At the end of September we slipped away to San Diego for a mini family vacation. I had too much fun planning snacks and activities for the road trip that I was probably having more fun than the boys while we drove.
One of my favorite things was this cool idea to help the boys visualize how much longer the drive was. I taped a piece of string across the top of our windshield with a printed picture of our Rendezvous sliding on it. As we traveled, I slid our “car” along the string from one side to the other.
The best idea I discovered was to bring my miniature cookie sheets—one for each boy. This gave them both a coloring surface, a magnetic board, and a lipped table for crafting or puzzles. I bought dollar store sticker sheets, pipe cleaners, puzzles, glow sticks (for after dark), and silly string (for the park). There are lots of free printables online, so we were ready with travel bingo and scavenger hunts. All three babies did so well on the trip over to So*Cal!
Silas was enamored with our hotel room. We had accumulated three free nights at a Hyatt, so we were able to get a suite at the Hyatt House that had a living area, kitchenette, and two queen beds. Silas kept worrying that the hotel would give our room to someone else while we were out having fun. Later when I asked him what his favorite part of the trip was, he said, “The beach and the hotel.”
Thursday we visited the San Diego Zoo! As we were unloading our gear to head into the zoo, a couple pulled up in their car and asked if we had tickets yet. They gave us some coupons that were about to expire that gave us 50% off an adult ticket and 20% off a child’s admission! We were happy to add those to our AAA discount.
Since—at this age—the boys have trouble spotting small animals and birds, we focused on visiting the larger animals like the giraffes and tigers. The koalas were a lot cuter than I had anticipated. I told Stephen that they looked like little Brynns curled up in the trees sleeping! We managed to see the panda bears fairly early in the day. They were walking around, eating bamboo, and cooling off in the water. After eating our picnic lunch, we saw the mama and baby hippo napping underwater. Every so often, they would lift their noses up above the water to breathe.
The boys enjoyed watching the gharial, a type of Indian crocodile, as it caught and ate fish. We found the playground where the boys worked out some wiggles while I fed Brynn. Then we rode the aerial tram up to the polar animal area at the top of the hill. The polar bear was resting in the shade, but Silas liked the ice burg play area.
Stephen noticed the several areas with flamingos and said, “What I’m getting from this is that if you have a small area, and you don’t know what else to do with it…..FLAMINGOS!” My thoughts exactly. Finally, we finished the day with a ride on the bus where the boys fell asleep, exhausted.
That evening we watched the sun set over the harbor on Coronado Island at the same spot we had visited with Silas when he was 9 months old. Silas made some new friends, and the kids played in the golden light. Perfect ending to a happy day.
Friday was beach day at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. We toted our playtent, umbrella, blanket, picnic lunch, swim gear, sand toys, and books in our wagon and made a day of it. Silas loved “crashing” the waves as he ran headlong into the ocean and then tried to beat the waves back to shore. Cooper did go out in the waves with Mommy and Daddy, but he preferred the sand. I was happy to build a sand castle together. Brynn got her first taste of the Pacific as I took her out in the waves and dipped her in the ocean. She tolerated it—didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. She was adorable in her swimsuit though! Stephen and I both took turns reading on the blanket with Brynn and then playing with the boys in the water and on the shore. We even took a little family walk down the beach. There really weren’t any shells to find, but we saw lots of seaweed. The three little people passed out in the car at the end of our day, so Stephen and I enjoyed driving through the quaint beach towns with the windows rolled down (something rare for us desert rats).
Stephen found the most amazing Middle Eastern restaurant called The Kabob Shop. Their lamb/beef rotisserie plate was extra delicious after a day in sand and saltwater. I loved their caprese salad with cherry tomatoes—will have to try making that one myself at home.
Before heading home on Saturday, we took a harbor tour with Hornblower Cruises. The boys were able to see the sea lions in the north harbor. Then we made the long drive back through the mountains and the desert to Home Sweet Home.
Unfortunately, we all managed to come down with colds on the trip, and Stephen and I both got very sunburned. Between the physical taxation and a disruption in the kids’ sleep shedules, we had a rough transition back to our daily routines. But, it was worth it to make some happy family memories!