Blue skies and mild winters
Well, that's an obvious one, right? Sure, sunshine day after day after day can sometimes get boring but overall, I'm a sunshine kinda girl. I need it in the way cats do and I'll admit it, I am a total wimp when it comes to being cold. I've loved that during winter, the morning school runs were never too horrendous - that is going to be an interesting learning curve in Seattle.
These are the mountains closest to us - and by 'close', I mean they are practically on our doorstep. We live right at the foot of them, and they are an amazing piece of landscape to see every day. Shrouded in fog in the mornings, misty swirls poking in and out of crevices. In the evenings, golden pink light radiates off the western facing surfaces. Okay, so they're not huge, and they don't get snow, but they feel like mine. I know we are going to have access to brilliantly snowy mountains when we're living in Seattle, but the Cascades are more distantly on the horizon and - during my few visits there - seem to be completely hidden by the clouds. I may be in for a shock, though, as I know that Mt Rainier almost levitates over the horizon... maybe the rest of the Cascades are impressive from a distance too. However, the mountains here that I have gazed at daily for the last three years have left somewhat of an imprint on me (but I can imagine Pacific Northwesterners reading this, shaking their heads, and saying to themselves "now that's not a mountain... THIS is a mountain" as they look out their window).
Two words: Cuban, bakery. They are a local joint, and I'm told people will drive from two hours away to get their hands on some refugiados (guava cream cheese pastries) and potato balls (think spicy deep-fried balls of cottage pie). I only need to drive five minutes, and not only do they have some unique treats I've never had elsewhere, but their basic bakery fare - croissants and other pastries, cookies, bread, decadent cakes - are always super fresh and never disappoint.
I'm generally not that big on fast-food chains, but In-N-Out make their burgers with fresh ingredients, on the spot - nothing processed. If you want fast but tastylicious, this is the place you want. Between you and me, I'm a little gutted that I won't be able to indulge in their burgers in Seattle.
Paradis Ice Cream
I don't go gaga for ice cream like most people I know. I've had a little obsession with Ben & Jerry's over the years but never really branched out and tried other brands of ice cream. Then a year ago, some friends introduced me to a little ice cream store about fifteen minutes away from us... and they have completely and utterly replaced my love for Ben & Jerry's. Paradis is a Danish company that - randomly - has a couple of stores in L.A. as well. I don't normally buy into the hype for organic or whatever, but their ice cream is organic and is THE SHIZZ. They make fresh batches on site every day. Their strawberry flavour actually tastes like nothing other than crushed strawberries. They make stracciatella instead of choc chip (très European, non?), their salted caramel is divine, and their mint/lime sorbet tastes like mojitos. Seriously. Just writing this, I'm mentally calculating when I can squeeze in another trip to Paradis before we leave.
The Latino vibe
So many Mexican stores - big and little - with fabulous food to buy, such as carne asada, stacks of freshly made tortillas (none of that Old El Paso crap), and soft drinks all sweetened with lovely cane sugar - as opposed to the awful corn syrup used in American drinks. I love hearing the beautiful Hispanic accents of so many Los Angelenos, and seeing the Spanish shop-front signs. And of course, the places to feast, Mexican-style.
This is the hardest one. Food love affairs are replaceable but great friends? Not so much. The first year in L.A. was a bit isolating but once the Faery began school, I very quickly hit it off with a number of wonderful like-minded parents - warm, welcoming people who we began socialising with outside of school hours. Great for the Faery, and great for us. I'm going to miss them... a lot.
* * *
And so the countdown is on. The removalists (or "movers" in American-speak) are booked for less than two weeks from now. There'll be a brief hotel stay here while we tie up loose ends, then we'll fly up. I'm incredibly grateful that the relocation package includes packing - this frees up much more time for me to focus on other move-related matters. I still need to clear out more junk, file a year's worth of paperwork since our last move, and sort out various (overdue) errands and appointments... all whilst trying to fit in maximum playdates and get-togethers with friends, so we can make the most of this time left in L.A. Most of this, I will be doing solo and so am summoning my superhero powers from wherever the hell it is that they reside.
This means I need to give the world of blogging a bit of a break, probably until we're in Seattle - which is scarily not far off. As it is, I've been composing a number of posts in my head over the past few weeks but by the time evenings hit, my slacker arse has been incapable of sitting at a computer to type. It's been a struggle, but since I had the realisation the other night that it's okay to go a few weeks without looking at this blog, I've felt lighter. One less task to find time for.
For now though, I can't leave without acknowledging....
Los Angeles? It has been a pleasure knowing you.