We've been away.We surprised our kids with a trip to California. They were off track from school (year round), our oldest son for the last time before starting middle school this fall and going on a traditional school schedule. This was our last chance to do Disney off-season (less crowded) without skipping school, so we jumped on it.
(view from the soccer field - the starting point)
We started out with a loaded mini-van and four clueless kiddos at an early morning soccer game, the Wasatch Mountains in the background (I love the mountains). We hit the road right after the game. 10 + hours later, with more the 700 miles under our belts, we were taking an evening stroll along the beach, the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean lapping at our feet (I also love the beach). It makes me think of America the Beautiful - we went (by auto) from purple mountains majesty to the shining sea, all in one day.
The kids thought we were headed to St. George for the weekend, but when we got to St. George, we faked a phone call and pretended all of the hotels were booked...but there might be some rooms further down in Mesquite. We kept on driving and passed Mesquite. Finally, we stopped at a Travel Stop just before Vegas, whipped out the video camera and told the kids, "We have already gone more than 400 miles, we can stop here or we can go just another 300 miles and spend the week in California at....DISNEYLAND." It was a no brainer - such happy little travelers they were.
We spent three days at Disneyland and California Adventure. Amusement parks are not my favorite way to spend time, but I actually like Disneyland. My favorite ride: Soaring Over California - it even smells good. I'll spare you all the photos of our cheesy mugs at Disney - I didn't take my big camera, so the pictures aren't the best. Mostly crazy action shots.
We also spent a day at the San Diego Zoo.
Loved the monkey riding the hippo. They seemed quite comfortable with each other.
We visited some beautiful beaches in the San Diego area including Coronado Beach (number three on the list of best beaches in the United States).
One of the best things about Coronado Beach - Hotel Del Coronado.
We also stopped La Jolla Cove just north of San Diego, one of my favorite spots from our last California vacation:
We spent another day exploring some of the beaches of Orange County.
Crystal Cove (north of Laguna, south of Newport):
This was a rustic beach (a preservation area and state park) with BIG waves and brave surfers.
The beach was littered with sea plants...our kids called them poppers, because they pop when you step on them (nature's bubble wrap).
Doheny Beach (Dana Point):
This was a wide and level (no hiking down a cliff) beach.
Perfect for watching surfers (they kind of looked like sharks swarming off shore).
Building sand castles.
And burying your brother in the sand.
And my favorite, Salt Creek Beach, within walking distance of where we were staying:
It was the best of everything. There was a park with a lawn for kicking balls and climbing trees.
The Ritz Carlton high up on the south end.
Gorgeous homes to the north.
And the softest sand. The perfect spot to watch the sun set.
Now we're back to real life. It is always hard to make that transition.