I used to be a sensible person. Not sure what happened.
This last weekend was a whirlwind of games and driving and eating all the things with all the calories.
For Ryan’s birthday this year, I snagged us some tickets to the X Games Global RallyCross Championship. Which was in LA on Sunday, seven hours south of here. I also had tickets to the SF Giants game, courtesy of my generous boss for Saturday. San Francisco is two hours east of here. Let’s do both!
We drove out to SF on Saturday morning, getting to the game a little late because traffic and parking were not on our side. I made Ryan drive in SF because I was not about to attempt those hills when I’ve been known to stall on freeway off-ramps.
The game was 0-0 when we got there halfway through the second inning. It took me about three minutes before I got up to grab some garlic fries, because, well, garlic fries. Shortly after that, Ryan grabbed some cookie dough ice cream and we split that and a super-salty hot pretzel. Those two things together were unbelievably tasty. Baseball happened, sort of. Not much, really. It wasn’t a particularly exciting game, but it was fun to watch, especially from my boss’s amazesauce seats behind home plate in the shade on a gorgeous day in one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country.
Unfortunately, the Giants couldn’t pull out the win, and lost to the Reds 2-1. It got really exciting in the end when the Giants scored their one run in the bottom of the ninth and we thought they might come back…but wa-waaaa. Not so much. Still love ya, Giants! Next time!
Back to the car! But first, grilled cheese. We stopped at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen for lunch and ordered the mousetrap, which was really tasty and came with a plum on the side. That plum was the healthiest thing we ate this weekend. And by “we,” I mean “Ryan.” I had leftover cake.
Then how about driving to LA? Actually, even further. We stayed with some of Ryan’s friends in Loma Linda, and rolled in a little past midnight. No offense to my friends living down in the LA basin — you couldn’t pay me enough to live there. Actually, offense. You guys should move away from that smoggy concrete jungle. Find some trees. Breathe some actual air.
We headed back toward LA Sunday morning for the X Games! Stopped at Starbucks along the way — an iced coffee and a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich is just about my favorite way to start any day. We got to the Staples Center early and were some of the first people in. I’m guessing that most of the attendees were nursing their BEERFEST hangovers from the day before and got there a little later.
But we were really there for the RallyCross. Pretty sure most of my readers aren’t familiar with RallyCross, so let me explain. There are cars that we’re all familiar with (the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Veloster, Subaru Impreza, etc.) and they are all decked out to race around a gnarly course that includes pavement, dirt, and a jump. Unlike regular rally racing (like WRC), the cars race at the same time in heats instead of time trials. So there’s a lot of bumping and carnage. It’s not something I would have started watching on my own, but Ryan has somehow managed to get me into it. It’s just a lot fun. Also, loud. Very, very loud. Also, sometimes fire.
Our tickets included pit access, so we walked down to see the cars and drivers before the race. As we entered the pit area, Ryan’s eyes got all huge as he realized one of his favorite WRC drivers was there, Sebastien Loeb. Loeb was standing just feet in front of us. Ryan didn’t know it beforehand, but Loeb was there to race in his first RallyCross. It was a cool little moment to watch Loeb be interviewed. We walked around the pit and saw some other drivers and their cars, including Travis Pastrana and Tanner Foust.
Next we went to find our seats up in the bleachers by the actual course (after buying some water for an astronomical price). The seating was general admission in this area, and we snagged seats in the top row of the bleachers, right at the corner. We could see 75% of the course from where we were sitting, which was awesome. And there was no one behind us, so we could stand on our seats and see nearly everything. On the below map, our seats were just to the left of the word “Figueroa,” right on that corner.
The day was warm but not as hot as it could have been. Got a mild sunburn despite several applications of spray sunscreen (much to the dismay of the women around us trying to tan who got a bit misted). The track itself uses actual LA streets, so there are stoplights and bus stops and lamp posts everywhere. Here’s a panorama I took from our seats. The start line is about 3/4 of the way over to the right, and the jump is in front of the orange Hot Wheels loop (which wasn’t part of the course, but was used the day before to break a world record). The dirt part of the course loops straight out in front of us, beyond that tree.
There were several practice laps and then the races started! Sixteen drivers, four heats of four cars for four laps. The two winners of each moved onto the finals. The losers duked it out for a chance to last chance qualify — the top two from those races also made it into the finals, for a total of ten cars. It was a ton of fun to watch live — the crowd was excited, the cars were loud and fast, the crashes were crazy and some of the races were really close. Below you can see one of the cars on the jump (they filled in the jump after one of the drivers crashed (see the “carnage” link above) — it used to be open). We also ate another soft pretzel, chips, and a turkey wrap, which definitely could not be labeled “healthy” as it was 87% mayonnaise.
We were bummed that Travis Pastrana got out during his first heat — he was one of the favorites to win, and he was basically smashed into the wall by another driver (who was disqualified…and later re-qualified and continued racing. Not really sure what happened there.) We found out later that it was Pastrana who had invited Loeb to come and race, because he wanted to race against the best. Loeb ended up winning the whole thing with his amazing starts and solid driving. That last race was so much fun to watch. We were thinking Pastrana must have been totally bummed not to have raced against Loeb, and then for Loeb to have won the whole thing. Ken Block came in second and Brian Deegan (last year’s gold medalist) took third.
I think Ryan got some great pictures with his camera, which are much better than the old iPhone. Can’t wait to look through them! One more of us (pre-sunburn), because we’re adorable:
After the races, we decided to head straight home instead of trying to figure out where the medal ceremony was. There were about a thousand people moving in that direction and as much as we wanted to see the ceremony, we didn’t think we’d get close or even be able to see what was happening.
So we hopped on the freeway and…LA traffic. As always. I actually “checked in” to LA traffic on Facebook, and it said, like, 3 million people had been there already. Seriously, could NOT pay me enough…
Once we got through the traffic, the drive home was nice and fast — about six and a half hours. We stopped at In ‘n’ Out because we definitely had not had enough calories yet. On the way home, we decided that my car, Bluebell, actually had her own nickname: The Little Blue Pig. Which is how she shall henceforth be known. Also, I now have a desire to drive her like a maniac. But I won’t. Because my dad reads this blog.
And that was our weekend! Baseball game, X Games, and just under 1000 miles in about 36 hours. Oh. And about 10,000 calories. And we’re doing a similar weekend in a few weeks — I’m doing a triathlon then we’re headed to Washington for a wedding! Sensible-schmensible!!
Birthday present: NAILED IT.