This past December I jetted off to Southern California to spend some time with my parents for eleven glorious days in the sunshine before heading up to Vancouver to spend Christmas with my brother Marshall and his family. Though this trip was long planned before the events of November, it ended up being a good and welcomed distraction following the unexpected loss of my sweet puppy Ruthie, giving me time to grieve with the support of my parents and providing some moments of great joy in the midst of it all!
Homebase while in California was Riverside, a city sixty miles east of Los Angeles and home to my mother’s cousin Barry and his family. My parents were there in their motorhome, at the final leg of their eight-month long North American tour! It was a great place to reside while adventuring around this gorgeous part of the world. First stop was Santa Monica and the end of Route 66!
I’m not going to lie. The Santa Monica was a bit of a let down! It was totally commercialized and the “amusement park” was a total kill joy. The beach however and the beautiful coastal scenery more than made up for the let down at the pier. We continued our drive down the coast and stumbled upon Venice Beach. Okay, confession time! I did very little research in where to go and what popular sites to visits, which means that I did not know that Venice Beach was home to crazy sub-cultures, stores wrought with drug paraphernalia, wanna-be hip-hop artists who peddle their home-made albums, and muscle beach, and that I would feel way out of place there, LOL!! A happy happenstance that occurred was the sunset photo opportunities. As the sun descending surfers descended on the beach, waded into the water and waited for the waves. I sat there for nearly forty five minutes, watching the surfers, waiting in disappointment with them as small wave after small wave never headed to a large enough wave to ride.
One thing I miss about living in the West is the mountain range I grew up around. While visiting in California I was happy to drive up the mountain to Big Bear to fetch my Aunty Betty and bring her down to Riverside for an extended visit with us! The drive was so beautiful!!! I can’t get over the gorgeous combination of the forest green mountains against the blue skies. And, oh my goodness, the size of the pine cones on the trees was astounding!
Um, below is a picture of the most delicious cupcake I have ever had. It was a raspberry cupcake with tahitian vanilla buttercream!! I picked up this little gem from Casey’s Cupcakes. Had not idea at the time, but it turns our Casey was the winner of Cupcake Wars in 2011 and I happen to visit her original store, right in Riverside, CA at the Mission Hill! Seriously, it was delicious and I have been trying to create my version since coming home but I am sure nothing will ever compare to the deliciousness I remember tasting when I took my first bite of the Razzledazzle Raspberry cupcake pictured below!
I packed in a lot of sightseeing and activities, juxtaposed with some necessary downtime with my parents and reconnecting with extended family I hadn’t seen in many years. And aside from my visit to Disneyland, my two favourite days of adventure were spent with my mom and Aunty Betty. First visited the Warner Brother’s Studios and touring their backlot, where I stumbled upon the old town of Stars Hallow (Gilmore Girls fame) and the new town of Blue Bell (Hart of Dixie fame), and the legendary Central Perk (Friends fame) and then had supper at the legendary Bob’s Big Burgers in Burbank. All I can say about the All American Burger I had was “Yum!” Our second day of adventure began with a trip to the LA Flower Market where I spent an hour photographing various blooms and greens that I rarely see being used in wedding bouquets in New Brunswick (can’t wait to blog a complete post for inspiration). While walking to the flowers market we stumbled upon the textiles district and I was in my glory!! I rarely pick up “souvenirs” when I am traveling but I could not resist buying a few pieces of designer fabric to create some create textiles for my new house. From there we spent the afternoon at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens where we walked through the rose and Japanese Gardens on our way to high tea, before perusing the art gallery where we came across the original paintings of Blue Boy and Pinky (my parents had small replicas of these paintings in their bedroom when I was growing up and it was such a delight to see the originals)!
By far, my most favourite day of my travels was the day I experienced Disneyland with my parents!! The last time we were here together I was five years old. I have no memory of it other than the story my mom tells me of when she lost me and I was found by Cinderella, yet the place felt familiar. I cannot describe the magical feeling I felt the moment we parked the car and began walking to the tram that would take us to, what truly is, the happiest place on earth! The photo below of my Dad smiling with child-like wonder and joy as we enjoyed the jungle cruise adventure is indicative of how every man, woman and child must feel as they take in the wonder and grandeur that Walt Disney’s imagination created for us to enjoy. The day was surreal, from beginning to end.
On my last day in California before flying up to Vancouver during sunset, my parents I am took a tour of the LA, complete with a trip to the Hollywood bowl, to Graumen’s Chinese Theatre where Marilyn Monroe (for you Candice!!) and Danny Kay, one of my favourite classic actors, signed the cement on my birthday (many years before I was even born, LOL), and to Rodeo Drive, where I didn’t even bother looking in shoppes so as to not be depressed by seeing so many beautiful, high quality items I could never afford but would always want!
Thank you taking the time to enjoy my travel diary and photo memories!! I can’t wait to get some of these images developed and framed for my house!!
Love & Sunshine,