back to l.a.

People who travel for a living, fly on a regular basis, pack and unpack suitcases as a matter of course, my hat is off to you.

Travel absolutely knocks me out.

We returned to Kentucky after our week in L.A. on Saturday but I’m still trying to get steady and feel rested and orient myself to daily life.

As you know, Tracy and I love California.

We also love our nieces, so this trip was an amazing opportunity.

Usually, when I travel to a place where I have friends, I don’t contact those friends individually and ask to seem them - I just let it be known that I’m going to be in the area and if friends feel like they have the time or the inclination, they can let me know they want to get together. That way, I don’t feel like I’m pressuring anyone or making them feel obligated to see me.

On this trip in particular, if I had requested to see someone, they would have had to join us wherever we were, because we stuck to a busy itinerary.

This is all to say, we have beloved friends in L.A. We saw some of them and some of them we didn’t, but we’ll definitely be back next year.

Day One


Tracy, Ava, Emme and I arrived at LAX on schedule and met up with Lindsay (our adult niece) at the baggage claim, then checked in to our beautiful house.


Isn’t it so California?

We loved this house.

We went to Gelson’s for groceries, because I’d heard celebs were often sighted there and indeed, we saw Casey Affleck in the cereal aisle.

That evening, we were so exhausted we kept thinking we were feeling earthquakes (we weren’t) but made our way to El Coyote anyway, where we had dinner on the patio, thus establishing it as the place we always have dinner our first night in L.A.


Day Two


Our Hollywood house was surrounded by jasmine bushes and orange trees and swaying palms. (L.A.’s wet winter has made for a lush, green spring.)

This, by the way, is what I look like when I spot a California hummingbird:


I’m glad Tracy snapped this picture at this exact moment, because this is truly how I feel about hummingbirds. They are magical to me and I never grow disenchanted with them.

I started the day with Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle.

It was so beautiful and the congregation was warm and welcoming.

If I lived in Hollywood, this would definitely be my church. In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and count it as one of my churches.


Afterwards, we went to lunch at Barney’s Beanery, where we saw Jonah Hill.

He was walking out while we were walking in.


Barney’s Beanery was on our wish list last year, and I’m so happy we made it this year. It was a perfect sunny day, the vibe was classic West Hollywood, the chopped salad was delicious.

After lunch, we did some shopping at Melrose Trading Post,


then briefly hit the Walk of Fame (I don’t ever need to do this again. Hollywood Blvd. is the only part of L.A. - that I’ve been to - that gives me the big city feeling that I don’t like) and had iced tea at the Pig N’ Whistle (which, we all agreed, felt haunted.)

We met our friends Eric and Maddie for dinner at Sugarfish then strolled around inside Amoeba Music.

Day Three


We began our morning with a stop at the Canyon Country Store,


then went over the hill to Burbank where we took the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

We did some antique shopping/looking,


and stopped by the recording studio where Tracy and his brother recorded when they first came to L.A.


Back over the mountain, we did some shopping at Buffalo Exchange, then had dinner at Canter’s, because Tracy can not be in L.A. without eating here. It’s physically impossible for him. Canter’s draws him in like a magnet.

Day Four


We had lunch at the Rainbow Bar and Grill, another place that was on our wish list last year. Even though we were there at the start of the day, it was a lot of fun, and the food was surprisingly good.


We spent the rest of the day in Venice.


Ava skated,


we shopped on Abbot-Kinney, walked along the canals,


and had blue, purple, and pink drinks at Cha-Cha.


Dinner that night was the 101 Coffee Shop, and since it was Lindsay’s birthday, some of us had cake from Sweet Lady Jane.


Day Five

Santa Monica

Ava had a campus tour of UCLA.


Afterwards, we had lunch at Urth Caffe in Santa Monica.

Urth Caffe was another place that had been on my wish list for a while, and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was perfect example of what I think of as my California lifestyle, and I had the best latte I’ve ever had.


We shopped at Thunderbolt,


and the Third Street Promenade.

Ava and I rode the Pacific Wheel on the Pier.


Then we had dinner at the Lobster.

This was our splurge meal and it was so worth it; the sunset was glorious.


Day Six

Griffith Park

After a leisurely morning, we went to the Griffith Park Observatory and saw a cool show in the planetarium.


Emme went to a class at an aerial gymnastics studio in Hollywood, then we had an early dinner at Cafe Gratitude in Larchmont, where we saw Heather Graham.

She, if you’re wondering, is luminous.


Thanks to Maddie, the girls got to go to a pre-screening of a movie at the Arc Light Theater.

Day Seven

West Hollywood

We spent our last morning at the house, then walked up to the Wattles Mansion gardens, where we made a really cool discovery on a hiking trail.


The girls had acai bowls at Rawberri in West Hollywood,


then we moved to a hotel by the airport, to prepare for our early departure.


It was a wonderful week.

We had great luck with the weather and our flights (and the peaceful earth.)


The only problem is that a week goes by too quickly.

We’re so grateful to have spent this time with our nieces in a place we love, and we’re already planning 2020.

Next year, we’ll be able to branch out into some different locations; we may even explore San Diego or Ojai.

I mean, you really just don’t know where we might end up.

What we do know is that we love California.

It welcomes us, it is kind to us, it has a beautiful spirit, and we feel good there.

Love from Kentucky,