Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Angels

We spent last week in Los Angeles. Our vacation was well timed, taking into account the early summer doldrums of cloudy/rainy Oregon, the end of a busy work period, and the cabin fever that I begin to experience when my little nuclear family hasn't been out of town together in almost a year.

Three days of Disneyland took it out of us. We ate breakfast with Minnie, we rode the Dumbos, we squealed at and got splashed by the pirates. There were churros and mouse ears and light sabers and more rides on the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters than the recommended daily allowance. After finally extricating ourselves from the Pixar Play Parade on the last day, we were undecided about what to with the rest of our time in the sunshine. San Diego with LegoLand and spectacular zoos almost won the day. But, in the ended we decided to stick around Los Angeles and see what we could see.

I love getting to know new cities. My ideal urban vacation begins with spending the first day traveling from one end of the city to another, absorbing the neighborhoods and snacking at the cool bakeries and eating street food and riding public transportation. I follow that up with a boutique and bookstore shopping day and a museum day punctuated with stops at restaurants I've read about in advance. I like to stay in a downtown hotel with a groovy bar in the lobby and a doorman.

Even pre-parenthood, my southern California experiences had been the opposite of that scenario. I'd either gone straight from airport to Disney to Knotts Berry Farm to airport, or I'd ridden around wearing a suit in the back of a rental car with a bunch of coworkers with a projector on my lap, traveling from conference hotel to conference hotel. I began to wonder if that image of LA as a wasteland of air conditioned malls and backed-up freeways were true. But in the end, I refused to believe it.

So our L.A. vacation landed somewhere in between a shoe-shopping, wine-swilling poolside retreat, and a traffic-bound dash from complimentary breakfast to theme park and back. We ate some great meals, including a magical Mexican dinner at Border Grill in Santa Monica. Jeff and I traded off sprawling on the sunny lawn watching Theo run barefoot across the grass and taking in the collection at the Getty Museum (a place I'd vaguely head of before, but one that is a must-see, especially if you like spectacular views and cool architecure or gardens). There was no bar in our hotel, but we had air conditioning and Froot Loops at the complimentary breakfast. We drove around Hollywood and Bel Air and Beverly Hills while Theo slept in his car seat. We went to the beach.

We had a great vacation. But it's good to be back.