Mel's cousin Karen came out to run the Long Beach Half Marathon in October, and she invited Mel to ride the Bike Tour at the same time. Now Karen is the reason Mel started biking. Karen started running earlier this year, and Mel was thinking, "Hey, if she can run, I can ride!" And that's when the dusty old bike came down from the rafters and got fixed up. So it was really fun that they could do this event together. The City of Long Beach really goes all out - they have a full marathon, a half marathon, a 5k run/walk and a bike tour (which goes the full marathon route).
Karen, Mel, & I stayed on the Queen Mary. It's the real cruise ship that used to cross the Atlantic Ocean, served in WWII, and now is docked in Long Beach and is a floating hotel. What a NEAT experience to get to stay on the ship!
Our room had 2 twin size beds, a nice closet and a decent sized bathroom. It wasn't a huge luxurious hotel bedroom, but on the other hand, cruise ship rooms are not usually huge (unless you pay lots of extra money). The walls were gorgeous wood (teak, I think, but I'm not sure about that) and there were all sorts of things in the room that were original - like an original ships fan and the faucets in the shower that gave you choices of hot salt water, hot fresh water, cold salt water, and cold fresh water (those don't work anymore. You have just plain boring hot & cold fresh water now). The whole boat is done in Art Deco style, which is very beautiful.
The night before the race, the Queen Mary hosted a "Carb Load" dinner for the participants. We had all sorts of pasta and garlic bread and could eat to our heart's content. Actually, the only bad thing I have to say about staying on the Queen Mary was the food - none of the restaurants we tried had good food and the service was terrible. But other than that, we really enjoyed our stay!
Both the bike tour and the half marathon routes took us right past the Queen Mary. The bike tour started before dawn, so as we went past the ship, the sun was just rising - making for a beautiful scene:
The next day, after the races, we took an audio tour of the ship. I highly recommend doing this. It's self guided - you get an audio system and it tells you where to go next. We learned a LOT about the ship's history and even how it functions today. Did you know the radio room is still in use? They allow a local amateur radio club to operate the radios and they talk to people all over the world from the ship! I thought that was kind of cool. (Incidentally, if you want to take the tour, I highly recommend doing it BEFORE you run a marathon, as there are a lot of steps for sore legs to handle!)
Some other things we saw....
A beautiful inlaid wood picture of the Queen Mary:
And the life boats (they were totally rotted - good thing there's no chance of the ship sinking now!)