Coming back to LA after Christmas this year, I had a lot more than I left with, good and bad. Bad being that my bag was ten pounds over weight which meant a $90 fee (on top of the normal checking fee), and good being Kelsey came along with me for a visit. Ma and Pa Brown were generous enough to include airfare as part of Kelsey's Christmas gift. So she got to spend a week or so of her winter break out here with me.
Kelsey had been here before, and was less than impressed. Actually, other than a few insulting monikers, the only thing she seemed to remember about L. A. was the awful traffic. Clearly it was up to me to defend the honor of Southern California. In short introduce her to "Ryan's L. A."
An integral part of "Ryan's L. A." is, of course, Ryan's peeps. Justin and Jill met us for dinner one night (though I can't remember where), and then we came back to my place and all played on our iPhones. Come to find out the three of them also do the YMCA while I'm in the bathroom.
i don't know; it's what they do i guess
For New Year's Eve, we met Matt and Beth up in Santa Barbara. I drove us up through Malibu and along the coast, arriving in town a little early to walk around State St. and enjoy the afternoon. We met Matt and Beth at our hotel, just across the street from the beach. We all chatted for a while (I seem to recall everyone was picking on me) then retired the rooms to change in preparation for the evening festivities. The plan was to have dinner at the steakhouse in the resort, then head downtown to ring in the new year. Dinner was an excellent 4-course prix fixe (steak was fantastic, though I won't order the meringue again). The four of us hopped a cab, and the cabbie dropped us at his recommended watering hole, Joe's Cafe. We sidled up to the bar to grab a round. It was there we met the coaches for New Zealand's Under-20 rugby team who proceeded to bug us the rest of the night. Still we had a ball and with much effort found a cab to take us back after midnight.
...Which is right when things took a turn for the worse. The stomach flu had raged through my family and Kelsey the week before. I had been lucky enough to avoid during my visit home. Apparently, only just that long as I began vomiting immediately upon arriving back at the hotel. As this thing goes, I continued to vomit for the next 24 hours, including the 2-hour drive back to LA (Kelsey drove admirably if a little nervous). She also sat patiently with me that day as we loafed around my apartment, me just moaning on the couch or dry heaving in the bathroom (sorry, no pics from that day). Some vacation, eh, Kels? And sorry I had to cancel the camping, I'll make it up to you.
But the next morning I was fine again, so we went out for a BIG breakfast at The Ketle (I think I still managed to eat less than Kelsey, evn though I was starving from not eating the previous day) and took a walk around Manhattan Beach. Then I took us for a drive around the becahes and cliffs of Palos Verdes and down to San Pedro to kick around the parks (Pt. Fermin and Korean Bell). Then stopped home to grab some sodas and root beers and up north to one of my favorite spots, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Park. It's a pretty, green park in the middle of an oil and industrial area, an oasis of sorts, and has a spectacular view of downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills. The view that day was spectacularly clear as recent rains had washed away the particulate layer that hovers over the city. We just layed around for a couple hours, talking and goofing off with the cameras. All that goofing off really worked up our appetites, fortunately it was just a short drive to Father's Office 2 from there for the world's best burger (seriously).
From there the days all run together for me, but I do remember seeing Avatar in IMAX 3D (Kelsey's a huge nerd), meeting the work group for lunch at Rinaldi's, dinner at El Tarasco with Gwen, and spending an afternoon walking around Laguna Beach. So, yeah, pretty great visit. Can't wait to do it again in about two weeks.
As always, more pics.