California Dreamin’ during Chicago Winter

With the prospect of more snow heading in to the Chicago area, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on a recent trip I took to a warmer climate.  This was me just a few weeks ago:

Santa Monica Beach during #CartanRoses14 (www.memyselfandjen.com)

Clearly this was not taken in the western suburbs of Chicago, where my front yard looks like this:

#PolarVortex and #Snowpocalype Combined in my front yard! (www.memyselfandjen.com)

Between Christmas and New Years, I had the privilege to travel to southern California to provide social media services for one of my best clients, Cartan Tours, one of the nations oldest tour operators.  They offer a 5 day / 4 night sightseeing tour of the greater Los Angeles area that culminates with attending the Tournament of Roses Parade and assorted festivities thereafter.   Prep days before and after, plus a train tour up the coast to Santa Barbara, gave me 8 days in the California sunshine.

No, it was not a vacation.  But the beautiful sunshine sure made it feel that way.

I was working 16-hour days not only as a social media consultant, but pitched in as a hotel liaison, airport greeter, tour guide, assistance tour manager on a bus of 50 people, trouble-shooter, and basically a Jen-of-all-trades.  There were early morning wake up calls (can you say 3am on New Years Day?), components that didn’t exactly work as planned (my master Twitter cheat sheet dropped under the parade grandstands with 5 floats to go), and an unexpected brain fog that goes with finding yourself in universe that functions by bus numbers, head counts, and tour itinerary as opposed to the day on the calendar.  I’m just now starting to remember what day of the week it is as opposed to “Float Barn Day”.

I worked my booty off and I loved every minute of it.  And in the process, I managed to execute a pretty awesome social media campaign for a client that I really love and enjoy working with.  What could be better?!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the week.  If you are ever interested in seeing the Tournament of Roses Parade, the trip through Cartan Tours is definitely a lot of fun!

The lobby of my home away from home for 8 days.  Stunning!

The lobby of my home away from home for 8 days. Stunning!

The Float Construction Barns are incredible - watching the float all being assembled BY HAND is an amazing labor of love!

The Float Construction Barns are incredible – watching the float all being assembled BY HAND is an amazing labor of love!

I got to visit "Central Perk" from "Friends" during our Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour!  (Can you see Phoebe's guitar in the corner?)

I got to visit “Central Perk” from “Friends” during our Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour! (Can you see Phoebe’s guitar in the corner?)

Straight No Chase put on an AWESOME show at The Grove in Los Angeles on 12/30.  It was better than Glee come to life!!!

Straight No Chase put on an AWESOME show at The Grove in Los Angeles on 12/30. It was better than Glee come to life!!!

A morning in Santa Monica to walk on the Pier and the beach!

A morning in Santa Monica to walk on the Pier and the beach!

The things you do to get a laugh out of people at 5:00 in the morning!

The things you do to get a laugh out of people at 5:00 in the morning!

My co-worker, Karen, and I from our awesome grandstand seats on Colorado Avenue for the Tournament of Roses Parade!

My co-worker, Karen, and I from our awesome grandstand seats on Colorado Avenue for the Tournament of Roses Parade!

Amazing detail on the Sierra Madre Rose Flat Association entry entitled " Catching the Big One".

Amazing detail on the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association entry entitled ” Catching the Big One”.

The 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade entry from NBC's "The Voice"

The 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade entry from NBC’s “The Voice”

Coastal California view aboard the Silver Splendor on the way to Santa Barbara

Coastal California view aboard the Silver Splendor on the way to Santa Barbara

This is the inside of the Santa Barbara Courthouse - doesn't it look like a church??  The architecture is incredible!

This is the inside of the Santa Barbara Courthouse – doesn’t it look like a church?? The architecture is incredible!

I’ll be writing more posts about several of the location stops that were included in the tours this year, and will definitely be including more pictures.

Have you ever gone to the Tournament of Roses Parade?  What did you think?  Is this something that’s on your “bucket list” of things to do?

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