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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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T

A couple of weeks ago I went to a friend's wedding in Baja. I considered flying but decided it would be more fun to take a week off and do a road trip back through tiki-filled Southern California. So I drove from Oakland to Rosarito, BC in one day (a long drive!). Robin and mrsmiley joined me on the way down.

We developed tire problems near Bakersfield so we stopped to get some new tires in Bakersfield. While they put on the tires we decided to check out a thrift store nearby. After striking out at the store mrsmiley said "let's go check out that old restaurant next door". It was called the Hush Puppy and was closed at the time. We peeked in the windows and lo and behold the interior looked polynesian! We spotted some bamboo and nice lamps but couldn't get a good look so we decided to return the following week on the return home (more later).

The wedding in Baja was a blast but I'll spare you the details. We loaded up the car with Havana Club, made it through the chekpoint undetected, and headed for Humphrey's Half Moon Inn in San Diego.

I grew up in San Diego so I usually stay with my family, but this time I wanted to relax and show my friends the town so we stayed at Humphrey's. What a great choice! I loved staying there. Much has been written about the Half Moon Inn on TC before and I had seen the hotel before but never stayed there. I was very impressed with the beautiful tropical grounds, lovely swimming pool, waterfalls, ponds filled with koi, and best of all, tikis! We splurged a bit and got the executive suite. It really wasn't too expensive with the AAA discount, and we split the cost because their were 3 of us (me, Robin, and friend Jeff). The room decor was classy tropical with some bamboo furniture and some nice modern art reproductions. It was one of the better hotel rooms that I've stayed in as far as decor and comfort goes. Because it was a suite we had a separate living room with sliding door, a full kitchen with full size fridge, dishwasher, microwave, and sink. We also had a private lanai overlooking the pool / garden.

Warning: check their entertainment schedule before you reserve because they have outdoor concerts at Humphrey's often in the warmer months. We had to endure an awful contemporary R&B band one night we were there. Fortunately, it was over early.

Mrsmiley had some time before his flight left (he had to return to work) so we all went over to the Bali Hai for drinks. I was a bit queasy still after drinking way too much tequila and cerveza in Baja for 3 days straight, but I managed to choke down a drink in a Bali Hai mug. We liked the Goof Punch best. It was strong and not too sweet.

The Goof on the roof:

It was getting dark when we got back to the Half Moon Inn and it was gorgeous with it's tiki torches lit.


We headed over to Trader Mort's before dropping mrsmiley off at the airport. They had Cruzan on sale for $7.99 so we bought a few bottles.

The rest of the night we hung out at Humphrey's relaxing in the pool and jacuzzi.


The next morning we took more pictures of the grounds.





A two-headed tiki!


We did some shopping for vintage clothes and stuff, then headed over to the Hanalei Hotel for dinner at the Islands. There's a courtyard inside the tower with a waterfall, ponds with huge koi, and some tikis (see Book of Tiki for history on the Hanalei tikis).


This one is almost completely covered by plants - very mysterious.


Who's stupid idea was this? I would rather see bird dung on it.


It's too bad this tiki stage is never used.

Inside the Islands Restaurant:




We had a booth close to the amazing waterfall.


I love these poles with 4 faces and shared eyes!

The food at the Islands is OK but the drinks are pretty awful. Go for the atmosphere. The bar is entirely devoid of atmosphere so you have to eat in the restaurant.

Afterwards we went to the nearby Albie's Beef Inn, an amazing piano bar filled with paintings of topless women. All were painted in the early 60s by the same artist who did the paintings in the haunted mansion at Disneyland!

In my opinion, San Diego is the piano bar capitol of the U.S. In Oakland we have the Alley and I love it, but in San Diego they have at least 3 good ones. They're all different too. They Alley in Oakland has a great piano player (Rod Dibble) but most of the people who sing make me wanna howl. Albie's Beef Inn has a good jazz pianist/singer and most of the guest singers are talented regulars that do a couple or 3 songs in a row and then sit down.

The next day We had drinks at Tom Ham's Lighthouse on Harbor Island, where Donna Cote performs old standards on piano Wed. through Sat. They have a decent Mai Tai and Donna encourages requests. She says "if it's not old I don't know it".

We ate dinner at the only old style continental restaurant left in San Diego, the Imperial House. When you arrive you are greeted at the door by Felix Galindo "the man who rolls his R's" and you pass a suit of armor under glass into the dining room, which is filled with red booths and high back red chairs. You're seated as Felix says "Welcome to the Imperrrrrial House". We had Ceasar salad, prepared tableside of course, and Steak Diane, also prepared and flamed at tableside.

http://www.imperialhouse.net/1.html

We had after dinner drinks at the marvelous Red Fox Room, where Shirley Allen tickles the ivories Wed. through Sat. as she has for many years. This piano bar is quite different from the others. She often has guest musicians (saxophone, clairent, harmonica!) so they sometimes do dixieland jazz in addition to the occasional guest vocalist. Every time I've been there all the musicians and singers were very good.

The next day (Thursday) we checked out of Hunphrey's and headed up the coast through La Jolla when we spotted this car:


They love their golf in La Jolla!

We spent the night in hightone Laguna Beach. We had ribs and Chief Lapu Lapus at the Royal Hawaiian.



The bar was noisy with the game on the multiple TVs so we chose to sit in the dining room. The room we sat in (to the far right going in) had a window garden with tikis (in pic above). The table lamps were old tiki mugs drilled out and fitted with small lamps.




I thought the Ribs were pretty good. The drinks were strong but not that great - mostly Myers' rum and canned pineapple juice. We asked for a Lapu Lapu without pineapple juice and liked it a bit better than the regular one.

The next day we did some antique shopping and headed for Newport Beach, where we ate at the Crab Cooker on the Balboa peninsula. Great seafood and not very expensive.

Then we went to the old amusement arcade at Balboa and rode the scary dark ride and played skee ball:




Plenty of fun for very little money! They have a little ferry that crosses over to Balboa Island and holds 3 cars:

We had to stop at High Time liquors in Costa Mesa. It was amazing! They have loads of good rums and even a walk-in beer cooler with hundreds of imports all chilled for your convenience. Martin, you'd love it! I bought a bottle of Ron Zacapo rum.

We tried to hurry to Huntington Beach to see the surfing museum and Ben's hop but we hit a lot of traffic on the PCH as it was mid-afternoon. The surf museum was closed so we headed back to Ben's shop and found it shut. We phoned Ben and decided to see the shop the next day. He said some folks went to Bong's but I didn't know his address and we still ahd to go check in and get ready for Sam's. I really wanted to see Bong's place - next trip?

We barely had time to chat with TC members in the bar at Sam's before the show. The room where the show is held was impressive. High ceilings with large glass floats, the coconut bar, and a lava rock fountain behind the stage where water comes out of the lava rock tiki's mouth! (It's a bit hard to see on the picture because the tiki blends in with the black rock but look below the yellow glass float).





My review of Sam's mai tai.

The show began with a performance by the musicians while the waiters take everone's order. The waiter gave us good advice on what to order, so we had the ribs. They were not as good as the Bahooka's but they were fine. After people are done eating the show starts.




That's Crazy Al on the left. Good thing he wore his deoderant!


Al's solo dance!

The show was great, with plenty of costume changes and the emcee seemed a little less bored than the emcee at the Mai Kai. The Mai Kai show is a bit better because they have the Samoan fire dance but Sam's show is well worth seeing at least once. More pictures inside Sam's:


Shy Tiki!


The next day (Saturday) we went to Bamboo Ben's shop and the Vintage Fashion Expo in Santa Monica. The Galley in Santa Monica was closed so went to Chez Jay's, a classic seafood joint right near the peir that has a fascinating history. Jay himself gave us the guided tour. Their food was quite good.

Trader Vic's Beverly Hills was closed until 5. Damn!

We checked into the Travelodge by the Tiki Ti and made it there by 6PM.

I started with one of my favorite drinks, the Pearl Diver. Some friends showed up including mrsmiley in his Oktoberfest regalia.

I had a Cobra's Fang.

After I had a delicious and very strong Rum Swizzle I said "Maybbe we ssould eat some ddinerr now". So we said so long to our friends and went to get a bite. Next time I must remember to eat first!

The final day on the way home we stopped in Bakersfield to meet mrsmiley at the Hush Puppy. It was open this time so we went inside to eat dinner. The decor in the restaurant was polynesian / nautical with lots of bamboo and lamps. The bar was not polynesian. Bruce said it was disappointing: an ugly sports bar. The restaurant was a bit bright but pleasant. There was a large window in one dining room with a garden behind it and maybe some water but I can't recall. There were no tikis but some masks on the wall and one of the lamps had a tiki design in it's glass. The food was OK. We had the steak that was perfectly done but a little tough. I didn't have a drink because I had a long drive ahead of me and it was getting late. The Hush Puppy is worth a stop if you're passing through but don't go out of your way.





I'll post the Hush Puppy info in the Locating Tiki forum as well.



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[ Edited by: thejab on 2003-10-29 19:36 ]

[ Edited by: thejab on 2003-10-29 19:37 ]

[ Edited by: thejab on 2003-10-29 19:41 ]

Nice pics...thanks for posting them for us exiles to see.
Robin looks SO beautiful in that top picture! Mr.Smiley looks adorable as usual. Jab, you look...um,did I mention Robin looks really beautiful? :wink:

Nice pics...thanks for posting them for us exiles to see.
Robin looks SO beautiful in that top picture! Mr.Smiley looks adorable as usual. Jab, you look...um,did I mention Robin looks really beautiful? :wink:

S

LOVE IT!!!! THIS IS WHAT TIKI CENTRAL IS ALL ABOUT! ROCK ON!

T

On 2003-10-29 21:34, Swanky wrote:
LOVE IT!!!! THIS IS WHAT TIKI CENTRAL IS ALL ABOUT! ROCK ON!

Yeah! Swanks said it and it's worth repeating! Thanks for sharing, looks like a great trip!

T

Thanks Swanky, my pleasure.

T

*On 2003-10-29 20:30, purple jade wrote:*Jab, you look...um,did I mention Robin looks really beautiful? :wink:

Yes, a bit of turista had a hold on me that day. Maybe it was all the tequila I had all weekend? I only ate a couple bites of a tortilla the whole day.

That was a great!

Enjoyed that very much Jab. THANKS!

P

Good shots.
Good narrative.

Thanks a bunch for the time involved to let me enjoy a few moments of your trip.

Man, you'll have your own photo forum soon.

BTW, have I mentioned lately that I hate Californicators? luckybunchamrrmblrizinrasifrackin...

Jab,

Good shots. Liked the pictures of Humphrey's as Al and Shelly and me and mine will be staying in the exec suite after Thanksgiving.

Yeah, stop by Bong's hut next time.

Can we start a collection fund to keep The Jab on the road and filing these reports?!?! Great struff! Keep it up, friend.

-Weird Unc

T

On 2003-10-30 09:48, Tiki_Bong wrote:
Good shots. Liked the pictures of Humphrey's as Al and Shelly and me and mine will be staying in the exec suite after Thanksgiving.

You'll love it! I'll be in San Diego Thanksgiving weekend as well. We should meet at the Bali Hai or somewhere. Al, this time I promise to show up so you don't have to ask everyone you see "are you the jab?" :wink:

Jab,

So be it! We'll be at Humphrey's Friday night and will be going over to Bali Hai for dinner/drinks around 6:30 or 7:00. I'll email you with the room number as the date approaches.

("are you Dean?")

T

Looking forward to it Bong!

Woo HOO! Mr. Pineapple / Tikibot and I are ALSO going to San Diego for Thanksgiving! We're driving, so thanks for all the great tips! I'm very excited we're going to get to hang out with the some hoity toities on our road trip.
Jab - I always love your road stories, my favorite part is the description of your meat entrees! I'm on a quest for the ultimate prime rib! so far Dukes Canoe Club in Kauai is the front runner!
See you all in a few weeks!

T

*On 2003-10-30 16:36, mrs. pineapple wrote:*I'm on a quest for the ultimate prime rib! so far Dukes Canoe Club in Kauai is the front runner!

Looking forward to seeing you 2 in San Diego. You should check out those piano bars I mentioned, but sometimes they take a break for the holiday weekends.

What's your favorite prime rib in the Bay Area? Mine used to be House of Prime Rib but they've faltered a bit lately and the crowds can be obnoxious there. Harris' is my favorite steak house but I have yet to try their prime rib because I always want to get the bone-in aged New York steak - it's the best New York steak anywhere. I have been wanting to try Alfred's for years and they just won Best Steakhouse in San Francisco Magazine. I love it when the old local joints win over the chains like Ruth's Chris and Morton's.

TheJab - thanks for the detailed report...I, too, really enjoy your roadtrip postings.
And since Bong invited me to meet with them on the Thanksgiving weekend, I'll probably be meeting you and the Smiley couple there, also.

Ran

M

Posted by purple jade on 2003-10-29 20:30

Nice pics...thanks for posting them for us exiles to see.
Robin looks SO beautiful in that top picture! Mr.Smiley looks
adorable as usual. :wink:

Robin and The Jab have such incredible taste in clothing!!!

And thanks, PJ, from one Adorable Tiki-ite to another! :)

Jab-

Where do I get a "Killer Baseball Cut" in my area?

What an awesome trip and thanks for the AAA promo... You really know how to document your travels. This post is as good as the one you did on Florida.

T
thejab posted on Tue, Nov 4, 2003 3:50 PM

On 2003-11-03 22:54, RevBambooBen wrote:
Jab-

Where do I get a "Killer Baseball Cut" in my area?

Ben, I can't quite figure this out. Is that a cut of steak?

If it is, I've heard good things about the prime rib at the Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar, and I want to try a steak at La Cave in Costa Mesa. I haven't tried these yet.

T

Another good/great beef place is The Arches in Newport Beach. One time hangout of John Wayne and a number of other Hollywood luminaries.

I like the prime rib at the Pelican Inn up in Marin. I also had a good one at the Chop House in Palm Springs, we went the Sunday after the Oasis/Wedding last Spring.

Whenever Mr. P and I eat out, I always order a huge slab, and he usually gets the fish on a bed of greens entree, and the waitress always plops the salad in front of me and the slab of red meat in front of him, then we switch them!

Not too many places do the full on prime rib, and lately it seems all the restaurants I've been to have a note about the beef prices being so high. I'm usually willing to pay more for the good stuff, since if we're eating out we're usually splurging anyway. I've had some really crappy prime rib, at weddings mostly. Mr. P is not so keen on the red meat diet, so we don't frequent the steak places, per se.

I'm excited about Thanksgiving, keep us posted on the meeting up places!
xoxo
mrs. pineapple

T
thejab posted on Tue, Nov 4, 2003 4:48 PM

On 2003-11-04 16:14, Tiki_Bong wrote:
Another good/great beef place is The Arches in Newport Beach. One time hangout of John Wayne and a number of other Hollywood luminaries.

How could I have missed this one?! Thanks for the tip Bong, that one's going on my "must visit" list.

H

Hey, one of my goals is to check out the San Diego tiki scene before the end of the year; since I won't be seeing family for Thanksgiving this year, I might as well see 'ohana instead! I know you guys are mostly down there to see your families, but if there are any group-tiki activities happening over the weekend, let me know.

T

I know it's not tiki however some of you TC'ers might check out the 24th annual Dixieland Jazz Festival Thanksgiving weekend at the Town & Country hotel in Mission Valley.

http://www.dixielandjazzfestival.org/jazzfest.html

It's an event my family never misses and has been attending since the beginning years. If you like jazz then this is a must to do during the holiday weekend.

T

On 2003-11-07 11:31, Humuhumu wrote:
Hey, one of my goals is to check out the San Diego tiki scene before the end of the year; since I won't be seeing family for Thanksgiving this year, I might as well see 'ohana instead! I know you guys are mostly down there to see your families, but if there are any group-tiki activities happening over the weekend, let me know.

I'm meeting with Bong and his better half, and Al & Shelley at the Bali Hai on Friday after gobbler day. Come on down if you can! We haven't worked out a time or details yet. I think there's a thread started in Tiki Events?

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