Fill up the travel mug...

Today's cuppa: Barry's Classic Blend Irish tea, office coffee.

It was a busy few days in the Cuppa-verse, as I tried to keep cool in a Los Angeles heat wave (which would be way more wave-y if I lived in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills, which hit a don't-touch-the-dashboard 113 degrees).

In pursuit of behind-the-scenes goodies for the faithful readers (boy, I hope I have some) of my syndicated feature stories, I hit the road.

The top half of Friday was spent at the offices -- located strategically close to LAX -- of Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri, the married creators and producers of CBS' "The Amazing Race."

Currently, they've got the 13th cycle in post-production and are in pre-planning on the 14th. They're also in production on two fronts, as Doganieri is, let's see, 11, 10, 9...8 days away from the due date on her daughter.

As, I was told, the first reporter allowed into the inner confines of "Race" HQ, I'll save most of the deets for my upcoming story, but I can say that the visit was informative and charming, the cuppa coffee was quite good, and there was a very large moose.

Van Munster and Doganieri rank among the smartest and nicest folks I've met in the TV biz, and they're ferociously competent. Just imagine what it takes to send teams of contestants, trailed by cameramen and producers, along with support staff, on a breakneck journey around the world.

One thing's for sure, the next time I travel internationally, these are the folks I'd want telling me what to pack and what not to eat.

Saturday morning, at the behest of Discovery Channel and its annual "Shark Week" programming event, beginning this year on July 27 (the week my story will come out), I got up early to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, a port city south of Los Angeles.

I'm normally allergic to theme parks, but I do love aquariums, and this was quite a nice one. Shark expert Steve Blair led us on a before-hours tour of the aquarium's hidden passageways and support areas, topped off by a pancake brunch and a trip to the sea-otter exhibit. Love me some sea otters!

I'm off tomorrow on a TNT-sponsored tour of some of their upcoming shows, including the Steven Bochco legal drama "Raising the Bar." Again, I'm getting up early, but this time to drive to Hollywood -- with no hope of sea otters.

Well, you can't have everything.

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