Pasadena, Angeles Crest Scenic Byway, Vasquez Rocks & Venice Canals

We drove into Pasadena on Thursday for lunch. Pasadena is hot! We walked around the older part of the city a bit, and then headed to the Angeles Crest Scenic Byway for a pretty drive through the mountains.

It was clear enough to see the city in the distance.

 Our gas was running low, so we turned off the AC and rolled down the windows.. Walter loved it.

On our way back home, we stopped in the high dessert at the Vasquez Rocks. I had never seen anything like this before in person.. So beautiful! 
Natalie and I climbed as high as we could without it getting too scary... It was hot, but there was NO humidity! I'd take this over Atlanta heat any day. 

Mom got a picture of us with her phone on our way back down...

After dinner, we took a stroll through the Venice Canals. So much to do and see here!

the grove, Beverly Hills, & food trucks!

On Tuesday morning we took Walter for a walk to the jetty. The weather was perfect! Mom kept telling me about the "June gloom" that Marina Del Rey is known for, but it has been absolutely gorgeous here!

Apparently, this is what Walter usually does when he arrives at the end.
 Paddle boarders! I really want to try this some day..
 The flowers here are beautiful!

 Exhausted and resting in the shade.

Then we went to The Grove and had lunch at the Farmer's Market! It's not a normal farmer's market... It's full of tons of international restaurants. We started out at a Malaysian restaurant, then had paella at Spanish place, and finished off with a French dessert crepe. We were stuffed. 
We walked around a bit and shopped at The Grove. I loved this outdoor shopping spot. It's where Mario Lopez films "Extra!" Sadly, we didn't see him.
We did a lot of eating on Tuesday... We were really close to Beverly Hills, so we headed over to Sprinkles Bakery for cupcakes! We bought seven and took them to go.. We split them all four ways so we could try the different flavors. I highly recommend the orange, lemon coconut, lemon blueberry, and dark chocolate cupcakes!
While we were in Beverly Hills, we walked up and down Rodeo Drive and did some window shopping.

Since it was Tuesday, we headed over to The Victorian in Santa Monica for dinner at the food trucks! Every Tuesday night food trucks congregate in a parking lot and people eat dinner in the park.

I promise, we didn't eat seven cupcakes before we had dinner.

Our favorite was the tikka chicken masala from the Indian food truck. YUM! 
 We sat in the park and ate. I loved the lights hanging from the trees.
 And then we went for a lovely walk on the beach with Dad. Burning off some of those calories!

back in LA again!

I am so happy to be back in the state of California! I could totally live here. If all of my family and friends relocated to the west coast, I'd be there in a heart beat. I'm trying to take advantage of my parents living in here, so I decided to take a week off of work this summer and head to LA for another visit! Natalie and I are out here visiting together, having a great time.

I flew in on Sunday just in time for the Hollywood tour! Our van stopped right in the heart of Hollywood. We walked through the Dolby Theater (formerly known as the Kodak Theater) where the Academy Awards are held.
We stopped on the stairs of the red carpet...
 A nice view of the Hollywood sign!

So many characters line the street... Dad spotted the Halo guy immediately. Our tour guide didn't even know who that was. Leave it to Dad. :)

 A group shot in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Then we drove through Hollywood and into Beverly Hills for fabulous sushi at Matsuhisa for Natalie's birthday dinner.

a difficult week...

I went to an extremely small private Christian school from fifth grade to my senior year in high school. My class was the second graduating class. There were times when I wished I could have gone to a bigger public school, but looking back, I am so thankful I didn't. With only six in our graduating class, we knew each other well.. While there were times that we didn't necessarily get along, we genuinely enjoyed and cared for one another. We joked about which one of us would get married first and who would have kids first.. where we'd all end up in life, and how fun it will be to come back for high school reunions. After high school, we all went our separate ways... We didn't see each other as often, but the friendships were still there.  
Last week, I heard the tragic news that my friend Justin passed away. It was shocking to all of us, and we were left with broken hearts. On Saturday after the funeral, a group of us gathered at his parents house on their front porch.. It felt so good to be surrounded by those who loved Justin, reminiscing about the old days, and laughing together through tears. This tight group of six will never be the same. There will always be a part missing...

This was the last time all six of us were together. It was a happy day, and I am thankful for the memories.

happy birthday natalie!

Natalie's birthday was on Thursday, so when she came up to Atlanta on Friday night, I wanted to have a little mini birthday celebration. I bought cupcakes from Gimme Some Suga, hung the happy birthday banner, and made a yummy dinner. Brian and I even sang to her by ourselves.. It was a fun little celebration, and a nice distraction from an otherwise hectic and emotional week.