Wednesday, July 25, 2012

national parks, brand shops, and SDCC 2012

Whew!  Last week, I got back from my massive trip to California.  I went all over the southern part of the state as a graduation present from my mom, who knew that I had always wanted to go there.  I really, really appreciate her taking me, and I had such a great and amazing time with her and my cousin, who went with us.

Fair warning though, I did not wear lolita much on our trip, nor did I do very many things worthy of writing about on a nerdy fashion blog; however, I'm going to write about it anyway!  (I'll try to keep the non-fashion/nerdy things to a minimum though.)
My mom and I flew into Las Vegas first, and then waited for my cousin's plane to arrive, which would take a couple of hours.  We decided that we would drive along the Strip to kill time, so we picked up our rental car and then left the airport.  When we first stepped out of the airport, we were both very, very surprised at the temperature and weather; it was about 70° Fahrenheit and drizzling rain.  In Las Vegas.  In the desert.  However, we weren't complaining, since back home it was consistently 95°+ so this was quite a refreshing change.

Anyway, we drove along the Strip and took photos of casinos, hotels, and various scuzzy signs.  We had both been to Las Vegas before, so we didn't bother getting out of our car to look around, except to stop at the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.  We stopped to take a picture of that, and right after we did, we found an Elvis impersonator!  That was new to us, but he was charging for photos so I just took a quick snapshot of his car and we went on our way.

Finally, my cousin's plane arrived and we started the drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park, our first real destination.  Now, I do understand the utter ridiculousness of going to Death Valley, the hottest place in the United States, during a vacation in July.  I was apprehensive as well, but we arrived and saw that the temperature read 95°F and back home it was well over 105°.  Who knew that you could go to Death Valley to cool off?!

The next day we toured around Death Valley and went to various tourist points throughout the park, including visiting Badwater Basin (the lowest elevation in North America), seeing two ghost towns, and driving all around the dusty desert.  We stayed the night in the park again, and then began the drive to Sequoia National Park.

Let me just say, I absolutely loved Sequoia!  I adore forests, and this was a giant forest, making it so much more awesome.  The trees were absolutely beautiful, the weather was great (since it was at such a high elevation, it was quite chilly, which was wonderful!) and it was all around one of my favourite parts of the trip.  We traveled around the park, seeing all of the famous giant trees and just casually drove around the park for most of the day.  We didn't hike that much; my mom and I are both pretty out of shape.  However, we did go on a few easy walks, which was nice and relaxing.

The last national park that we stayed at was Yosemite, and we were all pretty disappointed with that.  There were so many people everywhere!  It was hard to see sights with that many people around, so we ended up just driving past the super famous ones (Bridalveil Falls, Half-Dome, El Capitan) and driving down to a giant salt lake to spend the day.  The lake was beautiful and interesting, but it was a lot hotter down there because we were in a valley, and it was a salt lake, making everything hotter and smellier.  I was happy at the end of the day though, because I knew that the next thing we were going to see was San Francisco!

We drove into the city and was greeted by terrible traffic; we knew that the traffic was going to be bad in the Californian cities, so we were prepared.  However, as we were stuck in traffic, we drove down Kearney Street and I spotted my first glance of lolita; the Angelic Pretty store!  I had a mini freak-out because I was so excited, but I somehow managed to calm down when we finally got to our hotel.  We all had showers (the showers at Yosemite were sadly lacking...) and got dressed in clean clothes, then headed down to Fisherman's Wharf to do some touristy things.

The next day, I finally was able to get all dressed up to go out to the brand stores!  I had been saving up money for months, thinking that I was going to buy the Dreamy Horoscope OP from Angelic Pretty.  I put on my favourite dress and was ready to go out.  (Looking back on it now, I wasn't really pleased with the coordinate, to be honest.)

cutsew: dream v
jumperskirt: angelic pretty
tights: ebay
shoes: an*tai*na
We quickly ran out of our hotel; I was desperate to get there, and we didn't have much else planned for the day.  We first went to the New People building, home of h.NAOTO and Baby, The Stars Shine Bright.  I first explored the h.NAOTO section, and I bought a tank top that was on sale (which I promptly lost as soon as I came home from my trip; I'm still looking for it, where could it be?!)  I finally ventured over to the BtSSB section, and boy was I in heaven.  It was so magical, so beautiful, and I really was just in love with the atmosphere.  My new goal in life is to move to San Francisco so that I can work there!  (wait, that's probably every lolita's dream.)  I ended up buying my big-ticket item there instead of at AP; I bought the Alice in the Clocktower JSK by Alice and the Pirates, as well as a simple cream cardigan.  This was my first AatP dress, despite them being one of my favourite brands.  I've pretty much sold my soul to Angelic Pretty, so this was a nice change in pace.
the peace pagoda! (with some added sparkles)

We walked over to the Japanese Peace Plaza/shopping mall to eat lunch.  I had udon with sushi and it was so delicious!  I wish I could eat more, it was so good...  We explored the little shops at the mall some more, and then returned to our car to go find the Angelic Pretty store again.  However, we decided to be good tourists and take the cable cars instead of our car; what a mistake that turned out to be!  We bought our tickets and then realized that there was a gigantic line, so we had to wait about 30 minutes to board.  Then, we took the cars to the closest stop and realized that we would have to walk down three of the famous San Francisco hills...but we walked anyway and finally got to the AP store.  I was the only one who went inside, since both my mom and my cousin were tired (and tired of lolita, probably.)  I was expecting a small store, but really, it looks way bigger on the internet!  It only took me a couple of minutes to go through everything in the store, which made me feel bad because I was really expecting to spend a lot of time in there, getting lost in the ruffles and lace, like I did at the Baby store.  I found Dreamy Horoscope and was kind of glad that I didn't wait to buy it; I wasn't incredibly wowed by it in real life, and I much preferred my Alice and the Pirates purchase.  However, I did end up buying quite a few accessories, as seen in this shot:

angelic pretty socks, headbow, wristcuffs, and catalog; chantilly harlequin socks
We finally went back to our hotel after braving the long and tall hike back up the three hills to the cable car stop, and began to prepare ourselves for the drive the next day to Los Angeles.

We began the drive at 8 in the morning, since we knew it was going to be a long drive, and we had plans to stop at the Monterey Aquarium to tour and eat lunch at/near.  When we got to the aquarium, I was astounded; I love fish, and there were just so many different kinds, and they were all interesting!  I had a really great time exploring the aquarium, and so did my mom, as we're both big fans of water life.  After begrudgingly leaving the aquarium and driving for another 6 hours, we arrive in Los Angeles.  My cousin had said that he was going to treat us to a special hotel...and boy, was it special.  We stayed the night at the Beverly-Wilshire, and it was so fantastic!  Extremely elegant and filled with all sorts of luxuries, it was amazing.  All of us quickly freshened up and then we headed to dinner at a near-by restaurant, where we were going to meet one of our other relatives.  Not a very typical lolita coord, but it was indeed comfortable:
cardigan: alice and the pirates
jumperskirt: angelic pretty
shoes: offbrand
The dinner was delicious, the hotel was amazing, everything was really lovely in Los Angeles.  Then we started exploring the city and found some not-so-lovely areas, but it was still fun being in there!  We ate dinner the next day at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, made famous by a scene in Quentin Tarantino's movie Pulp Fiction.  The food was absolutely delicious there, and I wish we somehow had one where I lived...

After a long day touring Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, we started on our way down to San Diego for the last stop on our trip.  It was a very exciting time for me, as we were going to be somewhere I had longed to attend every since I was a little girl reading manga for the first time; San Diego Comic Con.  I was so, so excited for this, probably more excited than I was to go to the lolita shops (is that possible?!) and I had so much trouble sleeping that night, which is never good with a huge con day in front of you.  I kept thinking about all the people I was going to meet, all the books I would get signed, all the amazing cosplayers I would see, all the wonderful panels I was going to attend...

I finally managed to get to sleep and of course overslept; I was hoping to get there by 9 but didn't even wake up by that time!  I quickly got dressed (wearing my brand new dress!) and ate a quick breakfast, then we started on our way.  I was expecting huge lines, but really, it was really well organized and the lines moved super fast, which was great!  More time to spend at the con!  We got inside the exhibition hall, and it was jammed with people.  I expected as much, but then I heard from some people that this was the most crowded they had ever seen.  We wandered around and looked at everything.  I got a bunch of stuff (including four books, many posters, and an Arpakasso) and I got to meet two of my favourite comic creators: Aaron Alexovich, who wrote Serenity Rose, and Jhonen Vasquez, famous for creating Invader Zim and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.  They both work at the publishing house that I someday want to work for, Slave Labor Graphics, and they've written so many of my favourite comics.

doubles as an outfit shot and picture of me with my two favourite creators!
headbow: angelic pretty
cardigan: alice and the pirates
dress: alice and the pirates
socks: chantilly
shoes: an*tai*na
We didn't end up going to many panels, but we did go to the one that I wanted to go to the most: Vertigo's Fables panel, which is an amazing comic book series about fairy tale characters living in modern day New York City.  This was its tenth anniversary, and they gave everyone posters to commemorate that, as well as announced Fablescon (it's very own convention!) and celebrated everyone's favourite moments from those ten years.  It was a truly amazing panel and I'm glad that I could attend it.

I also went to the lolita meet up, but I'm saving that for my next post!

When we were done with everything we wanted to see at Comic Con (AKA we were kicked out of the exhibition hall because it was closing) we started the long drive back to Las Vegas.  Our trip was over, and even though I had one of the best times in my life, I was ready to go home.  It was a really exhausting, but really fun, trip!  I had such a great time and I'm really happy that I got to do everything that I wanted to.  Thank you for making it through my long and not-so-exciting post!

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