For our last family adventure in California, we did a road trip to LA to see what we could find. The itinerary was influenced by the film La La Land and advice from friends about where to go, what to eat and what to check out.
We decided to do the scenic route on the 101 to find places to stop off and stretch our legs and have a break. The first stop was Paso Robles for lunch and we found this great spot called Brunch where I found some delicious avocado toast with sprouts and balsamic, it was so good. At this cafe, we also bought some treats from the attached cheese shop with a salted baguette made by a local baker and local cheese to take to our friend’s house in LA.
Saturday: We arrived in LA and visited some friends of ours who moved away from the Bay and enjoyed some time with them and had dinner together – it was so good to catch up! Later we checked into our Air Bnb the Habana Hut in Silver Lake and enjoyed a good nights sleep in a gorgeous spot high on a hill.
Sunday: Waking up the next morning we wandered down to the local 365 by Whole Foods Market to get supplies and have breakfast – just a walk away. In the afternoon we took a Lyft over to Little Tokyo in downtown LA for the kids to check out the fun stuff. I have never seen so many Pusheens in my life! While we were there we got into The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for free admission on the weekend, so it was a great score. The gallery Space was incredible and I loved the artwork, the rest of the family was a bit undecided as they were saying how is this art? For me, I have been suffering from a huge lack of culture and art so this was super exciting for me that I was chatting to all the staff about the art pieces and the artists.
Monday: Our plan for was to hike to the Hollywood sign and the kids really did not want to do an 8-mile hike so I did a bit of research and we started the hike from the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the Griffith Observatory car park and we did about 2.5 miles in and out as the kids were bored. The track was lovely and wide but take a hat and a snack as the whole trail is exposed, in the summer it would be so hot! On our way back we took in the view from Captain’s Roost, a selection of fire-charred palm trees surrounded by spectacular succulents including a fire stick bush and massive agave, it was so cool to see them. After we came back to the car park we enjoyed some time wandering around the Griffith Park Observatory (note, it is closed on Monday) to enjoy some photo opportunities and the incredible views of the expanse of Los Angeles.
Enjoying our relaxing time at the observatory checking out the building and the artwork we found a hummingbird and Ash was very keen to make friends with this guy! I managed to get in for a closeup shot and then an action shot of a hummer giving Ash a flash before flying off into the distance.
After the little hike and wander to Griffith Observatory, we drove down to Los Feliz to the Fern Dell trail. This little trail was briefly featured in La La Land it was a cool location to discover and explore for some interesting foliage and trees and the kids enjoyed looking for goldfish and crayfish in the little streams. The cute red squirrel was a rare sight for me as I only see the grey ones on the redwood tree in my back garden – this guy is praying to be invisible to the dog. Oh and after a hike, we enjoyed some tacos at Guisados in Echo Park – highly recommended by a local, where the tortillas were fresh and fish and vegetable tacos were delicious.
One thing I really enjoyed about LA is the street art everywhere – it reminds me a lot of Melbourne with their laneways of murals created by local artists. The kids enjoyed the fact that artists are commissioned to create art for the streets. I love this Audrey Hepburn mural that we discovered when we wandered into the Toy District of DTLA.
Tuesday: We packed in around four stops on our trip to downtown LA beginning with booking tickets for The Broad a month ago. So before we hit the gallery the plan was to go to Grand Central Market and check out the food and of course, coffee! To get to the market we took a Lyft to Angels Flight – a cute little funicular tram that took less than a minute to travel downhill, the kids enjoyed it very much and at $1 it was just fine! At the market, I found the tastiest latte made with almond-macadamia milk and served in a 10 oz glass, just the way I like it. From our coffees, my hubby and kids had tacos and horchata then we wandered down to The Last Bookstore for lots of fun photo opportunities and an excellent selection of books! The second floor also had many artist studios with artwork for sale. Oh and we briefly wandered into the Bradbury building to get a feel for history and see where some scenes from Bladerunner were filmed and we did all of this before lunch!
After lunch we had our tickets to The Broad, I was so happy to be there and see the art that I had only read about in art history books for real. Plus the building itself is spectacular outside and in. To get tickets for this gallery is to book in advance where the tickets are available one month in advance and it is completely free! Now, where on earth can you experience this dream of visiting rooms of contemporary artists in such splendour. The huge sculpture by Nancy Rubin outside is by the MOCA and to us, it looked like a chicken. The kids were done with galleries by this time but if you are alone it would be the perfect end to the day. Though we did zip across the road to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is another marvel of architecture – those pics are on my phone which I need to upload soon.
Wednesday: On our way home we drove by the hills burned by the fires in Ventura and stopped at Rincon Island (a now-defunct oil drilling platform with a super long jetty). I can see why it was shut down due to pollution as the water there is beautiful and clear and full of life with anemones and mussels by the bunch with a beautiful stretch of beach looking towards Rincon Point known for its perfect surf.
I had no expectations of our trip to LA and I had heard from friends that they either loved it or hated it. My experience is that I loved it and really enjoyed our experience there with so much to see in such a sprawl and from what I did see I really enjoyed the art and food with no shortage of vegetarian options! One standout was Little Pine a vegan restaurant owned by Moby with all the proceeds going to animal organisations (I found out about it on Insta). It was a dream come true for me going to a vegan restaurant, the food was delicious and filling and the desserts were so tasty – so if you ever go make sure you order wisely and save room for dessert.
I have no idea why I have not spent more time in LA in the twelve years I have been living here but hey better late than never.
In these times of despair, it may be hard to focus on the positive. This time of year with Thanksgiving it is a time of giving thanks to the many aspects of your life or even your year to propel you towards 2017 full of positive vibes. Seriously, we as a group of people who care need to stand together in spite of all the barriers that we see ahead and believe that we can do this. I have even made a calendar of positive affirmations for each month to get us through the coming year ahead and I believe that if you focus on the positive good things will happen.
Of course, I give thanks to the amazing family of mine that consist of our unit of four with the 2 cats. It is grounding in my life to know that whatever happens we have each other living in peace together. So much turmoil around in my circle of friends means that the relationships you do have that work give you focus on cherishing your own relationships. And in the analogy of tending to a garden – give it lots love and attention and your garden will blossom.
We have some good friends here who are like family to me and we are lucky to have each other and I am thankful that we have known each other for over 10 years and have grown with our children who still love to spend the time with each other. We enjoy camping adventures together and hiking and of course eating so we will be spending thanksgiving together relaxing, playing games and catching up.
So there are many things that I give thanks for this year? The community seems to be up there for me with having the support of a group makes a heck of a difference in your day to day life. The school my daughter attends are my people. We are all on the same page about the involvement of education for our children and the future they will have with the approach of hands-on learning. Everyone works together to make it work. And we are there for each other, from my experience living here with no family you create your family from your community around you.
This is why I choose to give back to the community at the local library and teach sewing skills to a group of people who have come to the classes since they began last year. I am so happy that the program at the library we started last August has become really successful with wait lists for the programs as they fill up fast. We had 9 people at the infinity scarf program last Tuesday – the bonus is that we have 8 sewing machines now so there is less waiting around. Next month the program is making holiday decor out of felt with lots of hand sewing and experimentation with fabric. I am loving this opportunity to inspire people in the community and those who want to try something new and instilling the confidence in that they can make something and be creative.
The opportunity to go home over the summer and spend time with family and friends has been an incredible experience for me. In a sense, it has been a literal “homecoming” for my life and where I want to be in the future. I am thankful for the family I have in Australia and how loving, caring and genuine they are – being so far away AND for so long it was hard to grasp and remember the love. But going home to be with my family was the best thing I have done for myself, my family and the future. The knowing that we can go back every year now until we leave will be something that I look forward to every year. I truly miss my family and it is really hard to be so far away but thank goodness for FaceTime we are just a phone call away which makes it so much easier.
Seeing our friends when we went home was a homecoming in a similar way – again our friends we have known for years and will be friends for as long as we live. We have had many experiences in our past together before kids and now most of our friends have kids we are like one big family together again living away from our families whether they are in another country or another state in Australia – it is still not that far away for them. The time we spent together is something that I will remember – as having close friends means that even though we spend time together when we meet up it feels just like yesterday when we saw each other. Thankful for having friendships like these means a lot to me.
One final thing I am thankful for this year is the opportunity to study – thanks to a good friend of mine who planted the seed in my mind I decided to attempt a degree in education. And now I am on my third week of the course and it is intense and very exciting at the same time. It is incredible how inspiring a degree can be especially if it is something you do at a semi-professional level. Learning the background and studying online is another experience in my life that I feel has aligned at the right time and even though this is challenging with everything else in my life I do find the time to study! It will be a long journey ahead but oh so worth it for the future – education is something that everyone needs and it should be a necessity of the population, not a commodity (I will not open this kettle of fish here now – this has to be a positive post!)