Scott Weatherman wrote to me about my article on Corrosion of Conformity, little did I know that a friendship would blossom. I answered his questions and he wrote me again, sharing with me tidbits of his life. Over the course of our correspondence, I learned that he is an assistant chaplain at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, plays guitar in a worship band and has a dog named Sparky; he also took his father with him to a recent Iron Maiden concert and is an aspiring rock musician. Scott expressed an interest in vacationing in Southern California and, since I felt like I already knew him, I invited him to stay at my home. As an added bonus, I offered to be his tour guide and chauffeur. Our adventures follow:
Thursday: I stand at the bottom of the escalator in Terminal 4 at the Ontario Airport holding a handmade sign: Rock and roll princess seeks ultra-cool guitarist. I hope I find the right guy! Sure enough, one guy riding the escalator bursts into laughter-- I check, "Scott?" "Mickie!" he replies. I give him a huge hug and a red-lipsticked smooch on the cheek. After getting his bags in the car, I take him to the consummate Southern California eatery-- In and Out Burger.
At the house, my dog, Indiana Bones, tries to act tough. Scott sets down his bags and sits on my couch, calling Indy over, who plants his paws on Scott's shoulders and licks his face. I know everything is going to be OK.
Friday: I have to finish up some stories, so I leave Scott to play in my music room and goof around on the computer, which keeps him happily occupied all day.
Saturday: Alas, I have a prior commitment, but not to worry. My mother, brother, Jason, and current boy toy, John, take Scott to the Irish Festival at the Fairplex in Pomona. There's music, beer, dancing, beer, vendors, beer, exhibits, beer, sheep herding demonstrations, beer... you get the idea. On a side note-- my mom can drink all the guys under the table and still dance. They ended up at Felipe's in Rancho Cucamonga, a great little Mexican restaurant, and brought home leftovers for Indy.
Sunday: Women in pretty costumes and young men go together well, so I take Scott to a belly dancing event in Granada Hills, where I am slated to perform. I dance in my duo, Almase Arabesque, balancing two swords on my head. Fortunately, but boring, I didn't manage to skewer anyone in the audience... oh well... Scott enjoyed watching many of the dancers, each with different beautiful talents. He didn't whine a touch when I shopped the vendors. Later, we slipped down a few doors to Two Guys From Italy and dined. Scott opted for calimari and pasta, while I selected pasta Alfredo.
You thought the day was done, huh? Not hardly. To make up for my absence the past two days, I whisk Scott away to the Key Club in Hollywood to see George Lynch and Yngwie Malmsteen in concert. The show is sold out, but we find a spot in the crowd where we can see and rock the night away. Both guitarists and their bands were awesome! If you didn't catch my review in Guts and Glory in the mid-month update for March, check the archives.
Monday:  I think I wore poor Scott out. He sleeps in until lunch time, when we go to the Dragon Inn in Rancho Cucamonga. This is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants-- the service is good and the food is not only terrific, but consistent, I've never had anything I didn't like there. The lunch specials are well-priced and include soup, egg roll and rice with your entree. Don't miss the slushes, they're sooo good. The mocha and cappuccino ones rival Starbuck's creations and the melon one is super-refreshing.
Tuesday: We lie low during the day, chatting and getting to know each other better. Late in the afternoon, I take Scott to Universal CityWalk for dinner and shopping. We eat at the Hard Rock Cafe (Scott is trying to collect shot glasses from every Hard Rock in the world) and walk around checking out all the memorabilia. Then we wander through the shops. In the glow shop, where you can purchase items that glow, such as jewelry, stickers, lamps and more, one of the clerks is dancing to the music playing over the sound system. I hand my purse to Scott and we salsa, stepping and spinning across the floor, as the employee's co-workers and Scott watch in amusement. Never waste an opportunity for a good time, I say.
Wednesday: Tourist time continues with a trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. This is one of the best aquariums in the country, representing a wide range of habitats and sealife. There's jellyfish, seahorses, otters, sea lions and even lorikeets. In addition to looking at animals looking at us, we petted sharks, horseshoe crabs and rays.  When those placid creatures slide up the side of the pool to peruse you with their bulgy liquid eyes, it's hard to resist stroking their surprisingly velvet heads-- I just love rays!
After a stop at the gift shop for souvenirs (I collect floater pens), we left the aquarium to check out the newest additions to Long Beach-- a bridge which looks like a rollercoaster and the Pike, a mall featuring a movie theater and a score of places to nibble through, including an ice cream shop and a store specializing in French fries. Back on the aquarium side, we dined at Bubba Gump's. The decor was taken from the Forrest Gump film and the food was way better than I expected. I tried the hush puppies-- a ball of dough graced with fish, shrimp and corn and deep-fried. I sampled them with the sauce provided, as well as the Bubba Gump hot sauce and enjoyed both. I plan to go back to this restaurant soon and recommend it if you get a chance to go.
Thursday: We wandered through, OK, around the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and explored the Page Museum. Having had the opportunity to dig in Pit 91 alongside archaeologists and volunteers previously, I have an affinity for the place, as I have contributed to its collection and research. It's hard to imagine what the world must have been like when animals such as saber toothed tigers roamed freely. One interesting fact we learned is that only one human skeleton was found in the tar pits, it was a woman who researchers believe may have been murdered and dumped there (at the time period displayed, not recently). And you should see the wall of dire wolf skulls-- those pups didn't fair well with the pits.
The next stop was the Rock Walk of Fame at the Guitar Center in Hollywood, where it just happened to be the day of induction for Randy Rhoads. Ozzy Osbourne and his family were sheltered inside the store, which was locked by the time we arrived, but we didn't mind, we tried our hands in some of the stars' imprints in the cement out front and checked out the other music stores nearby. As we made our way back to the Guitar Center, we ran into Lemmy from Motorhead, who greeted me, "Hey, Mickie." He gave me a quick hug and commented, "You're looking good." Lemmy met Scott and shook his hand-- too cool! Finally inside the store, we tried out some guitars and amps.
Our last stop was Chinatown in Los Angeles, where we shopped and then ate at a great little place that I had read about, but hadn't tried yet, Yang Chow, on Broadway. The food was touted as authentic, I don't know if this is so, but it was terrific. I had mu shu that was luscious, while Scott took on sweet and sour something with gusto. The manager, a big Lakers fan, was friendly and shared a few admittedly corny jokes, which added to the ambience.
Friday: We joined my friend, Byron Spearman, a photographer, at his place of work-- Disneyland! He treated us to a day of happiness which included most of the popular rides and attractions, plus trips to California Adventure and Downtown Disney. At California Adventure, we rode the rollercoaster and the Ferris wheel. The wheel's not for whimps either, although you can take the chicken way by riding in the stable coaches, but we opted for a coach that slid and rocked as the huge wheel turned. Yes, I screamed, but it was all in good fun. Another don't miss is the show-- the productions are big and splashy and filled with great music. This time, "Aladdin" was playing and it lived up to Byron's words. The cast had as much fun as the audience, the vocals, acting and dancing were all wonderful. But the absolute best part was the lantern-like life-sized elephant which Aladdin rode and the flying carpet that skimmed over our heads.
Saturday: Tired tootsies? Too bad. We were off to San Diego with the zoo and the Hard Rock Cafe scheduled for stops. You could easily spend a full day at the zoo, although it is laid out well enough that if you have a little less time, you can still enjoy it. Scott and I found that the best way to get an idea of where things are is to take the tour bus first, then plan from there. Doing this also ensures that you see most of the animals, as the zoo keeps the back of their habitats open in case they want to hide from visitors, which they often do mid-afternoon. After the bus, we headed straight over to the giant pandas to see the new baby. You have to wait in line, but it's worth it. The little panda was walking up a tree when we got in and at the top, he popped right over into the canopy of leaves for a snooze-- soooo cute! Mama panda was calmly chomping on leaves and all-but-ignored clicks of cameras and comments by visitors. From there we wandered to view a variety of animals. We paused for lunch at the Treehouse Cafe, where we found a great spot looking down into the panda pen. The rides on the sky tram (coaches which hold up to six people and travel via cables across the zoo) provided a stunning view of not only the zoo, but the surrounding area.
At Hard Rock Cafe in downtown San Diego, we nibbled on dinner and checked out its memorabilia-dotted walls. The trick in this part of town was finding parking. We landed a spot at a local mall, where we could park for free with validation, only you had to purchase something in the shops. I needed some coffee, so this wasn't a problem... until we found the mall was designed like a huge labyrinth with staggered levels and hardly enough stairs or escalators to make your journey easy. Still, I managed to track down some decent cappuccino and we were off.
Sunday: Fine dining and history meet at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Scott, John and I enjoyed a leisurely champagne brunch in what had been the First Class Dining Room and spent the rest of the day wandering the ship. John is a history buff, with a love of boats.. or ships... or whatever... so he answered just about every question Scott had and more. The Mary is expensive to visit, so I recommend that you go ahead and have the brunch as well, it's actually only $9 more and has a nice array of food. There's stations for pasta, Chinese food, Mexican food, omelettes, carving roasts and dessert canapes, plus a full selection of breakfast items, salads, vegetables, pies, cakes and ... are you getting hungry yet? In the middle of the room, you will see an ice sculpture and a harpist plucking out soft tunes with precision. Take your time and then walk it off while learning the Mary's intriguing history. Reservations are recommended.
Monday: I needed a girl day, where I could have a facial, manicure, pedicure and other luxuries, so John kindly took Scott to the airplane museum at March Air Force Base. Scott used to work on B-52s and John used to be a flight instructor, so the interest was mutual. (I used to fly small planes myself). The guys came back to a refreshed princess with lots of stories, which I enjoyed. I now know that I have to go to the museum myself sometime. Scott also proudly handed me a floater pen boasting a B-52-- too cool, dude!
Tuesday: This was to be a wind-down day, as Scott had to be up at 5:30 a.m. the following morning to go home. We began by visiting a drive-through Starbuck's, as Scott had never seen one before. See, there's another reason SoCal rocks. Next, we went to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune newspaper office in West Covina, where we took a tour of the facility. From beginning (researching and writing) to end (printing and folding), we learned how a newspaper is made. The process involves so many people and takes so much time that it's amazing that a paper can be completed every day and be sold at such an economical price.
Next, we traveled out to Tom's Farms in Temecula for lunch, wine tasting and shopping. Here, you can try some local vintages before you buy, so you are sure to find something you like. I got Scott to take home one of my personal favorites-- Vampire wine. It comes in several varieties, including pinot noir and cabernet, but I like the merlot best. I purchased two bottles of bubbly made exclusively for Tom's Farms, the almond and the pineapple champagne. We took a peek in the bird store and fell in love with a charming baby Senegal parrot, who tried to talk as he stuck his beak out between the bars so you could pet him. I hope he finds a terrific home.
To finish the day, I took Scott to Ontario Mills, the latest Inland Empire mall, which offers something for everyone, from specialty shops to outlet stores. We walked the entire mall - no small feat - pausing to wander through stores which caught our interest. Then, it was on to the Old Spaghetti Factory for a nice meal. Your dinner there comes complete-- soup or salad, bread, entree, drink and dessert, all for one price and a more-than-fair one at that, usually under $10. Scott selected lasagna, while I tried the Vesuvius pasta. We left happy and full.
Wednesday:  Scott woke up before I did, as I awoke to him talking to Indy. We got to the airport and made it through all the lines and baggage searches with just a tad of time to spare. A hug and he was on his way, back to Texas, with memories and more, all the time saying, "I'll be back soon!"

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