California Dreamin’ and all that bullsh*t

I left town again and it felt oh-so-good.

To be specific I went to Southern California — Laguna Beach area. (I don’t think anyone goes to Northern California to vacation. Or maybe they do. There are rumors that people live there in giant houses made out of money. But what do I know? I’m from Nebraska.)

We went there to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday (well done, Grandma). By we, I mean my family and me. Traveling with them is just a delight . . . if you would consider dealing with my parents’ constantly being unaware of their surroundings, my dad’s terrifying driving through California traffic, and my sister’s unpredictable mood swings delightful. I love them, but traveling with them makes me want to pull my hair out.

We started the day at 3:30 a.m. More like 3:45 a.m. . . Ok, more like 3:55 a.m., so we could leave by 4 a.m. to catch our 6 a.m. flight. Fun, right? Except that the whole night before I was hyperaware of the fact that I had to get up super early so I just never fell asleep. Good job, body. But at least the Omaha airport is the most zen airport ever (it took maybe 5 minutes to get through security), and my head didn’t explode on the plane (sinus issues) — so things were looking up.

I listened to a man (divorced with a teenage girl) and a woman (widowed with two young kids) talk about raising their children for a long time. The conversation came to a crashing halt, however, when the lady told the man he needs to pray for his daughter to choose the right college. I’ve noticed that people tend to fall silent when you tell them to pray and they aren’t really into that (I speak from experience as the person who has been told to pray, not the one telling people to pray. I’m not against praying, it’s just not my thing.)

When we arrived at John Wayne airport it was about 9 a.m. in California, and I realized I had been up for nearly 7 hours already. SWEET.

My aunt and uncle’s house is beautiful and I would have been happy to just chill there forever. I mean look at this view:

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It’s too beautiful not to toast.

BUT, in an effort to not fall asleep we decided to DO ALL THE THINGS instead. My cousin took my sister and I to see a nearby canyon and a great view of the Pacific.

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We then consumed the most delicious tacos from a local Mexican market and got coffee because WE HAD ALREADY BEEN AWAKE FOR 10 HOURS AND IT WAS ONLY NOON. (Side note: coffee in California is just better. It just is. Also: shoutout to JC Beans in Dana Point — that iced Americano was heaven in a cup. Bless you.)

Then we all ate hummus for dinner and slept A LOT. We also watched the show Wives and Daughters with my aunt because she has three boys and needs to get her British period drama fix in whenever we girls come to visit. I need to watch it again because I kept dozing off – not because it was boring but because I was so tired. What I did see, I loved.

The next day we rode a trolley up to Laguna Beach to check out the Sawdust Art and Craft Festival, a place for local artists to display and sell their work. I saw so much art and jewelry that I didn’t at all need and wanted so badly, but I restrained myself and only bought a small print from my new favorite artist ever: Ulrike Scheuchl. She photographs the secret lives of cupcakes. I’m not kidding. It’s the best. You can find her work here. (I bought the print of the cupcake painting an ocean scape.)

My aunt later took us to Cream Pan (a Japanese bakery, with the most wonderful desserts ever) and the store Daiso, which we, of course, don’t have in Nebraska. But it’s this amazing Japanese dollar store (essentially) except, in my humble opinion, not everything in there is complete shit! I’ve decided it’s amazing. We ate a delicious steak dinner (my aunt is a fantastic cook), and had another night of sleeping really well due to complete and utter exhaustion.

In order to get our beach fix in, my sister and I decided to get up early the next morning and go before it got too crowded and so sunny we would immediately turn into lobsters despite our SPF 75 (our porcelain skin is fragile — we don’t waste time with anything less than SPF 50. Being a ginger ain’t nothing to mess with.)

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My sister, rudely obscuring an otherwise flawless view. (At least she wore blue.)

I sat and read One More Thing by B.J. Novak (book of the month post to follow) and was completely blissed out. Minus the fact that I despise sand, I could probably be pretty happy to live out my days staring out at the ocean.

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Not to mention the beach is BY FAR the best place to people watch. Every single time I am on a beach I see some old man with a metal detector. Always. This time was no different. You’d think that would only be something you see in movies, but it’s real, folks. I also overheard a woman’s conversation with her young daughter and it was adorable:

Woman: What do you want to do?

Child: Go stand in the waves and get wet while holding hands.

I mean, COME ON. It was cute. (And that’s coming from stone cold me, who admittedly doesn’t really like small children.)

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As an added bonus, as we were leaving, a plane flew by with a sign advertising Shark Week, and everyone cheered. It’s the random little things that continually restore my hope in the human race.

We went home to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday in style. She got more presents than she knew what to do with, and overall, I think she was really happy the whole time. She’s not a very chatty person (gee, I wonder where I get it from), but I could just tell she was loving it. So, Happy 90th, Grandma. (You won’t read this, so good thing I wished you a happy birthday at your party, too).

The last day was a bunch of waiting around for our flight in the afternoon. And then, waiting around on our flight, since both our planes were delayed half and hour, causing us to sit on the tarmac for longer than I ever wanted to sit on a tarmac ever. The lady I sat next to on my last flight ordered cranberry juice and orange juice mixed. The flight attendant looked at her like, You want what now, honey? and I thought to myself, Wow, this woman’s gutsy, she asked for TWO juices. She leaned over to me later to ask what book I was reading right as I was finishing it and told me she loved it, too. I didn’t get a very good look at her because I’m terrified of eye contact, but I think she looked like Laura Dern. Maybe she was Laura Dern and I just didn’t know it. Why Laura Dern was flying to Omaha on a Monday night. . . well that’s Laura Dern’s business.


If you made it through all that — congratulations! I’ll shut up now as your reward.

But if you like travel blogs, be looking forward to my blog on Iceland sometime in September.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to Iceland in September.

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