Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Family Vacation to Remember

The ocean was calling...not just to me but to the kids as well. Relatives were calling in Uncle Wendell in San Francisco. When are you coming to visit??  I have a lot of great memories of road trippin' it to San Fran as a kid.  Like gargantuan redwood forests, cool foggy beaches, infamous Alcatraz, getting real Chinese food in Chinatown. It's where I ate my first squid (and last) and where I learned that some people were gay. (we drove past a gay pride parade in full swing)

Anyway, this week I experienced the better part of those memories with my own kids. For sure, the hardest part was getting there. Such a long drive! We ponied up a chunk of cash for a DVD player installed in the van. The kids watched movies with headphones while Brandon and I listened to an audio book. Pretty great way to travel if you have to drive.
To break up the drive a bit we spent the night in Las Vegas with our very kind relatives. The kids first experience after getting out of the car and into the desert heat was catching a squishy white lizard. They also enjoyed playing with Emma the Chihuahua. The next morning we started off.  It was a good thing we had our riveting audio book about the end of civilization (Maze Runner)  to keep us going as we passed through the middle of California...
 We passed miles and miles of joshua trees and then miles and miles of fruit trees: oranges, tangerines, almonds, apricots, cherries, etc...and sometimes miles and miles of no trees.

These were the man-made trees or windmills.   We stopped at a roadside market selling fresh fruit and tried our first taste of Plumcots--a mix of plum and apricot. They were delicious!
Finally, our GPS announced that we had arrived at our destination, a hotel just outside of San Francisco. The kids were eager to jump on the beds and splash in the outdoor pool.  So it began...

DAY 1: Sunday in San Francisco: death-defying ride on a moto, model T, and a visit to the Oakland temple.
We joined Uncle Wendell and his family for 9:00 a.m. church.  It was really cool to experience the same church with a new group of people--a very diverse group too. Speaking was a woman from Africa dressed in full African regalia and a man from India. Wendell's wife was made Relief Society President, which means she will be responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of all the women in her area. She'll be great.
After church, we hung out at Wendell's for some unconventional Sunday fun:

Wendell's wife wasn't too happy about this purchase so if our smiles and laughter didn't ease the pain, at least him selling it the next day did.
Next we toured the grounds of the beautiful Oakland Temple overlooking the Bay area.

We might have been a little irreverent...what with the water fight and all.
Lastly, we took a ride around town and to the beach in the famous Model T...circa 1919

 Crown Beach in Alameda
 Talkin' sports Greg came up from Palo Alto to join us.

 There was no keeping the kids dry.
DAY 2: Alcatraz and all of San Francisco's downtown attractions
 After a brief ferry ride we debarked and watched a movie history about the notorious prison.
 The audio cell tour was awesome! We got to hear excerpts of interviews from the prisoners and a reenactment of the escape attempts. The Birdman has been creeping me out ever since.

 There was some beauty on The Rock

Trucking along to Pier 39
Wendell says this was Al Capone's yacht so it must be.
Every good sailor knows that Eagle Cafe is the best restaurant on the pier.
 At the Nature center we learned the difference between seals and sea lions--very good to know!
 No Way? Laguna doesn't have the only Candy Baron? We bought our favorite lavender mints and Wendell bought us $26 worth of taffy!

 Lombard street. We only had to drive down the world's crookedest street 3 times.

 Shopping in Chinatown was a blast! This is THE place for souvenirs and all things ninja. Cannon got a sword.

We ladies all got sweatshirts! because San Francisco is cold!
What a day. We dropped off Wendell, drove to our hotel, watched some TLC and went to bed.

DAY 3: We hiked through the magnificent Redwoods, had a picnic at Stinson beach, stopped for ice cream in Sausalito and drove home across the fog enshrouded Golden Gate Bridge.

 We loved our time in the Redwoods! What a magical place.
Next we drove the coastal Highway to Stinson Beach. All visitors were greeted by a friendly sign that reminded us that these waters were home to Great White sharks and that an attack had happened in as little as 6 ft. of water. If that didn't deter us from swimming-- the freezing water did....almost.

 We found us some moon jelly eggs..(.at least that's the closest thing I could google identify it with.)
 And then threw them all back in the ocean.

DAY 4: Beach Day: kayaking, sailing
 A good day to chill on shore

 and off shore...
 Back at home we dried off and Brandon and I picked up a legendary stuffed crust deep dish Chicaco style pizza from Zachary's in Oakland. The thing weighed a ton!  Wendell took us out for an evening sail around the estuary.
 We learned a lot of cool sailing terms like...well, I forgot. We're no seamen but we learned the ropes so to speak.

 During our sail we found ourselves smack in the middle of the Oakland yacht club race. I think we placed for having the youngest crew.
 The quintessential San Francisco style house
DAY 5: Carmel and Monterey. My heaven for it's beauty and wildlife. A 2 hour drive from San Francisco and well worth it, is Point Lobos State Park and Nature Preserve. We hiked along a spectacular coastal trail past wildflowers and down into tide pools where we spotted crabs, mussels, and anenomes. The creatures only got more and more exciting...

 Wendell caught a lizard, or thought he had, until it released its tail and skittered off.

 An adorable harbor seal looked up to see where all the commotion was coming from.

 Brandon insisted this was the place to break out some yoga moves.
 How could the seals get any sleep around here with all those barking sea lions?
 As our hike continued we were met with vista after exciting vista. I saw sea otters through my binoculars and more harbor seals and a monk seal.
 Like a tender scene out of Bambi, we walked through a beautiful cypress grove and were met by a deer and her little spotted fawn.

 I loved this place in Carmel! I think I will be a marine biologist in my next life.
Fantastic lunch in Carmel. Would you believe my insistence on stopping in Monterey for some afternoon beach frolicking was met with some resistance...

 Who would have guessed? Sometimes Mom knows best.
Monterey beach was beautiful!! Cold yes, but that didn't stop the kids all from getting wet--whether by accident or not...

By DAY 6 we had accomplished everything we wanted to and though it was hard to leave, it was time to go home and get warm.       We left our hearts in San Francisco...and Brandon left his underwear! 

1 comment:

cold cocoa said...

That looked so fun! Great pics.