Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016

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USA! The United States of America!

Memorial Day: A Day of Remembrance!
Originally it was called Decoration Day. A day when Americans went to cemeteries and placed flags or flowers on the graves of the war dead. It was a day to remember ancestors, family members, and loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in service for the United States of America. Waterloo, New York, was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, but over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. Decoration Day was created during the Civil War to honor the dead. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of the day. At many cemeteries, the graves of American war dead are increasingly ignored or neglected while backyard barbecues and a three day weekend are now the only celebration of the holiday.

FRIDAY

Our “three day weekend” began on Friday afternoon.

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Friday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Quesadilla with red pepper salsa, avocado, celery & carrots, persian cucumber, dill pickle, strawberries, blueberries, mango and an iced espresso

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Dinner with a friend at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood. We been here before and you can read about it (See our Previous Blog! Search Box: Mucho Mas^^^^^)

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Dinner at Mucho Mas Mexican Restaurant in North Hollywood, California

On The Menu: 2 beef tacos, a cheese enchilada, Mexican rice, refried beans, a green salad with ranch dressing, fresh made tortilla chips & spicy salsa and a Dr Pepper.

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
Memorial Day Weekend in Los Angeles is a “Maximum Enforcement” period by local law enforcement to combat drunk driving. On our way to NoHo we saw LAPD Metro cops on motorcycles already patrolling the San Fernando Valley. Once again we were the designated driver, so we didn’t drink any alcohol before dinner or at the restaurant, so our friend could enjoy his beers and stay safe in North Hollywood.

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Neon Clown Drive-by at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood

SATURDAY

Chore Day! Laundry and Spring Cleaning! We spent most of the day trying to clean and get organized. We are on a mission to get rid of the clutter and stuff we don’t need.

We finished and posted a new Blog about the “Slugfest in Hollywood” on Tuesday: the Dixie Hollywood Hotel, Dinner at Susan Finegar’s Mud Hen Tavern and The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl”.

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Saturday Lunchtime!

Lunchtime! Sesame bagel with hummus and persian cucumber, dill pickle, avocado, carrots, celery, red grapes, blueberries and an iced espresso.

A beautiful sunset in the San Fernando Valley:

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Saturday Sunset in the SFV – San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California

And a pretty boring Saturday night at home…

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Dinner: Enchilada Nachos!

Dinner: Enchilada Nachos! Used the leftover Mexican food from last night: cheese enchilada cut up with the rice and beans and then more cheese over tortilla chips with taco bell hot sauce. “Life is short, make it saucy!”

And we watched “The Intern” with Robert Deniro and Anne Hathaway on HBO. A cute film about a 70 year old retired business man (played by Deniro) who interns for a successful online women’s clothing company owned by a young, overworked woman with an adorable young child and a “stay at home” husband (played by Hathaway). The cast is rounded out by a crew of young, nerdy “Tech Bros” and Rene Russo as the company masseuse.

It’s really a romantic comedy without the romance between Deniro and Hathaway, adding Rene Russo as the hot, younger old person and love interest. It was a fun movie with a great cast, but the happy ending was kind of lacking in resolution and could have been much better! Deniro got to chew on the scenery and play a custom tailored part and that’s what he’s great at. Hathaway is a terrific actress, and this role mirrors her part in “The Devil Wears Prada” as a young and successful working woman conquering adversity.

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And we ate some Hot Tamales to better simulate the “movie theatre” experience.

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Hot Tamales!

We also did a little Periscope viewing too. We watched The Cure live from Washington and Steven Brody Stevens killing it and rockin’ comedy at the Improv on Melrose.

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FOLLOW Good Guy Steven Brody Stevens on Periscope and Twitter: @Brodyismefriend

And then we worked on laying out this Blog until we got tired and fell asleep.

SUNDAY

We slept in and then made breakfast/brunch.

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Sunday Breakfast – Bacon and Eggs!

Sunday Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheese & hot sauce, bacon, English muffins with peanut butter & raspberry jam, nectarine, orange juice and an iced espresso.

And we were going to do stuff today and then we turned on HBO and saw they were running a marathon of “The Pacific”, the under appreciated follow up to “Band of Brothers” in honor of Memorial Day. It’s a great period piece about World War II and the war against the Japanese. So, we didn’t watch all 10 hours, but we did watch…and worked.

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Hot Dogs! Sunday afternoon with the dogs in the backyard:

We were invited to go to the movies, but passed because we didn’t want to see the film and we hate going to the theatre on weekends or holidays because there are just too many people, and all it really takes is one person with a cell phone to ruin the experience for me. So, we stayed at the home office and someone brought me dinner!

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Sunday “To Go” Dinner delivered: Orange chicken, steamed rice, sautéed vegetables from The Cheesecake Factory and a Dr Pepper. Tasty “comfort” food makes me happy.

Sunday night “must see TV” on HBO: New episodes of “Game of Thrones”, “Silicon Valley” and a previously aired episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”

SPOILER ALERT! 

“Hold the door!” We waited all week for this episode of Game of Thrones. Last week’s episode “The Door” was excellent. And sad. And emotionally involving. And as always, there are so many story lines running that each episode feels incomplete…
And so, with great anticipation we waited and watched this week’s episode.

Do you think Hodor will return as a wight?

NOTE: “Silicon Valley” is “genius” humor.
This week’s episode was pretty great. Oh the Bachmanity!

MONDAY – It’s Memorial Day!

Grapefruit, coffee, leftover cold orange chicken for breakfast and then back to bed…

The annual “Band of Brothers” marathon on HBO was interrupted by a LIVE televised Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit at noon!

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“Band of Brothers” is a 2001 American war drama based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1993 non-fiction book. It is based on the true World War Two story of the men of Easy Company from the US Army 101st Airborne division who fought in Europe during the war.

NOTE: We’ve seen “Band of Brothers” in it’s entirety a couple of times. So when a social media alert was broadcast about another LIVE high speed pursuit in Los Angeles, we switched over and began watching the car chase.

Memorial Day Holiday LIVE Televised High Speed Pursuit:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

The French Open was rained out so NBC stayed on the chase that started at about 10:30am… Stolen vehicle: a silver KIA Sorrento SUV with an “impaired” driver on surface streets in East Los Angeles. We picked up the pursuit at noon as the suspect got on the empty freeways and continued driving for almost 3 hours. NBC commentary was complete speculation and stupidity, so we switched over to ABC and then KCAL9 (our local CBS affiliate). Please just the facts, not ignorant newscaster’s uninformed opinions!

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

And Fox 11 had coverage too:

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit in Southern California

At 1pm, KCAL 9 and FOX both cut off their news coverage and returned to regular programming, so we switched back to ABC and NBC because KTLA 5 News didn’t pick up the chase at all for their one o’clock broadcast. And just after 1pm he ran out of gas on the 405 near the Long Beach Freeway, smoked some more meth in the car and then surrendered without further incident to the California Highway Patrol.

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Memorial Day Holiday High Speed Pursuit – 405 South near the Long Beach Fwy

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Memorial Day High Speed Pursuit – Suspect in Custody!

Just another holiday Monday in Los Angeles! And with the suspect in custody and the chase over at 1:30pm, it was time for lunch.

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Monday Lunchtime!

Monday Lunchtime! A bacon, lettuce and cheese sandwich on challah bread; dill pickle, celery, carrots, blueberries, red grapes and pineapple juice.

Afternoon CHILLIN’ in the backyard and more episodes of “Band of Brothers” while getting some work done in the office was how we spent the rest of the day.

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Monday Memorial Day Holiday Chillin’ on the Backyard Patio

We worked, we cleaned, we played with the dogs.

And then we got hungry and went to see what ingredients we had for dinner. We decided to make some pasta and did a little fancy cooking in the kitchen:

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Dinner on Monday: Spaghetti with garlic alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, stir-fried broccoli & sautéed onions and a coke.

Where did the three day weekend go? Mostly boring. We hope you had a good one!

REMEMBER THE FALLEN! Some gave all so you could BBQ in peace.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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Here’s a better pic of the Circus Liquor’s Neon Clown in NoHo:

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Neon Clown at Circus Liquor in North Hollywood, California

Taco Tuesday! Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Taco Tuesday! Mexican food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks.

Thinking about chips and salsa! We hit up the El Torito Mexican Restaurant at Ventura blvd and Van Nuys blvd. There’s a parking lot that’s always full, valet parking and (TIP) street parking available. If you get lucky, you’ll find a parking space in the lot. If you’re smart you’ll find street parking at a meter on Ventura blvd, Moorpark street or Van Nuys blvd.

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Mexican Food at El Torito Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

Enter through the double doors and into the reception area. There’s a Taco Bar (and Lunch and Brunch) Buffet area and a hallway to the restrooms on the left. The Bar is ahead of you behind the hostess desk and the large dining room divided into three areas is to the right.

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Dinner at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is usually busy, and on Tuesdays it is really crowded because of the Taco Tuesday $1.99 Taco special (It used to be $1.00) and the Taco Bar spread which is only available in the Bar area. It’s also very loud with music and conversation, so we decided on the regular menu and a comfortable booth in a quiet corner of the center dining room.

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At the Bar at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

The Bar is pretty fun if you can find a seat. They have beer, wine and spirits. Usually there’s a tequila drink (margarita) on special or it’s “happy hour” and there’s always a game on the televisions and loud music playing.

Besides the Taco special and Taco Bar Buffet, they have a Bar Menu with appetizers and small plates and you can order off the regular menu in the Bar area as well.

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Taco Tuesday! The Taco Bar Buffet at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

I haven’t tried the lunch buffet or Saturday/Sunday brunch in a long time, but it’s a pretty good value and a they have a lot of different choices available. A Mexican food buffet is always pretty good! Tacos, burrito makings, fajitas, enchiladas, tamales, rice, beans, desserts, fruit, salads, soups, salsas and more; and then breakfast foods, menudo, juices and pastries for the weekend Brunch buffets.

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Center Dining Room at El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

The Dining Room is large and spacious, and divided into three areas. There are tables and large booths available. The menu is traditional Mexican (gringo-style) fare, but they recently upgraded the recipes and the food is very tasty and you get a lot of it!

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Mexican Food at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

Drinks from the Bar and all kinds of fun cocktails are available at your table too!

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Drinks on the Menu at El Torito in Sherman Oaks

On the Menu: Chips & salsa, Fiesta platter (nachos, beef flautas, chicken wings and a cheese quesadilla), Macho Combo (chicken burrito, beef taco, tamale & chile relleño with rice, beans and sweet corn cake) and a shot of Silver tequila with lime.

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Warm Tortilla Chips & Roasted Pepper Salsa

The chips are made fresh and served warm with roasted pepper salsa. They’ll make fresh guacamole at your table if you order it. They have a good selection of appetizers, entrees and ala carte items. Not so much on dessert, only deep fried ice cream, flan and a tres leches cake. Free refills on soda and most other beverages and more chips and salsa too.

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Silver Tequila Shot with Lime(s)

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Fiesta Platter! Nachos, Beef Flautas, Chicken Wings & a Cheese Quesadilla

I recommend the Fiesta Platter to start. Eat the nachos and chicken wings, take home the quesadilla and flautas. Then order a Macho Combo (your choice of four items) with rice, beans and sweet corn cake. Eat what you can and take home the rest for tomorrow.

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Macho Combo! Beef Taco, Tamale, Chicken Burrito, Chile Relleño, Rice & Beans

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Happy Birthday! Mexican Birthday Song at El Torito Restaurant!

It wasn’t my birthday, but the waitstaff came over and sang to the table next to ours so I got a nice picture. The service was excellent! I didn’t have to look around for our waiter because he was checking in with us regularly. When I finished the coke, he was right there asking “would you like a refill?”. Every request was handle promptly and the Manager even came by to ask how everything was.

The prices are reasonable. The Buffets and Specials are a pretty good value if you’re hungry and want to eat a lot of food. Drinks are also pretty reasonable and some of the drink specials are excellent! You get a lot of food and we even got a AAA discount on the check!

It was a very good meal and a pleasant dining experience. Good food and lot of it. The service was excellent and it wasn’t too expensive. A Very Happy Taco Tuesday!

El Torito Mexican RestaurantVentura Blvd (at Van Nuys Blvd) in Sherman Oaks

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El Torito Mexican Restaurant in Sherman Oaks

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Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

The restaurant is “Casino adjacent” at both The Venetian and the Palazzo hotels, the food is good and it’s reasonably priced for luxury hotel restaurant dining.

We were quickly seated in the dining room and I ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles and the Asian Nachos. We received a basket of their fresh baked bread and drinks, and the food was delivered in a very short time.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – The Bar!

The portions are huge! It’s a Cheesecake Factory enterprise, so you know it’s going to be good and there will be leftovers. The fried chicken strips were tasty and the waffle was cooked just right. It was served with a maple-pecan syrup which was a little sweet, but that’s what syrup is all about.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Fried Chicken & Waffles with maple-pecan syrup

The Asian nachos are really good too. I only had a taste, but I would order them again.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Asian Nachos Appetizer

We enjoyed our meal, and ate quickly, anticipating the Las Vegas adventure ahead! The service was excellent and the food was tasty and delicious. A good start to the party!

AND

Before leaving Las Vegas on Saturday, we had another late lunch. I had the Asian Chicken Salad. The “lunch size” was enough for two people and it was very good.

Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel – Asian Chicken Salad (lunch size)

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

NOTE: You can get food “TO GO” and take it up to your room for a private dining experience or any-hour meal. I like their pizzas.

Grand Lux Cafe – Locations at both the Palazzo and Venetian Hotels 

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