Monday, August 31, 2015

{California coastin'} Flashback: Day 4

This day was all about the kids. Not that it never wasn't, but I knew visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium was going to be a major highlight for them.

We arrived to the aquarium as the little town of Monterey was beginning to wake up. Trucks loaded with seafood arriving to begin the day by the pier and street sweepers hosing down the sidewalks along the shops made for a quaint atmosphere for this bay city.
I have learned over the years from my early rising husband and from having young kids that it pays to begin the day early for many reasons. First and for most, small crowds. We hit the petting area first so the kids could have a chance to pet the bat rays, play with kelp, seaweed, and sea urchins all without having to fight for a spot. By the end of our time at the aquarium it was packed.

Marisa's favorite thing about the aquarium: Watching the sea otters being fed!
Natalie's favorite thing about the aquarium: Watching the penguins being fed!

The rule for the day was to stay until the kids got tired of it. If we had time to move onto the next thing on our list then we would go do it, but if not, then maybe we could squeeze it in the morning or cross it off all together. We always have a plan when traveling, but it is necessary to keep things open and flexible with littles.

Luckily after Cara woke up from her nap in the stroller around 2 or so we were all done and able to fit in a quick trip to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to see of course, redwood trees!

I personally enjoyed visiting the Sequoias better {Check it out, here} but I got to cross off one more item on my bucket list and that is always a plus. 

Our attempt at a family photo...

This activity was also meant to allow more time for the kids to get their energy out but they were pretty wiped from the aquarium. At one point I was carrying Darren in a carrier on my back and pushing Cara in a stroller loaded with a big heavy purse and snacks through the dirt while Tim had Marisa on his shoulders because her flip flops suddenly broke during our walk through the trees!

After a quick walk around and exploring inside some of the trees we headed to our final stop of our entire trip, to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for dinner! We ate a place called The Picnic Basket which looked promising when I scoped them out ahead of time online. It is a quaint beachy small restaurant right there in front of the beach, but when we got there everything we ordered they had ran out of. And it was like not even past 6. Umm, ok? And they didn't seem apologetic or really care to suggest or accommodate us with other items. Our second choices tasted fresh and it was enjoyable to eat until near the end of my salad I found shredded pieces of paper. Awesome. I feel like it was just a bad day for them and I would hope that they would prove me wrong if I ever were to visit again. I wanted to like them!

Luckily we found a surf shop to buy flip flops for Marisa so we can have an evening stroll through the fairground crowds and bright lights. My kids are slightly afraid of unknown rides so it was no temptation for them to beg for rides. ;)

We were all pretty wiped after almost a week of exploring. It was the perfect summer family vacation for this year. Natalie took to drawing her memories in a notebook and we loved hearing all about what stuck with her. It is exactly why we do what we do! Traveling with our kids brings us so much joy! Until next time...!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

{California coastin'} Flashback: Day 3

When I first mentioned to Tim that I really wanted to make this coastal trip happen this year, he just opened his eyes wide and said, "Are you sure?"
I get motion sickness really easily.

Which is why I hate spinning rides, road trips, and especially, windy road trips. I can't read in the car or even look at my phone for more than a few minutes without starting to feel woozy. It's the worst. And because I can't do anything in the car to keep me busy I therefore hate road trips because I can't do anything but just sit and look straight out! So boring.
Oh, and my girls are the same way. I realized this when we went road tripping in the Cotswolds in Central England when we had both girls puking in the back of the car. Even during our trip to Beverly Hills a couple weeks ago we had Natalie puking at our lunch destination just from being in the back of the car for too long.

But I eagerly responded to Tim with a solid yes, and added that at some point in our lives we are going to have to do it, so lets just do it!

I learned from feeling sick on a long bus ride to DisneyWorld in middle school that sucking on jolly ranchers (thanks to teacher chaperones on that trip) helps. So I packed jolly ranchers and suckers pre-road trip just for this occasion. Plastic bags were also readily and easily accessible for the girls to reach and we kept our fingers crossed.

Too bad for Tim it was foggy this morning. He didn't get to enjoy the beautiful scenery that is apparently right along the windy road. I just stayed focused straight ahead and reminded Tim from time to time to go really, really sloooow.

To our astonishment, I'm happy to report that we made it to our first stop of the day along CA Highway 1 with NO ONE puking! It was truly a miracle.

First stop: McWay Falls. 
It was still pretty foggy when we pulled over to hike down a bit to see the waterfall, but I hoped that it would lift soon.

And can you believe these two?? My middle children fight like sore enemies but for whatever reason they momentarily broke down the wall and it melted my momma heart. Darren even ran to Natalie's side on the walkway just to hold her hand. Whhaaat?

After walking around for awhile, a bathroom break, and exploring the grounds around the falls we walked back to the car to notice the fog lifting. So we quickly went back on the trail to catch a better glimpse of the waterfall and it was absolutely beautiful!

We ate lunch in the car which was parked along the side of the road and we continued the same routine as days prior: Babies napped while we finished off our drive to see... 

Keyhole Arch, Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur.

Now this place was the highlight of our trip for me. We really could have stayed here forever. It's a great beach for the kids to play on, not a busy beach, and the background for playing on the beach is absolutely captivating. It took us a bit to find the random road that led to the limited parking lot. It is a good 2 mile long skinny road to the beach which goes to show just how more secluded this beach was to any other beach. We had to wait just a few minutes for someone to leave the beach at the gate with the parking guard so we could enter.  But once we got to the beach, like I said before, we could have happily stayed there forever. 

This beach is also known for having "purple sand". I'm not sure if certain times of the year are better than others or if we had to walk further down the beach to find it but if you look closely you could only find swirls of purple sand along the side of the hill as we gathered our things to walk back to the car. It looked pretty cool and the girls were especially happy to see that! 
The girls also spotted perfect climbing trees that we had to stop and make time for. (How could you not they are massive things right in front of you!) And once again, climbing trees this beautiful is what childhood dreams are made of!

I hated having to pull the kids away from the beach and trees and endless entertainment nature provided for us, but it was time to drive some more and check in our hotel and find some dinner...


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