Sunday, August 1, 2010

California Dreamin' - Part One

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A week ago, I flew out to California (sans Missy, unfortunately) to visit a sick friend in the hospital and to visit my family, of course. I got in fairly late and was greeted at my parents' house by a box of CUPCAKES from the newly opened CASSIE'S CUPCAKES in downtown Riverside (below). My nephew, Evan, not wanting to lose his seat at the computer, changed into his PAJAMAS without leaving the videogame he had in progress (above). There's only one computer at my parents' house and someone is ALWAYS sitting at it, checking email, playing videogames, or cruising the net...shuffle your feet, lose your seat...

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The next morning, we piled into my sister Belinda's SUV, nephew and nieces in tow, and headed to our sister Cynthia's new place in downtown Los Angeles. Julia made sure her sister Lillian was buckled in...

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Cynthia's loft was in this cool old building in the heart of downtown...there are a lot of restaurants and galleries and shops within walking distance of her building, which reminded me of San Francisco or New York City. It was way different than the place she had on VENICE BEACH a year ago (see HERE):

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We took the elevator up to the eighth floor and stayed just long enough to play with my sister's new cat, TOBY, and take in the view before heading back down to street level in search of breakfast...

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Cynthia and her friend Ari lead us to CLIFTON'S CAFETERIA, promising us a dining experience unlike any other. I had lived in Southern California for a long time and, unbelievably, I had never been to Clifton's, which has been in the same downtown location since the 1930's. Imagine a three-story high cafeteria decorated to look like some sort of Disney-esque woodland fantasy...

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Pie! Pie! Pie!

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We grabbed a table on the second floor and dug in to our food...I'll tell you right off the bat that their MAC & CHEESE sucks...but maybe it's because I live in the South and they have higher standards when it comes to mac & cheese. In between bites, the kids took me to the various hidden grottos and caves in the cafeteria...there was even a waterfall and wishing well (of course)...

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On our way out, Lillian waved good bye to the ANIMATRONIC RACCOON hopping up and down at the entrance to the cafeteria. Come for the food, but stay for the ambiance...looking forward to taking Missy to Clifton's the next time we visit California...

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