Archive for August 2012

Homeward Bound

Friday, August 31, 2012

After we left our hearts in San Francisco (cheesy, I know but couldn't resist) we headed north to Redding, CA to fulfill Ben's vacation wish: a water park.  While researching this before the trip, I remembered that 11 years ago, while driving to Sacramento by myself with a 2 yr. old and 4 yr. old and 6 months pregnant, we stopped at a water park right off I-5 and I briefly lost Quinn there. (what was I thinking?)  This is where we stopped for our last full day of family fun. 
We left San Francisco and planned our route specifically to coincide with dinner time at the only Chick-fil-A along the way.  Trey hopped on Priceline and we scored a room at the Red Lion Inn that was heavenly.   A huge room with pillow top beds and a cute little balcony.  We rolled in around 11:00 and we all slept until 9:00 the next morning. 
WaterWorks park was the perfect venue for a 97-degree day.  I loved watching the boys play together and take on every ride--Ben was finally tall enough to not be turned away once!!  All four of them played a game of tag in the lazy river ride and I was content to float along by my lonesome.  I didn't want the day to end. 
That night we decided on Medford as the goal and warned the boys that our last night would be spent camping--and without any electronics.  We pulled into the KOA and secured the last campsite available.  Laundry, hot showers, firewood and a big grassy site next to an adorable couple who were taking a cross country motorcyle trip.  We enjoyed hearing the tales and roasting marshmallows around the campfire after dinner.  This picture below is what was sitting on top of our fire pit when we arrived.  It was a wonderful reminder for us to thank God for his provision and protection as we logged 2,532 miles, made amazing memories and reconnected as a family.  My heart is so grateful.

 Soaking up the sun on the last day.
 Their response to "how would you rate this water park?"
 He's smiling on the inside.  I just know it.
Our family's happy place.


San Fran and beyond

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thursday morning we left Santa Cruz and headed north for the long journey back.  As was typical during most of the trip, Quinn was in the driver's seat and I was up front with him every time we happened upon an extremely winding highway.  If you have ever driven between San Jose and Santa Cruz then you know the exact road to which I am referring. After holding my breath for most of the 18 miles, we found our connecting highway and changed drivers. Destination: San Francisco.  Agenda: pictures at the Golden Gate bridge, drive along Lombard Street and ride on a cable car.

  I love this picture minus the chick in the background.
 We went up to a nearby lookout point.  Fabulous view.
 This was indicative of our relationship status at this point in the trip.

 Lombard Street: the most winding road in the country.  Maybe even the world.

 Ben holds the Transamerica tower in his hand.

Is there anything that says "San Francisco" more than this? 

 Or this?

Or this?


Days 4 & 5-Santa Cruz, Capitola & Aptos

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today we arrived at our final destination: Santa Cruz.  Well, actually Watsonville.  $300 a night oceanfront rooms were not in the budget--which was hard for our 15 year old to grasp.  We settled in to our disappointing Best Western stuck in the middle of a business district with a room barely big enough for two of us much less a family of five.  There was barely room for anyone to sleep on the floor and wouldn't you know it was the oldest's turn to make his bed there. 

Prior to checking into the hotel, we stopped in at "The Post Office" in Aptos.  Ian had been admiring this dirt jump bike park via videos and photos online and seeing it live was part of the impetus for heading south.  When he feasted his eyes on the real thing, he burst into tears at the enormity of it all.  The jumps in our town were miniscule compared to these.  It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.  Fortunately, as all the boys surveyed the area, Ian met a pro rider who was hanging out down the road along with a fellow 13 year old who lived across the street and was sponsored by five different biking companies. Although this was an impressive fact to Ian, he was even more pleased that he had finally met someone his age who was shorter than him.

After settling in to our digs, we headed into Santa Cruz to take in the legendary Boardwalk.  About 10,000 other people had the same idea.  Apparently it was the 60th anniversary of its inception so the rides were just a dollar and the lines reflected that.  After walking from one end to the other, we found ourselves in the arcade--1200 miles to play overpriced games?  

The following day we played shuttle drivers so that everyone's wishes came true.  We went back to Aptos and connected with Ian's new friend who was going to show him around town to the hidden gems of bike parks that were more his speed.  Next stop: a skim board for Ben.  Final destination: a wetsuit and surfboard for Quinn.  

Everyone enjoyed pursuing their activities, although Dad was pretty spent on being shuttle driver,  and by the time we returned to the crummy hotel, even the fact that the one building our room was in had no hot water, there were no complaints from my beach boys.

Surveying the surf

And he's up!

Post skim boarding.

 He definitely has the surfer dude strut down.

 "Post Office"

 Ian's and his kindred spirit

Doing some jumps after all.


Day 3-Santa Rosa

Saturday, August 11, 2012

So after the previous night's crazy windstorm, we made our way back to civilization in search of sunshine.  We headed toward Highway 101 and made a couple pit stops along the way.  We found a roadside stream and spent an hour or so wading in the water, skipping rocks and meeting a very sweet local family who was out enjoying a picnic alongside us.  Once we reached the main highway and got back into cell reception, we began searching for a hotel and sticker shock set in.  I gave the green light to try Priceline.  We had heard many success stories but never ventured into the unknown of bidding on an anonymous hotel room in cyberspace.  We scored a 3.5 star hotel called Flamingo Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, figuring that any place ending with "spa" couldn't be half bad.  As we pulled into the near empty parking lot and saw the neon flamingo sign rotating in front, we were a bit leery.  Once we opened the door to our room, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Cozy, clean, comfy beds and plenty of room.  After we unpacked and meandered to this amazing pool, all was right with the world.  

After enjoying a game of Marco Polo, we went down the road and grabbed a pizza and settled in for the night.  The next morning we played in the pool for as long as they would let us, stopped in at a local burger joint (delicious!)  and headed south.  It was hard to leave this quaint hotel in this sweet little town.


Cali Road Trip-Day 2

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So Day 2 began with meandering down the Pacific Coast Highway--another check mark on the Summer Bucket List.  I mentioned in yesterday's post that our goal was to get to Siskyone.  Apparently 20+ years ago when we were in college, my husband had his fill of the never ending gray days and drove south until he found sunshine.  (There was a certain someone of the female persuasion in the passenger seat but I'm sure it was only for safety reasons.)  They stumbled upon what he termed the most amazing campground ever right on the Pacific Ocean.  He has wanted to return to it ever since.  I have heard about this place at least once a year for the last 21.  While planning out this trip, we both did research trying to determine where this "paradise" was.  I finally suggested he email his ex-girlfriend and see if she remembered the name.  He rebuffed my idea but as the departure date grew near, so did his desperation.  Sure enough, she remembered the exact name of the state park and the campground within.  As I looked on the map, I saw that the first stretch of Highway 1 basically ended at this campground. I knew it would be an interesting journey but I had no idea exactly what I was getting myself--and the rest of my family--into.

When we arrived at the road down to the campground, it read: "Steep Grade for 3.5 miles.  Campers and Trailers not recommended."  I expressed my discomfort but got the usual, "It's fine, Dana."  The one lane dirt road with a cliff on the side was the only way to "Paradise."  It would have been "fine" if we were in an SUV or truck but I politely reminded my adventurous husband that we were driving a minivan with a bullet on top and four bikes on the bike and a family of five inside.  I closed my eyes and prayed the entire way down.  We got to the bottom and were greeted by Malcolm, our camp host living in this house.

There was not another soul in sight and it felt a little bit like a scary movie in the making.  I stayed in the car while the boys went inside the house.  It was a bonafide state park property but definitely masculine to the fullest. Turns out Malcolm was a college professor in San Francisco who volunteers there with his 13 year-old son for the month of July.  (He could have told us anything though as there wasn't a soul around to refute his story.)  I did believe him though and his son, Chris was very mature and a delightful young man.

Malcolm showed Trey "the barn" as an option over the other four campsites for $5 more.  I guess you could say it was considered an upgrade.  I still was looking over my shoulder for the ax murderer.  This need for adventure had gone too far for my liking but we were there and I had to admit it was absolutely stunning.  We basically had an entire peninsula all to ourselves.  We set up for dinner at campground nearby but put our sleeping pads and bags in "the barn" which was really a rustic sleeping shack.

This was the view from the hill to the north.  Seriously breathtaking.   Sunset was spectacular.

Right after dinner, the wind kicked up and we called it a night.  Unfortunately the wind never relented and at 2 a.m. we were all still wide awake.  Ian left and went to sleep in the car.  I think the rest of us finally got some shut eye by 3 or 4.  It was a wild night and I almost felt like the treacherous road down was a warning of the wildness to come.   When we packed up and got in the van, I made everyone sit toward the front and leaned forward the entire way up.  Just like on the way down, I closed my eyes and prayed.  We hit the paved road at the top and Ben and I jumped out and kissed the pavement in celebration.  

I told Trey that he would be hard pressed to get any of us to camp again the next night.  As we headed back to Highway 101, and got back into cell reception, he started surfing Priceline.  To be continued........

1 Comment »

California, Here We Come!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The last time we embarked on a family road trip was 3 years ago when we did the Oregon coast.  Four years prior to that we drove to Boulder, Colorado over the course of two weeks.  Being that we had such fond memories of those experiences, we determined a trip down the California coast was long overdue.  After readjusting our plan several times, we finally found the longest stretch of time on the entire summer calendar when everyone was available--8 days.  We knew we were probably being a little overzealous in trying to fit in many destinations and a lot of driving, but as I have watched the days fly by and knowing time our time with the boys was passing quickly, we decided to go for it. 

We sat down with the boys and asked everyone what they wanted to do and/or see.  Quinn: surfing.  Ian: mountain biking. Ben: a water park.  All of their requests seemed within reason but probably not able to be fulfilled all in one day.  Our final destination was Santa Cruz which appeared to have two of the three desired activities.  As for Mom and Dad, we were just happy to have all 5 of us together and if we could make it there and back without the car breaking down and everyone still talking, we would deem it a successful vacation.  

Quinn pulled in from football camp on a Thursday afternoon and within 24 hours we were on the road.  We stayed at my mom's (2 hrs. away) that night and by 7:30 the next morning, it was "California or Bust!" Eleven hours and 483 miles later we were in Crescent City.  I had made a reservation at "The Curly Redwood Lodge."  The reviews were positive and I was particularly fascinated with the fact that the entire motel was built from one single redwood tree that produced 57,000 square feet of lumber.  It just sounded cool to say you stayed in a place like this.  It wasn't as cool as it sounded and the town looked like it was on the verge of closing up shop.  We checked in, went out an grabbed a pizza and ate it on the beach in 59 degree weather.  We cruised around the town and explored but that took all of about 30 minutes.  The sunset was beautiful though and our room was cozy and clean.  

The next morning we headed out on our way to Siskyone State Park.  We meandered down the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood National Forest with Quinn behind the wheel.  He loved the winding roads and I was wishing I had packed some Xanax.  The trees were so gigantic and beautiful although after a few miles, the kids weren't as impressed as we were and put on their headphones to tune out our oohs and aahs.  Of course we stopped to do the touristy "drive through the tree."  

Tomorrow's post: the adventure continues......

 Everything but the kitchen sink.

 We made it!

 I think we took this picture on my 200th potty break.  My poor family.

 Is she going to fit through?  It was sooo close.

 Almost through.

 Admiring the Pacific Ocean.

A sight to behold.

 This brave young woman happened to be from our hometown.  She was biking all the way to San Diego--by herself!
 The "Immortal Tree".  It was so massive.

Sunset in Crescent City


20 Years!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

When I look at this picture I can remember the plans, hopes and dreams ready to burst out of both of  us as we returned from our honeymoon ready to take the world by storm. Two naive, determined 24-year-olds who were going to continue our fairy tale romance and live happily ever after in our perfect life with our perfect careers, perfect house and perfect children.

Fast forward 20 years and we have eaten more than a few slices of "humble pie."  And then some. If you have been married for any length of time, then you understand why they are called "fairy tales."  They are long on fantasy and short on reality.  God knew that we were sorely in need of some adjustments and thankfully He saw fit, in His goodness and graciousness, to give us many challenges along the way.  Had everything gone our way, I cringe at the thought of the kind of people we would be today--or if our marriage could have survived two inflated egos that surely would have followed. I often think about what kind of children we would be raising if we never had to tell them "no" because the resources had always been there.  I wonder what kind of friends we would be to others and if we would have the true friendships we do if life had moved along seamlessly.

About that fantasy.....our perfect careers turned into 11 different employers.  Our perfect house was not one house but 10, most of which we have rented.  Our perfect children arrived but not until after a two year struggle with infertility.  Definitely not what we had in mind when embarking on this journey but I can honestly say I am so very thankful.  In spite of the many moves, periods of unemployment and countless other challenges, we have leaned INTO each other.  Not that we haven't had our moments but when the rubber has met the road, we were in the same vehicle driving this crazy, winding road together.

Last night, as we celebrated over a wonderful dinner, we both asked each other as if on cue, "would you do it again?"  Our answer: "In a hearbeat!"
Dessert, along with this sweet sentiment, was on the house: Peanut butter mousse with chocolate ganache.  
 Twenty years and still smiling.

1 Comment »