Southern California – Part One

The five of us (Lucy included, of course) pulled into our driveway Monday evening absolutely exhausted from our Better-Late-Than-Never-Spring-Break. I’m not sure why we thought driving 5+ hours immediately following a red-eye flight was a good idea when booking our trip but we survived. The kids had a great time with Clay’s parents in Wilmington, North Carolina while Clay and I made the most of our time in southern California, but we’re happy to be home. For now.


We took an early morning direct flight to LAX out of RDU last Wednesday. The flight was unremarkable in a good way I suppose, although flying coach nowadays is about as much fun as getting a root canal. But we arrived safe and sound and ready to begin our child-free California getaway.


 Seal Beach, California

While it wasn’t our first time visiting California, it was our first time flying into LAX. Our reason for going to California was that my cousin, Matt, was getting married that weekend in Newport Beach, so we decided since we were spending $$$ on tickets, we might as well bookend the wedding festivities by a couple of days. Sadly, weather was not on our side for the majority of our trip – we did not get to experience stereotypical sunny SoCal. But since California is currently experiencing a major drought, we didn’t let the drizzly overcast weather get us down! After picking up our rental car and escaping the not-so-nice-area of Los Angeles, we made our way south to Newport Beach, stopping at Seal Beach for a smoothie along the way.

Perhaps it is because we just spent time on the North Carolina coast, but we were surprised at the amount of industry located right on the Pacific Ocean…something that is almost non-existent on the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed like oil derricks were absolutely everywhere with minimal effort to shield them out of sight. Additionally, off-shore oil platforms peppered the horizon outside of Los Angeles. But as we drove further south, the beach became more serene and the horizon less industrious.


All of the wedding guests stayed at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach. Because we were among the first to arrive, we were able to check in early. After unpacking, we walked down to Balboa Island and Newport Beach to explore and grab a bite to eat.




 We spotted this sea lion sleeping on a private dock…our only sighting of one the entire trip.



 Passenger ferry to Newport Beach Peninsula.


We ate fish tacos and enjoyed beer at Great Mex…


…and then walked to the beach. By then the sun had disappeared and we felt grossly underdressed for the cool and windy air. We decided to scrap our plans to swim in the ocean and catch a movie instead (While We’re Young, in case you’re wondering). Jet lag caught up to us and we were in bed by 9:00pm…exciting, I know.


We woke up the next morning at 6:00am well-rested and ready to squeeze in as much as we could before the rest of my family arrived. The previous day, Clay had spotted an artisanal waffle shop on our walk and knowing my fondness for the delectable treats, suggested we check it out for breakfast. I am sad to report that the waffles did not live up to their hype. They were good, not great. But the illy coffee? Oh my goodness, by far the best coffee we had the entire trip.


 We spent the morning hiking at Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach.


 Our favorite trail was Car Wreck Trail.


It had all of our favorite elements for a hike – remote, challenging, steep, and a little quirky.


The highlight of Car Wreck Trail is a (supposedly) wrecked 1949 Dodge that no one knows how it got to the bottom of the canyon. The views from the trail weren’t too bad either – there is a reason why it is called Top of the World (or at least Laguna Beach).


 The hike back was the most challenging – extremely steep but a great workout.


After our hike, we grabbed some coffee and walked down to Laguna Beach, were we spent the rest of the morning talking about our future together and long-term goals. We resisted the temptation to create flow-charts, choosing to stare into the horizon instead. On our way back to Newport Beach we stopped for more fish tacos (when in Rome…) and then promptly ran into members of my family in the hotel lobby.


After the obligatory hugs and hellos, we scattered about with plans to meet up again before the rehearsal dinner that evening. Scott and Kelly wanted to see the water and do something active so the four of us walked down to Balboa Island and Newport Beach, catching up and just enjoying each other’s company.



That night we attended the rehearsal dinner and then met up at a bar afterwards. All of my family flew in from the east coast so most of us tapped out at midnight and went back to the hotel. Next up – the wedding, more overcast weather, and Malibu.


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