I checked into the hotel while my partner went to get his kids. We stayed at Circus Circus for the night. The rooms in the Tower were nicer than those in the Manor, but we preferred the set-back location with direct access to the room as opposed to walking through casinos, gift shops and smoking areas.
The kids arrived with pizza. We ate and watched TV while the 7-year old raced between rooms and, playing with the key cards, entered both rooms from the hallway. After baths, they were packed into bed for story time. I fell asleep listening to their giggles as their dad fluffed-up the text of whatever book he was reading.
In the morning, we ate breakfast, checked out and, while he took the kids for one ride in the Adventuredome, I walked around one of the gift shops and wondered - do people really buy this stuff? Then we started our 4.5 hour drive to LA.
We arrived in Venice without much difficulty. There was a little traffic, but not bad for LA. The kids were mostly well-behaved - there was a little tiff about who got to read the Calvin and Hobbs book. We pulled up at my sister's apartment and after an introduction of all family members to the resident pug, they headed for the beach and I hung out with sis for a couple of hours. I've been to Venice many times and highly recommend walking the beach, checking out the flea market and strolling around the canals, but for today, I was on a mission to catch up with my younger, pregnant sister.
Before checking into our hotel for the night, we had dinner at Govinda's, a restaurant housed at the ISKCON Temple in LA. It was perfect. The food was delightful ($7 buffet for adults, $5 for children) and the momentary peace of the Temple gave me a sense of balance I felt for the remainder of the evening. The chanting is always uplifting. The message I heard from the talk: Do what you love and do it for Krishna. Write, dance, sing, make art. I can easily exchange Krishna for God or Life or simply say "do it with a heart full of joy."
En route to Valencia, my partner and I talked Top 100 Riffs and Top 100 Guitar Solos as we crawled through traffic on the 5 at 8:30 at night. The kids watched movies on movie players with hard drives that they call gizmos. As we drove passed the Getty Museum; I made a mental note that someday, I will visit the place.
We checked into our room at around 9:00 and settled in fast. We had a big day planned the following day - Six Flags Magic Mountain. This amusement park has a ridiculous number of roller coasters (~14) and it's our goal to make the most of our one day visit, so off to bed we went.