We kicked off our tour in LA. Adam had a big work conference at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena so that was our first stop. Oooh this place was nice and it was such a lovely way to get adjusted to US time and relax for a couple days before the frenzy of people and places we were about to embark on.
I went for a bike ride, they had a great spa, and even a free shuttle to take us into places like old town Pasadena (Hazel heard her first mariachi band!) and the Huntington Gardens, which were quite impressive I must say. We also both have friends that live in LA so we got to see them which was great.
Between my beauty and Hazel's lack of ability to care for herself, we decided our presence would provide too much of a distraction for Adam so we flew to San Francisco once his conference got into full swing.
I lived in the city by the Bay for pretty much my entire 20's and many of my dearest friends are still there. It is always a treat to visit. There was lots of eating at amazing restaurants and catching up with equally amazing people. If I was 13, I would list them all and put a matching emoticon next to their name, but I'm not so just know I loved seeing all of you and getting to meet new additions, like little baby Teddy:
The Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito and Train Town in Sonoma were great stops.
And just taking Hazel to some of my old haunts, like Tartine Bakery, was a lot of fun.
I will give a special shout out to Mallary and Johnny because staying at their house in Mill Valley is better then any hotel and well you just can't have moments like this on Facetime:
Ok, next up is Atlanta, the city where the players play... and Adam's family lives.
There was lots of great times with all the fam, seeing good friends, shopping, and a belated wedding anniversary dinner for Adam and I. 3 years baby!! We had the most wonderful meal at St. Cecilia. Traditionally, 3 years means giving a leather gift, but I opted for a heart shaped cookie cake instead. Keep him on his toes, know what I mean?
After some lovely time in Atlanta, we headed up to the mountains in North Georgia where Adam's Dad and stepmom have a place. It's always so relaxing and nice to be up there. We split the time between family and friends and Hazel had her first time in a proper country creek (crick).
Knoxville was our next stop and there really is no place like home. Ahh summer.
Adam spent a few days with us but had to head back to New Zealand and China for work. Hazel and I settled into our Knoxville routine and spent a lot of time with family and friends.
We made a quick trip to Murfeesboro in middle Tennessee to see my grandmother, get some Whitts BBQ, see my cousins, and meet their adorable twin boys.
After filling up the many empty duffle bags we brought with us and spending as much energy trying to zip them as I did trying to zip my own pants at this point, it was time to start making the trip back to my New Zealand home. This leg I was doing alone. It's the trade off for getting to stay 2 extra weeks in the US. Truly, it's just a moment in time and one day of your life.
A word about travelling with a toddler, though, as people do often ask me what it's like and how the actual trips go. We are very fortunate that Hazel is the baby she is. I'm not sure if it's a case of we travel with her so she's a good traveler or we travel with her because she's a good traveler. Either way, I know we got real lucky.
With that being said - if you have never flown with a small child then I've just given you something to be thankful for at your next gratitude group and if you have, well you know what it's like. Let me just say in general I like to keep "route talk" to a minimum. Hearing about how someone got some from point A to point B is rarely interesting. I mean try to remember the last good traffic story you heard. It's usually up there with a good menstruation story or hearing about someone's dream from the night before. Anyway, I mostly just find it very long and tiring. Hazel doesn't cry, but she does maintain her busy toddler personality even in the box in the sky. She did have her own seat so that helps a lot. That and bourbon.
Air New Zealand is wonderful and honestly the international leg is easier in a lot of ways than the domestic one. On one of my legs from Knoxville to SF they showed a movie. I was thrilled as Hazel had actually fallen asleep when the screen dropped down. I was less thrilled when over an hour into it the movie it just shuts off and the screen goes back into the ceiling. Oh right, 'cause we are landing. I look around the plane hoping to connect with someone who finds this as equally as ridiculous as I do, but no such luck. Who shows a movie, but doesn't bother to make sure all of it can be shown? Apparently United. Anyway it was back to SF for a few days and then on to Auckland. We survived, which is all you can really expect with a small human as your travel partner. I'm glad to be back and look forward to not getting on another plane for a while.
Or at a least a month or two.