Back in grey Des Moines but with fresh memories of sun and green and family and friends in Los Angeles. My friend Susan and I hiked up a hillside in Griffith Park, stopping to see the succulents planted in Amir’s Garden, then onto Cypress Park to see the house where Susan’s son lives (surprisingly roomy and airy group house for five 20 somethings in a transitional neighborhood).
WE had a late and delicious lunch in the nearby Eagle Rock neighborhood at Four Cafe (I had a salad with chopped and grilled root vegetables, feta and grilled salmon, plus homemade grapefruit soda.). The best meals, of course, were cooked by my sister-in-law in Burbank!
My brother and I hiked up a mountainside above Burbank in a recreational area called Stough canyon on a cool sunny morning. I kept stopping to catch the view ( and my breath). Glorious slopes blanketed in dense bright green foliage (after days of rain, which fortunately I missed).
In the distant valley, like a faraway oz, rises the skyscrapers of downtown LA. A little nature center at the trail entrance has some displays including real snakes that kids might enjoy. La la land!
Lunch was at H2O poke and fish grill, a new place on the main drag in bustling down Burbank (note to self: travel story?)
Loved my maiden voyage to the Huntington Collections and Gardens in San Marino near Pasadena, a spectacularly situated series of landscaped gardens (Japanese, Chinese, children’s, Australian….) and galleries (my favorite was an exhibit of early American folk art).
My sister-in-law Heather (named here for her bemusement) and I drifted through one lovely setting after another, catching up, enjoying the greenery, flowers, huge trees, even the dramatic white-grey clouds over the mountains off in the distance. We had a light delicious bite of scallion pancakes and mushroom-stuffed spring roles by the reflecting pool outside in the Chinese garden and enjoyed the excellent gift shop (where I discovered that a Nashville painter Vicki Sawyer, whose whimsical bird portraits I bought several years ago at an east Nashville gallery, has become a brand- I bought napkins, coasters and cards with her birds on them!)
Of course the best sight of the day was my four-year-old niece who knocked on the door of my guest house in lovely Burbank in the morning. Other highlights include seeing my brother and his fun new digs at the new Nickelodeon building. (He writes for the hit kids show “The Loud House”) and dinner from Zankou zof takeout chicken, hummus, tabbouli, rice with my cousin Scott!
My brother’s one-minute review from a recent trip to Big Sur!
so we did our trip —
over all it was great. Deetjen was a highlight. We really loved it and want to go back and stay there. We had breakfast, which was amazing. The cabins are so cool and rustic. H. definitely fell in love.
We didn’t love Monterey, but maybe because we didn’t like our hotel much (a depressing Best Western). The town seemed touristy, overpriced and nothing that special. We went through Pacific Grove and Carmel briefly and both seemed great – next time we’d stay there. Beach at Pacific Grove is super beautiful.
Big Sur drive was incredible!! But so long.
Went for a hike in Julia Pfeiffer Burns. It was nice, but not that memorable.
Point Lobos, on the other hand, was amazing. I would definitely go back there.
Another day, another place to explore. This time Pasadena, which I last visited in sabout 1986. lUcy, mike, Dirck and I met scott tuft for Sunday lunch at Daisy Mint, a very good Thai restaurant and then went to Cherry, for frozen yoghurt.
We walked around the expensive shops in the pretty downtown, drove past some gorgeous Spanish style mansions and around the pretty little bungalows and interesting indie shops of south Pasadena (a place I could almost seeing us living in) and then thru the grentrifiying highland park back to Burbank (where we started the day with a steep hike up the hills for a,spectacular view from on high of the city.
The last time I passed through Santa Barbara was in 1983 in a torrential downpour and it was all a blur. I vaguely remember Spanish arcades and palm trees. This time I got a much better look and it was lovely.
We started about 15 miles south in the laid back beach town of Carpenteria, where as per my brothers recommendation, we stopped for coffee and an Acai bowl at a mellow coffee place called the lucky llama. Then onto the beach where we walked in the fog along what looked and felt like soft pristine sand until we returned to the car and realized our feet were coated with sticky tar that we first thought was from pine needles but later realized must be from the oil spill last year. I made the mistake of trying to scrape it off with my fingers which then got coated. pIty the poor wildlife that had to deal with this sticky stuff.
bUt on we went to lovely Santa Barbara where the Spanish style architecture , the giant palm trees, the bourganvilla was enchanting. Reminded me at times of Santa Fe, Naples (Florida) and even the plaza in Kansas City. We had good humble tacos at Lilly’s taqueria and explore the shops nearby, then we toured the pretty old stone mission (shades of Peru and Tucson), walked to the end of the wharf for a dazzling view back across the water past the Spanish white buildings and the mountains beyond., drove around some of the neighborhoods with pretty old craftsman and mission style houses, ate some ice cream at McConnell’s (since 1949) and drove back to la via orange and lemon gloves and strawberry stands to Burbank.