It’s been a lovely in So Cal and the desert. Here’s the scoop.
Friend-time was the name of the game in L.A.
My first visit was to Mark and Sara’s house. They have two adorable girls who were the highlight of the night.
It was fun to watch my friends be parents. Back in the day, for example, Mark was on Stanford’s track team and then got picked up to train with the U.S. bobsled team. Now, here he is with his two, little girls being silly and making sure they don’t run in the street.
Telling stories is big in their house. They’re fill-in-the-blank style and sound like this:
Jane: I want you to tell a story.
Mom/Dad: A story? Okay, what’s this story about?
Jane: (pause) Silly Jane!
Mom/Dad: Silly Jane. Okay, is she going to the Silly Convention again?
Mom/Dad: Who does she meet on her way to the Silly Convention?
Jane: Ballet Bear
You get the idea. Ballet Bear wears a tutu that’s rainbow colored, by the way. These story times are really sweet and give Jane lots of room to play with her imagination.
They also have the girls paint the shower walls with baby-safe paints to get them into the shower and, eventually, clean. I think that’s clever.
Biking the Beach
I checked off another bucket-list item. I rented a cruiser and biked the beach trail from Santa Monica down through Venice Beach to Marina del Rey.
The bike trail from Santa Monica to Venice is a some of the most fun, well-designed public space you could hope for. There are miles of sunny beach with volleyball nets, work-out stations, showers, and kid’s play parks.
Venice Beach has a lot going on. My highlight was an older guy with a long, grey beard, rolling around on pumped-up rollerblades, playing the electric guitar really well, and wearing a t-shirt turban on his head. Sorry I didn’t get a picture but he’s a regular fixture, according to my L.A. friends. I’ll get that pic next time.
After my bike ride, I met up with Seattle friends, Amy and Elaine, who moved to L.A. a year and a half ago and are now married and expecting their first child. They’re loving L.A.
We ate fancy Spanish small plates then went across the street to see a Groundlings comedy show. It featured a mixture of improv and sketch comedy and was SO FUNNY. I felt like I was watching tons of SNL skits live. One of the actor’s bio listed that he was a writer for SNL. I highly recommend a show there.
That said, all my other L.A. friends say to go to Largo for comedy, for the record.
Silver Lake, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills
Saturday morning I went to the Silver Lake farmers market near Amy and Elaine’s. People, when you are in L.A. go to farmers markets. The produce is outrageously delicious.
I bought a lot of three-dollar-a-pound, juicy heirloom tomatoes, juicing oranges that tasted like candy, and some apples and pears. I really love the produce in California.
My next stop was the 24-Hour Fitness in Hollywood. Yes, you guessed it, there are some very sexy, sassy-looking people who you can tell are working hard to make it as actors and actresses in L.A. Men with big muscles and gorgeous man-scaped faces, and women with big boobs and tiny waists – it was all there.
After flexing my muscles, I stopped at Beverly Gardens Park to catch up with my friend Vikki. She’s the personal chef to a famous Hollywood producer (I’m not sure if I can say who). She’s also on an up-and-coming show called Recipe Rehab. She’s getting famous.
We hadn’t chatted for several years and catching up was a blast. Vikki’s a very intuitive, kind-hearted person. She’s also dating a comedian now and I can’t wait to meet him.
My last L.A. stop was a pool party with college friends. I enjoyed my first Moscow mule (yum!) and hearing about life working at Mattel and the Discovery Channel. I also learned that you don’t get your hair wet right away at a lounge-y pool party or you look all soggy and it gets cold when the sun goes down. Got it.
After L.A., I paused for a couple of nights in Borrego Springs at my aunt and uncle’s place.
I spent a lot of time cleaning up and catching up with myself and getting work done. But in the mornings and evenings I hiked, watched the Supermoon at a local state park, and star-gazed.
Borrego Springs feels very rural. It’s an extremely small town near the Salton Sea. I want to go back, soak in the springs, and hike more. I love the desert.
I’m now in Flagstaff, Arizona. The drive here was one of my longest but fortunately I had “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” on tape so I enjoyed the ride.
Also, the classic, barrel cacti started popping up more and more in the landscape once I reached Arizona. Southern Arizona is exactly what you imagine the Old West to look like.
I’ve been hanging out with my friend Carolynn. We worked together at HealthTalk.com back in 2004-2008. She’s smart and kind, and also an amazing cook. Soon after I arrived Tuesday evening I had an icy drink in my hand and she was making almond-encrusted, goat cheese medallions. It’s been lovely here.
Flagstaff reminds me of Tahoe but with a lot more aspens. We hiked the Kachina Trail. It’s gorgeous.
And, the old town is full of hippy-themed shops, cafes, and art galleries. It’s a classic, small college town (Northern Arizona University) that reminds me of Boulder or Eugene.
Grand Canyon Awaits
My next stop is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I’m staying at a little cabin nearby and plan to hike around and soak in all the beauty tomorrow. I’m so excited.