SoCal, so lovely…

Monday, November 11th – Monday, November 18th:

We spent a week in Southern California visiting different ‘hoods, spending time with family and friends and catching the rays. Here is a run down of our SoCal week, part 1:

Venice Beach (Mon. 11/11-Wed.11/13):

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A good friend of Cate’s family, Manny and his husband live in Venice Beach and they welcomed us to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, Donald was away for work, so selfishly we got Manny all to ourselves. There are few people in this world funnier than Manny. He has a way with words, with his delivery, with his expressions that just leave you curled over in laughter and tears. Manny “became” part of the family when he and Cate’s aunt Amy met years and years ago in California. It was fun to reminisce of “the good ‘ole days” and the memories we each have. One of Manny’s favorites is the time that he came to Munich, Germany when Cate was just 6 months old to stay with her family (Cate was born in Germany and lived there until she was 2). His intention was to visit for a few days, but with Oktoberfest and the Mayer way, he stayed for nearly two weeks. That’s how we do it in this family.

We shared some amazing stories, obviously some huge laughs, delicious meals and we cannot wait to come back for more. Manny, you made us feel so welcome and so loved and we are so so grateful to have spent a few days with you. Oh, and to Willis and Rita, you sassy two pooches, we love you too. We know how you need as much attention as your daddy, keep your pops in shape until we are back.IMG_3600

Venice Beach is, in one word, groovy! Lots of eclectic personalities and styles, lots of art and great people watching.

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Also, timing was once again on our side. Cate’s friend, Gus Harper, lives in Venice and it had been a few years since she had seen him. Gus is a genius, immensely talented artist whose work we find to be very inspiring and uplifting. He was heading out of town for the week, we were just arriving, we had a three hour window of time we were going to overlap. Gus, thanks for having us over to your studio to see your recent work, to catch up and for the laughs. We loved hanging with you and look forward to coming back again soon.IMG_3496

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Santa Monica for the day:

Santa Monica is only a few miles from Venice Beach. We decided to bike over from Venice Beach to SM for the day to explore, have some lunch and see our friend Ben. Manny and Donald had bikes that we borrowed, but keep in mind a) they had not ridden them in a long time and b) Manny and Donald are much taller than us. You know that phrase, “it’s just like getting back on the bike?”. Yah, now I (Cate), know exactly first hand what that means. It had been some time since I was behind the handlebars and peddling away, it took a little time to get used to it. Practice, three falls, and knocking another biker off the path; but who’s counting. I think Michelle’s most poignant statement of this trip was when she said 5 minutes into our ride “this is the day I am glad we both have health insurance.”  Exactly.

We walked up and down the iconic Santa Monica Pier, played kids for a day and took a ride on the Ferris Wheel. Walked all around Santa Monica, past the Ivy (one of Cate’s favorite places) and stumbled upon a delicious restaurant called True Food Kitchen. The food was amazingly fresh and delicious. Would go back in a heart beat.

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Lucky enough for us, our friend Ben (you know Ben by know…NYer, met in South Dakota, met up again in Oregon, on his journey across the USA…) was in Santa Monica for a few days visiting some friends. We met up with him down on the beach to see one of the most breathtaking sunsets of our trip. The sun sinking into the crimson, crisp orange sky in front of us and behind us the sky turned a mixture of teal, purple and cotton candy pink with the palm trees poking above. It was unreal. Another one of those moments you just can’t capture fully on camera.

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Anaheim, California (Wednesday 11/13):

Our friend Dave’s (whom we stayed with in LA, see previous post) mom Thelma has been a big cheerleader for us on this trip and been following our whereabouts since day 1. She invited us to stay with her in Anaheim for a night when we got to California and we couldn’t wait to catch up and spend some time with her. We had so much fun seeing all their family’s local stomping grounds. A delicious dinner at Mama Cozzas. Thelma shared the history of the restaurant and that this used to be the place the boys used to come in high school. And then came the dancing. The Ranch had just opened in Anaheim within the last year and is a very traditional, very formal part restaurant part saloon. You feel like you are taken immediately to a country western saloon in Texas. The saloon features a combination of live country music and DJ playing the best country in the country (get it?). Everyone is in cowboy boots and cowboy hats, jeans and big belt buckles. We stood out slightly as we weren’t necessarily dressed like country dancers. Oh well, next time I will shine my cowboy boots for the occasion. The best part is that throughout the night there is two step, country swing, line dancing. The DJ will come on and announce what the dance of the moment is and you can find your partner and swing round and round. It was so fun watching everyone on the dance floor, some of the folks were really really good. And, then, we got our turn. Such a fun time.

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Some videos:

Oh, and then there was the time the bouncers thought Cate’s ID was fake…

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Thelma, we cannot tell you how comfortable and at home you made us feel. We felt like we were out with one of our own moms. Your energy, passion for life and joy is infectious. Just being around you makes us so so happy. We so wish we had more time to hang out and chat, go through photos, and share laughs (and dances!). We will be back soon, we promise and more fun times ahead. We love you mama Thelma!

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Oh, and Dave’s letterman jacket and helmet hiding in the closet? We found it, don’t worry!

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Manhattan Beach:

We drove to Manhattan and Hermosa beach to check out the hoods and take Cate’s friend Abbie up on a amazing lunch suggestion at North End Cafe in Manhattan Beach. Soooo yummy!

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Huntington Beach (Thurs. 11/14):

Cate’s aunt Andre and Cate’s cousin Lucy have lived in California for the last 18 years. In fact, the last time Cate was in Petaluma was to see Lucy shortly after she was born! They recently moved from Newport to Huntington and invited us to stay for a night. They had just moved into their new home less than a week before our arrival. We LOVE your new home, hope you are settling in more and more as the time passes.

It’s been over 10 years since Cate had seen Andre and Lucy and so loved catching up with you amazing ladies. Lucy, a senior in high school, is in the midst of college applications and decisions. We remember that time as if it was yesterday (although for us, far far from yesterday), the excitement and anticipation. Lucy, your love for life and excitement about all that surrounds you is such an inspiration. We loved spending some time with you and hope we can do it again soon!

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