When I last left you, in part 1, my kids were pooping in a house we thought to be our new rental, but upon discovering personal items, worried someone was living there and didn’t know we were coming.
Not to worry, it turned out the owners of the house had visited the weekend before and hadn’t told the rental company yet so it wasn’t clean. We wouldn’t know this until an hour later. Cest la vie.
We piled back into the car and headed to meet my Aunt for her birthday dinner. Luckily, we had gotten a hold of her (my phone kept dropping calls) and she agreed to meet us where we already were, in Malibu, instead of us having to schlep out to Venice.
As for our reservations at Venice’s Cafe Gratitude, (a cool and delicious raw vegan restaurant) they would go unused. Don’t worry, I called to let them know like a responsible person. Actually, they called me to confirm the reservation just as I was about to call and cancel. Except I didn’t know it was the restaurant calling since my car synced with my phone just as the woman said who she was and where she was calling from. All I heard was I was supposed to be confirming something, and my kids were all talking loudly and so I wrongly assumed I was confirming the rental house and so I CONFIRMED the reservation we were NOT headed to unknowingly. I was so confused and Jeremy looked at me like “what are you doing??” and I looked at him like “what?” and then he told me what I had done.
Side note: I still don’t know how he knew. I probably missed something, but whatever. I was tired and embarrassed but I dialed Cafe Gratitude back. “Um, yes, hi, this is Krysta and I just talked to you to confirm my reservation in a half hour? Except I got confused as to where you were calling from and we’re actually not going to be able to make it tonight. Sorry about the confusion. Sorry about that—nervous laughter—.”
Dinner was excellent, I’m happy to report. We found ourselves at Malibu Farm which is located at Malibu Pier. It’s a fresh place with plants that hang from the ceiling and a casual but upscale atmosphere that makes it great for date nights or families alike with windows all around so you can see the crowds of surfers at that one particular spot they all gather at. Shouldn’t those surfers spread out, I always wonder? But I digress.
For dinner it was fish tacos for Jeremy, mini corn dogs for the girls that came in the cutest grass bucket, crisp mustard chicken and greens for me, and various house made ice creams to round it all out. Sweet corn flavor for me, which had a kick of cayenne topped with fresh whipped cream and a sliced strawberry, although it was hard for me to choose seeing as how this place had provocative ice cream flavors like “saffron” and “charcoal.” We may have also devoured a meringue with fresh berries for good measure. And a jalapeño cocktail.
It was stressful times, guys.
Ellie at Malibu Cafe with her grass basket of mini corn dogs
My husband leaned over to me mid dinner and gestured to the table next to us and asked me “who does that woman look like?” I shushed him up real fast because anyone that grew up here knows that if you think you see someone famous, the thing to do is to try to pretend like you don’t see them. I calmly answered “Minnie Driver. She looks like Minnie Driver.” However when she got up and passed our table, I heard that unmistakable English accent and turned to him. That woman didn’t look like Minnie Driver. Confirmed: it was Minnie Driver.
“You’ll see lots of celebrities if you’re along the coast,” a friend in Santa Monica commented on my Instagram post recounting this story the next day.
This was proven true again the next morning over a breakfast of short rib skillet, tater tots and sunny side eggs at Ollo, when Brandon Jenner walked in.
I’d known this already. I was almost hit by Richard Geere on the very street our rental house was located on, off Webb Way when I was a child. I had been following my father who was walking responsibly on the side of the road, when for some reason, I thought it smart to burry my face in the stack of towels I was carrying. I couldn’t see where I was going so I veered out into the center of the road as a car was driving up. My dad ran out and grabbed me before yelling “do you know who that was that almost hit you?”
In the valley where I grew up, celebrity sighting were less consistent but still regular. I saw Heather Locklear at the mall…and also, many years earlier, she once called my Grandmothers house on Christmas morning to ask to talk to my dad. My great Uncle Jack from Missouri answered the phone. “Hi, is Mark there?” she asked. “Yes, he is, may I ask who is calling?” asked my Uncle. “Heather Locklear.” —pause, pause, pause— “THEE Heather Locklear?!” he shouted into the receiver. Everyone died laughing and it became a classic family story fit for retelling over and over). Fred Savage judged our local Halloween costume contest (I won for my portrayal as a cat, which at eight years old, I must admit was more magnificent than any other costume I’ve donned since. The face make up and hair teasing played a big role, which I had learned from being in the community theatre version of “CATS” the summer before.) Then there was Cindy Crawford I spied at the Malibu Country Mart (who I did not do a good job of ignoring considering she was the most beautiful woman I’d seen in real life. That kind of beauty, by nature, cannot go unnoticed.) There were more, but perhaps my favorite celebrity run in at the time happened while I attended a dance a Chaminade, the high school one of my best friends went to. I turned around on the dance floor and there, in all his glory, was none other than JTT. For all of you who didn’t grow up in my era, I’m talking about Jonathan. Taylor. Thomas…of Home Improvement…Disney’s Lion King…Tom and Huck…and five of my bedroom wall posters. He was every girls favorite heartthrob at the time. I did get a picture of him which is a big no-no because there was no playing it cool in this scenario for me. This became evident when I picked up the stick from the lollipop he was eating after he threw it on the ground. It’s still in a box in my garage somewhere.
I should probably find that and throw it away.
Anyway, when we finally got back to the rental, the cleaning crew was still there but I didn’t mind in the least. I was just happy to have a place to walk into and sit. I went straight out to that glorious deck and sat by the fire pit to stay out of everyones way inside. Luckily, I had had the good sense to tote the half full bottle of Pinot Noir from the night before with me in my purse, which I drank straight out of the bottle until Jeremy snuck back in for glasses.
Caption: me being an incredible influence on my daughter
We had arrived at a place we could stay at. Ahhhhh. Finally.
The next morning all our troubles had led us to the view below. Ellie and I were the first ones up so I brewed a cup of coffee for me and cut thick slices of watermelon for her, while we enjoyed the waves. It’s worth noting that this is high tide. Around noon the ocean would recede and reveal a beach fit for playing on and the kids had a ball exploring sea life. Vacation had officially started.
Our first day of vacation started with us taking the kids to the beach at Paradise Cove. The kids were in swim suits but I opted for jeans and a light long sleeve tee because the morning had been hazy/foggy and it hadn’t quite burned off by the time we left. It was a good choice considering the wind kicked up and battered us the whole time with chilly indignation. I ended up wrapped Liv and I in towels which acted like a windbreaker just so we could stay an extra 30 min. We did snap a great family photo though, which I promptly posted to Instagram.
We had planned to eat at Paradise Cove but for some reason decided to go and try to find this other lunch spot, Malibu Cafe (not to be confused with Malibu Farm), instead.
We didn’t know where the restaurant was located, per se, because the internet wouldn’t work. However, we remembered the address was on Latigo Canyon Rd, and knew it was about 20 minutes away. We had just passed and noted, Latigo Canyon earlier in the day so we figured we’d just drive up it and find the restaurant.
But when we got into the car I looked at the time. It was later than we thought. And by the time we got to the restaurant it would be later still. Worry started to creep in. I was already pretty much starving. After driving up Latigo Canyon for 20 min, which was the most winding, car sick-iest road I’ve ever been on, and still not finding our restaurant, and really starting to doubt anyone would EVER drive up this canyon to eat and therefore we must have gotten some information wrong…but not being able to verify because do you think the internet was working? Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Jeremy and I got into a fight because I “hadn’t managed my food better.” It was nearing 3pm and I feared if I ate now, I wouldn’t be hungry for dinner. This seemed unbearable to me with the fabulous food options we had at our fingertips. I was frustrated. And we were lost. I told Jeremy to turn the car around.
By the time we reached the PCH again and were out of the canyon, I self sabotaged and decided we should all just go home. I could NOT be too full for dinner and so I could not let Jeremy drive us to another restaurant this late like he wanted. Being too full for dinner would be the worst case scenario. In a stunning display of hangry-ness I marched up my beautiful beach house stairs, with a banana because Jeremy kept telling me I needed to eat and got into bed. Then I pulled the covers over my head. It all felt very dramatic and pouty and even I wanted to laugh at myself, except I was too mad.
It was another low point. Then, Jeremiah came in. He was delivering me a pouch of beef jerky upon Jeremy’s request. Apparently, he thought it important to introduce protein into the mix.
Then I did the thing where you text the explanation of why you’re upset to your significant other because the situation had spiraled past talking and I didn’t want to wait for it to come back around. I needed to resolve this thing NOW.
My text started out “I’m not going to be helped by beef jerky.”
So we were off to a good start.
“Or eating.” I went on. And then I went on to explain that I just didn’t feel like Jeremy understood that I wanted to enjoy the meals I ate today, especially since now, it was only going to be one meal instead of two since I’d been cheated out of lunch. Because of this dinner HAD TO COUNT. I couldn’t squander my hunger at this point with snacks or a late lunch like he wanted have. I told him I am sorry that I annoyed him but I “just keep waiting for this trip to feel like vacation, but so far it’s just one frustration after the next, and I’m done.” I added at the end for dramatic effect: “I can’t rally anymore.”
Readers: I understand if you don’t want to be my friend anymore after my embarrassing first world and hangry worry word vomit.
To everything I just told you, Jeremy text me this back in response “Malibu Farm takes walk-in’s until 4:30pm. We should go now!”
I said “but we didn’t resolve anything between us! I can’t!”
Jeremy texted back “let’s forget about the “fight” and make up with food.”
He is a good man. My goodness. His differentiation game is strong.
Still, I text back “no.”
He text back this picture with a text that said “Olivia and I are making sad faces.”
I was beginning to crack.
“I feel mad at you, and this trip and myself though.” I responded.
“Can’t help with that” he wrote back “but good food is only a mile away!”
“But, Ellie didn’t nap. she’s just going to be tired and terrible.” I contested
“COME ON!” was Jeremy’s response.
I was slightly disgruntled heading into the restaurant because I had eaten that banana and also a few pieces of jerky to appease Jeremy, and so my worst fear from the day came true. I wasn’t hungry for dinner.
But, I pulled my big girl panties on and persevered anyway because in the face of trying food circumstances like this, I am very valiant.
I’m thankful I wasn’t the cause of further vacation woes and that my husband was able to recognize we weren’t having a real fight, even though I thought in the moment we were, and was able to focus on trying to help me out of my disfunction instead of reacting to it. This is love. Hard to practice, love. This is why our marriage works. I am the knightess in shining armor sometimes too. I’m not always the screw up. We take turns, you see, so it all evens out.
The next day was Disneyland. This is how we went to Disneyland back in my day growing up: we’d park in the parking lot in front of the theme park. We’d wait in line and pay. Then we’d wait in line for rides. Everything was straightforward and fun, the end. Now a days you park two miles away in one of the rando lots and bus over to the park where hoards of shops, restaurants, and hotels have popped up. And people—-oh my gah—the PEOPLE swarm in every direction with their Mickey Mouse ears and Tinkerbell shirts. Then you wait in a monstrous line through security. Then a monstrous line for tickets. Then a monstrous line (an hour, for us) for a handicapped pass for Olivia who cannot wait in traditional lines, which is equivalent to a Fast Pass but different, and then you have to figure out how that works. Everything was enchanting and terrible, and we left early. But the kids had fun!
Our last day we went to visit my dad in the valley where I grew up. My dad has been wheelchair bound since an automobile accident in 1994 which left him with a brain injury. Before that he had been a surfer, and his beach of choice? Malibu. I’d spent many days with him and his friends on those beaches throughout my life so I decided to ask the old seasoned pro why all those surfers by Malibu Farm gather at that little stretch of beach by Malibu Pier? Why not a bigger beach like Zuma or Topanga? Why do all the surfers pack it in right in that one spot? My dad shot back matter of factly, “Malibu gets the better breaks.” I thought a second. “Well, it was packed. Some waves would have multiple people riding right next to each other. It seemed kind of reckless.” He looked at me knowingly, raised his eyebrows and deadpanned “yeah. You’ve got to be good.”
Everything, to my mind, (except our, you know, personal vacation experience so far) is good here.
Well, most everything. The real estate prices, not so much.
While driving home from my dad’s place, we passed a “for sale” sign on a prime piece of land. “I wonder what this is going for?” Jeremy asked as he pulled over. He went on to tell me the property was abandoned but encumbered since someone had started building on it already. “That’s scary to a lot of people.” he told me. He promptly texted the listing realtor and inquired. An answer came back quickly.
6 million for the land.
Just look at this picture I took. You too could live in Malibu for a mere eighty one and a half million dollars!
I’ve always said Malibu is like Vail in that, you could drive right through and never really understand the hype. It’s a small town with pockets of juiciness everywhere, but you’ve got to get off the PCH to see it all and really get it.
Our last stop, on the way home, was in Vegas. New York New York came through and we were able to provide us with accommodations that Olivia could be comfortable in. We all spent that last evening of vacation milking it for all it was worth at the pool and then at dinner at an Irish restaurant because it was the only place we could get into in our vicinity before calling it a wrap.
It’s not lost on me that we had an amazing Spring Break. It’s not lost on me that despite the many frustrations we encountered along the way, ridiculous and plentiful in their numbers for sure, we got to go on a trip as a family and experience a different routine and scenery in a beautiful location.
I think with any trip you take, it’s good to remember that it’s not all fun, all the time. We tend to idealize vacations. We imagine snapshots of perfection. And they are that. We had plenty of those on this trip. But the memories that stand out are not the ones where everyone is smiling at the beach. It’s the time six of you got diarrhea in a small one bathroom suite in San Francisco (which was our Spring break story two years ago).
Those are the stories we tell everybody.
Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild once said after recounting the challenging times she encountered while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone, “I’m a big believer in retrospective fun. And that is, the fun you have remembering the shitty thing that happened to you? They are our best travel stories. Everybody remembers (those).”
They are our most interesting stories anyway. No one needs your perfection. Trust me, we can go to Instagram for that. I could have spun my whole trip to portray a positive, picture perfect scene, but nothing is one dimensional like that. And if it was, it would be boring as hell. Thank God for diarrhea and plans that get all screwed up. Thank God for eight hours trapped in a car with salty kids and no where to go. I mean, you never WANT that, but thank God for it, you know?
If I didn’t have that, what else would I talk about?
Such juicy, defunct lives we have. All the time.
And what ride, eh?