So I have a new favorite post-landing ritual: immediate Dim Sum after leaving the airport. Grace's parents picked us up from LAX and whisked us away to an entirely Asian (and predominantly Chinese) shopping center where we had fantastic Dim Sum. A great start to our visit in California.
Our time in California was very relaxing. Mostly we hung out with Grace's parents, ate a ton of delicious Chinese food as prepared by her mom, ate a ton of delicious fruit as grown by her mom, and went hiking in the hills surrounding the neighborhood. California, or at least Thousand Oaks, is a sort of bizarre place. The neighborhood Grace's parents live in is a little island of greenery surrounded by mostly shrubby desert. I guess the climate is such that with a little extra water things just sprout out of the ground like crazy as there's naturally a ton of sunlight and very mild temperatures. At first it was a little unsettling for someone who is so used to more East coast or the not-too-dissimilar Pacific Northwest style vegetation, but after a day or two there it started to seem pretty idyllic. Grace's mom has a garden where she grows pretty much everything: lemons, limes, oranges, cumquats, avocados, kale, sweet potato leaves, green onions, cucumbers, grapes, and about a dozen other things I'm forgetting. One of the most memorable fruits we tried was a calamondin. Wikipedia describes it as "quite sour," but Grace and I found this to be quite the understatement (video evidence follows). I actually really enjoyed the sourness - I think it was so intense that it gave me a bit of an endorphin rush, perhaps similar to that experienced by some people after eating really hot chili peppers.
As I mentioned, we did a good amount of hiking in Thousand Oaks. About one and a half to two hours each day. This was really, really nice, since we basically do no walking in Dhaka. I think walking through the airport in Abu Dhabi was the most I'd walked in one session since Istanbul. Sort of shameful, but the reality is that walking in Dhaka is just not pleasant. It is very pleasant in Thousand Oaks, though. It was just a tiny bit cool - perfect exercise weather. I took a lot of pictures of the (unusual to me) vegetation. Perhaps very boring to those used to California, but I was intrigued.
As with Arlington, our time in Thousand Oaks was all too short. Hopefully we'll get more time there, or at least with Grace's parents, next time we're back in the States.