Sunday, May 11, 2008

California Trip -- the condensed version

Day 1, Tuesday: LA Driving
subtitle: never travel with people you don't know...

Our flight was long, rather uneventful. We arrived in LA and all the sisters insisted that they would never want to drive the car, so to please not put their names as drivers on the rental agreement. Now, let's talk about the sisters for a friend Vera has a friend Beverly who I barely know. Vera invited Beverly to come to the lectures, and Beverly invited her sisters. Both of them live in rural TN. Some of you are getting the picture already. Did I mention that they're all over 60 too? Oy.
So I'm designated to be the driver. By all of them. And they proceed to scream and shout their way through LA. Part of the problem was that no one knew where we were going except Vera who was sitting next to me with the directions, but still the 3 of them wanted to pitch in. The other part was that they were apparently 'nervous' because I'm 'so young'. Well for one eyes are better! And...I've driven in several large cities and they live in the boondocks--I guarantee you I have more city driving experience than them! I was staying in my lane and at the speed limit. I finally yelled back at them and stated that I can't drive with people screaming at me--that I won't take it from Catherine who is 2 and I won't take it from them. Can you BELIEVE it came to that?!?!? But they shut up. finally.

They had a LOT of fun on the Canyon Road later. haha. But I digress.

We settled into the hotel and walked down to a Mexican Cantina to have lunch--which was fabulous. Seriously the best salsa ever. It was during the walk that I noticed how incredibly beautiful the flowers are in California. Huge roses, and other vibrant foliage. Seriously amazing stuff.

Shortly afterwards we left for Pepperdine. As already mentioned we had to drive through the Canyon Road to get there. Beautiful...but very mountainous and curvy. Honestly, it didn't really bother me, but since I was driving a huge van full of hysterical women I took it at the speed limit. LaJuana told me when we got back that the locals call it "Bloodbath Alley" (or something with bloodbath in the name) because so many people die on it every year. Glad the hysterical ones don't know that...

Pepperdine itself was beautiful. It's a good thing I didn't know about it when I went to school, or I'd be living in LA right now. Which wouldn't be a horrible fate Anyway, I was a bit shocked at the old-school singing at the first session, but it was nice.

Day Two, Wednesday: Lectures and the Beach

subtitle: California time change=Lora's body clock=heaven

Vera and I decided to explore the shopping center around our hotel in Calabasas after breakfast. It was a beautiful area...unfortunately nothing was open We left for Pepperdine shortly after, where we heard Rubel (our former pastor) speak--which was fabulous. We had lunch and then Vera and I skipped town (but stayed in Malibu) and went to the shopping center that Randy and LaJuana had told us about. We went to pick up the sisters after their session and then we drove down to Santa Monica and went to Venice beach. Ahhh. All I needed was to be by the water. We had dinner at Marmalade (also recommended by RG and LJ) and returned to the lectures to hear Randy Harris--also great. Upon returning, I took the van (all by MYSELF!!! Me time was awesome!!) and went to the shopping center, where I bought wine for us, as well as Goodnight LA for Catherine.

Day 3, Thursday: Santa Barbara
subtitle: ahhhhh

Vera and I really did skip town today and drove up to Santa Barbara. We walked around the touristy pier area for awhile, and then drove a few exits down to Inn-n-Out Burger. Fabulous stuff--I especially enjoyed the animal fries, but the burger was among the best I've ever had. Seriously.
After lunch we drove to the Santa Barbara mission. Honestly, this was one of the most worshipful experiences--or maybe the most worshipful experience--of the entire trip for me. We spent 2 hours there...mainly because of my fascination. Vera was a good sport . I took a ton of pictures there, but found solace in the retreat of the garden and the sanctuary. If I ever go back (which I plan to) I will attend one of the Masses. We headed back to the hotel and then walked back down to the cantina for a drink and small bite to eat. And salsa. Lots of salsa.

Day 4, Friday: Randy & LaJuana's Malibu

subtitle: another heavenly day

We got to the lectures, dropped the sisters off, and decided to suck it up and go to a morning lecture. Vera ran to the restroom and I was waiting outside for her when I was literally cornered by Randy and LaJuana...who thankfully had a MUCH better plan. Randy's words were: "May we show you our Malibu?" I said heck yes, and thankfully when Vera found us she agreed.

We had lunch at the Malibu Fish Market (one of Randy's favorites) and then took a tour of some of their favorite places. They took us to Westward Beach, which is their favorite, and showed us the path to Point Dume, with instructions to return to hike it if we could. They took us to the canyon where they used to be, pointed out a few stars houses, and then took us to Serra Retreat--another beautiful Franciscan sanctuary. The labyrinth and stations of the cross were amazing, as were the entire grounds.

We returned to the lectures, and ended up going to the same session as RG and LJ. After the session they showed us the most amazing view of the ocean from the chapel at Pepperdine.
We parted at that point and agreed to meet back up in Nashville. Vera and I then drove to Westward beach where I took some video and pictures of the gorgeous waves and we then hiked to Point Dume. It was a beautiful view, although there were a couple of scary parts of the hike...especially since we were climbing in flip-flops...maybe not the smartest idea ever.

We returned (smelling of sea air and hiking) to the closing session and then drove back to the hotel. Where we packed and attempted to eat the leftover foods in the fridge.

Saturday: The Return
subtitle: LA Airport is much busier than Nashville's...imagine that
We had to return the car by 11, and our flight didn't leave until 1:30. So...we returned the car at 10:30, and were at the gate by noon (although the lines inside the airport were killer!). Oh, side note: the sisters thanked me and Vera profusely for driving them around (we alternated--she drove mornings, I drove nights from Wednesday on). Guess they realized that I knew what I was doing after all Anyway, at the airport, I got a very expensive value meal at McDonalds and a t-shirt for Catherine and then we waited. I pulled out my laptop and showed all my pictures from Thursday and Friday to the sisters. And finally we boarded. Vera had drink coupons, so I got a bloody mary, sat back, and enjoyed the flight. Emalie was at the airport to meet us, and I settled back into real life...missing the constant view of the beach, but thankful to be home.

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