I took the week after FOGcon off from work, an unusually early vacation for me this year, but much needed. It’s been a rocky start to 2011 so far (especially for my health), so a lengthy break from work was well timed to help clear my head. Well, to figuratively clear my head anyway, as I spent half the week fending off my second cold of the year. Immune system, what’s become of ya?

The occasion: my parents came out for a visit! Since we didn’t get to spend time together at Christmas this year, we decided to meet out here at a less stressful time of year. They arrived on Wednesday to typical sunny Southern California weather, and departed Monday in the aftermath of a bizarre torrential storm that turned parts of Ventura Boulevard into a river (and nearly nullified my brakes on the way home from dinner Sunday night!). Some highlights:

We had a relaxed Wednesday in the wake of their flight: coffee at Coral Tree Café in Encino, and an excellent dinner at Café Bizou in Sherman Oaks, then went over the hill for shopping and sight-seeing on Thursday. My folks got their first glimpse of wacky bohemianism on Venice Beach, and we hit the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica for lunch and browsing. That evening, an awesome dinner at our favorite restaurant, Café Carolina in Encino.

Friday we out-did ourselves, heading all the way over to San Marino to see the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Perfect weather to take in the foliage and architecture, and well worth the drive. Here’s a photo of us taking a breather at the Chinese Garden as mom and dad plot our next move:

Here’s a glimpse of how beautiful the landscape is at the Huntington; this picture is from the Japanese Garden. (It should be noted that I was ill on Thursday, and I’m not into gardens, but I was still pretty blown away by this place!)

And here’s Jenn cutely posing by one of the fu dogs!

From there we went up to Montrose for dinner at the Black Cow, where Jenn and I had some of our first dinner dates. After dinner, we headed down to Silver Lake to catch a pair of metafictional one-act plays at the Knightsbridge Theater: Michael Frayn’s Audience and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. Unfortunately the cast outnumbered the audience, but the the theater was charming and the productions were fun and entertaining. We were an appreciative audience.

Saturday was a day-trip through L.A. traffic with food stops, starting in Little Tokyo (lunch at Joy Mart), then over to Chinatown, then across town via Wilshire to check out the campus of UCLA and Little Osaka. We capped the day off with a glimpse of my work neighborhood near Brentwood and another excellent dinner, this time at Literati Bar & Grill.

We took it easy on Sunday, helped along by an unusually strong rainstorm that started in the morning and never let up. Jenn stayed home to write while my parents and I drove up to Northridge for some light shopping and to catch The Adjustment Bureau, then we all got together for a farewell dinner at California Pizza Kitchen near our condo. An unusually eventful meal, as the fire department showed up in response to a 911 call nobody admitted to making, and when I went out to get the car, its corner of the parking lot was six inches deep in rainwater, soaking my feet to the bone. Driving my parents back to their hotel to say goodbye was a bizarre semi-nautical adventure, as portions of the Tarzana roadways were streaming with deep, fast-moving flash flood. Fortunately we all made it home safely, but it made for a crazy end to a fun trip, full of sight-seeing, excellent food, and great company!

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