Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hello Las Vegas!

We arrived in Vegas yesterday after a long drive from LA plus a few stops in between. So we are here, in the Nevada dessert, in Sin City.

That's an airplane way up in the cloudless sky.

When you are in Las Vegas eveything feels surreal. Fake cities as themes for casinos can be interesting to walk through.

Strip joints are everywhere around here, and so "normal" it's not even worth talking about.

This is Paris where we went for dinner tonight.

There is temptation everywhere you go, and I'm talking about tempation for the small kids - rides, flashing stuff, stuffed stuff...anything to grab their attention and draw them (and their parents) into the stores or casinos. Competition is fierce, obviously.

At an outlet on the outskirts of Las Vegas yesterday.

At the carnival games in Circus Circus.

We took the kids to play carnival games before dinner tonight. The place was packed. The staff manning the boothes were very forthright and pushy pursuasive. We won a few soft toys for the kids, so at least we didn't walk away empty handed.

We had breakfast this morning at Rio before heading out to the dam.


Kien says "Hello!"

On the coast

On Thursday it was a perfectly cloudless day - it hardly ever rains in California, and the winter days are more like summers back in New Zealand. Last Thursday was a fine example of a typical winters day here, perfect beach weather.

We were heading toward Santa Monica, but due to not getting off at an exit prior to getting on the Pacific Coast Highway we decided to go to Venice Beach instead. We parked up a side road, and walked a couple of blocks to the beach proper.

The beach stretches for miles up the coast, and it has such a wide and flat sandy shoreline.

It's just like Baywatch!

Kien and I built sand castles with the bucket, and he enjoyed kicking them over. We also had a great time running back and forth in the water.

There were some interesting characters on Venice Beach, some harmless (I guess).

We didn't really hang around on the boardwalk, but when we were heading back to our car there was a dude having a full on conversation with his shoe. I wanted to stop and take pictures on the boardwalk, but Jef didn't want to hang around that particular area.


Kien's personality is blossoming, and although he is a handful at this age he is also a lot of fun.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dashing through the snow

LA went through a cold snap the day after we arrived, and there was a fresh sprinkling of snow on the mountains the day after the rain. So it was a perfect opportunity for us to drive the hour or so for some snow play.

Jeff took us to Wrightwood on Wednesday, and initially we went to a place called Mountain High to do some tubing. Unfortunately it was not open, but the snow was so beautiful we couldn't help ourselves but run around on the white stuff whilst we waited for Kien to wake from his nap. The scenery was beautiful; absolutely breathtakingly perfect for taking photos.

The snowy trails filled with pine cones leading off into the distance was a magical sight - everything my romantic side could envisage when imagining snow covered pine forests on mountain know, like in Rambo "You drew first blood" scenes.

Ethan was a good sport to indulge me with a few shots since my son was still asleep.

We made our way down to the lookout point across to the ski slopes glistening in the sun.

My untrained eyes say those trails look pretty perfect for skiing. How I wish I can ski, or board. Perhaps a new skill to learn this winter back home.

Kien experienced snow for the first time ever; he touched it, ate some, and decided he liked it and wanted some more.

We drove maybe a couple of kilometers down the road to the snowboarding part of Mountain High and couldn't find an area where the kids could play. So we just parked in the carpark and entered the snow area knowing full well we would more than likely be moved on sooner or later. The time we spent there was so much fun!

After throwing snowballs and sliding down hills and general frolicking in the snow we brought out the sled.

An employee finally showed up to move us on, and we asked him where we could do some snow play. He recommended driving a few more kiometers (in miles, of course) down the road and find a spot in amongst the trees. We did just that, and found a nice spot at called Apple Tree Campground.

Found some Holly growing wild here.

More fun to be had with the sled.

More snowballs too.

It was very fortunate we were able to have this experience whilst here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pasadena ♥

Lynette left her car for us to use. I learned how to drive over here around the same time as I learned how to drive back home, so everything just kind of clicked back into place. I love how our brain can file informtion away, seemingly never to be available for use again, and then when you need to conjure up something you once knew - it just happens.

We were in the city of Pasadena yesterday. The weather was lovely - typical winter day in California.

First stop was City Hall.

It's a beautiful example of Californian Mediterranean style architecture.

Kien fell asleep on the way, so we just kind of drove around and around. We came across another beautiful example of exquisite architecture - I think it's an apartment, but who can tell? An oasis, perhaps?

Kien was woken up by a very loud fire truck. I returned with our lunch, and we had a picnic overlooking some interesting scenery.

Kien says "I want to run" all the time...and it's true, he does - All The Time! (That's when he's not wanting to be carried all the time when he's not running.)

Surprise, surprise - we purposefully found an Apple store.

We stopped at a burger place for Jef to have some lunch. Damn, it was a tasty burger!

We headed home mid afternoon, and as we drove down Del Mar in the distance we could see the fresh dump of snow on the mountains.


Lunar New Year ceremony

As is the tradition for Chinese New Year there is always the obligatory food offering and incense sticks lighting, and family gathering. I have lots of family in LA, and we were over at my Uncle's place last night for this occasion.

This is us getting ready to eat all the food post offering/incense sticks lighting/fake money burning.

This isn't all of us, there are lots more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We're off to la la land

Flying high

We got on the plane and immediately Kien was into everything. We left him to explore his seat and surroundings while we organised ourselves and got settled for the long flight.

Once we were in the air it was time to settle down to a lovely dinner. I had to feed Kien first as he was hungry, and unfortunately they only had entres ready whilst the mains were cooking. So I ended up giving him a bit of smoked salmon with crackers, cheese and fruit. He was fine with that.

After dinner we made up his bed and thankfully it wasn't too difficult to get him to sleep as it was already 22:00 or there abouts.

He woke up a couple of times through the flight, and we played musical beds as he wanted to sleep with me. Overall I would say it was a relatively successful night.

LA looked beautiful peeking through the clouds as we decended.

The iPhone was a saviour for both take-off and landing. He was able to watch the movies that I had made of him, which he absolutely loves. This pleases me to no end. Knock yourself out, Kid. Oh, and he sings along too.

I like looking at LA from up here; you can see the blocks laid out in grid form clearly...

...and the massive freeways.


First day in LA

We went to the supermarket, and I knew I was in the US buying juice when one whole fridge was taken up with just juice! That's only the fresh variety. As Lynette buzzed around to pick up a few other bits and bobs I pushed the boys around in the trolley pretending they were in a car.

Jef and Jeff had left early yesterday morning to prepare for the day at the Tamiya RC races in Aliso Viejo in Orange County.

We went out there to meet up with them as planned, and all the kids fell asleep on the 1 hour drive out. Kien was exhausted from too much fun time with 4 ½ year old Ethan, so he stayed asleep for over 3 hours! I went to say hello to the Jeffs, and when I came back this was what I found:

Lynette and I didn't go to bed until 3am catching up.

So I took her kids and left her sleeping with Kien.

I've known Lynette since we were in the final year of highschool together, and I've known her husband since they first got together a billion years ago.

We got back late, the boys got back later, and I crawled into bed around 21:00 leaving Kien full of energy downstairs with his dad. We all had such a fun and exhausting day yesterday.


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