Welcome to the land of the stars as they say - Los Angeles. After a long and uneventful drive (except the horrible bumpy roads in Arizona) we arrived in sunny LA on Saturday around 4:45. Actually in Pasadena, where our friends Andrea and Bob live, right up the hill from the Rose Bowl. Hard to believe they are there, last time I was in Pasadena was to see Michigan win the Rose Bowl in 1998 and win the National Championship, now I can walk there from their house.
They were so kind to have a bar-bq waiting for us when we arrived. Andrea surprised me and invited Mary Heil and old friend from P&G who now lives in Redonda Beach. Also cousin Renee was there, one of Andrea's two first cousins who I know all about. I had not seen Renee in over 10 years so it was nice to see her. Andrea and Bob are amazing cooks so we had GREAT homecooked food a true feast. The kids immediately jumped in the pool and we had to drag them out for dinner. Here are some great pics of the swimming fun. As you can see with Ben, every thing turns into a sport of some kind...and to him "swimming" is not a sport, so he had to do basketball moves for three straight days! Thanks to Thea Andrea and Uncle Bob for buying all the great pools toys to entertain them.
The other big part of our first night was introducing Henry to Zane and Diamond who are A&B's two Dobermans, also known as their babies. They were a bit worried about Zane as he can at times not be very good with other dogs. It took a little while, and some barking, growls, etc but by the end of the night they were all good buddies for sure. We did have Henry sleep in the RV just to be sure, but all was well in doggy-land.
On Sunday the plan was to have breakfast in Pasadena with my friend Joan and her family and then do some sightseeing. The day would end with Dinner with the Hand family. Breakfast was a great way to start off Father's Day for sure. We met the Rhoa family and it was delightful. Brad, Joan's husband was awesome - so nice and you could tell amazing with the boys. They have three boys, which is so funny given Joan was the middle of three girls. Jude is 8, Ben is 6 and Lucas is 4. I think Brad won the gene pool, but I did see Joan in Jude for sure. It was so great to catch up again with Joan and meet the entire family, just wish we had more time, but next time for sure we will. Here is a pic of the Rhoa's, Zucker's and my parents.
After a swimming break (remember they went whenever they could) we headed down to the Santa Monica pier. As many times as I have been to LA for business and pleasure, and even to Santa Monica I never went to the pier. So off we went. While it doesn't hold a candle to Kings Island, or even Coney Island, it was fun to do. The best part was on our way Ben got pulled into a street show. Normally he volunteers for everything, so he often gets pulled onstage (like in Gatlinburg, on Disney cruise, etc) but this time they just pulled him from the crowd. They gave him the name of White Chocolate (it was two african americans and a mexican american). Theyr show was part comedy, part acrobat and part dancing. With Ben they had him dance, and do Michael Jackson like moves. He did very well, I think better than they expected. He was even shocked when Ben could do a kartwheel. The kicker is they paid him for his performance - $10! Here are some pics of Ben, and then the grand finale which was the guy flipping over 6 people (including Ben who you can't see).
After the great show we hit the pier. We only had about an hour and the lines were long, so two rides each was all we had time for. Thanks to some crafty line-waiting (thanks grandma and papa) we were able to hit the roller-coaster (Ben & Claire), Scrambler (Sarah) and the Ferris Wheel (all three). Sarah even met a new friend, Sierra, who was so kind to go with her on the ride as she was not tall enough to ride alone. Sierra even introduced her to all her friends afterwards which made Sarah's day, as she thinks she is a teenage already. Ben & Claire are in the last seat, they waited special for that seat.
Claire was very upset we didn't have more time in Santa Barbara, as she could just not get enough of the fact that there was an entire street just for shopping and no CARS were allowed. She loved the promenade and was counting down to LA to finally do some shopping. The gift shops in the national parks were just not cutting it for her, especially after mom banned any purchase of a plush toy.
From Santa Barbara we headed up the 101 to Malibu. It was quite funny driving up there. As we were driving my dad said "I have been on this road before" - he just saw something and it queue'd something in his mind. After questioning him on where it was in CA he went with the explorer post a really long time ago we realized we had as they performed at Disneyland and then went to Santa Barbara to stay at the college dorms and that was how they drove. I would love to know what image in his mind brought him back over 40 years to that road. We met Chrissie and her family at Cynde Crawford's restaurant Havana Cafe. We ate out on the patio as it was a beautiful day and had a great meal, especially their corn appetizer which is coated in Mexican cheese, it was to die for. Here is a pic of the adults, as the kids had escaped to the playground by the time we took this. Andrea and Bob are on the right with Arnie and I, my mom is on the left with Chrissie and Adam (thanks Dad for taking the pic).
That's all for our first 1.5 days in LA, off to Hollywood and Warner Brothers tour tomorrow.