Last weekend my mom and I took a little birthday vacation (her’s) to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Newport Beach, California. This Wisconsin winter has been so brutal this year we were both more than ready for a break! I tried to stick with my tradition of taking meal pictures, beginning with my airport smoked turkey panini lunch.
Chicken Caesar wrap. Our flights were fairly uneventful, except that we were forced to check our bags because they ran out of space halfway through boarding. It ended up being a blessing, however, because we had to rush through the entire length of the Minneapolis airport and we were so happy not to have that extra luggage! We finally arrived in Orange County around 7:30pm. It was dark and raining so we didn’t really see anything on the drive to their place. We were all pretty exhausted and settled into our four person, five night mass sleepover in a studio apartment soon after we arrived.
Friday was our designated day for my brother Timmy to show us around Newport Beach.
This is one of their pools. It looked nice, but was still way too cold to actually swim.
The hot tub, which we planned on trying out, but the heater was turned off.
We went on a long walk around the back bay, checking out some beautiful houses and views.
Afterward we went to the actual Newport Beach and Pier. It was fun to watch a few people surfing. I also enjoyed looking at the birds. 🙂
Mother and son, reunited.
Learning how to do a panoramic picture on the phone.
I was really surprised at how many donut shops there were as we drove around California. I would LOVE to have an actual donut shop somewhere near me, but apparently they only exist in the west. We stopped in at one on the boardwalk and it was delicious.
I don’t even know what kind of donut this was, but it was totally delicious. I wish I had bought more for later.
The ferris wheel in the Balboa Fun Zone. Supposedly the best ferris wheel ride you’ll ever have. We didn’t go on it.
Lunch was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to go to Chick-fil-A for YEARS. I see so many people on facebook talking about how amazing it is and I was feeling seriously deprived. But I was FINALLY able to go. So exciting!
I had the spicy chicken sandwich, which was quite good. I just wish I hadn’t eaten a donut right before going here because I wasn’t hungry enough to fully enjoy the food. The waffle fries were pretty blah and I only ate a few.
Next we headed to Downtown Disney, which I’ve never heard of before, but is apparently just a huge collection of shops outside of Disneyland. Timmy didn’t think we’d be able to stay busy very long there, but we definitely proved him long. I think we spent at least an hour and a half total just in the Lego store!! We also enjoyed going through all the Disney shops.
I should probably mention that with my first picture on Friday morning, my camera lens stopped working properly. I couldn’t believe I was about to have an entire vacation without a working camera! I finally figured out that it would work if I did manual focus, so every picture is either better than my normal auto focused pictures, or horribly fuzzy because I had a hard time figuring it out. I was quite impressed I got this great nighttime picture, though!
We stopped in a pizza by the slice restaurant for dinner. I wasn’t very impressed by the pizza, but I got a container of cantaloupe later that really hit the spot.
Saturday was my mom’s birthday! It was also the day we were supposed to leave really early, so my mom took a shower the night before. While she was busy, Brittany and I did some crazy fast baking to make her favorite pumpkin cupcakes. Despite being in the same room, we still managed to surprise her with them in the morning.
I had to give her my present right away. I made this bear a week earlier and it was killing me not to show it to someone. It’s my favorite bear I’ve ever made. So cute!
All her presents.
Despite our early start, everything changed when we went outside and the car was gone. So…long story short, it was towed, it took three hours to figure that all out. In the meantime, we changed plans a little and went to the Corona del Mar Farmer’s Market. It was small, but still fun to see. I love all the succulents!
My mom and Brittany bought a grapefruit. I forgot to take a picture, but I bought a loaf of jalapeno cheese bread, that was delicious.
Once we got the car back, we changed plans a little and headed to Hollywood so we could say we’ve been there. We ate at a cool sandwich shop called Mendocino Farms. I had the amped up spicy jalapeno turkey sandwich. Yum.
The Hollywood sign, way off in the distance. Right after taking this picture I went into the Hollywood Target to buy some sunglasses so I’d stop getting sun headaches. Then – amazingly – I checked out in line behind Katie Lowes – also known as Quinn Perkins from Scandal. Anyway, I was beyond excited, but of course kept it cool while I stared at her in shock. 🙂 When you’re walking around LA you always know that there’s a possibility you could see a celebrity, but I didn’t really expect to! Granted, she’s not a huge celebrity, but I do love Scandal so I was thrilled.
Next we went to the Chinese Theater, where I think they do all the big movie premieres. It was really crowded, but I managed to hunt around the ground and find the hand and footprints of some more exciting celebrities. I was trying really hard to find Christian Bale’s, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there. I had to settle for Christopher Nolan…as close to Batman as I’ll get, I guess! It was cool seeing Johnny Depp’s, though.
I guess the Dolby Theatre is where they do the Oscars. I’m not very knowledgeable about anything Hollywood, so I took Timmy’s word for it.
We spent quite a lot of time at this gigantic candy store. They had make your own chocolate bars from a huge list of ingredients, which is why I wanted to go in, but then I didn’t want to spend $7 on one tiny bar.
After Hollywood we went to Pasadena, where Brittany’s brother lives and where Timmy spent a summer working many years ago. It was much quieter here. I liked it. I forgot pictures again – we got malts while we were riding around.
I assumed being in California I’d see all these amazing sunsets over the beach, and we didn’t actually see a single one. This was very pretty, though!
Again, no pictures…I was really failing on Saturday….but we ate at a restaurant called BJ’s. I wasn’t very hungry at all and just had a plate of Bacon and Jalapeno Corn Fritters. Which I thought tasted okay, until Brittany’s brother pointed out they smelled just like corndogs and then I was super grossed out. The thought still makes me gag. I hate corndogs. My mom had soup and a side salad. Not a very exciting birthday dinner! We also spent a lot of time shopping in Pasadena. We both bought a ton of stuff at Sur la Table.
Very blurry, but this is the Pasadena City Hall, which doubles at Pawnee City Hall in Parks and Rec. This was exciting to see too, since we love Parks and Rec.
I got another good night shot! This never happens!
Sunday everyone was tired, so we had a lazy morning, followed by a Girl’s Day because Timmy had to work. First we went to church, which was nice. Then we stopped back at the apartment for lunch and headed to Balboa Island to do some shopping. There were some really unique shops there. I bought myself a scarf and art print, as well as a few gifts.
I really wanted to get a frozen banana in honor of Arrested Development, but wasn’t hungry at all at that point. Next trip, I guess.
After Balboa we went to Brittany’s aunt’s house to see Rusty the Dog.
It was cool to see a real California house. 🙂 I can’t imagine ever being able to own a house like that!
I love this little hidden courtyard that only has an entrance out of someone’s bedroom.
After hanging out some more, we began the biggest dinner adventure of my life. We planned on eating at a Mexican restaurant on Balboa Island that everyone loves. While we went back to pick up Timmy, Brittany’s cousin called to say that restaurant was closed. After much debate they settled on another choice which required us to take a short ferry and then a long walk out to a restaurant on a pier.
The ferry was only about three minutes long and we could have driven around, but it was a neat experience.
Ruby’s, on the pier. I think this would have been a really cool place to eat at, but we got there fifteen minutes too late. Who would have thought so many restaurants would shut down that early on a Sunday night in a big beach town?
We finally decided on In-n-Out. After walking back to the ferry, taking it back across the water, and driving to the nearest In-n-Out we saw that it was a drive through only. At that point we were all ready to just end this adventure and eat! I don’t like hamburgers, so I only had fries. Which I really didn’t like either. Oh well.
Already our last day! We saw this big lizard on a windowsill every morning. At first I thought it was wild and really creeped out, but he must be somebody’s bet. So weird that they’d just set him on a windowsill where he can’t even get in, though.
Monday was our day for Santa Monica. It was a bit of a traffic filled drive (I would never survive driving there), but all the women got a nap in. 🙂
So beautiful. I’m definitely not a beach person when it comes to sitting in the sun and just getting hot, but in the cooler weather just walking around, it’s perfect.
This is where Timmy proposed to Brittany.
Always so photogenic. 🙂
I spent a long time getting this picture. Love it. 🙂
I never took my shoes off, which I regret a little now. I just wasn’t sure how I could carry my camera bag, camera, and shoes. Lame, I know.
End of Route 66.
We got to see some dolphins, which was really cool. This is the third time I’ve seen wild dolphins and it’s always so surreal.
Another ferris wheel we didn’t ride.
Our last meal. Chicken flautas for me. And really lame looking nachos for her. Couldn’t they at least put real cheese on them??
And one final picture of our hosts. (And the biggest burrito I’ve ever seen.) We were exhausted after Santa Monica and spent the rest of the night hanging out in the apartment and watching Parks and Rec.
Overall, it was a great trip filled with fun memories! I once again know I’d never ever want to live in California, but it’s a cool place to visit, especially for the first time. Big thanks to Timmy and Brittany for driving us around and showing us everything and my mom for suggesting we go in the first place.