Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Trip to the West Coast

The Eckersons took our first trip out west to the great state of California! We were there Friday - Saturday, hit 3 major cities, and saw some very dear friends and family. It was a great trip and we came home EXHAUSTED Saturday night (our flight got in at midnight).

Chapter 1: San Francisco
We stayed with our dear friend Talya and were joined by another dear friend Hank from LA. Both used to work with us at McKinney and moved out to Cali in the past year. Both are terribly missed. The four of us have traveled together before, and had such a lovely time, that we knew this time would be a blast - and it was! We were greeted in SF by rainy cold weather, but Saturday morning brought warmer temperatures and even a little sunshine! We had a delicious lunch at Cha Cha Cha, joined by Ben's friend Roe, spent the afternoon walking through Haight-Ashbury, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, shopping, drinking, visiting the Ghiradelli factory, enjoying our very first In 'n Out Burger, and drinking some more. 
 We took a twilight tour of Alcatraz, which was AWESOME, and only a little bit spooky, and then had more delicious food - this time dinner at Limon. We danced - and drank - the night away, and Sunday morning found us on the long road to LA. We wanted to take the PCH down, and got about as far as Big Sur before finding out it was closed, so we backtracked and found another route. Despite it being longer than expected, we had such a nice time visiting - just the four of us. You know those moments where it just feels like "home"? That was one of those moments for me, Hank & Ben "talking shop" and scheming in the front, me & Talya draped across each other in the backseat.
After a short stop-over in Santa Barbara (which is adorable!) for dinner at Los Agaves - thanks Yelp! - we finally made it to Hank's apartment in El Segundo around midnight.

Chapter 2: Los Angeles
Our first day in LA, we were lucky enough to have a tour guide in Ben's friend from the Outer Banks, Tyler Nilson. We had the most amazing tacos & gazpacho from a taco truck in Santa Monica, drove around on mopeds (against my will), hung out on the beach and had AMAZING beautiful weather. 
 The evening was spent briefly hanging out on the beach (until it got too cold, so pretty much immediately), and dinner at Father's Office for, I'm not exaggerating, the best burger of my life. Tuesday was spent being tourists - cruising Beverly Hills, shopping on Rodeo Drive, strolling through Hollywood, and - something not so touristy - going on an audition with Tyler! We had another yummy dinner at The Library near Ashley & Tyler's House and called it an early night (after learning a new game - Ninja! ask me to show you how to play ... after a few beers). Wednesday, Ben & I visited a great Farmer's Market in Santa Monica, shopped in some adorable boutiques, and had a farewell lunch with Alina & Hank before heading down to San Diego!

Chapter 3: San Diego
We arrived in San Diego just in time to have dinner in La Jolla with my mom's cousin Johnny, his wife Eve, and their two beautiful children, Ecco and Gray. Dinner was followed by playing on the beach - Ben had a great time with Gray, and vise versa - and visiting with "the grown-ups" after bedtime. Thursday we took on the San Diego Zoo! Something I've been looking forward to for so long. I saw so many animals I've never seen before, the zoo is beautiful, the staff are so friendly, the exhibits are amazing ... I couldn't have asked for more. We got FREE passes from Eve and my friend Jenny, so we "splurged" for the Skyfari ride and the bus tour. My favorite parts were the pandas, the koala, the pregnant and newborn giraffe, being 6 feet away from a male lion, and the POLAR BEAR! I finally got to see one. Highlight of my life. 
 After an exhausting, full day at the zoo, we decided to catch an impromptu Padres game with our friends Jenny & Greg - and they won! Friday Ben & I were left to our own devices, which included a delicious lunch reco from Jenny (Neighborhood, great beer selection! get the steak tacos) and seal-viewing at La Jolla Cove. We ran around for a bit in that area, then joined Jenny & Greg for dinner in Old Town - HOW CUTE! It's all very old-timey, Mexican-inspired buildings and street vendors and restaurants. Lots of fun. Then we headed to a dueling piano bar, Shout House, for a fun night out of singing ... and maybe a little dancing.
Saturday morning, we were awoken by a call that we were bumped to an earlier flight, so we rushed through our packing and goodbyes, grabbed one more In 'n Out Burger for good measure, and began a long day of traveling home.

Our bodies are still readjusting to East Coast time, I think, but it was such a wonderful trip and I'm SO glad we got to do it. Thanks to ALL our friends and family who put us up, out of the goodness of their heart.

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