We could have tortured ourselves and driven the 15-16 hour drive in one shot, but decided to impose ourselves on my sweet sister Amy and her family in Provo, UT. Since moving to Provo, Amy has barely had a month free from visitors. The money she will save from not hosting every friend, family, or friend of the family who happens to be in Utah by moving to Louisville, Kentucky this summer should be substantial.
We spent the night with Amy, Saturday, March 23rd, then drove to San Diego on Sunday. Trittica Nielson and her two children Taylor and Emmiline followed (or led) us down in a high speed race to find sunshine. We left the cold and snow and found the heat just outside of Las Vegas as we became mired in the exodus of Californians heading home from a weekend of sin and degradation. We sat in this freeway parking lot for approximately two hours, inching forward at a snail's pace and watching the thermostat in the car creep ever higher. Torture.
We rolled into Denise's about 8:30 pm and she graciously had dinner waiting for us. Denise has a lovely home and her kids, though shy at first, we're sweet and welcoming. Sarah made us a lovely card from her card making set she had just received for her birthday.
We got the beds set up and everyone bunked down and we dreamed of sun and sand.
Trittica and I walked in the morning, then kept walking the rest of the day. Not sure I needed the four miles in the morning with as much walking as we did the rest of the week.
Torey Pines State Park was our first destination that morning, and it was a great way to view the ocean. High up on cliffs covered in wild flowers with the wind whipping the hair in to our faces and the warm sun caressing our skin we could look down on the rolling waves as they crashed on to the rocks below us.
Megan and Kimber were a bit leery as usual of climbing rocks or getting too close to the edges of things, choosing instead to keep to the middle of the path and warn everyone else of their impending doom. Luckily, once they are forced to try something new, they usually acquiesce that it was worth it (although this would not be true of drugs, alcohol, or nefarious acts here unmentioned).
Although Sea World was not in our plan or limited vacation budget, we did see dolphins cresting off shore. The experience consisted of all of us straining and squinting our eyes trying to catch some random movement in an every changing sea. Once someone caught site of said dolphin they would excitedly point just as the creature would disappear back beneath the blue. Fortunately, we all managed at least one sighting and no one was disappointed.
We couldn't leave Torrey Pines without stopping at the beach on our way out to dip in our toes. As typically happens, the waves were underestimated, and inevitably Kendra, wet to her bum, turns, looks at me, and shrugs her shoulder as if to say, "Well I'm wet now anyway, I might as well go all the way in." That idea was quickly squelched and we headed back to the car and our next adventure. Kendra tied a sweatshirt around her waist until her shorts dried.
The Mormon Battalion was our next stop after a bite to eat at a Mexican Restaurant. We just finished eating when Grandma and Grandpa Anderson joined us. Irene was severely under the weather, but they made the trip down just for us.
Scott and I had been to the Mormon Battalion when we visited San Diego for an anniversary trip years before, but it had since been torn down and completely rebuilt. The tour begins in a room with lighted photographs on the wall. Shortly after the guide began her speech, Megan grabs the person next to her and frantically waves at the picture saying excitedly, "It moved! The picture moved!"
Sure enough, all the pictures began talking and clamoring and causing a commotion. We then followed them into a campfire room, followed by a fort, and then gold panning at the end. Great tour. Very interactive, and the kids loved it. Great to learn about the saints who sacrificed so much to help others make the trek to Utah.
Here's a link if you're interested in learning more about the Mormon Battalion: http://www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com/2012/Mormon_battalion/
We then took a stroll through old town San Diego, browsed the shops, checked out the old houses, and tried on some fantastic hats. We topped off a great day with yummy Chicken Parmesan a la Denise.
That was just day 1. I'm exhausted just telling about it!
Day two, we headed to the Maritime Museum. We boarded the HMS Surprise, The Star of India, a Russian cold war sub, a US research sub, and an old steamer ship. It was decided most vehemently that life aboard a sub would suck and that the other ships weren't much better. I guess we are all land lubbers.
Each day we got a late start so never ended up eating lunch until about 2:00 pm. For our second day we chose Jeff's Burgers in La Jolla. Taylor ordered the 1 pound burger. It was huge. We were all done long before he was, but he polished it off in the end along with a tray of fries. Teen age boys!
While in La Jolla we visited the tide pools, didn't see much but a few sea anemones and small crabs, but still fun. This was just a quick stop before we jumped back in the car and headed for our final destination of the day Moonlight Beach.
By the time we got there, Brooke, Kendra, Kimber, and Emmeline were ready to run each other over trying to get to the bathroom to change. Unfortunately, the amenities at the beach were being remodeled forcing us to use the porta-potties as changing rooms. Not ideal, but that did not deter the kids. Within moments they had changed and after throwing their discarded clothes in our direction, sprinted into the water.
Having fond memories of the beach from spending some of my younger years in Hawaii, it was gratifying to see my own kids enjoying the waves, riding boogie boards, splashing each other, building sand castles with deep motes, and chasing sea gulls.
Denise joined us with her kids for the evening, and Scott (Denise's husband) later showed up with pizza. By the time we were ready to leave, the kids were sand covered and shivering, but all smiles as we climbed in the car.
Day 3 . . . Knott's Berry Farm. I can't say much more than that. Kimber was a bit trepidatious at first, but after her first plunging roller coaster ride, she was good to go. Brooke and Kendra hung with Scott and I and were up for any ride we suggested. They loved it all. One of my personal favorites was the Silver Bullet. Unfortunately, it kept going down just as we would get to it. I had ridden it, but Kendra was adamant she ride in it. The second time it went down just as we got to the gate (we were actually seated in the ride when they stopped it), Kendra refused to leave. We waited at least 45 minutes, but finally got on. She said it was totally worth it. Even Kimber conquered her fear and rode the Supreme Scream, a ride that takes you straight up and then free fall drops you several times. For dramatic effect she practically collapsed on the ground after the ride. Drama Queen:)
The Nielson's left us to return home after Knott's Berry farm and we stayed another day to visit with Grandma and Grandpa Anderson in Anaheim. We met them for lunch on Thursday and then played at the Discovery Center in Santa Ana, close by where they live. They had a great exhibit on Archaeology with they used the Indiana Jones movies to keep kids interested. I sure makes archaeology look more exciting than it really is. The Santa Ana discovery center also made our little Boise discovery center look a bit pitiful. Oh well.
We said our goodbyes Friday morning, and the neighbors across the street from Denise, the Chai family, brought clementines and bananas for our trip home. They had previously lived in Boise and attended River Valley. We didn't know them, but our neighbors were friends of theirs and we knew the name.
Our trip through Las Vegas was much quicker on the way home, and we stayed at Amy's Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday we played games and visited with Michelle's family and Kerstin came down with her friend Todd. Sunday we enjoyed a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, deviled eggs, and bacon and a quick Easter egg hunt, then headed home. Our trip was topped off by spending the evening at dinner with the Neilsons when we returned.
Great family vacation, great friends, great family. So glad we made the journey.