Spring Break in LA and Palm Desert

Grace’s parents have thankfully been fully vaccinated, so we planned our spring break around seeing them and also celebrating her mom’s 80th birthday. Dave planned to come out and join us. At the last minute, Addy decided to join us as well. Bummer that Charles and their kids couldn’t make the family gathering complete.

Grace got lucky with her first vaccine shot a few weeks ago, but that put her second shot in the middle of break, which couldn’t be changed. She also hauled to Sacramento to get it, so that meant a 2 day delay and 3 hour diversion on our drive down to LA, which was a problem worth having.

Grace hemmed and hawed (never does that) on where to stay. Ultimately she picked West Hollywood to stay at a hotel she enjoyed in London. It was nice and quiet, but a little out of the way and not really walking (for me).

Chosun Galbee isn’t open on Mondays, so we went to some other place, which was fine. Benjamins were distributed by grandpa. Tuesday, Addy was flying in, and she had never been to Manhattan Beach, so we all met up there for lunch. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but it’s always nice to visit.

We had dinner at Ann and Jeremy’s. Grace and I have watched Queens Gambit three times and the kids twice. They are obsessed with chess, which seems like a much better use of device time, so it is usually allowed. Lucas is improving against Jeremy in their matches and can hopefully make a strong showing in a visit or two. I’m 0 for 2 against Olivia already.

Wednesday was moving day, so we took advantage of the empty roof-top pool. Our teenager wasn’t interested and Lucas asked me to join him. It was warm enough, but once the sun was hidden for the foreseeable future, it was time to go. We did get to have Chosun Galbee for lunch on our way out of town.

Our family road trip was to Palm Desert. I haven’t been to Palm Springs in almost 30 years and I don’t think anyone else has been there recently either. The weather was a little dodgy when we arrived, but it cleared up nicely for a couple days of golf and pool. Grace played 18 holes for the first time in forever and held up great.

The resort was nice enough, but was a little too big. I believe it peaked in 1983 and was a little understaffed for the number of guests. The food there was great and we had some meals in town, including Grace’s mom’s birthday dinner.

We had ambitions of going to Joshua Tree, but it turned out to be more effort than was wanting to be expended. I saw a lot of people posting from there the week before and the same week. Grace’s parents, Addy and Dave stopped there on the way back to LA and we headed straight home after our last brunch together. We’ll have to come back to check it out.

Happy to be spending quality time with family again. Can’t wait to see my family next.

Spring Break 2017 in Los Angeles

After a lot of skiing this winter, we decided to road trip to Los Angeles for spring break. The main motivation was because Grace was convinced her mom was turning 75 and wanted to have a surprise party for her. Then Addy and Charles changed their plans to meet us in LA, and Dave came down, too.

We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Westwood. We were going to go to Santa Monica, but decided to go to Century City for dinner instead. While there, we decided to see a movie. The nice thing about taking your kids to a 9:30pm movie is that no other parents bring their kids to a 9:30pm movie. I stayed awake for all of Boss Baby. They loved it.

When Grace was planning her mom’s dinner, she mentioned it was going to be on April 9th. Ummm, that’s our anniversary… No matter – it’s her 75th! We celebrated our anniversary at lunch instead with the kids at Bouchon. Lucas was very leery of French food, but found the donuts to his liking. We did some shopping for Grace’s mom in the afternoon.

The kids wanted to visit with Emme and Elsen before dinner even though we didn’t have much time. I took the opportunity to catch up very briefly with my long lost friend from home, Joanne, who also lives in Santa Monica. Our visit was too short, but still long overdue. So great to see her and meet her sons.

Sometime before all the family arrived at the restaurant for Grace’s mom’s surprise, we determined that it was actually her 76th birthday. Surprise! She deserved a big party anyway, so it was all good. Awesome to see all the Park cousins.

On Monday, we met up with the family at République in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful building, which used to be Charlie Chaplin’s estate. When I got there, I looked up and saw someone familiar. My instinct was to say hello and his instinct was to say hello back. It was Henry Winkler. Who is more familiar than the Fonz? That was one of the highlights of my trip year.

Grace went with her mom and sister to the spa, so I took the kids to the Grove to get out of the house (i.e., off their devices). We went to a real book store, which had real books (each kid got 2). We had more donuts, ice cream, and people-watching. Afterwards, we went to Slurpin’ Ramen Bar to celebrate Dave’s birthday a little early.

On Tuesday, we went to Universal Studios, which was the 2nd big reason for our LA spring break: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ann and Emme joined us (Elsen had no idea what he was missing). The kids have been wanting to do this for a while and were so excited. I had no idea about the rides, but we all (adults) got so wrecked by the Forbidden Journey. I took more than one for the team and rode that one twice (worse the 2nd time because it broke down the first time and I didn’t have to suffer through Quidditch). By the time we got on the Minions ride, I learned to just keep my eyes closed the entire time. I’m still sick.

Everyone enjoyed the studio tour. Seeing animatronic Jaws made the kids feel a little better about sharks after I screened Jaws for them a few weeks ago. We were all traumatized by it when we were kids; I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be, too.

Wednesday was a very routine beach day in Manhattan Beach. By routine, I mean lunch at Rock’n Fish, beach, Starbuck’s, and the Creamery. Every. Single. Time. That evening we had dinner with Ann and Jeremy at Katsuya in Brentwood.

Thursday, we had lunch with Grace’s parents in Westwood after I upgraded them from 0 MB DSL service, which was killing me, but was the only thing instilling grit in the kids on this trip. We walked to the other end of Westwood and back and then loaded up the car to drive home.

My spring break officially started on Friday with the first round of golf in a long while with Charles and Albert in Half Moon Bay. We spend the rest of the weekend with Addy and Charles, who left early on Sunday. Our nice break ended with Easter brunch at the Crowthers’ and dinner with Jeanah and Christine at our house.

Florence + the Machine Date Night in LA

I was still feeling bad about blowing up Grace’s plans for our birthday a couple weeks back. Right before we left for Spring break, I learned that Florence + the Machine were coming to San Francisco to play a couple last-minute shows at the Masonic before Coachella. We’re big fans and enjoyed them in Paris and at Shoreline a couple years ago. I really wanted to see them, but it was too late to cancel Spring break and the kids would have been pissed (hehe).

They were, however, playing one other show in LA the following week. I checked schedules and told Grace to clear hers and get an overnight sitter. I had this thing at work, so I planned to attend that meeting in our LA office, but that required us to take the first flight out to LA, which was brutal. Tradeoffs. I have a serious love-hate relationship with StubHub, but they came through with first row tickets and I got them before people started asking crazy sums of money for tickets way back. We were all set.

Because this was a do-over on our birthday trip, I made this one a surprise like her 40th. She didn’t know where we were going until we met Mr. TSA. We had a 6:45am flight, which ended up being completely unnecessary because my work thing was canceled after I booked the tickets. Too late.

When we arrived, it was too early to do anything, so we did the default thing and headed to Manhattan Beach. We grabbed a coffee and walked down the strand, which we haven’t done in years. A lot of the homes are the same from when I lived there a couple decades ago, but many are new, too. One thing I noticed is that those ocean-front homes get weathered really quickly. We walked all the way down to my old place at Marine and then turned around.

Grace didn’t know where we were staying, but we headed over to Beverly Hills. I considered the Montage because we enjoyed it so much last time, but it was insane so I thought we would try the Beverly Wilshire. I gambled on an upgrade to one of the serious suites and lost big time. The theme of the trip was that we were too early for everything. The room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we went over towards the Montage and had lunch at Bouchon, which wasn’t open yet either. I never met a croque madame I didn’t like, but that one was special.

The room was possibly a bit much for a 36 hour trip, but we ended up enjoying it. Grace kept singing the Pretty Woman theme song, which almost ruined the hotel for me. I saw exactly zero hookers, which actually did ruin the hotel for me. We had the afternoon to relax and I thought Grace might enjoy the spa, but we just went to the pool together. We got there around 1:30pm and completely checked out. It’s great traveling with the kids, but it’s also really great traveling without them. We both took a nappy nap – for 3 hours. It got windy and chilly during that time. Although I might have been suffering a little, I was too tired to move or do anything about it. When I finally did come to, it was nice again.

Dinner was at 6pm downstairs at Cut, so we got cleaned up. I’m sorry (not sorry) about all the car porn, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve never seen a Bugatti up close and this one was brown. Despite being half the price, it was the hybrid LaFerrari (1 of 499) that I couldn’t resist. Grace is lucky I didn’t hug it. Not pictured was this lowly black Aventador. They’re a trio because they’re all owned by the same sheik, who rolls into town every once in a while with the 3 cars and rents an entire floor at the Beverly Wilshire for a month. Does he need a driver?

The restaurant wasn’t quite ready for us when we arrived. We got the Kobe beef tour and I decided to try my first one (American). Neither of us was particularly hungry (still full from Spring break), but we did our best. The entire meal was really amazing.

Afterwards, we were off to the event. I will note that there was now a parade of Bugattis outside. At this point, Grace didn’t know for sure what we were doing, but she loves to spoil surprises by guessing and guessing. We took a car to downtown LA to the Ace Hotel. The venue was a beautiful old theater that only held 1,600 people. Grace and I were both excited.

The only real wrench in our plans so far was the Florence had broken her foot stage diving at Coachella the weekend before. While we were lucky she didn’t cancel, we were unlucky in that she had to remain seated the entire set and she would not be grabbing my hand like last time.

The show was stripped down and she had to change up her set list to something more “unplugged.” She added an eight-person string section, who were right in front of us in the orchestra pit. Despite her injury, she sounded amazing. As before, I’m pretty sure she was singing to me at some point. She definitely waved to me as the curtain was going down. And that was that.

The next morning, we invited Grace’s parents to the hotel for breakfast. They’ve probably driven past it thousands of times since moving to LA, but this was the first time they had been inside.

The Facebook had informed me that one of my long-lost brothers was also in LA. Joseph (JP) and I are BFFs on FB, but haven’t seen each other in almost 30 years, when he was an “observer” at my summer camp. I was so glad he and his wife, Younyoung (YY) were able to meet us for lunch. It was super fun catching up. After lunch, it was time to head home.

It’s amazing how such a short trip can be so rejuvenating (you know, after a tough week in NYC). I’m really happy it all worked out and we didn’t have to go all the way to Europe to see Flo this summer. Though, you never know…

LA for the Holidays

On Tuesday, we drove down to Southern California for the holidays. Our first stop was LA. It only took 7.5 episodes of Serial (so good).

After settling into Grace’s parents house, we were on our own for dinner. The internet said to go to Mastro’s. I’m not sure if they put us in the back room because they saw our kids were trouble or our kids were trouble because they put is in the back room.

Good start to the holidays.

Lena and Eugene’s Wedding

On Saturday, June 28th, the Park clan came together to celebrate the wedding of Lena and Eugene in Los Angeles. Lena was a beautiful bride. Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jong Hee are always ready to have a good time and this was a very special occasion.

It was also nice to catch up with so many of the Park cousins. The kids were super excited to be able to attend and had a great time dancing with their cousins.

Congratulations to Lena and Eugene!

LA with the Parks

On Saturday, June 28th, we hung out in LA with the Park family. We met at Du-par’s at The Grove for breakfast. Charles, Addy and Grace all had hair appointments. Olivia and Lucas went swimming for a while and then Cameron and Delaney came to the hotel to hang out before the wedding.

Solid family time.

Spring Break: Part 2 – Los Angeles

On Friday, April 18, we had a short drive from Manhattan Beach to Beverly Hills. Waze took us all local through many neighborhoods. Soon, we arrived at the Montage. As the whole trip was last minute, our main requirement was a decent pool. The Montage is located in the heart of BH and the entire property is stunning. This was a bit of a splurge, especially because Grace’s parents have three houses in LA at which we could have stayed, but then it wouldn’t have felt like getting away. Also, some things suddenly seem reasonable when you’re not shelling out for ski school.

The room was one of the best yet, but lost some points for the trick motorized TV, which was cool but stuck in the open position the whole time. The shower was, however, the best ever. Apparently, they missed the memo on the drought. Another observation about the hotel was that they’ll park your ride up top as long as it’s a murdered-out, matte Aventador, Ducati, Range Rover or Panamera. I even saw a Model S on the road in this trim. LA cracks me up.

We went to our first movie together as a family – Rio 2 at Century City. I got in a solid nap. Afterwards, we went to dinner at Koi. Apparently it isn’t really a family place, but that was okay. The kids missed out on Benihana after LEGOLAND and wanted some Japanese food. It was great.

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the roof-top restaurant and the kids headed for the pool. I’ve been on a search for an occasional driver (i.e., a chance to cross another car off the automotive bucket list). I left the hotel for an hour or so to see a man about a horse. This particular late ’80s horse looked good from about 15 feet, but not great from 2 and was a disaster inside. That said, it was thrilling (and loud) to drive. It was also my first time behind the wheel of one in close to 20 years. Alas, this was not the one for me. The search continues.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Grace and the kids set up camp in a cabana, hand-picked by Lucas for its comfortable seating arrangement. I was immediately summoned into the pool. Mid-April is warm, but not hot. I spent equal time in the pool as the hot tub, favoring the latter that day. Grace ran out to do some shopping before dinner while the kids and I cleaned up before heading out.

We met Ann, Jeremy, Emme, baby Elsen and Grace’s parents at Lawry’s for dinner. We celebrated Grace’s mom’s birthday together. Afterwards, we went over to their Westwood house for a bit to trouble-shoot some computer and TV issues. They’re all set, until they’re not again.

Sunday was Easter morning. We enjoyed a leisurely morning, but I was a little antsy to do something before brunch. Olivia, Lucas and I went for a walk around the block. It was a ghost town. We had Wilshire and Via Rodeo all to ourselves. By the time we got back, everyone was ready to eat. Grace tried to talk the kids into shopping before we left, but Lucas was belly-aching about walking two blocks, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen. We scored some sweet seats at the pool and Grace got us all packed before heading out for a mani-pedi.

We cleaned up and cleared out just in time for the Easter egg hunt at the hotel. It was a lovely event, marshaled by the Easter Bunny himself. Over a bullhorn, they were trying to explain to all these eager hunters to count to 20 so the under-5 side could get a head start. They yelled go, a bunch of kids jumped the gun, and it was total anarchy. I told the kids to hold up for about 5 seconds and that was all it took to get boxed out. Lucas was not happy with me or his haul. Luckily, the Easter Bunny was handing out some more eggs afterwards and Lucas was pleased. I’m glad he gets the spirit of Easter.

We made a quick stop at the Bouchon Bakery across the lawn. My first and only celebrity sighting was Mindy Kaling. We grabbed some sandwiches, got into the car and started our journey home.

Despite the last-minute planning, we couldn’t have had a better vacation together. We avoided the airport, had no set agenda, and neither the kids nor the adults were ever bored. I’m up for a drive to SoCal any time.

Thanksgiving with the Parks in Los Angeles

This year, Grace’s mom and dad hosted Thanksgiving at their new home in Los Angeles. When I say Los Angeles, I mean in the heart of K-Town, just like they like it. Mom and dad both added their flair, which has resulted in a beautiful house in the style of post-modern Korean dramas.

Addy and Charles’s family spent the week in SoCal (at his parents house) and they all joined us for Thanksgiving. Dave came in from NYC. Ann and Jeremy brought the whole family, including baby Elsen, Emme and Murphy. The first holiday Murphy spent with us was Christmas 2004, when he was just a puppy.

On Friday, we went to Hillstones for lunch with Ann and Jeremy and then blended in with the tourists on 3rd St in Santa Monica. Friday dinner was with Grace’s uncle’s family and some other Park friends.

Saturday, we got up to watch the Michigan game and we left when things were all tied in the 4th quarter. That was the last time I remember feeling thankful. Just kidding. We have so much for which to be thankful and spending time with family was a great reminder.

Thanks, mom and dad Park for a great Thanksgiving weekend.