{Girls Trip} Santa Monica + 20/20 Experience

It all started a little over six weeks ago.  The most accurate source to blame for the sudden need to get out of town and near obsession to see Justin Timberlake would be all of you who blew up my Facebook and Instagram feeds back in early December when the The Man toured through Dallas.  The next most legitmate source to blame would be JT himself for his wicked awesome performance at {some awards show} back in maybe September.  It was that 15 minute performance where NSync popped out of nowhere and did a little song with him.  At that precise moment I looked up when he was coming through Dallas and was dead set that I would be going.  Sadly, Adam had a trip planned when he was here and I knew it would be a little much to try to squeeze that in while he was away.   I was over it until every.person.I know seemed to have been in attendance at his Dallas show.  All of the pictures and videos...they were just too much.  So I texted my girlfriends a playful, "Let's get out of town and go see him."  It was a joke...but the kind of joke that was packed with an arsenal of truth.  

Before I knew it, I was leaning over in bed asking Adam if he was in town around January 20th to which he responded with, "Yeah, why?"  I calmly said that Paige and I saw that JT was playing in California and we really wanted to see him.  To my surprise, without even a thought he belted out, "Y'all should go!"  I did a double take, asked if he was sure and texted something back like, "I am in for Cali...husband approved," which sent off lighting flash Googling to see if we could even get tickets.   Morning comes and we've already begun the efforts to get Katie, Becca, and Hilary in on the mix.  Less than 12 hours later, my phone bings and it's Paige--she found floor seats that we could not pass up, but we had to buy them STAT before they were gone.  After another unexpected, "GO FOR IT," response from my my boss, Adam, and tickets were purchased.  Once the tickets were purchased, we were invested.  

After hours of research and Facebook advice, it was time to get a hotel.  We decided on Loews in Santa Monica for the beach views and location (which did NOT disappoint in those categories; if you ever go, stay in room 648.  BEST, full ocean front views and full pier view!), but the deal we found required a NON-REFUNDABLE upfront payment.  Again, as I sat online and filled out the information to book the hotel, Adam laid next to me encouraging me 100%--knowing that once I hit send, there was no going back.  The trip had just taken on an extreme level of the title "NO REFUND POSSIBLE" meaning we were out a pretty penny if we couldn't go.  Risky for two moms of girls three and under, one nicknamed germ-magnet.  As soon as that send button was hit booking the hotel, we were fully vested and there was no turning back.  I couldn't decipher if that was a feeling full of freedom and excitement or fear and stupidity!  :) 

Time flew at lightening speed between the holidays, the new year, heading back to school and everything else in between.  Finally the day was upon us and all of our hundreds of texts planning our activities were coming to fruition!  We woke up early Saturday morning and hopped a flight that would land us in time for a full day of shopping upon arrival.  And that's exactly what we did. 

View from the room, looking right. 
View towards Malibu and Pacific Palisades from our room.

We spent the day shopping at the Third Street Promenade while enjoying the beautiful Santa Monica, followed by watching the sunset over the Pacific and heading to dinner on the beach at Shutters. 

Sunday morning, we woke early, rested and feeling relaxed.  So relaxed that we decided to cancel our brunch plans at The Penthouse, Huntley Hotel and spent about two hours on the beach, coffee in hand,  listening to the waves, watching the surfers, spotting schools of dolphins along the shoreline and jumping.  Yeah, lots of jumping.  Making memories is what it is all about, even if it took way more jumping than our post-baby bodies can handle and several different photographers to get these fun shots.  The video is my favorite though.  The slow-mo feature on the iPhone is hilarious.  We laughed until we nearly peed our pants watching all of our slo-mo's, but those nifty videos will be left for our eyes only.  I posted the acceptable-for-public eyes below.  :) 

The remainder of the day was spent by the pool at the hotel where we had an incredible view of the beach and Santa Monica pier.  We could hear the ocean waves crash as we read our books, talked about life, and enjoyed the day.  About an hour before sundown, we hopped in a cab and enjoyed the shops on Montana Street, a really neat little strip of all boutique type stores.  Both of us have been to California numerous times, yet the scenery gets us every time.  We found ourselves reveling at the beauty of the coast paired with the mountains and palm trees.  Just breathtaking.  

Sunbathing scenery!

After a day in the sun, we enjoyed room service and a lazy night curled in pajamas listening to the waves off our balcony, we laughed and giggled and enjoyed being responsibility free!  Monday morning came slowly and again, we were incredibly rested.  Back to the little coffee shop we headed, this time a walk along the beach up to the Santa Monica Pier.  The smell of the sea paired with a coastal chill, warm coffee in hand and one of my favorite people ever....perfection.  

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel spa where we pampered ourselves with massages and relaxation.  On a whim, we took quick showers and headed up the road to lunch at Gladstones, Malibu (which I am not sure if it was really Malibu) then up the beach to Carbon Canyon (which was most definitely in Malibu).  

Carbon Beach!

Carbon Beach Panoramic!
Sunset view from our room!

View coming out from spa!

Santa Monica Pier looking towards the coast!

A quick cab ride back to the hotel and it was time to get ready for the reason we were there:  the 20/20 Experience!  We had dinner reservations at Koi in Beverly Hills at 6:00 and left just enough time to get dressed--nothing more, so when I put on my shirt ten minutes before our car arrived and saw that something had leaked all over it and it was stained past wearbility, I panicked a bit.

Note to self....if you're ever on vacation and you open your luggage and it feels damp.  Don't ignore it.   Investigate it.  

Thankfully, Paige and I are the same size and I was able to wear one of her back up shirts.  Phew.  It was sort of an omen  looking back.  Note:  I am chipper and fine.  

About ten minutes into our car ride to Koi, I began to feel really sick to my stomach.  Surely, I was just really hungry right?  Not so.  We got to dinner and I realized that just the thought of food was going to make my lose my lunch.  About a half hour into dinner, I headed out to the car and curled up to the fetal position (crying of course because I am so cool like that...this, I believe, is what they call first world probs.  Crying the back of a sedan in Beverly Hills with a sweet driver turning on jazz music to relax me before an international superstar's world tour.  Talk about convicting.); I just knew that something was really wrong.  I actually even fell asleep for a second.  We had met Paige's friend, Teresa, so they finished dinner and headed back out to the car.  Both of them so kindly offered to head back to the hotel, but I would have NOTHING of that.  I WAS DETERMINED.  Our drive from Koi to the venue was about 45 minutes and as we got closer, the traffic got worse and so did the driving.  I began to feel like this was more than a little "off"...I had gone from determined to make it to holding a brown bag in my lap, lucky if I even made it to the parking lot.  The closer we got, the more and more grim my future looked.   I told Paige that I wanted them to go in for sure, but I may need to sit in the car.  At this point, my window was open and I was doing everything I could to not get sick.  I am sure I looked drunk as anything to all of the passersby; they probably pitied me as the 19 year old who didn't know how to hold her pre-party alcohol.  In reality, I was completely sober.  And 32.  We pulled up and I told them that my plan was to go in, attempt the concert and if all else failed, I would go back to the car which was waiting on us anyways.    

Immediately upon stepping out of the car, I went from deathly nauseated to about 80% of functioning.  It was the weirdest thing EVER.  EVER.  I have never, ever had motion sickness in my life, but I am fairly certain that that is exactly what it was and trying to eat immediately after my first bout in my life  (sushi no less) didn't help.  The rest of the night, I coasted between 70-80% (mostly because at that point, I hadn't eaten) but the distraction of being a few rows from Justin Timberlake himself cured me to near 100%!  Nothing stopped me from dancing, singing, and having the best time of my life!  Crazy.  I mean, CRAZY to be that close to him.  

There is no way that a little motion sickness was going to stop me from floor seats after flying out to California for this entire concert.  I rallied hard and couldn't have had a better time--I have never danced so much this sober in my life! ;)  If you haven't had the chance to see him in concert, I highly suggest going.  The venue he played at was actually fairly small--there was the upper level and floor seats and that's it.  Pretty intimate.  He gave shout outs to all "the familiar faces" (like Bradley Cooper to name one) he saw out in the crowd, joked about "Inglewood being up to no good," where the fans went CRAZY just as they did when he said that he was playing in the "real LA" opposed to being in a different area like maybe Hollywood.  He mixed up his songs from all of his albums plus some fun throwbacks like Tupac's "California Love" and Bel Div Devoe's "Poison."  As I write this, I am realizing that I am not sure if I have the accurate words to describe the ridiculousness that is Justin Timberlake.  A three hour concert where the light show was crazy, he was constantly dancing with that signature style that leaves you amazed, singing on key and in tune all the while hitting the high notes and making contact with his fans, the acoustics were amazing, The Tennessee Kids performing with their dancing, instrument playing, and singing was just as good as JT himself, and most importantly, you could tell that he was having the most AMAZING time on stage.  Crowd interaction.  Crazy fans.  The whole nine yards.  One of my favorite parts was how he has a moving stage that makes him "front row" accessible for everyone in the arena.  I love how he truly is in it to give his fans the absolute experience-even if that meant he played three songs a little further away from us.  Yes, it was three.  I counted.  :)  When the show was over and he descended below the stage, I couldn't help but imagine what it must feel like night after night hearing the crowds go crazy behind him, fading away.   What a night.  What a performance.  What a ridiculous talent.  I am pretty sure he sang directly to me a few times, too.  HA.  Totally just kidding, but a girl can hope.  

Here is a short video compilation of songs.  He played 25-30 songs, over three hours, so this is seriously the tiniest clip but I want to remember it the best I can!  My favorite parts are when he interacts with the crowd, t

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