Jeff and I had planned to take life a little easier this year. But after two of our sons and their families missed the family cruise we did last year, we wanted to do the make up trips for at least one of them.
But probably not another cruise with little kids. Not that the kids didn’t love it, they did. It was a Carnival Caribbean trip with stops in Cayman Islands, Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. But we had too many little people to allow the adults time to do their own thing. Plus, though the waiters in the dining room bent over backward to give the children an extra special experience, the kids didn’t have patience or interest in a meal served in courses over an hour and a half.
Since both Rob’s family and Daniel’s family have lots of small fry, we decided to take them to California instead. No place is more beloved than the area where I grew up, so Jeff rented an Air BnB in the Santa Cruz area.
I’m loving this Air BnB concept! It was a condo with beds for about 12 though we only used ten.
It had nice kitchen, dining, living areas with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Though it wasn’t really cheaper than hotels would have been for two bedrooms, no hotel is set up to sleep six children. Even if we rented three rooms, then the parents have to split up with 4 to a room. It’s so much more comfortable to all be together and have the use of a comfortable living area and kitchen. It cost about $500 a night, but it was only 2 blocks from the beach and the Boardwalk.
We started by playing at the beach. I’ve visited a lot of beaches in the world, but I think the California coast has the softest and most moldable sand. The twins, Michael and I made an AWESOME sand castle. Some of the others swam, but I decided that there is no badge of honor for swimming in the heart-stopping cold water. I’ve done it hundreds of times and this time, I decided it wasn’t worth the pain. Wading was enough.
A seal swam by us near the beach, just lolling along doing what seals do. (elicit screams of delight and wonder from landlubbers)
I’m going to write about the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in my column, (SO FUN and NOT crowded)
Jeff and I walked to the end of the pier and loved watching the sealions feeding and playing.
I’m also going to write about the Roaring Camp Railroad and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in column. (It was also fun, historic, and the giant trees delight me every time I see them.)
We visited the Cement Boat at Seacliff Beach, too. There was a cute little boy named Javier who was delighted by the 6 inch fish he had caught off the pier. They dynamited the boat after the 2016 storms. You can no longer walk onto the boat itself nor even to the collapsing end of the pier. The boat is more settled into the surf than it used to be, too. We did learn that when it was first sunk off Seacliff beach there was a dance hall and restaurant that operated onboard.
After 3 nights in the Air BnB, we stopped by the house on Pleasant Valley Rd where I grew up. It’s strange to me that the house and valley are still there, when they seem like such a distant memory to me. It’s such a beautiful place, I will always love it. The apple tree right in front of the living room window is the only one left on the property, I think. There were 20-25 when we lived there. The commercial orchards that surrounded our house have all been planted in vineyards now, too.
We went on to buy candy at the Corralitos Store. It’s about three miles from our childhood house and they still sell what used to be penny candy. . .only it costs a dime now. We used to walk all that way and back with less than $.50 to spend.
We set up camp for the next two nights at the Sunset Beach State Park Campground. Lots of the beaches on the Monterey BAy have campgounds on them. But I made the reservation about 6 months ago and got the last two spots.
The campsites are roomy, but they only allow 8 people per
site, so we had to rent two sites and they were nearby but not side by side. The beach was cold and windy, even though it was very sunny. It’s not a great swimming beach ever, nor is the beach combing rewarding, but the sunset was indeed lovely and we were almost the only ones there. We are still loving our little Marmot tent and our Klymit sleeping pads. They are so compact and so efficient, we really enjoy sleeping comfortably when camping. We tried out our new featherweight sleeping bags, (2 pounds) but I was chilly without a blanket, so I think I’ll be happier with something rated a little lower than 45.
We toured the old Carmel Mission, which the kids tolerated and the Monterey Acquarium which they LOVED, (but I’m going to write about both those events in my Americana column in the next few months too. I don’t want to steal my own thunder.)
We had a feeding frenzy at the fruit stand that had grapefruits 10 for a dollar, oranges 7 for a dollar, avocados 7 for a dollar and artichokes, 10 for a DOLLAR! It was on highway 1 just south of Moss Landing before you get to Castroville.
Admission to the Aquariumn was cheaper to buy a years family pass for $250 than to pay for Rob’s family of 8 individually. The Aquarium comped me our tickets since I’m going to write about them. (As did the Boardwalk and the Roaring Camp Railroad). The railroad ride $29 for adults and $23 for kids. The Boardwalk was $42 with tax for everyone over 2.
After the Acquarium, we walked toward Fisherman’s wharf along Cannery Row until we came to a pier. We went out on the pier and sbaaw dozens of Jellyfish in the marina on one side and loved watching the sealions arguing and barking on the other side. We were up on the pier but they were only a few feet from us. Later, sea otters came swimming along on their backs, cracking open some mussels on rocks on their chests.
We also saw dophins swimming just beyond the surf at Rio Del Mar Beach.
After 5 nights on the Monterey Bay, we headed south to Paso Robles. We had hoped to visit Big Sur, but the bridge on Highway 1 that was destroyed by a mudslide last year is still out of commission.
Our brother in law/uncle/great uncle Jim Sorenson lives in Paso Robles. He is a spectacular host and the kids all adore him. We enjoyed his pool and hot tub, yummy meals and good company. But after all the expense and planning, Jim scooped our cool-grandparent status by taking all of us (except Marseille who declined) up in his airplane. How many kids have experienced zero gravity? Jim treated them to a whoop-de-woo where he climbs sharply and then dives so that there are a few seconds of zero gravity. Your stomach really does take flight! He flew us over to San Simeon to circle Hearst’s Castle and then out over the ocean. We saw. WHALES spouting from the plane!
This is Jim’s view from his dining room.
We wound up the trip with a long coastal hike along the cove in San Simeon near the old mission and a thorough gawk at the Sea Elephants basking and arguing on the beach just north of San Simeon. There are always Sea Elephants there, but this time of year, most of them were female or youngsters, so most didn’t have the typical trunk.
We drove home through Las Vegas where it was a mere 111. in the shade.
Utah seems very green and lovely after driving through southern Nevada.
Top it all off, after arriving home in the evening, we have family visiting for the next few days. and my little 9 year-old neice loved the playhouse I just finished the Saturday before we left. Now it’s time to buckle down and get ready for the Thomas and Katie’s wedding on July 28 and Chris and Lexi’s wedding on Sept 1. Yep, we’re busy, but life don’ get much betta dan dis!