Our Southern California Vacation

Andy and I traveled to Southern California March 4th-11th. Shockingly, it was our first true vacation without kids since September 1999. I spent several years as a baby-making machine, which explains the ridiculously long gap between trips. I guess you could say this was like a second honeymoon, except we stayed with friends and not in a hotel, which isn't the most romantic accommodations. (Not to say we weren't appreciative, because we TOTALLY appreciate Graeme and Christen letting us crash at their place!) Although Andy spent three days at Expo West, we still had plenty of time to relax and explore. Here are details and photos from our Southern California vacation!

Wednesday, March 4th - Newport Beach and Costa Mesa

We flew from Panama City Beach to Houston, then to Phoenix, and finally landed in Orange County. We arrived early enough to watch the sunset in Newport Beach, and eat dinner at Sushi Sho in Costa Mesa. Christen and her son Gaige met us there. Of every roll at every sushi restaurant I've ever been to, the sexy mango roll at Sushi Sho wins first place. It's almost worth the plane ticket to California.

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Thursday, March 5th - Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach

We spent Thursday morning by the Huntington Beach pier, which is walking distance from Graeme and Christen's home.

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 Andy + Graeme 

Andy + Graeme 

Surfing at Surf City has always been something Andy wanted to do, and he finally got to do it! We were thankful that one of Graeme's friends (a lifeguard) let him borrow a surfboard.

 view from Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach

view from Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach

Andy and I grabbed lunch at Wahoo's, then drove down to Laguna Beach. Our first stop was Alta Laguna Park, where the views are incredible and photos never look as good as reality.

 "secret art of Dr. Seuss" at Fingerhut Gallery in Laguna Beach

"secret art of Dr. Seuss" at Fingerhut Gallery in Laguna Beach

 America Martin's art at JoAnne Artman Gallery in Laguna Beach

America Martin's art at JoAnne Artman Gallery in Laguna Beach

We spent most of the afternoon on foot, walking up and down Coast Highway. We thought 30A had a lot of art galleries until we explored Laguna Beach - they are everywhere! The three that stood out to us were JoAnne Artman Gallery (currently featuring America Martin's exhibit - wow!), Fingerhut Gallery (featuring the secret art of Dr. Suess - amazing!) and Artist Republic 4 Tomorrow (because of owner Torrey Cook's support of artists who are also surfers/skateboarders, which of course Andy identifies with).

 view from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach

view from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach

 view from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach

view from Las Brisas in Laguna Beach

Our friend Angela met us for dinner at Las Brisas. The food was good and the view was unbeatable. It was our most award-winning sunset of the week.

Friday, March 6th - Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and Balboa Island

Andy spent Friday at Expo West, so our friend Angela was my tour guide.

 Balboa Island 

Balboa Island 

 me + Angela 

me + Angela 

We started the day with Kean Coffee, a must in Orange County, then grabbed lunch at Dory Deli in Newport Beach. Next we walked down the Balboa Pier, and drove to see The Wedge (no big waves to be seen, sadly).

Saturday, March 7th - Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Huntington Beach

Andy spent all day Saturday at Expo West, so I went sightseeing with our friend Heather.

 Heather 

Heather 

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We drove up to Los Angeles and visited the Griffith Observatory to get a good view of the Hollywood sign. It was about as uneventful as when I saw Stonehenge in 8th grade, but at least I can say I went. We also visited Runyon Canyon Park, where we saw a lot of cute dogs and zero celebrities. Ha! Heather used to be our next-door neighbor in Santa Rosa Beach, but now lives in San Diego. It was fun spending the day with her and catching up. After a long drive back to Anaheim, Heather dropped me off at the expo with Andy.

 Angela, me, + Andy 

Angela, me, + Andy 

When the expo closed for the day, we took Angela (Immaculate Baking Company's former "queen" - different from yesterday's Angela) over to Huntington Beach with us, where we enjoyed a loud, crowded, and delicious dinner at Sushi on Fire, followed by chocolate malts at Ruby's on the pier. We adore Angela, so it was great hanging out with her.

Sunday, March 8th - Anaheim and Huntington Beach

On Sunday, I joined Andy at Expo West all day.

 Immaculate Baking Company at Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center

Immaculate Baking Company at Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center

We were beat by the end, but not quite ready to say bye to Angela, so she joined us for another evening in Huntington Beach. This time, we had a quiet dinner at Wahoo's.

Monday, March 9th - Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach

We spent Monday morning by the Huntington Beach pier...

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...so Andy could surf again!

In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out Burger

I'm pretty sure it's illegal to visit California and NOT eat at In-N-Out, so Graeme and Christen joined us there for lunch.

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

Andy and I spent the afternoon in Laguna Beach again, since it's one of our favorite places in California.

Graeme and Christen joined us for dinner at Pizza Lounge in Huntington Beach. I swear, we did more than just eat on this trip!

Tuesday, March 10th - Santa Monica and Malibu

On our last day in California, we decided to head north. Andy and I drove along the coast most of the way, with the goal of seeing Santa Monica and Malibu.

Malibu Canyon Road
Malibu Canyon Road

We turned at Pepperdine University and headed down Malibu Canyon Road. What a gorgeous drive! There are a few spots where I was sure we would fall right off the cliff, but it was worth the mild anxiety attack. Had we not been pressed for time, we would've driven all the way through the canyon.

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There are some impressive homes in the hills overlooking the ocean.

Santa Monica pier
Santa Monica pier
 view from the Santa Monica pier

view from the Santa Monica pier

We walked along the Santa Monica pier, and I was surprised that the water was so similar in color and clarity to the water along Florida's Emerald Coast. We ate lunch outside at Blue Plate Taco, where we had the most expensive tacos of our lives. It was good, though, and the view was nice.

We headed back to Huntington Beach and spent our last night people-watching on the pier. Our friends Angela and Beth joined us for dinner at Wahoo's.

Wednesday, March 11th - Home Sweet Home

We left Graeme and Christen's home when it was still dark outside, and headed to the Orange County airport. We flew to San Francisco, Saint Louis, and finally landed in Panama City Beach just before sunset. What a fabulous trip to Southern California! We definitely shouldn't wait 15 years to do it again.

Lori