13 Jun

Day 14

Did I mention this was a road trip? To me, road trips are all about the decaying, abandoned, roadside businesses, and the completely silly attempts to get tourist dollars. Today’s drive from Lake Arrowhead, CA to Las Vegas, NV epitomizes that. We passed Joshua Trees, abandoned buildings, Zzyxz Road, and the world’s Tallest Thermometer (sadly broken). We also stopped for Fresh Alien Jerky (in Baker, CA).

20120613-224220.jpg

It also appears we may have been in New York,

20120613-224321.jpg
In Rome, Italy,

20120613-224419.jpg
Or was it Venice?

20120613-224522.jpg
Or perhaps it was Paris, France…

20120613-224613.jpg
Or maybe just back in Hawaii,

20120613-224716.jpg
Really, we can’t say, because you know, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

20120613-224826.jpg

12 Jun

Day 13

It was a sunny, warm day in Lake Arrowhead — perfect for a boat outing courtesy of my Dad’s friend.

20120612-200723.jpg

We boated across the lake to lunch at the only McDonald’s I know with a dock.

A longtime family friend and his teen daughter joined us too. We convinced her and my son to try waterskiing.

20120612-201010.jpg

Neither got up, but they gave it a good try. Art tried too, but the battery died on the boat before he got up and we had to get towed back to the dock. No matter, it was still a good day.

20120612-201403.jpg

11 Jun

Day 12

We moved east today. Admittedly, not very far.

Lunch was at a Chipotle — hubby’s favorite fast food besides In n Out Burger. We met Kate, an IBOL fan/friend and her family. She brought us fresh, local, strawberries which we later had for dessert. Kate may now be my best friend.

After lunch we headed up hill to Lake Arrowhead, where my dad lives. We used his computer, did laundry, and the kids played with his dog.

20120611-211038.jpg

20120611-211049.jpg

Tomorrow we play on the lake.

10 Jun

Day 11

Family Reunion Day! My mom and two of her three siblings (plus spouses), my sister and I and all eight of our cousins (plus spouses), and all of our kids (19 of them ranging from baby on up to 13 years old) met at a park for a day of cousin style fun. My generation was referred to by our parents as “the cousins.” It didn’t matter what combination we were in, we all played well together and were considered as a bunch. It was fantastic to see that, after an initial warm up period, our kids could pretty much do the same.

Most of my photos are on my camera, but hubby got a few on the iPhone.

20120610-223524.jpg
My mom wrote out our family tree on one of the tablecloths.

20120610-223614.jpg
My brother in law helped our girls climb a tree.

After a catered taco lunch, squirt guns, playground time, bike riding, kite flying, lawn darts, and birthday cake, my land locked cousin wanted to go to the beach. So, as the party broke up, a good portion just moved to one of the local cousin’s homes and then to a nearby beach.

20120610-224013.jpg

The kids played some more until they got cold and the sun was nearly set, and then we returned to the house for a warm pool and pizza.

20120610-224307.jpg

The day ended around the fire pit. Special thanks to Aunts Tammie and Kim, my mom, and cousin Brian for pulling this all together. Kudos to Brian for the food and the awesome Necessary swag. And thanks to cousin Kevin and Diana for letting us invade your house and pool in the evening. I know my family had a great time and it reminds me that we see “the cousins” far too infrequently.

09 Jun

Day 10

When Art first joined the Army and went to Germany to immediately be deployed to Bosnia, I opted not to go straight to Germany, but to take a small truck load of belongings and drive from our home in Alexandria, VA to my Dad’s house in LA. My parents wren’t wild about me driving the distance alone, and I welcomed the company, so they set me up with a family friend I had met once or twice and she joined me in NY and we had a week long cross country adventure. So, it’s only fitting that as we make this reverse trip from LA to Charlottesville, VA, that I spend time with Masha and her family.

We met at the landmark Santa Monica pier.

20120609-212552.jpg

I used to work a few blocks from here, in a design office on the Promenade. Back then, they were just refurbishing the historic Merry Go Round, but hadn’t updated the whole pier yet.

20120609-212753.jpg

Now there’s a crazy little amusement park in addition to a few restaurants and the normal fishing and street performers.

20120609-212918.jpg

We set all the kids loose and they had a ball riding the roller coasters and other attractions over and over.

20120609-213039.jpg

Finally, we dragged the kids away, said our goodbyes, and headed back to our hotel where a bunch of my cousins and their families had been gathering all day. Pool antics ensued amongst the younger generation, followed by pizza dinner and catching up.

20120609-213244.jpg

Tomorrow we will have what I’m sure will be a most excellent family reunion.

08 Jun

Day 9

We are still in Los Angeles and have hit tourist fever pitch: today we went to Universal Studios.

20120608-231549.jpg

I don’t thing I’d been there since the 1980s and all they had was the studio tour with the flash flood, the shark, and something along the lines of an earthquake in a tunnel.

It’s much bigger and in your face now, but it was definitely fun and the kids loved it. We took the tour which honored the classic flash flood and shark, and has added Wisteria Lane in addition to the Bates house and motel. There’s a 3-D King Kong segment that’s actually pretty amazing when you consider you’re just in a tram on a shaking platform. We went on the new Transformers ride which is also pretty technically amazing, and the Jurassic Park ride which is just an excuse to slow down and get wet — which we did. Another classic park of the Studios was the Western Shootout stunt show, so we went to the Waterworld show. Lots of splashing the audience, exploding things, and falling from great heights. Perfect entertainment for 13 year old boys! The kids are ready to go again.

Then we went to visit an art school friend of mine (check out her blog, Two Hand Design, in my sidebar, or her Etsy shop here). She made us delicious Carne asada tacos for dinner and gave me the tour of her garage with tabletop press, and her studio bedroom which is like the paper version of my sewing room studio. Lots of inspiration and raw materials. (By the way, if you’re anywhere near Culver City, CA on Sunday she’ll be at the Patchwork Indie Art & Craft Festival there!) While I oohed and ahhhed over her cool stuff, her husband and dogs entertained Art and the kids.

20120608-232811.jpg

20120608-232834.jpg

Serious fun the whole day.

07 Jun

Day 8

Today was indeed, Aquarium Day. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is a very cool place. It’s not so big as to be overwhelming, but it’s got a lot to see. We were fascinated by all the sharks they have. They even had shark eggs that they had put windows into so you could see the baby sharks inside (no sharks harmed in the process and they grow and hatch as normal). Saw-fish feeding time was pretty cool too.

20120607-224425.jpg
The kids spent a looooong time petting the small bamboo sharks. We thought that was going to be THE thing. Then we took a break to have lunch with another of hubby’s college friends. It was great to see him and catch up. He said his favorite at the aquarium was the otters. So we checked them out after lunch. Cute. But then we went to the Lorikeet Forest.

20120607-224658.jpg

And that was IT. The best thing ever! The kids had so much fun feeding the birds and trying to get them to land on their arms. The birds are pretty cheeky too, so it was very entertaining.

Finally, we had to drag the kids away from the birds and pick up my mom at the airport. Since dinner needed to be part of the plan, and none of us had ever been there, we decided to go to the Encounter restaurant.

20120607-225126.jpg

It is every bit as space age, Star Trek TOS, acid trip as you might expect from the web site and the exterior. Surprise, surprise, the food is pretty good (though pricey). I’ve heard they make a mean martini and if I wasn’t the designated driver I would have had one as the setting seems perfect. Perhaps on my next flight out of LAX.

20120607-225533.jpg

PS, if aliens were to actually come out of that space ship restaurant, maybe they’d have tentacly fingers, like this:

20120607-225657.jpg

06 Jun

Day 7

The plan today was to go to Pasadena, but we never quite got there.

20120606-230135.jpg
I suggested that we take a hike in Griffith park, so we did that first. We went from Fern Dell up to the Observatory, just like we sometimes did when I was a kid.

20120606-230315.jpg
The observatory was a hit, as was seeing the Hollywood sign over and over again.

20120606-230415.jpg
One of the observatory docents asked why was there a tesla coil there if it has nothing to do with astronomy. The answer: because it’s cool!

20120606-230621.jpg
Geeks that we are, we kept checking in to Facebook and one of hubby’s friends keeps suggesting good local restaurants wherever we go. Pink’s was on the list, so we diverted away from Pasadena and into Hollywood because, well, Pink’s is iconic LA, and it’s kid friendly.

20120606-230949.jpg
Passing Hollywood and Vine on the way to lunch inspired the girl to want to see the stars, so we did. We walked to Grauman’s Chinese theater and checked put as many stars and hand and footprints as we could stand. The boy thought the Star Wars robots’ prints were OK.

20120606-231224.jpg
We ended the day driving past the house of my teen years and then meeting some friends from former lives for dinner. It was great to talk story and I’m only sorry that a few more didn’t make it. We stepped into the nearby furniture store for better lighting for our photo! All in all a good day. Tomorrow’s plan is the aquarium. I wonder where we’ll end up.