I left my heart in San Diego

We pulled in last night at eleven after a long drive and a fun-filled weekend away with family. I thought I'd write a quick run-down of our vacation:

Thursday: We woke up bright and early at 4:30 with Little Dude, who informed us "it's Christmas in my bed". Thankfully we got him to go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour. Then we opened our presents, ate some breakfast, packed up our things, and hit the road (with only one small stress-induced argument). Then we drove through the desolation that is I-5 in northern California, dodging giant tumbleweeds and raging dust storms. The kids fell asleep somewhere in the mountains and slept through Los Angeles so we delayed dinner until Orange County. The only place we could find that was open was a McDonalds in Mission Viejo. We were all starving and tired so even the crappy service didn't mar our fabulous Christmas feast. The kids even got matching My Little Ponies. We were all very excited to pull into our hotel and unpack our things in our luxurious suite overlooking the harbor.

Friday: We actually slept in a bit and then had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel lobby. Little Dude and S-Boogie thought the free breakfast was one of the best parts of the trip. That afternoon we went to the Zoo with my family. The weather was cold and we had two-day passes, so we didn't do much that day besides taking the bus tour and eating some lunch. We also rode the sky ride, which was another highlight of the trip for the kids (not for Mr. Fob). That night we spent time swimming in the hotel pool and then played games with my family after putting the kids to bed.

Saturday: In the morning we headed back to the Zoo with my mom before the crowds showed up. I recommend getting there right at opening time because it's easier to see things and the animals are more awake and lively. We loved watching a koala climb around and eat, and were awed by the birds of prey that were as big as Little Dude. That afternoon we spent some time driving around the part of town that we lived in when I was little. It was somewhat disorienting, because I haven't been back for years and now my memories are all mixed up with the way things look now. My elementary school is mostly unchanged, but the house we lived in (and where most of us were born) was torn down years ago. Standing in the plot of land where it used to be was still a fun experience, and I'm sure even more rewarding for my parents who actually remember more than the scattered images that I do. We ate dinner that night in a restaurant in the hotel lobby, and it was probably the only meal of the trip that wasn't fried or outrageously portioned.

Sunday: We started the day with swimming in the pool. Unfortunately the hotel put too many chemicals in the pool and Little Dude ended up with a bleached swim suit and S-Boogie's eyes were red for the rest of the day. Then my sister went with us to Seaport Village with the kids; they still have a carousel, and although it's not the one I rode as a little girl it was still fun for S-Boogie and Little Dude. We also admired all the little vendors trying to get our money with various things like caricatures and fire-eating. In the afternoon the entire family drove out to the tide pools at Point Loma (another childhood spot). Unfortunately Little Dude fell asleep in the car and did not wake up until after dark, so Mr. Fob did not get to see the tide pools either. S-Boogie and I explored with my sister and saw lots of anemones, crabs, snails, and mussels. That night Mr. Fob and I went out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory with the gift card we received from his mom. It was nice to go out; I think we need to do it more often. We decided not to do a movie because it would keep us up too late, and I'm glad we didn't since the next day was very busy.

Monday: We got a special treat and were able to watch the Holiday Bowl parade live from our hotel balcony. This bothered S-Boogie because she wanted to watch it down on the street (with the thousand or so other people) and did not appreciate the advantage of private seating. Then we went to Sea World and showed her what happens when you try to get anything done in a crowd. It was a fun day and I love Sea World, but the crowds were really overwhelming and we wasted a lot of time waiting around in lines. It has also become even more commercialized and it feels like every time you turn around there is someone trying to sell you some sort of food or mass-produced trinket. We noticed that Little Dude was looking kind of down during lunch time, and then right as the Shamu show started he puked all over Mr. Fob. Daddy was willing to take one for the team and drive the sick kid back to the hotel for the night while I stayed on for a few more hours at the park with S-Boogie, my mom, and my little brother. We were all really exhausted by the time the day was over.

Tuesday: Since our visit to Sea World ended badly the night before, we thought it would be a good idea to wake up early, quickly pack our stuff, and hit the park for a few hours before heading home (two-day passes are fabulous). It was a great idea; the park was relatively uncrowded and we were able to watch the Shamu show again as well as the seal and otter one. The kids got to talk to the dolphins in their tank and we went on a kiddie ride together. And as a bonus I ran into a friend as we were leaving the park--talk about random! Spending the morning at a theme park isn't the best way to start an eight-hour drive. We were tired and cranky, and the heavy LA traffic (and later fog) didn't help much. But we made it home and got ourselves in bed before midnight.

It was crazy weekend and not without a few moments of drama, but worth it in the end. After spending so many days in a hotel and eating out, I'm feeling a strong desire to spend our next vacation camping in the wilderness. My burger and fries craving should be satisfied for another six months or so. I've learned that staying in a suite-style hotel room is the best way to go when you have kids. Also, get the two-day passes for the parks and show up as early as you can. And even if you think your five-year-old is potty trained, bring an extra outfit. Or just have a generous sister with a really big hoodie that looks like a dress on her niece. Because that's what family is for: sharing clothes and making memories together (not to mention the pirate jokes).


skyeJ said…
Earth Sign Mama said…
Hey, I left my heart there too. And my next fun time in California is camping on the beach! The very antithesis of The Suite Life on the Harbor. Hope you can come!!
Kristeee said…
My favorite part of that post was, "It's Christmas in my bed!" What a funny kid!

Glad you had a good trip. It's nice to get away and have fun.
rantipoler said…
Hey, I just wanted to say it was fabulous to see you guys. Talk about a pleasant surprise!

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