Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Real L.A.

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.

revelers at joe's cafe, santa barbara

...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).

manhattan beach pier (and kelsey)

picnicking at hahn srp (downtown in background)

again (hollywood in back)

life-altering burger

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.

laguna beach

playing in the sand

As always, more pics.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home For Christmas

Christmas is easily one of my favorite times of the year. I get to go home and see all my family and some friends. This year was just that much better because I got to visit a special friend (hint, she's a girl, yes!). I know Christmas was about six weeks ago (happy Valentine's Day), and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it, but hey, get off my back. I've been real busy. Besides, don't you all have something better to do? No? OK, read on then...

It was so good to be back home and see all the familiar faces. Actually, because they are growing so fast, a couple faces are only just familiar (and not the same old faces I see every year - I kid, I kid). Rease is changing and growing fast. And she is getting to where she is really developing her own personality (and not a boring newborn that just lays there and sleeps and cries - ay, this post is taking on a harsh tone, oh well, roll with it). She's actually pretty cute and kind of hilarious sometimes. And Riley well, he's just growing into more personality. Gotta love the kid though. Actually, if you're Kelsey, you could love him a little less. Talking about your boyfriend a little more, and not so much of the Riley. Kapeesh?

the kids

The Tuttles weren't the only family around though. We were fortunate to have Ivens (our former foreign exchange student) and the Gomes family in town for a few days. They spent Christmas with us and took part in all the yelling, laughing, eating, pinata breaking, and other traditional Christmas activities. I also spent considerable time at the Browns, who were very generous and welcoming and an all around pleasure to be around. They are, after all, the only ones who help me keep Kelsey in check (not so at the Tuttle home - everyone gangs up on me poor me). Kelsey was also gracious enough to bring me around to meet some of her friends, who all welcomed me very warmly. Thank you.

mealtime with the tuttles and gomes

the browns: bruce, reta, bear

post-christmas haps

christmas pinata

All in all, it was a great time, and I only wish it could last longer. I miss all of you. More photos.