adventures in lalaland

Monday, January 27, 2014

I have been due for a trip out west for quite some time. One of my very good friends, Kalyn, and I met while studying abroad in New Zealand in 2008, and I haven't seen her since my wedding! I was so excited to head out to the perfect weather and sunshine of California in the middle of this grossly cold winter we're having in Georgia.

I arrived on the evening of Thursday, Jan 16 after my favorite flight experience to date. It was the pilot's retiring flight and his whole family was on board (wife, kids, grandkids), fire engines created an arch of water as we exited ATL and when we landed in LAX, all of the drinks and in-flight entertainment were free, and they put together a cute little party at the gate when we arrived. They were all such special touches by Delta, and I really felt honored to be on the flight!

Anyway, when I landed Kalyn picked me up and we headed up north to Carpinteria to stay with her friend, Maggie, for the night. We woke up the next morning and took the short train ride (so fun!) to Santa Barbara where we spent the day wine tasting. Our first stop was Les Marchands Wine Bar - turns out our waiter was part owner of the place and a Master Sommelier (huge deal!). He was also featured in the movie Somm - a documentary about a few individuals attempting to become Master Sommeliers. Kalyn is obsessed with this movie and freaked out when she found out our waiter turned out to be Brian (of course, it took us until we went to the next place to learn all of this). We grabbed lunch from this super cute place called Lucky Penny and were able to bring it back to Les Marchands and eat it while sipping our wines. I had my favorite meal of the trip - a toasted farro salad with arugula, parmesan, grapes (fun surprise!), and olive oil. YUM, YUM, YUM.

The view from Maggie's backyard. I mean, seriously?!

Train fun with Maggie!

Surfing on the Surfliner with Kalyn!

Wine tasting at Les Marchands

With Brian, our new Master Somm friend. (By the way, he made us pose like this.)

Oh, yeah. I met one of the founders of Autism Speaks - which happens to be my college sorority's philanthropy! So cool.

 We're not obnoxious at all

We made a few more stops for wine - Santa Barbara Winery, Giessinger (GROSS. Do not go.) and grabbed dinner at Union Ale before taking the train back to Carpinteria, where we then said goodbye to Maggie and headed down to Kalyn's house in Redondo Beach to meet her cat, Tofu, and finally say hi to her super fun boyfriend, Corey.

Fireball shots at Union Ale before heading back.

On Friday, we grabbed breakfast at Two Guns (a fun coffee shop owned by New Zealanders - yay!), before heading to Runyon Canyon to stalk celebs. Parking was a nightmare, but we finally found a spot and started our two hour hike/celeb watch. We didn't see any (boo!), but I blame it on the fact that the SAG Awards were also happening the same day. The views were beautiful and we definitely got a good work out in.


Thanks to Corey and Matt for putting up with us on our hike! And for taking all of our fun pictures.

Since we were in West Hollywood, we had to stop at a fun gay bar before we headed home. Kalyn chose The Abbey, and we had a few drinks (and shots - we're on vacation!). She kept saying she had seen Bob Barker there (the guy from Price is Right?) and I was so confused why he would be partying at a gay bar in West Hollywood. Turns out she meant Bob Harper (from the Biggest Loser).

We headed back down to Redondo for a nap before we headed out to dinner in Manhattan Beach at Pitfire Pizza (I got a Ghost Pepper Pizza...guess what? It was HOT.) and then to the local dive bar Shellbacks for some post-dinner drinks.

Sunday morning we woke up and rode bikes back down to Manhattan Beach. (Ugh, seriously. Can we move there?) We did some window shopping and walked on the pier before deciding it was time for a drink around 10:30. Kalyn had been wanting to try this cute/fancy restaurant right on the water, so off to The Strand House we went. We had some delish fresh squeezed tangerine juice with vodka before meeting up with Corey and biking the Strand (beachy boardwalk!) to Hermosa Beach.

Manhattan Beach... the cutest!

Gajillion dollar houses on one side... beach on the other!

There are a ton of bars right on the beach in Hermosa, and we decided to start off at American Junkie. Of course, we made friends with a huge Samoan (we thought he was Maori, boo) who had a prime time table so we spent the whole day there. Kalyn's mom, Kelly, joined us later in the afternoon and it was the best little reunion! They are so fun. It was the greatest way to end such an amazing trip!

Corey and our new Samoan friend

Best friends! Miss this girl.

The weather was seriously amazing the entire time I was there. Sunny and high of low to mid-80s everyday. I never wanted to leave! I tried to talk Adam into grabbing Ruthie and meeting me there, but that was a no go. Thank you for everything, Kalyn and Corey! What an awesome way to kick off 2014!

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