Monday, February 04, 2008

Annual Retreat 2008

At the beginning of each year, Judy and I set aside a weekend to reconnect, to reflect on the previous year and to plan for the future. It is a great tradition that has helped sustain our business, our marriage and our family.

This year we went to downtown Los Angeles. I love cities - the scale, the activity, the diversity and the opportunity for discovery. While L.A. is no San Francisco or New York, it has a lot to discover within a few city blocks. We packed our backpacks and rode the Metro Blue Line in from Long Beach to our hotel. This helped put us in "traveling" mode and insured that we would have to rely on public transit or our own two feet to get around. Travel advocate, Rick Steves refers to this as "becoming a 'temporary local' to get a break from our cultural norms" and it helped set the tone of reflection - about our city, our friends and neighbors, our family, our values and our future.

Our time in downtown L.A. was a wonderful mix of work and relaxation, of reflecting and reconnecting. We rode the Metro Red Line (yes, L.A. has a subway) to Hollywood to see Wicked, did some research and writing at the beautiful Central Library, ate dinner at the wonderful Ciudad (I can't believe we have never eaten there before), had refreshments at the rotating Bona Vista Lounge atop the Bonaventure hotel (I don't know if it is tacky or kitschy, but the view is amazing) and discussed plans in the many great public spaces.

I highly recommend that you set aside some time every year to step outside of your normal schedule and surroundings and reflect on your family, your community and your life.

If you decide to take an adventure downtown, here are some great resources to help make the most of it:

Deciding What to Do
Huell Howser - a California treasure who helps locals and visitors discover what makes our state so great
Interactive Downtown Map
Take a Tour of the historic theaters on Broadway and other buildings
See a Movie in one of the historic theaters

Getting Around - though I encourage you to use your feet, these alternatives are much better than a car
Metro - L.A. County buses, light rail and subway
LADOT - L.A. city bus system

Where to Stay - we've stayed in the first three and want to check out the others on future trips
Millennium Biltmore - get in the mood of historic L.A. by staying in a piece of history
Omni - a great location next to MOCA and California Plaza (which has free outdoor concerts on Fridays in the summer)
Sheraton - right across the street from the Metro station
The Standard
Hilton Checkers

Dining - there are lots of great places to eat, but many are closed or have limited hours on weekends, so check before you go
Clifton's Cafeteria
Grand Central Market
George's Greek Cafe

A view of the city from our room.

I recently posted about creative reuses for cardboard tubes. Taking "reuse" to a new level, artist Nancy Rubins sculpture using old airplane parts at MOCA.

The unreal Disney Hall.

"Wicked" at the amazing Pantages Theater (not actually in downtown L.A., but a short subway trip away)


David B. said...

How fun! Thanks for the LA tips! I'm inspired! But, what, no socially and culturally frowned upon movies on your itinerary??? :)

Jeremy Dodgen said...

No David, we just couldn't seem to fit Rambo, First Blood IV into our schedule. I still can't believe you paid money to see it.