Sunday, June 3, 2012

California Love

Earlier this month, Geoff and I took a week-long trip to Los Angeles.  Since it is his hometown, I let him take the lead with planning as long as we made it to the beach!  We did.  The water was FREEZING!  But I didn't care - I love beaches.

I've always pictured it as very urban, but LA is surprisingly beautiful.  We took a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains which are scrubby and semi-arid and not what I expect so close to the ocean.  There were two trail and we took the one that went up and back down the mountain (instead of through the valley) to arrive at the ruins of a mansion and this idyllic waterfall.

Feet cooled and rested, we headed back to civilization for a drive around Hollywood to see the sites - the Hollywood sign, Mann's Chinese Theater, and the Capitol Records Building.

Other than the beach, my only request was to visit the La Brea Tar Pits, because I'm a huge nerd.  There are a number of other museums I want to see when we're there next (the Getty and the Los Angeles County Museum are my other top two), but this was at the top of my list.  It was smaller than I anticipated, but their were fossils of 2 foot tall deer and 12 foot tall sloths, so I was happy.

What I really loved about LA wasn't the places we visited as much as getting the chance to hang out in the gorgeous weather (I couldn't stop talking about it, I think the locals thought I was nuts; but it was 70 every day and 90 in Texas) and getting to know Geoff's friends and family.

For several days, we stayed with a friend of Geoff's in Santa Monica.  We spent a few afternoons drink beer at a pub on Venice Beach with friends and people-watching.  Venice Beach was full of street performers, people selling their art, and dudes in bikini bottoms at Muscle Beach (I'm pretty sure they are the same guys from the 80s as they all seemed to be pushing 60 now).

The impetus for our trip was Mel and Christine's wedding.  It took place at a vineyard in Malibu.  The setting was gorgeous and the ceremony was short but very moving.  The vows were sweet and funny - much like the couple.

For the last several years, we have been so far from LA that we pretty much only get to see Geoff's friends at weddings so it was great to get to see and catch up with everyone.  Hopefully, we'll be back soon now that it is just a 3 hour direct flight away!

This was the second time I've ever had an In-N-Out burger and it was just as delicious as the first one I had in Las Vegas.  Evidently there is one in Dallas, so we know where we are having lunch the next time we drive up to Kansas!

After the wedding, we spent a few days with Geoff's dad, wife, and their kids.  Knowing we don't get much great Vietnamese food in San Antonio, they took us to their favorite place for pho.  I had the bun with char-grilled pork and the pork was basically bacon.  It was awesome, but I digress.

That Sunday night was a solar eclipse.  We punched a whole in a piece of paper so we could safely view it, but we soon realized that you could make a better aperture with your hands (it worked, try it).  We had a great time hanging out with the family and we are looking forward to making it back soon.

Our last night in town, Geoff, Lee, and I rented a karaoke room for an hour (which turned into three).  My singing voice is, let's say, unpolished.  But I belted out a few songs and was mostly content to let my much more talented companions steal the show.  Singing before, after, or in the same room as Geoff is always intimidating.  It was a fun final night in LA and we were both sad to leave!

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