Will spare you from the boring details of my stateside visit, but wanted to post a few of the highlights.
I flew non-stop from Papeete, Tahiti to Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui. It was a lovely flight on their new dreamliner. They offered me a super soft, pretty turquise blanket and pillow. In addition, I had a small pack with ear plugs, socks and an eye mask. They served dinner and breakfast in addition to offering entertainment. No bad for a coach seat.
I landed in LA, but didn’t stay long. Two hours later I was on a flight to Austin. The next day many of my amazing friends showed up for happy hour at Abel’s on the Lake. For some reason, I did not manage to take a single photo.
I stayed at the exclusive resort of Michelle and Jeremy Martin and enjoyed super special visits with all my friends. Especially, Jamie who flew in from Sedona. Top photo Sharon, Sidney, and I, then Deborah and I and Jamie and I.
My amazing friends.
After a week in Austin, I flew back to Los Angeles to visit with my family. My dad is pretty sick as he battles with cancer, but he is fights on. I was able to spend many days with him which is just what we both needed!
Disneyland & California Adventure
My sister spoiled me with a rare day off at Disneyland. I had not been to the park in over 30 years and had never seen California Adventures. It was a true treat to spend the day with her, Cole, and Cameron (my nephews).
Cole, Cameron, Kimberly and I at Disneyland
A few of the rides like to capture a look of pure terror on your face – but we fooled them!
Konis Klan and I At Disneyland
On the new Indiana Jones ride it broke down just as we were finishing the ride…got to see the behind the scenes of the adventure.
Indiana Jones Behind the Scene
My family came over for a tasty BBQ at my sister’s house.
My loving and crazy family
Somehow I convinced Kathryn and Gene to join the craziness.
Kathryn and Gene visit
My fabulous sister, Kimberly and brother law, Troy
Kimberly, Troy and I
My sister and I spent a lot of time at my dad’s house. He is very ill but was having a god day below. This is my sister and I, my dad and two uncles.
What? 6 months since my last visit to the States. My journey to the States was a lot easier than in January. A 3.5 hour public bus ride, 30-minute taxi, 5-hour flight to MIA, 5-hour flight to LA. Easy Peasy – 20 hours later.
We had a jammed packed schedule with lots of activities and errands. I saw my good friends Ed and Wendy, Kathryn and Gene, and got to see my sister show off her jumping skills.
Sis jumping her horse and Ed, Wendy and I
Cole performed in a high school “Spring Sing” and was the only kid with a solo – he’s so amazing! As a matter of fact, he made a select men’s singing group for next year.
Cole singing solo at Spring Sing
Kimberly had a fundraiser at the Spring Sing concert and raised over $250 for the Mira Costa Choir. Equally important, we had fun working side by side.
The family at Cole’s Spring Sing
Kimberly put together a last minute girls happy hour where my friend Deborah joined us. Always good to see a fellow Texan enjoying the California lifestyle.
Girls Happy Hour
We see lots of weird fruits and veggies that we cannot identify in other countries, but this is a first for me. I could not identify this huge jack fruit in California. Evidently it’s a huge source of protein for vegetarians. It was heavy!
What the heck? It is a vegan source of protein.
One of the main reasons I went to LA (besides seeing my family) was to see Cameron, my youngest nephew graduate from middle school. Notably, graduating with all “A’s.”
Returning back to Los Angeles or as I affectionately call it “la la land” (way before the movie came out) is always exciting because I get to see my family! It makes it especially nice because my sister lives in Hermosa Beach with a beautiful view of the beach and ocean – so I am not too disconnected from Matt and the boat. I call it la la land because I can go around saying “la la la” with no responsibilities other than seeing my family and enjoying life.
After a few hours of sleep, my nephews, Cole and Cameron, and my sister and I made a plan – we are headed to Santa Monica Pier! Even though it is only about 11 miles from Hermosa Beach, it will take us about an hour to get there with traffic – during the day at 11am in the morning.
Santa Monica Pier has a huge merry-go-round, tons of games, vintage stores, eateries, and of course lots of shopping. The boys wanted to take me to Bruxie, where you can get a waffle sandwich. It is a complete novelty in Los Angels being the health nuts that they are to get anything on a waffle sandwich, but for us Texans its not out of the ordinary. I had my first chicken waffle sandwich at a SXSW event many moons ago, but it is not something I have often. I wanted to see what a la la land would do to this special dish.
Bruxie with Cameron and Col (and Kimberly not pictured)
They did it well! Let me tell you they had vegetarian, chicken, and mushroomsandwiches all on waffles. It was very tasty and very worthy of a Texas tradition!
Overstuffed, we headed to the Santa Monica Promenade to check out the shops. It always amazes me how LA gets the newest stores and the latest trends that won’t hit Texas for months or quarters, and won’t hit the islands for years, if at all. Not that I need to be on “trend” anymore, but it is kind of cool. We found a new store called RH Baby and Child that was part of Restoration Hardware family and it was spectacular. They had some of the most beautiful rooms, décor, and furniture. We had a little fun with some of their accessories.
Goofin around with Kimberly and Cameron
Next stop is the famous merry-go-round. Kimberly and I used to come here as kids as my mother loved the merry-go-round. The boys were not 100% sold on actually getting on the ride, but we didn’t give them a choice!
Cameron quickly claimed the goat, Cole hopped on the pig and sis and I just grabbed horses nearby. It was surprisingly faster than we remembered.
Santa Monica Merry-Go-Round Adventure
A fun and fabulous day in Los Angeles!
Kimberly arranged for a pre-birthday celebration on Saturday night at a local eatery. She brought balloons, candles, décor, and a tasty cake. A few good friends, a delicious meal, and lots of libations had by all! Check out the white roses that she dipped in gold glitter – love these special touches!
Kimberly and Greg (Deborah’s boyfriend) and I top left, Vicki and I (top right), Kimberly and Troy (center left), Greg, Troy, and Andy (Vicky’s husband) (center right), Vicky and Andy, Deborah and Greg (bottom left), and Greg, Troy, and Andy (bottom right)
The bar joined in singing “happy birthday” and I got a naked furry belly showing from a random drunk guy. La la land always provides some funny entertainment.
Me celebrating the naked drunk guy (top and far right), Deborah and I (left), entire group (center), Vicky, Kimberly, me, and Deborah (bottom right).
The next day, our family came over to celebrate a batch of birthdays. Unfortunately, the flu held Donna, Diana, and Mark back (my aunts and uncle), but we made the best of it. Kimberly made her famous chili, decorated the house and we ate and feasted our hearts. Top: Troy, Uncle Joe, Cameron and Cole, 2nd row: Me and Matt and Uncle Joe, 3rd row: Me, Kimberly and Dad, last row: Uncle Matt and Dad and Kimberly and Dad.
It is always hard to leave my family, especially knowing I won’t get to see most of them for over a year. But my heart leaves full of love, my mind if full of new memories, and my soul is overflowing with laughter.
Thank you, Sissy for making this a wonderful 50th pre-celebration.
Me, Cole, Cameron, and Kimberly at Ruby’s
Special Thank you:
Kimberly for going out of her way to celebrate my birthday
Dad, Joe, and Uncle Matt for driving to Hermosa Beach
Cole and Cameron for being such good sports
Deborah for celebrating my birthday and the cool Google Home