Saturday, September 3, 2011
Coming to America
As part of my reintegration plan, we stayed in southern California for a few days once we landed in L.A. Both Dennis and I have some wonderful family members there that we haven't seen in much too long. I have a few friends that managed to make time to meet us, too. It was the perfect way to make our return to the states a big, happy deal and help us to let go of New Zealand.
Our first morning, we found a cute diner (bacon, bacon!!!) for breakfast and our server, no kidding, was from New Zealand. And another server had been saving up for years to go by herself and spend a few months there traveling. Un.Real.
My awesome cousin, Leigh, works as an aesthetician at the luxurious and gorgeous St. Regis Monarch Beach resort so we stayed there and got to have dinners and breakfasts with aunts, uncles, cousins, and even new baby cousins, and dogs, too! The second cousins (once removed?? whatever the hell that means) that I remember as 5-year-olds are now grown-up working people with kids of their own. Geez...that makes me feel so old. It was such a blast! Aunt Lenora, my father's sister, true to her Italian roots, makes a delicious pasta sauce and so now I have a new favorite recipe, too!
Here she is with Uncle Bob and Dennis. Below that one is Laurel with cousin Brian's girlfriend, Lisa, who works at Disneyland! Then me with Celina and her babies. Then all of us with Leigh and her husband, Ken.
We met up with some of Dennis's mom's side of the family at a restaurant in Anaheim. Uncle Danny (Dennis's mom's brother) and his wife, Aunt Sharon, and D's mom's mom, Grandma Nancy with her husband, Bob. Always fun to see these guys. One of the highlights was when Trey bested Uncle Danny at Grabbing The Check. Not often done.
The first day we were there, we'd arrived at LAX after barely sleeping at all and then spent the whole day eating American foods and buying lip gloss and Advil. We somehow stayed up till around 8pm and then slept till 10am the next morning. It was wonnnnnderful!!! After that things were pretty good, jet-lag-wise. Made it up to L.A. and saw two lovely, dear friends.
Joan and I went to high school together back in the dark ages of the big-hair 80s and she now lives with her family outside of Los Angeles, where her artist husband, Joe, works for Disney. They were so very gracious to meet us and take us on a tour of the Disney studios in Burbank, where we saw the coolest things in the archives. Trey enjoyed seeing the wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and Laurel loved seeing the dress that was worn in The Prince of Persia.
They even had something from Spin and Marty, my mom's favorite bit of the Mickey Mouse Club. Neat :o) And the studios are so big that there are random bicycles everywhere which employees can ride around the campus. I liked this one with the New South Wales plates :o)
This was where Pluto used to wee, Joan explained. :o)
After the Disney fun, we all had In 'n Out burgers (I'd heard great things and had to try!!) and Jen, a Cleveland modeling days friend who moved out there 14 years ago, drove over and met us. It was really cool that these girls could take the time to do this and it made our time there mean a lot more, and that was the whole danged purpose of it all! Thank you.
I'd also forgotten how pretty California is. That rugged Pacific beauty. Not totally dissimilar from New Zealand, actually. I wouldn't mind spending another week or so there soon!
Drove through Beverly Hills and walked around some of the shops (Laurel and me). Saw lots of amazing cars (Trey).
It sure was nice out there for January. Or February? I have no idea what days we were there, but it was cold in Cleveland and I can see why 9 zillion people want to live in southern California. Thanks for welcoming us back to our country so beautifully, Golden State!!