Friday, March 29, 2024

Meeting Emi - California March 2024 Part IV

Saturday March 2

On Thursday after that immense breakfast we didn’t really need much lunch. We walked down to a deli and ordered sandwiches for the drive back to PA on Friday. I got a 1/2 sandwich and a cup of soup. I ate the soup right then and that was my lunch.

Then a couple hours later we walked down to the shore and got affogatos. That was my afternoon coffee! Then we walked along the shore one last time, visited the seals and sea lions, walked back up the coastal walk. It was another beautiful day. There were people swimming in the ocean without wetsuits, way out there too, so a long way. I don’t know how they do it, the water temperature was 59F!

That evening we went over to La Jolla Shores for dinner. We met Daniel Tse and Holly at The Sandpiper Grille and Oyster Bar. It was fun to see them one more time before we leave and the food was good too.

Friday morning we were on the road by 8:30. We made good time; avoided most traffic through LA, so that was lucky. We stopped outside Bakersfield for lunch at a rest stop. We had just gone over the mountains, and were still at 4,000 ft so it was chilly. We ate in the car and then were on our way. The temps rose to almost 70F while we were in the valley and then dropped again by the time we got close to Palo Alto. We made good time, our rental car got great gas mileage so we hardly had to stop for gas, and eating sandwiches at a rest stop was a lot faster than going to InandOut, in spite of the name!

We stopped in the area where we are thinking of renting a house next year, in Mountain View. We’re not going to go to San Diego; we’ll stay around Palo Alto instead. We might need to take another small vacation earlier in the winter to someplace warm, because Palo Alto isn’t very warm. This year has been bizarre though. It’s 45F in Palo Alto this morning and the high in Minnesota is supposed to be 70F! That’s crazy.

Sunday March 3

Yesterday I had to wear tights and a warmer long sleeved shirt to run. It was 45F! I wore little gloves too, but just a ball cap. I was fine. Palo Alto is so flat compared to La Jolla. They’ve continued to get lots of rain. I saw a mama duck and her babies in one of the canals.

We went to Shake Shack for lunch. I was craving a burger, and a wanted a shake too, just not a whole shake so Lee split it with me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been to Shake Shack before. It was pretty good.

After that we were mostly lazy, except Emi. She’s suddenly learned to roll from tummy to  back. She did it like 5 times on Saturday and a couple of time today already as well. It depends if we put her in tummy time with her hands closer to her body. If they are spread out she can’t quite manage it yet. She keeps trying though! She kicks those cubby legs and tries to fling them over. If she moves her head and her leg at the same time then over she goes. She looks pretty pleased when it happens but she needs to stay in tummy time too to get a stronger core. That’s the trouble with babies sleeping on their backs. But it’s certainly better than dying from SIDS.

In the afternoon we tried to go for a short walk in-between rain storms, but it started raining again right as we went out the door. Everyone else bowed out but I grabbed an umbrella and went for a short walk. Rossi would have come with me but they didn’t want her getting all wet. It actually stopped after about 20 minutes.

For dinner we went to a place in Menlo Park called Camper. It was modern Italian, different and good. We shared a salad and their herb cornbread. Then Lee and Kelsey got their ragu and Daniel and I got an interesting pasta with gnocchi, ricotta, broccolini and interesting flavors. Dan and I were both a little taken aback when it came out because it looked like a fancy salad but as I said to Dan, it tasted a lot better than it looked. Then we shared an apple tart for dessert, which was fabulous!

This is our last day. One last run, pho for lunch and Lee is making dinner.

I tried to figure out how to download The Queen’s Gambit so I could watch it on the plane but alas, unless you have the app it’s not possible. So I downloaded it on my phone and I guess I’ll watch it there.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Meeting Emi - La Jolla California February 2024 Part III

Thursday February 22nd

 Yesterday that cinnamon roll mid-morning meant that I wasn’t hungry for lunch. Finally around 1 we walked down to the ocean and sat down in a Thai restaurant. We got spring rolls and a stir fry, so not too much. I still couldn’t eat a lot. Then we walked around, looked at some shops, admired the ocean. It was a beautiful day. We walked back up the hill, stopped at CVS so Lee could pick up a prescription he had transferred here and I could get some acetone, kleenex, and purel. Then we chilled again until it was time for dinner. We got mediterranean from a place right down the street. baba ghanoush, falafel, a salad. Very good and we have leftovers that I’m going to have for lunch today!

This morning I went for a run along the Coastal Walk again, this time going the other direction, down the hill to the beach where we rented kayaks the last time we were here. Might rent cruiser bikes from them this time around.

We’ve got reservations at a Japanese restaurant for tonight, and a French place for tomorrow. I really want to get a cream puff from Beard Papa at some point as well, as long as I can do it without completely destroying my appetite like I did yesterday!

Friday February 23rd

So we ate the leftovers from Wednesday’s dinner for lunch yesterday, and then walked down to Beard Papa for a cream puff snack. Lee got a chocolate one with vanilla filling and I got a regular one withchocolate filling. Much fewer odd flavors in California, although they did have green tea! They are really good, but I also had them built up in my mind, and they are not spectacular, just normal delicious, haha.

Later in the afternoon I went for a little walk. I went up the hill instead of down toward the ocean this time and explored the neighborhood above us. 

The Japanese restaurant, Himitsu, was great. They had some very special nigiri and appetizer choices. We tried a lot of the chef recommendations and everything was good. My favorite was something I’ve never heard of before, gruntfish! It had several different flavors and textures. It was creamy and crunchy too. Just very fun to eat!

This morning we took our laundry to a wash and fold service at a nearby dry cleaners. If it really only costs $60 (her estimate, its by the pound) we will do it once more before we leave. That’s a bargain!

Then we walked over to Harry’s diner for breakfast. An old fashioned diner that’s been in the same location in La Jolla since 1960! Lee got chicken fried steak with two eggs over easy, hash browns and tortilla’s. I got the oatmeal blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, pecans and whipped cream. No need for lunch today!

Then we went for a walk down the coastal walk to La Jolla Cove. We strolled along the shore admiring the views and all the sea lions. The mama’s with their babies were especially charming. 

Saturday February 24th

Last night we went to a very nice french restaurant, Bistro du Marche, about a 10 minute walk. I got a glass of pinot noir that was so good I actually had a second glass, a rarity for me nowadays. We split everything and it was still a lot of food. A salad, mushroom ravioli, scallops, and profiteroles for dessert.

This morning was cloudy, which made it seem cooler, but actually it’s not. It was 60 when I ran at 7 and its in the mid-60’s now, just kind of hazy and cloudy. I ran along the shore, of course. It was high tide and the surf was up and there were a fair number of surfer out. And some ppl snorkeling without wetsuits which seemed crazy to me, but what do I know?

Barb Lais came to visit us today. We sat around and talked and caught up on things and then went out to lunch at a place called Beeside Balcony. I got avocado toast with scrambled eggs so kind of brunch/lunch. Barb got a gyro and Lee got a chicken sandwich. They got beers and I got a grapefruit mimosa. Of course now I’m sleepy, but we’ll get coffee soon.

After lunch we did a little shopping. Barb showed me a shoe place she likes Charleston Shoes. Their shoes look very comfortable, but I think I might try them online. They say they’re machine washable, haha.

Then I went into Lululemon and bought some lightweight cargo pants with cuffed ankles. I liked the ones that Kelsey had. Barb went into Talbot but no luck there. Then we said goodbye but she might come back Wednesday. It was great to see her.

Sunday February 25th. 

Lee cooked us dinner last night. he grilled some halibut we bought at the Fish Market. Also asparagus and rice. The fish was so great; fresh and delicious. You just can’t get fish like that in Minnesota. We should stop trying. It’s generally a waste of money.

I watched the last episode of Expats last night. It’s a Nicole Kidman mini-series set in Hong Kong. I enjoyed seeing Hong Kong, and some episodes (in and of themselves) were good, but the storyline? Meh. I guessed the ending long before the last episode; probably by the 3rd one. The one exception to this is episode 5 (there are only 6). The story that episode is told from the point of view of the helpers and some local characters, and goes into the umbrella revolution and those poor idealistic kids. So very sad. 

If you haven’t seen it and think you might want to, the next two paragraphs warrant a spoiler alert, so here goes.

The main expat family asked their long-suffering helper to come back to the US with them. Doesn’t happen. I knew a few people that would have dearly loved to have brought their helpers to the US when they left. They can’t get Visas for them, period. And even if they could, most expats in Hong Kong arereally middle to upper middle class people, even though in Hong Kong they appear very wealthy. That’s because (usually) their companies are paying a lot of their living expenses. So once they get back to the US they could never in a million years afford to have a live-in helper, or pay that helper a living wage. So that was ridiculous.

Second thing. The whole premise of the story is that their youngest child is kidnapped in a crowded market. No one notices that he is gone until it is too late. First of all, yes, this does happen on the mainland, especially to little boys. But not in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is extremely safe. But Hong Kong is really really crowded. No one, and I mean NO ONE would let go of a 3 yo’s hand in a crowded market. You’d have to be out of your mind. And to think no one saw it or said anything? Nope.

Ok enough of that! Now I need something else to watch!

This morning I ran toward La Jolla Beach again. It was in the mid-50’s but very humid so it felt warmer. I wore short sleeves and I’m glad! The waves were much quieter today and there were lots of beginner paddle boarders and surfers out.

We went to a Mexican place for lunch, Puesto La Jolla. They are known for their tacos. We got 4 different ones to share, chicken, fish, rib eye and short rib. The best one was the fish taco imo. Lee liked the rib eye the best.  I think we need to go back there again with Dan and Kelsey this week.

We needed to walk off that lunch so after a little while we went on a hike to La Jolla Natural Scenic Park. 545 ft of elevation gain! Very steep and rocky on the way up, with a nice view at the top. It was much easier going back down because we took the road.

Monday February 26

Dan and Kelsey and Emi come today! Lee has gone to the airport to pick them up. I can’t wait to see them!

Last night we went to happy hour at Eddie V’s for dinner. We sat at the bar, with a beautiful view of the coastline. I had an Old Fashioned, Lee had a martini. We ate sliders, little lamb chops, and a beet and burrata salad. It was all very good and we had fun. And since it was happy hour it didn’t cost a lot either! Win-win, lol.

We met Dan, Kelsey and Emi at the Parakeet Cafe for lunch. I had breakfast again, this time eggs benedict on sour dough bread, and lemon ginger turmeric tea. The tea was good, but VERY yellow, ha. Emi seems to have grown in just a week. She is very into trying to stand; it’s hard to get her to bend to sit! She’s holding her head up better, and smiling more. And talking and cooing! She’s really great. 

Afterwards we strolled around a little, stopped at a bakery for rugelach and then went to check out their hotel. The Colonial is very old, overlooking the ocean, nice in a lost grandeur sort of way. It’s sprawling, consisting of several separate buildings with courtyards and a pool. Their room is nice; a suite with a kitchenette and a bathroom bigger than ours, ha. We sat around and visited for a while until it was time to leave. They are going to have dinner with friends tonight, and we are going to continue to chill. We’ll see them again tomorrow.

Wednesday February 28

I went swimming yesterday morning. Finally back to being able to do a full workout, first time since surgery. Now I need to start working on gradually increasing the amount of time I can swim continuously. 

We went to Din Tai Fung again last night. We went to the Westwood Mall early so we could do some shopping first. I marched right into Marine Layer. I’ve never been in one of their retail stores before so I was psyched. The sales guy said it was one of the first retail stores so it was very small. But I bought a shirt and a hoodie. No more shopping in California! Maybe. I still need some little presents for Lula and Willa to include in Oscar’s present so we’ll see.

We sat down at an outdoor wine bar and had some drinks while waiting for our table. When it was time we discovered that because we had a stroller we had to wait for a table that would accommodate us. The hostess said it would be another 15 minutes but it really was only around 3!

We again got lots of chou long bai and hot and sour soup, but this time we got pork buns (just ok) and fried rice (fabulous). I had hoped the pork buns would be bbq’d but no. Next time I’ll get gyoza instead.

Today has been beautiful. I ran this morning, then Barb Lais came over again and we met Dan and Kelsey at Duke’s for lunch. The view was beautiful, Emi was very chill, and my food and cocktail were very nice. I liked the macaroni salad and the rice, a nice sort of change.

Thursday February 29th. Happy Leap Day!

Yesterday I took a little nap in the afternoon because of that lunchtime cocktail! Then I walked down to the grocery store and bought some fruit and some Lara Bars for breakfast and snacks.

We met them again at dinner, at a pasta and pizza place called Isola. No wine for me! Lee and I split a mushroom pasta dish and an arugula salad. Then we got dessert; panda cotta and tiramisu, yum. Also split 2 glasses of moscato between 3 of us. 

Today is our last day in La Jolla; we’re driving back to Palo Alto tomorrow. It’s overcast and cooler today. We are using the laundry service again, just enough to get us through the weekend, until we are home.

After dropping off our clothes we walked over to The Cottage for breakfast. Lee got a turkey club, because why not? I got brioche french toast with blueberries. They gave me an immense amount of toast, at least 6 pieces. I could barely eat three, but I did my best.  Then we walked to CVS to get a bandaid for the cut on my thumb. I don’t know when it happened but at lunch yesterday I suddenly noticed I was bleeding and later I discovered I had bled on my new Marine Layer shirt. I scrubbed it with soap and water but I also put it in the laundry today just to be safe.  I got Paw Patrol bandaids so when we take them home the boys willbe happy if they need one while they’re at our house. I don’t mind having a picture of a puppy in a hard hat on my thumb either! At least it will keep me from banging it and causing it to bleed again before it can form a good scab.

Then we walked over to the Parisian Bakery and bought some more of their multigrain bread so we have some for breakfast. We’ll take it back to Palo Alto with us tomorrow.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Meeting Emi - Palo Alto and La Jolla, California February 2024 Part II

Wednesday February 21

After my flurry of writing about that crazy flight I’ve gotten lazy again. On Saturday we relaxed, held Emi, hung out with Dan and Kelsey. A month later Emi is REALLY smiling and has better control over her arms and hands, although they still tend to wave around rather randomly. She can grab at a toy dangling in front of her more consistently and loves faces and when you talk and sing to her. She’s also sleeping through the night! Dan and Kelsey are venturing out more now that Emi has had her shots. Of course now that it’s been several days I’m not remembering what we did about food on Saturday. Wait, yes I do. For lunch Lee and Dan went to Piazza and got sandwiches at my suggestion. I got their Cubano, which was huge. I ate half of it. We went for a walk in the afternoon. It’s still raining a lot. What did we do for dinner? Oh yeah, went out to get Mexican. It was pouring but we made it. I got a chicken enchilada. This is the same place we got Mexican carryout from the last time I was here. The enchilada was good but I wasn’t crazy about the sauce; too tomatoey instead of salsa. But I ate most of the black beans, they were great!

We were pretty tired, went to bed early, and woke up at a normal time. I went for a run. Then we met some friends of theirs, and tried to get Rossi and their dog to play, but neither dog is very into other dogs. They went for a walk together and so did Lee and I. For lunch we went to a pizza/burger place. I got a pizza, the others got burgers. Lee and Daniel got Piny the Younger beers which were very delicious; I kept sneaking sips of Lee’s.

We went to a few open houses too. One was right down the street from them. A little house built in the late 50’s, nicely staged, but structurally probably some problems, i.e. the floor sloped. Original (crappy) cabinets and no dishwasher. At some point the original design was modified to add another bedroom, and the master was enlarged by taking part of the garage, making it a one car, which is just not a big deal in CA. Asking price for a 2k sq ft house in Palo Alto? 3.2 mil. Crazy.

Then we went to look at another house, out in the Portolla hills. Beautiful, 3 acres, a pool, little houses for yoga, meditation, lol. Kind of an odd layout, but very pretty, lots of room. You’d have to make some changes for it to work for kids. 3.4 mil. 

The thing is, you can’t tell how accurate these prices are. They might be listing low to provoke a bidding war. The housing market here is just madness. No wonder there are so many homeless.

We also went back to Stanford Mall. We found a hat for Lee at the Levi’s store, because he forgot to bring a ball cap. And I went into Vuori and bought some really nice cargo pant-like leggings. The material was just very soft, and they were very comfortable. Just don’t ask the price! It’s just stupid to buy clothes in CA with their 8% sales tax, when MN’s is zero. But I probably will go to Marine Layer at some point too because I want to go to their retail store and compare it to online.

That night we met Jean and Craig at a Japanese konkastu restaurant. I got their fried chicken, a spicy tuna seaweed taco and some rice with eel which was really good. It was POURING but we had a close parking spot and we didn’t melt.

Monday it was time to drive to La Jolla. Lee drove for the first part. We are renting a Rav 4. We got Car Play to work with his phone, which was nice, but each time we stopped we had a heck of a time finding it again! Also we couldn’t figure out how to charge our phones. We don’t know if it doesn’t like our cables because they’re off brand, not Apple, or what.

I drove from 10 until we stopped for lunch at an InandOut, and then drove again for about an hour. The InandOut was packed. Those places are popular! We stayed on I-5; it’s not very scenic, but mostly faster. There was a small detour due to flooding but considering the amount of rain they’ve had it could be worse. The weather continued bright and sunny until we hit LA. Then it started pouring and continued to do so most of the rest of the drive. I drove again from outside LA until we got to our Airbnb.

This place is ok, mostly. Very small, kind of old. There’s a living room and a bedroom. The kitchenette is in the bedroom, don’t ask me! There’s a sink, a small fridge, a microwave and a hotplate. The only bathroom is off the bedroom. There is a very nice patio on a porch, but it had to stop raining before we could use it!

We got ourselves settled and then walked to the grocery store and to pick up a salad for dinner. Then we fell into bed. We were very tired from that long drive.

Tuesday morning I went for a walk/run on the Coastal Walk along the ocean. For the first time it poured during my entire run. It was beautiful but I got very wet, and it’s so humid my running clothes have yet to dry! For lunch we went to Din Tai Fung! Dumplings, yum yum yum. And hot and sour soup, and their famous cucumber salad. And lots of jasmine tea.

Satiated we went back to the house and chilled for a while, then we drove over to the Scripps Aquarium. It was very busy because it was something people could do on a rainy day. Thank goodness we found a place to park! Of course it was not nearly as good as the Monterey Aquarium but I liked it, lots of colorful fish and good descriptions.

For dinner we went to El Piscador for fish sandwiches. Also got some oysters. Another delicious meal.

This morning I went to the Coggins Aquatic Center to swim some laps. It’s an outdoor pool frequented by serious swimmers. Lots of lap lanes. The air temp was in the 50’s but the water was 78-80 so it was ok. I was still a little chilly. I swam 850 laps, not as much because I’ve lost a little swim fitness since my second surgery and I think the water was less saline so I was not as buoyant! 

Then we walked down to a french patisserie and got croissants and cinnamon rolls and lattes. Now we’re sitting in the sunshine on our patio. Nice!


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