mini vaca, SoCal-style

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” — Elbert Hubbard

After a summer full of work travels, I decided to book a weekend of non-work fun, aka, an actual vacation. Although the trip was just over a long weekend (which turned out to be a day longer due to my flight-booking oops), we packed a lot of activities into the short time frame.

Shrek!

I arrived in Orange County on Friday afternoon and, after my town car picked me up from the airport (I felt so Sex-and-the-City), I headed to Huntington Beach where I enjoyed a few beers and worked on a bit of homework. My beautiful friend and gracious host for the weekend, Karli, met me after work and after another yummy drink and a walk down the pier, we headed to her fabulous Long-Beach apartment (my guest room overlooked the ocean and had a great view of the Queen Mary). Dinner that evening was enjoyed in the great outdoors, looking out onto the ocean. We called it an early night because we had a full day of exploring ahead of us in the morning.

Long Beach Harbor

Saturday began with a delicious breakfast of homemade Quiche and lattes, after which we headed out for our big adventure — first stop, Hollywood! So, it turns out that Hollywood could better be described as “Holly-hood” as it’s not exactly the nicest place, but we still had a great time visiting all the sites and walking the star-lined sidewalks. After a stroll down Hollywood Blvd. and a yummy brunch near Hollywood and Vine, it was off to my dream shopping experience — Rodeo Drive!

Stepping into Will Smith's shoes (or, at least his shoe prints) at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

After browsing a few shops on the distinguished boulevard, we enjoyed a bit of dessert and people watching before taking a short tour of the Beverly Wilshire (which primarily consisted of the water closets). Of course, the Beverly Hills experience was enhanced with random “Pretty Woman” quotes by Karli and me. Seriously, how can you be in Beverly Hills and not throw out a few of those? Although, I did abstain from walking into a shop and sharing this line, “Do you remember me? I came in here yesterday and you wouldn’t wait on me. Big mistake! Huge!”  I thought it might be a bit much.

After one last elongated stop at COACH, where we both walked away with multiple items and a lot less in our checking accounts, we were off to Santa Monica. While there, we enjoyed the views and some sushi, before doing a bit of shopping and then heading home. We were beat! What a day!

Sunday morning provided a surprise as I learned, after attempting to check into my flight, that I would not be leaving until Monday night. Oops. After a quick text to my coworker explaining the situation, we were off to enjoy crepes for breakfast. The crepes were followed by a stop somewhere that was almost as exciting to me as Rodeo Drive: a $1 bookstore! I managed to limit my purchase to eight books, but it was tough.

Santa Monica Pier (with my newly-purchased, Rodeo-Drive-COACH watch)

A quick stop at the apartment to drop off our goodies from the morning and we were off to the beach, via beach cruisers. I had such a great time riding around the LBC on bikes and am so grateful for the experience. The beach trip also included kites and some lounging time. When we returned home, Karli made a delicious dinner and then we headed back to Belmont Shores (sans bikes) to browse the shops and enjoy a beer while watching some football. A trip to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for caramel apples concluded what was a fun-filled day.

My last day in SoCal consisted of my working remotely (thank goodness I had brought my laptop) from various locations in Long Beach. Although I did overhear some interesting conversations (a 70-ish man receiving a tutorial on emoticons — priceless), the events of that morning and afternoon are not really blog worthy. After enjoying a post workday beer with Karli, she and Mark dropped me off at the airport for my return flight to Denver.

Biking along the LBC.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my awesome hosts and tour guides for the weekend, Karli and Mark. It was a great trip and I can’t wait to visit again!

For additional photos from my fun-filled weekend, check out my Summer Part Deux album on Facebook.

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