Thursday, June 01, 2006

Our coastal adventures- Part 1

We had a wonderful time on our vacation, and although happy to be home, would have been happier to have more time off. We saw the beautiful California coast, stayed in the lap of luxury on our motorhome, and realized that vacation with kids is as busy as being home with kids. Gee, there's a surprise! Logan didn't wheeze at all on our trip. As much as a relief as that is, it doesn't bode well for our kitties. He has been home and wheez-free for two days, so I am interested to see what comes of our allergist appointment in a couple weeks.

Monday, May 22
Monday was spent packing and getting ready for our departure. I had a doc appointment in the morning to get my cast off, and a removable AirCast put on, which the Mini Cooper kindly got us to, then promptly died in the parking structure. Fillip waited for the towtruck during my appointment. A frustrating start to the day, but we didn’t let it get us down. While Fillip went for the motorhome, I stayed home packing. The kids were with Mickey, enjoying a day at Grandma’s house. By the time we got the motorhome packed, I was exhausted, and we got quite a late start. We were very excited. We had to make a “quick” stop at Erawan’s house for Fillip’s forgotten jacket, which was less quick than we intended, not surprisingly. I was to stay in the motorhome while Fillip just ran in. However, Erawan’s parents and aunt came to see our rig, and before I knew it, had scooped up the kids and taken them in the house. I sheepishly came in to tell Fillip, I had lost control, and the kids! Jessica kindly (and insistently) stocked us with tons of food and goodies, which was a great help, delaying our need to grocery shop. Delicious croissants and sweet fresh fruit! Well, also some cookies, brownies, chips, more fruit, and a big hat. Ok, now we were ready to hit the road!

The motorhome itself was great. It was 31’ with a bed over the cab, the couch and table each converted into beds, and there was a king size bed in the back. It was less than a year old, and immaculate, with “tile” floors and nice upholstery and cabinets. The carseats installed well facing each other on the kitchenette banquettes, so Logan was still rear-facing as required, and they could amuse each other on the road. Hayden’s face was priceless when he boarded, wanting to check everything out. For him it was great, as he could see the scenery going by, much better than in our cars. The law on carseat requirements for kids isn’t clear to us, but what was clear was that they needed to be restrained. It was difficult for me to walk around while moving, which I had to do more often than I liked, and there is no way the little ones could have been let to roam free while traveling. The side of the motorhome “popped out” at the touch of a button, giving us lots of space to walk by once camped. We used our Pack n Play for Logan as well as the baby swing!

We got a great spot at Thornhill Broom beach for our first night, right on the beach! Dinner was kept simple with the kids eating first, and us heating up leftover bbq after they went to bed. Hayden played in his bed over the cab for awhile when we first got there. He was so excited! We were slightly concerned about him falling off, but it wasn’t much of an issue. He had all his familiar bedding and Robby’s so was a happy boy. He went down with little fuss after little fuss, and Logan went to sleep in his swing. We had a quiet dinner on the beach to the sound of the waves on the shore. The sky was beautiful and we were very happy to be on the road, despite being very local still. We slept with the windows open, listening to the pounding of the surf all night.

Tuesday, May 23

The first morning (actually, every morning) the kids woke bright and early. Logan woke first and came into bed with us. Shortly after we heard a thump and Hayden crying. He had jumped out of bed himself, but was just fine. Nothing a kiss on the knee couldn’t cure. The four of us stayed in our bed for awhile before getting up to make breakfast (mmmm… toasted croissants a la Jessica!) and play on the beach. The boys were content to snack in their booster seats for awhile. Hayden really just wanted to play in the driver’s seat for most of the trip “I drive! Daddy give me keys to drive!”, but did enjoy the beach that morning. We spent a relaxing, yet busy morning there. Hayden walked around the beach, desperately wanting to get closer to the water. I even got some time alone to sit and gaze at the water. Late in the morning when the kids were ready for a nap, we packed up and moved out.
We had a beautiful drive up the coast, went through some towns following Highway 1, and then dared to go through the hills of Santa Barbara. Fillip handled the motorhome like pro, although it must have been harder than he made it look. We were on an adventure and enjoying the journey. We made camp in El Capitan State Park north of Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful park with woods and a view of the bay. We could see the water from our campsite under the trees, and were excited about camping. Hayden was happier playing in the driver’s seat and rear storage compartment of the rv, while Logan was delighted to be outside in his piano exersaucer. Yes, we even had that monstrous toy- we had that much room! I kept him company knitting and providing snacks. Fillip built a campfire, although the firewood we had was slightly wet and wouldn’t catch. We smoked our tritip as much as grilled it, but it was delicious! The weather was clear and crisp, requiring jackets or sweaters in the evening, but nothing heavier until after nightfall. After the kids went to bed, we sat down by the campfire to relax over a game of dominoes. Fillip kicked my ass and I went to bed late in defeat. We each got our usual time to wind down- me reading and Fillip wandering about until late in the night while the campfire died down. We could hear the bass of the waves on the shore, despite the distance to the water, and it was so nice.

Wednesday, May 24

Wednesday morning we were up early as always. Fillip made us “eggs cheese and sausage,” Hayden’s favorite breakfast and we sat at the picnic table enjoying the atmosphere and the view. Logan decided sausage is the food for him, and ate an entire one each day we had them. It takes a really long time to feed him a whole sausage and crumble it as little as he needs it, but he was a happy boy. Hayden and I took a walk to check out the dolphins in the bay that Fillip had seen earlier. There were about a half dozen of them frolicking in the water, and other campers mentioned seeing even more the previous evening. They likely reside there in the bay and were very fun to watch. After breakfast the four of us descended the staircase to the beach. This was quite a challenge for me in my cast. Fillip had Logan in the Baby Bjorn, and Hayden held his hand while I hobbled down. Of course, it took longer as I kept making them stop so I could take pictures, but that’s all part of the package with me! We finally made it down to the rocky beach and Fillip said we needed to head right back up, as we hadn’t given Logan any sunscreen and there wasn’t any shade. He had already been in the sun for some time while we got down there. We stayed for about 5 minutes before heading back up. Going up was much easier for me. Hayden and I played with my big floppy hat and a squirrel while Fillip got the rv. Off we went for another day on the road. Lunch generally consisted of snacks for Hayden who is always happy with a breakfast bar and Cheez Its, and a jar of something for Logan while driving. These days he really wants table food so I would also take time to give him tiny bits of turkey lunchmeat. Fillip and I would have sandwiches that I made as we drove.

This was another traveling day. The kids napped for part of the drive and we got to see more of California. Despite being on vacation, we were still quite busy with the kids. Once they would wake up, I would frequently be up and about while driving to get them snacks, toys, etc. This was a bit tiresome, but certainly preferable to hungry screaming kids! We would stop now and then for gas or provisions. I would stay in the rv nursing or doing diaper changes, while Fillip usually took Hayden and sometimes Logan so they could have a break from being cooped up. We got to Morro Bay State Park late in the afternoon, and had a similar time from the day before. Relaxing, playing, walking, knitting, snacking. Fillip had better luck with the fire, but that wood still didn’t really want to catch. This park had so many campers with dogs and Hayden had a good time greeting all of them. “Hi doggy! How are you?” Logan had determined that the motorhome was the best playpen ever, and was such a happy boy. He got some play time outside in his pack n play, while Hayden just wanted to “drive.” The campground was right on the bay next to the marina. It wasn’t quite as “woodsy,” and the rv spots were packed close together.

People were very friendly, waving and saying high as they passed by. We had grilled hot dogs and chili for dinner, a good camping dinner. We also had fondue, how fancy!! Bedtime was the usual blur of activity, complete with storytime, my favorite time with Hayden. He now reads along with his books, which is so sweet. Most nights we read his fire engine book of vehicle sounds, a Curious George book (“Hi George!”), the Cat in the Hat which Hayden calls the fish book (“hish fall down get hurt? hish get back in his bowl? Where’s hish?”), a book about Shabbat where Hayden pauses to recite the Kiddush and cover his eyes for candle lighting and Goodnight Moon (in the great green room there was a telephone “Right there!” and a red balloon “Right there!”…). Storytime has gotten quite long, but is such an enjoyable time of the day. For the first time he noticed the ship in the Cat in the Hat (remember…the cat sank the ship in the cake) and said “there’s the ship! Arrrgh Matey!” in his surly pirate voice. He cracks me up. Fillip and I sat down for another game of dominoes. I got schooled again, despite talking a good amount of smack before hand. I’m bound to win a game eventually, right? We enjoyed another evening relaxing by the fire and gazing at the beautiful sky, trying to find constellations we know we knew at one point in time.

Thursday, May 25
Our morning in Morro Bay began early like the others. We had yummy breakfast burritos with eggs, tritip, cheese and salsa, and our usual morning busy-ness. Hayden and I took a walk around the campground, getting caught in some kind of loop where we finally ended up walking across other campsites (gasp!) to get back to our own. There is something I just love about morning air, and being out in nature makes it so much better. I really did miss the ability to go for a long, hard walk, but had to be content with a short stroll and the good company of Hayden. I was very excited to be heading to Hearst Castle that day.

The drive was nice, the scenery absolutely beautiful. We made our tour reservation by phone and showed up right on time for the bus. Hayden was excited to go on the bus (and seriously disappointed by every unboarded bus thereafter!), but a little hard to keep seated. Logan was happy to be repeatedly throwing Legos on the floor, and getting us to retrieve them. He even managed to throw one onto an unsuspecting lady in front of us who didn’t quite realize what had happened. The Hearst Castle tour is very structured, with a lot of lecture and not much touring. Hayden was simply everywhere loudly. That child was uncontainable. The assistant docent asked him at one point to use a quieter voice. Not surprising, that didn’t work. We kept pulling him aside and trying to calm him, but once he gets into meltdown mode, it is rather hopeless much of the time. We were finally strongly encouraged to go to the children’s room where there was a changing pad, toys, a bathroom, and a door they could close on our chaos. As were being ejected from the tour, a lady looked at Hayden and said “Shhh! I can’t hear!” Well, I could not hold my tongue and told her if the would have worked, didn’t she think we would have tried that! We were doing our best! By this time, Fillip was football carrying a screaming Hayden and I was hobbling along with Logan in the Baby Bjorn. Don’t mess with me right now lady! Once we got to the room, I told Fillip to go back to the tour, since there was no reason we should both miss it. He said I didn’t miss much, but I hadn’t heard anything prior to that anyway, so it was rather disappointing. Of course, once we were ensconced in Hearst Siberia, Hayden was a perfect angel, happy to play quietly. We sheepishly rejoined our tour before boarding the bus, and were happy to receive more supportive comments from other parents who could commiserate from experience. Needless to say, we were happy to back to our motorhome, which from that point forward Hayden called his castle.

We had some snacks while Fillip went to purchase our oh so touristy Hearst Castle portrait package (I had forgotten my camera) and hit the road with two sleepy kids, ready for our next adventure. Little did I know what an adventure it would be!

Despite warnings against it, we decided to continue up the coast through Big Sur. The kids quickly zonked out, and we had an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the California coastline. It was truly spectacular. The combination of the dark jagged coastline, rich greenery, white frothy waves and blue water was stunning. However, the road was treacherous, especially in a 31’ motorhome. Fillip was very calm, but nervous navigating through there. There were hairpin turns, bumps, dips, the face of the mountain on our right ,and a sheer drop to the water on the left. There was no way we would take that drive going the other direction. This way we could at least hug the mountain.

Although Hayden remained asleep, Logan woke up cranky. We definitely didn’t want to wake Hayden early after the trying afternoon we’d had, so I took Logan to the back thinking to put him back to sleep, then back in his carseat. Hah!! It was wild ride back there. We were lying on the bed, but barely as each bump and turn had us jumping and flying around. At one point, I was trying to build a pillow barricade for us and had let go of Logan. That baby went flying and bouncing from side to side across the bed, giggling all the way! It was very funny, but scary at the same time. I finally weighted him down with my body, laughing with him through the bigger bumps. At first he giggled, then fussed, then cried, then eventually went fast asleep for the next hour and a half. I stayed awake trying to take in as much of the scenery as I could out the back windows. It was so sweet to hold Logan tight like that while he slept, but I had really been enjoying the drive with Fillip. There was no way I could get us up and navigate back to our seats under those conditions, so I had no choice but to stay put. I wedged us in with pillows and enjoyed the ride.

Hayden eventually woke up and Fillip stopped to tend to him, but I had no way to know if there was enough time to get up, so figured Fillip would get me when he got up. Nope. I finally got up as we started up a mountain road to our campsite in Carmel by the River. I could gauge the stoplights and made my way back to the front.

This next campsite was pricey, but beautiful. Each spot was very small, so we were very close to our neighbors. Friendly campers as always. The river was right behind us over the grassy embankment. As we were getting settled, a lady and her toddler walked by and we started chatting. Eventually, her husband came by too looking for them. Hans, Tirsa, and Nick are from Holland and had taken a three week vacation starting in San Francisco. They were at the end of their trip and had been all over. After over an hour it was getting late, so we invited them to stick around for dinner. They were happy to accept as their provisions were low, and we had plenty to share. It was a wonderful evening with them, and the kids played nicely too. Hayden was so happy to have someone to play with. They each held their own, stealing and sharing the toys. The family was laid back about things, so didn’t care if I gave the kids yogurt or Doritos. Whatever! One of the boys determined that Logan can in fact eat Doritos. The orange powder in and around Logan’s smiling mouth gave him away. He was just happy to be part of the chaos. Dinner ended well after 10pm, but the kids were great. This was to become a pattern, and they surprised us with their endurance. We finally bid each other goodnight after taking pics and exchanging info. We’ve already exchanged a couple emails. We saw them briefly the next day at the aquarium, and we are promised lodging should we ever make it back to Holland.

Fillip and I stayed up for a bit with the fire. We watched the stars and chatted a bit about how great it was to meet another young family. I was exhausted and shortly went to bed with the windows open enjoying the rhythm of the surprisingly loud frogsong on the river.

1 comment:

Ellis Creel said...

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