Flying In & Night in Santa Monica

February 2nd we flew in to the US after packing up our apartment, selling and shipping off pieces of our life in China, and saying lots of goodbyes and 'see ya laters.' This trip back to the US is the first time we've been home in 3 years, except for two funerals. This trip home was long over due! We decided to start our time back in the Good Ole' US of A, by spending 10 days in sunny Los Angeles for some R&R.
Don't you love this sight when flying? That city view, meaning you've almost arrived at your destination! After trans Pacific flights, this view brings some of the best feelings!
Almost landed!
After landing, pick up our girl dog, going through customs and getting our rental car, we made our way to Santa Monica to drop Chara off for a bath. We knew she'd be tired & groggy from the long flight in her cage, so we thought a bath would be nice and refreshing for her. While she was being bathed and loved on at Rover Kennels.
While Chara was getting her Spa on, Zachary and I walked down  the lit Main Street looking for a place for dinner.
We decided on Lula's Mexican restaurant. You can't go wrong with Mexican food after nearly 5 years abroad!
We found a dimly lit table in the back and patiently waited our chips and salsa.
He hearts them, or me, probably both really.
II decided on the fish street tacos, while the Z Man choose Chili Relenos. It was all delicious.
After dinner, we went back to pick the girl dog up. She was extremely happy. In China, she hated going to the groomers but here, she was all smiles, tail wags and giddiness. The girls who worked at Rover and who bathed her had nothing but good things to say about her and gave her tons of pets as we were leaving. It made us feel great to see how happy our girl-dog was just a few hours in the US and off the flight.
After picking her up, we walked around some more so we could all get in some exercise after the long flight, and to stop and eat some Ben & Jerry's, which is the obvious walk treat. ;)  We were so surprised to see such huge scoops for a small! In China they give you the tiniest of scoops for close to $5! I'm not going to lie, with my favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor, Phish Food, and Zachary's Almond Joy some kind of amazing-ness flavor, I was happy we weren't in China!
We had such a great first night back in the US! Cheers Santa Monica for being so charming, feeding us well & taking care of our girl dog. Thank you Lord for such an amazing night and safe trip back to the US!
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Simply Butterflies Conservation Center

Bohol Butterfly Farm in Bohol, Philippines, is just a short 10 minutes from the Chocolate Hills, which is one of the great things about Bohol, you can get all the "must see" sights in in just half a day. Leaving the rest of your time in Bohol for relaxing and soaking in the culture. DSC_0227
Bohol Habitat is a conservation center for over 150 butterfly species, half of the 300 species found in Bohol. Bohol Habitat has a butterfly enclosure, butterfly garden, nature trails and a restaurant serving some of the best food we had in the Philippines for only 99 pesos. DSC_0217
Entry into the Habitat costs less than $3.50 per person and includes a tour through the Habitat, a hilarious and friendly tour guide and a delicious lunch. DSC_0245DSC_0226
DSC_0223DSC_0228DSC_0229DSC_0243DSC_0247Our tour guide showed us how to properly handle a butterfly by holding their wings together, close to their bodies. You could definitely tell that these beauties were used to being held.
I loved holding these gentle giants. They're so light and fragile.

Zachary and our tour guide checking out the flower garden. DSC_0286For info on visiting the Simply Butterflies Conservation Center at Habitat Bohol check here. Also be sure to check out Trip Advisor here

Entrance Fee: 40 pesos
Lunch: 99 pesos
Time Needed: It takes a short 30 minutes for the tour and lunch.

Open Daily 8:00-4:30
Poblacion | Bilar, 6317, Philippines
simply butterflies conservation center logo
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Santa Monica Pier

Hey Friends! It's been awhile! Over a month, in fact. Geesh! We've been busy moving away from China and settling back into life in the US. We spend our first week and a half in the Southern California area before we made our way back to Texas on a Road Trip. We have lots to share and today we'll start with Santa Monica Pier!
Our first full day in LA we had to take an impromptu trip back to Santa Monica to pick up our camera that I had accidentally left at a gas station the night before. Whoops! Thankfully we called early in the morning, and the employee had put it aside for us. We made our way across town back to Santa Monica and stopped by Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery. I had read great things about this bustling, Italian deli on Yelp and knew we'd enjoy it for lunch that day.

The deli was sort of a dream. After being in China for the past 3 1/2 years, seeing a market full of cheeses, olives, deli meats and other fine foods, we were over the moon. We picked up two of their famous, huge sandwiches, the Godmother & the Buffalo Chicken. We tried some mixed olives and kettle chips on the side for a great start of our day.
After the deli, we went and picked up my camera, and headed for the famous Santa Monica Pier.
I was thankful we had a chance to walk down the pier during the day, since it wasn't busy at all. It was quite enjoyable and relaxing. The Pier is on all the "must do" lists when visiting Los Angeles. I hadn't planned on us visiting it, since our list of things to do seemed to revolve more around relaxing and eating than sight seeing, but I'm glad that my forgotten camera kind of forced us to enjoy the pier.
Chara of course loved the pier. She loves America in general. It's so exciting for her to be able to go everywhere with her mommy and daddy. :)
Chara girl met two friends from Shanghai (walking away). They walked up to her instantly and started petting her. They knew the way to her heart, that's for sure. it was also super fun for us to speak Chinese again. (At that point we'd only been away from China 2 days! Ha! But it felt like longer!)
Our favorite part of the pier was, of course, the end, where it overlooks the water. We sat down and enjoyed the view of the ocean and the live music around us, which fills the pier, day or night. It was a relaxing and beautiful way to spend a few hours in Santa Monica.
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