My Dad defines a trip as a vacation that you go on with your kids, and a vacation as a trip you go on without your kids – in other words an actual vacation. According to him, this definition still applies, even though his youngest child is 20.
Justin and I have been blessed to go on a couple of “vacations” in our marriage. Our last one was an amazing trip to Florence and Rome. While we were there, Josh ended up in the hospital with walking pneumonia and it wasn’t long after we got back that Max had his accident. We spent our “vacation” before that talking about how much we wanted to bring our kids to that magical place (we were on the North Shore in Oahu). The combination made us decide that we wanted to do some traveling with our kids.
The beach is as easy as breathing. It is time to push ourselves a little bit.
We want to do it for them – provide new experiences, broaden their horizons, expose them to new ideas – but really mostly for us. We want those memories. Each one of them is delightful in a new place for a different reason.
When we got offered 3 free days in a hotel in downtown San Francisco, we decided to take everyone. This trip was a test, for hopefully even greater adventures.
It is a long drive from Southern Utah to Northern California, but I adore driving. There is just something exciting about going somewhere new, watching the world go by out the window. Luckily our kids are pretty stellar in the car. We start out with a prayer and a pep talk about how lucky we are to be doing these things etc… then they read and watch ridiculous amounts of T.V. We left early Friday morning and arrived at a little town between Monterey and Santa Cruz around 7 that night. After dinner we were all exhausted and checked into our hotel. It happened to be right across the street from the beach. Max and I were talked into the 1/2 mile hike through the sand dunes in the dark by the more adventurous part of our family.It was one of the best parts of the entire trip. The beach was deserted and gorgeous. There were sand dollars in unusual abundance and excitement was thick in the air.
The kids had fun at the hotel playground before we headed out the next morning.
Northern California is gorgeous. There are fields full of produce, the ocean and the mountains. My Mom grew up in Northern California and this part of the drive made my heart ache for her Dad (he passed away several years ago). He loved that place, and taught us to enjoy all kinds of beauty. We were ridiculously excited to explore one of the many produce stands. Kiwis for 10 cents! Anna with her favorite vegetable. I had no idea they grew like that.Santa Cruz was largely Justin’s day. Every since watching Chasing Mavericks, the story of Jay Moriarty, he has wanted to come here. I think that is the only movie my husband has watched more than one time – We are going on at least 5 times.
We walked along the coast and watched the surfers for a little while. Justin was strongly tempted to rent a board, he’d packed his wet suit just in case, but decided to stay with us instead. After our walk, Justin and Josh walked back to get the car and I kept these two littles entertained by playing hide-and-go seek tag. Max hid in that tree pretty much every time. During our game we found this sign on the statue honoring the Hawaiian surfers and took a picture for Justin. More surfers at Steamer lane. Next we walked up and down the pier, and made some new friends.Anna named each and every one of them. There was Tiny, Blackie, Brownie…. She claimed to be able to tell them apart.This kept us entertained for easily 2 hours.It was a gorgeous sunny day. Perfect for football and a picnic on the beach. Sometimes I’m just so incredibly grateful for Dads. I enjoyed watching the football on the beach and he enjoyed playing.
More exploring – this was the surf museum. Interesting, but not that impressive.More surfers. I couldn’t get enough of those beautiful rocky beaches. Our last stop was the Mystery Spot. I loved that we got to drive up into the mountains for this part. All those big trees smelled incredible.
We really had no idea what it was when we reserved tickets. Josh just thought that it looked cool. It’s a weird geological phenomenon where the gravity is off; water runs uphill, you naturally stand at a 17 degree angle, and people shrink. I thought it would be gimicky and fake, but it’s real. I spent most of the tour sitting in the cabin because whatever was going on made me extremely nauseous. In the above picture, Justin wanted to see how far he could lean.Anna trying to hang down in a straight line..This picture doesn’t show it very well, but there was a big difference in height standing in the mystery spot and out of it. The board is level. On the left Anna is in the mystery spot, on the right Max is. The height difference was noticeable.
Josh was starving after all that adventuring. He ate that entire thing.
Then it was off to San Francisco, with a brief stop at Mavericks. We had a moment of silence looking out at the black water, the kids all asleep in the car.