California...

Malibu beach1
Malibu beach1

We are home from a week-long vacation in Los Angeles, California, visiting our two oldest sons. The trip is one of the highlights of my year, since we helped move them out there two years ago. Where has the time gone? And yet...the visits are always so bittersweet - great to be together again - hard to say goodbye... We did a bit of sightseeing together and ate at some great restaurants along the way. Our first beach stop was a short walk along Santa Monica's beach after catching lunch at nearby outdoor eatery. I love the sound of the ocean and could hear Lee Ann Womack's I Hope You Dance playing in my head as I dipped my toes in the surf.

Malibu beach6
Malibu beach6

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean...

Always!

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IMG_6604

From there we drove through Santa Monica trying to find the Leonidas Chocolate Store, only to discover that it had been replaced by a Jamba Juice! While Jamba Juice is great, how could anything ever replace chocolate! And Leonidas is one of the best I've ever had. Not to be deterred, I looked online and tried to find another location only to discover that Leonidas has closed every store within easy driving distance (which is relative depending on the time of day) to where our boys live. So...I brought home a box of SEES Chocolates instead. (I wanted both! But, oh well...)

We spent another day at the Getty Villa and then drove to Malibu Beach to eat at the Paradise Beach Cove - one of my favorite places! We tried it last year after a five-mile hike with son Chris. This time we passed on the hike to spend time at the museum. They were hosting a biblical historical display, which had a lot of old pictures of Jerusalem, but none as old as the eras in which I write. Still, the drawings and photos were inspiring and helpful. (We were not allowed to photograph them though, so everything had to be stored in memory.) We were allowed to photograph everything else in the villa.

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IMG_6645

The Roman architecture of the Getty, particularly the Roman gardens are beautiful! I would love such a garden in my back yard. Better yet, I would love their view of the ocean. Or perhaps just to rent a condo on Manhattan Beach, another beach stop we made this year. Honest confession here - my dream writing spot is a condo with both an ocean on mountain view. Manhattan Beach has both - as does Malibu and many others. No wonder there are so many condos and apartments nestled along the coast. Lots of people share my dream home!

CIMG0074
CIMG0074

I wonder what it would be like to live part of the year in Michigan, part on a beach in California, and part in Israel. Not sure I would want so much travel - but then again...life would never get boring! A little piece of my heart is in each place.

One other stop near the end of the week was the Hollywood Bowl for a classical music concert. We walked quite a distance to get there (parking off site), so we definitely got our exercise - though not quite a five-mile hike like last year. On the way back to our car, we walked past Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater where they hold the Oscars and the American Idol finales. Lots of tourists were milling about in front of Grauman's though few were walking near the Kodak. Hollywood is a very interesting place.

On our last night with the boys, we ate at a Chinese restaurant, which probably made the best Chinese food I've ever had. We have tried most of the local places in Michigan over the years and nothing compares. That is true for many restaurants in L.A. They have a lot of unique places - not a lot of restaurant chains like we have here. Unique is good!

We sat next to a young mom on the flight home, carrying a 14-week old baby boy. The baby was adorable and so sweet! (She let me hold him.) He cried a little at one point - not while I was holding him :) - but for the most part took the flight very well. He is already a nationwide traveler in his very young life!

And now we are home and getting readjusted to our half-empty nest. The house is too quiet sometimes. I miss my boys. But work is calling me back. My editor will be sending me galleys for Sarai next week. Vacation was a nice break, but I'm looking forward to getting back to writing.

Tomorrow I'll return to revisiting Israel, finishing up the trip we took in 2008.

Until then~