and we're back! California Adventure (Days 1-4)

Oh dear!  I must have forgotten to tell you that I was going on vacation.  Or rather, I didn't forget, but I'm one of those paranoid people who tries not to announce they are going away, especially around the holidays, for fear someone might rob me.  Granted, I have lovely neighbors who looked after my house, and a nice spiffy security system, but still.  Its the principle of the matter.

You may be wondering where I have been - or where I went.  I went to California to visit my husband, for a lovely two weeks.

I didn't know what to expect since we hadn't seen each other since September.  I also didn't know what to expect because I had only been to California once and that was for a two day extended layover in San Francisco.  Nothing like the Central Coast area we were visiting.

We drove a new car out on the Friday before Christmas, taking us (Avery and myself) two days to arrive in LA where we met Kevin at the Santa Monica pier.  What a great meeting place - at the edge of the ocean! 

We spent 3 days in Los Angeles total.  That was a rush, driving around the LA area.  I will say, Californians get their reputation for driving from the LA freeways. 

Day 1 - Santa Monica Pier

Our first chance to dip our toes into the Pacific Ocean on this vacation.  The pier itself is super fun, but I guess, it was smaller than I was expecting.  Is that fair of me to say?  I mean, I see it in TV shows and movies and I thought it would be...well... bigger. 

We had our first clam chowda bowl also on the pier.  While it wasn't my favorite on the trip, it was super yummy and great for a breezy day.

Avery certainly spent a good amount of time just dipping her feet in the ocean.  She didn't care that it was cold. She just stood in the cold ocean for a good part of half an hour with the waves crashing over her little toes.

Then, she did what any typical tween would do when she went to the beach - she wrote her name in the sand.

Day 2 - Los Angeles Touring

This was probably one of my most giddy days.  It was an iconic day for me, to visit sites that I had only seen on the screen.  Yes, its such a cliché to say, but I was all about touring LA. 

First up, the Griffith Observatory.  This iconic piece of architecture sits high above the city, and for that alone, I was super excited to see it.  But being a bit of a space nerd, and married to someone who also enjoys astrological phenomena, we took a special liking to this particular place. 

I just absolutely adore the architecture on the building.  I didn't know until we were there, but about where I was standing, taking this shot, I was actually above an auditorium.  In that auditorium, we saw a great interactive presentation about how comets are formed.  Even Kevin, who knows quite a bit about space (thanks to his career) learned a bit more.  I was really impressed at the interior of the facility and the staff members. 

I was, however, not so excited about the hike up from where we parked and back.  Even though I live in high altitude, I was still huffing and puffing when I reached the observatory.  We'll blame in on carrying a camera bag with several bottles of water and disregard the part that I am out of shape.

This is also one of the closest places to see the famous "Hollywood" sign.  Again, I was gushing a little.  Starstruck?  Sure! 

After we headed back down the mountain, we stopped at a cute little café called "Community."  I can't recommend this spot enough.  SUPER yummy!  It was about 2:30 in the afternoon at that point, we were famished and the sandwiches (which, I normally HATE sandwiches), were SO good!  Carter, our waiter, was so on point with service to a slight OCD point, but wow, it was SO good!

After we had our late lunch, we headed into Hollywood.  We walked around near Grauman's Chinese Theater area and boy was it a madhouse.  I'm not one for crowds so it was a bit overwhelming, but was worth seeing the excitement.

We stopped in Ghirardelli's Chocolate store and Kevin had one of the best chocolate shakes he's ever had.

After wandering around Hollywood, I had a hankering for Sprinkles Cupcakes.  Yes - you know the one.  Owned by Candace who judges on Cupcake Wars.  So we headed to Beverly Hills late in the evening and this was the sight - they were just about cleared out except for one pan of red velvet and one last chocolate.  PERFECTION! 

What a sweet way to end an iconic day.  Yes, I went there!

Day 3 - Knott's Berry Farm

Ok, so we couldn't go to Los Angeles and not stop at an amusement park. It was Christmas time and all of the parks were super busy, so we settled on this one.  I had heard from several California native friends that we would really enjoy this one.  Its a smaller park, but good roller coasters and not over priced. 

It was a great sized park and even though they had crowds, we snagged the front of the line passes and that allowed Avery to ride the roller coasters over and over all day long with a 5-10 minute wait tops. 
I was glad that we decided not to do Disneyland or Universal.  I heard those had even bigger crowds and longer lines, plus were more expensive.  For spending just one day in a park, this was a great decision for us.

Day 4 - Lompoc / Vandenberg AFB

We headed back to Lompoc for the 4th day.  Kevin had to check back into work, and it gave us an opportunity to see where he is currently stationed. 

Tomorrow - stay tuned for our San Diego portion of the trip.  There was a special Christmas surprise that even we didn't know would happen!

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