Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...
First stop in California was our hotel to check in, and then we were off to find food and the beach. In that order. After being in the car all morning long (and all afternoon the day before), the kids needed a place to run wild. Huntington Beach was one of the closest beaches to the Disneyland resort area where we were staying, so that's where we headed.
The sand was awesome and the waves big.
Our youngest was a sand magnet. It stuck to her face, her hands, everywhere.
Wait a second, what's that over her shoulder in the distance?
Seriously!?! Right off the beach? Should I be worried about my children sprouting extra limbs or third eyeballs from swimming in contaminated water?
Obviously we didn't we worry about it too much, because we stayed until the sun set. Which, come to think of it, wasn't late at all. I would say this picture was taken about 4:45.
Next up...2 days, non stop, Disneyland action. When our 4 year old saw the Mickey Mouse flower bed just past the entry, he said "This is where the fun-ness begins!"
I'll be honest, this is the part I was nervous about. 2 days at an amusement park with 4 kids didn't sound like fun to me - it sounded like work. But it actually wasn't too bad. We were fortunate to have our good (Disney die-hard) friends there to help us get up and running in the right direction. We all had a great time, and the kids LOVED it.
On the 2nd day our little guy (4 year old again) had his picture taken with Lightning McQueen and my hubby said to him, "Can you believe you saw Lightning?" And he replied, "Yes, because this is the place where dreams come true." Cute.
Definitely something to do again - just not until we've all outgrown the afternoon nap!
On a side note: My dad was telling me of how, when he was a boy and went to Disneyland, it was out in the boonies, surrounded by orange tree orchards, and he could smell the scent of orange blossoms while he was at the park. How cool would that be? Sadly, the orange trees are long gone. Anaheim is nothing but So. Cal. sprawl, but there are still palm trees. Rows of huge specimens on the streets surrounding the park, and this tree loving mama thought they were pretty cool. (here's an out the car window shot)
Next up was La Jolla (San Diego area). We spent the day driving down the coast and exploring the local beaches. First we went to the La Jolla Shores Beach. The kids didn't want to waste any time putting on swim suits - they jumped in fully clothed.
Then we went south around the bend to the La Jolla Cove Beach, which was beautiful!
The kids could have spent hours exploring the tide pools and looking at the crabs, anemones, and other marine life.
The views were lovely every which way we looked.
We kept on walking south until we reached what was once known as the Children's Beach, but has since been overtaken by the local seal population.
They were fun to watch, especially the little ones.
Then we walked back and waited for the sun to set.
So pretty. Loved the La Jolla Cove area.
The next day we hit Sea World. It was such a wonderful experience for our animal loving kids. Everything was very interactive. They were in heaven picking up the starfish (you had to keep them underwater).
Petting the dolphins.
And the bat rays. Our 7 year old daughter loved these!
And of course seeing the whales was such a thrill.
Funny story: When we were at the Arctic Encounter, there was a large Beluga whale pressed up against the glass and all of the sudden, our 4 year old, shouts, "Look mom, I see its "gina" (as in va-____)." Talk about making mom blush! He kept on pointing and saying it, rather loudly. People were laughing and he wouldn't stop talking about it so we hurried up and moved on. So no pictures of the Beluga whale...we were just trying to "Get Out of Dodge". Seems as if this kid had all the memorable quotes on this trip.
Next day we hunkered down for the big drive home - all 11 hours of it. For a while there, I wasn't sure if we'd survive the Mojave Desert, but WE DID IT! Barely.
We came home to snow and an indoor temp. of less than 50 F. Outside was freezing! BRRRR. This is what our valley looked like when we were driving to Sunday dinner at my in-laws the next day.
Brutal. Missing that legendary San Diego climate already.