Wednesday, August 5, 2009

la la land

Almost 2 whole months ago (gasp! Man, time flies!!), I took a fabulous trip to Southern California. You may have heard me mention it a time or two before I left...something about how this was going to be the first time Doug and I were going to be away from the children since our last vacation together...8 YEARS AGO! And you may have even heard me gush after returning that it was one of my best weeks ever!! And I know some of you are starting to wonder if the trip really happened, since there have been no posts or pictures on this website. I've been meaning to write about it...really, I have. It's just that every time I sit down to write, I feel blocked. Because I know I won't be able to do it justice. Because it wasn't just the fun happenings, it was also the quiet happenings...the peaceful, calming feelings that take over when you realize that the only person you have to take care of for the time being is yourself. But because I had more fun than one should legally be allowed to have in one week, I feel like it's time for me to just get over myself and share my fabulous week with you!

So, here is what I love about Southern California...

(btw, these are mostly in chronological order...not in order of fabulousness...)

1. Santa Monica

After we landed at LAX, Doug and I rented a car and drove to Santa Monica. It was a Saturday, and very busy. Our first experience with LA traffic...FUN! But once we got there and found a place to park, we walked to the beach and it was all worth it. The beach, the activity, the fun to watch everything. We had lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant right on the Pier and then did a little shopping. My favorite store?? Yummy Cupcakes! Check these out...

2. The Gibson Inn & Suites

After our day in Santa Monica, we made the "quick" 40 mile/2 hour jaunt over to Kate and John's apartment. It's nestled in the back of the complex, and surrounded by these awesomely huge trees with gorgeous purple flowers. Since you all know how well I do with tree identification, I won't even try...but really, they were beautiful! We had a very yummy dinner - spaghetti and meatballs, bread and of course, yummy cupcakes! We talked a lot, laughed a lot, ate a lot and listened to some really great music. A wonderful end to a great first day!

3. Del Mar

As much as I loved Santa Monica, it doesn't hold a candle to Del Mar. It's such a sweet little town just north of San Diego and only about an hour and a half or so from LA. With our husbands both working, Kate made plans for us to head down to Del Mar on Monday. She was going to be visiting one of her nearby stores on Tuesday, so she made reservations for us to spend the night at an amazing inn called Les Artistes, just blocks from the ocean and within walking distance to the heart of the town. We stayed in the Zen Room and the room totally delivered on it's promise of a calming and relaxing experience!

We walked into town that evening and had dinner outside, over looking the ocean, at an amazing restaurant called Pacifica Del Mar. I don't know if it was the ocean, the wine, the food, the company...probably a combination of all...but it was probably one of the best dinners of my life!

The next morning, Kate went to work and I stayed behind to do a bit of exploring in Del Mar. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to the beach! I couldn't believe how blue the water was...nothing like Santa Monica. I sat on a bench for awhile, listening to my iPod and watching the surfers, the people playing volleyball, and there was even someone attempting to parasail. After a walk on the beach, I headed back into town, did a little window shopping, and then met Kate for lunch for one of my all-time favorite sandwiches: California BLT!

4. Hollywood

Okay, even if you don't get into the whole "celebrity" thing, Hollywood is still a very cool place to see. I loved seeing the Kodak Theater, which is the home of the Academy Awards, Grauman's Chinese Theater and the hand and foot prints outside, all the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and other landmarks I've seen on TV and in movies. Kate and I also took one of the bus tours through Hollywood, up Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive and of course, all the stars' homes. And we even managed to see Quentin Tarantino, in his car, fighting the same traffic we were!

5. Glen Ivy

I'm not much of a spa girl. I've only ever had one massage in my life and I'm not normally one for manicures/pedicures. So I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about spending the day at a spa. But Glen Ivy is simply amazing and not like anything I could have imagined. After Kate and I checked in, we grabbed a couple of chairs by one of the outdoor pools and began our day of total relaxation. Reading by the pool, floating on a raft in the pool, a couple of drinks at the pool bar, lunch on the terrace, Club Mud, The Grotto...I don't believe there was one ounce of tension left in my body when we left.

6. Disneyland

I think Doug and I love Disney just as much, if not more, than our kids do and we would have loved to have had an opportunity to spend a day at Disneyland. Unfortunately, we didn't have an entire day to spend there, but on Thursday night, Kate dropped me off at Doug's hotel, which was within walking distance to the park. We decided to spend the evening at Downtown Disney, which is basically a lot of shops and restaurants. After walking around for a bit, we settled on eating at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen for dinner and waited a few minutes for a table out on the upstairs balcony. So glad we did that, because just before dessert, the Disneyland Fireworks started and we had a front row seat!

On Friday, we had a few hours to kill before heading back to Kate & John's, so we walked back to Downtown Disney to have lunch and see a movie. The movie, Star Trek, was phenomenal...and not just for the movie, but for the fact that I didn't have to get up once to take anyone to the bathroom or to get more popcorn. Plus, it wasn't animated, so that helped too!!

6. In-N-Out / Sprouts

Two places I would frequent if they were anywhere near I guess it's a good thing for my waistline and wallet that we don't have them on this coast!

If you ever have an opportunity to eat an In-N-Out burger, you should. No, you must. Even you vegetarians, you can still have the fries! I mean, we have good burgers here (Five Guys!), but there's just something about this place. It took every ounce of my willpower not to make Kate drive me back there 5 more times!

And Kate's store, Sprouts Farmer's Market is wonderful...just wonderful.

But the absolute best thing about Southern California and the entire trip was...

My sweet sister Kate. It has been way too long since we've had a chance to hang out...just the two of us. She made everything about the trip even better and I think my cheeks still hurt a little from all the laughs.

So thanks to my wonderful husband for working for a company that has conferences in cool places (next summer, Washington DC!), and for letting me tag along. And thanks to Dennis and Mary, who spent the week wrangling all four kids and taking such good care of them that I didn't have to worry about a thing. And thanks to Kate, for knowing exactly what I needed, even when I didn't...from the hummus & pretzel chips to healing my soul and everything in between.

If you want to see all the pictures, just click here.


Anonymous said...

sounds amazing...maybe the Millers need to take a trip out there one of these years... all of us! It all sounds like the trip of a life time! ~ love Beth

Kate said...

What a ball we had. I will never forget it!! It was absolute bliss and wonderful spending time with you.. What great adventures we shared!!(: Next time, we are getting tattoos at Kat's in LA, going to Glen Ivy again,staying at the Roosevelt, wine tasting in Temecula, getting our picture taken with the freaks on Hollywood blvd,etc..-I love and miss you very much!

Jenny Q said...

I'm so jealous!!!

Grandma Mary said...

And we had every bit as much fun having our grandkids stay with us for a week!! Love all of you and miss you. We will see you this fall!