Friday, May 26
Our morning in Carmel by the River was very nice. I slept a little later snuggled up with Logan while Fillip and Hayden went down to the river to “skip” stones and look at the pollywogs. Once I got up, Hayden and I took a walk over to the campground “store.” They have a few provisions and some chatchkes. There were several resident dogs that Hayden just wasn’t sure about. He would greet them, but it took a bit for him to get comfortable enough to pet them. They were happy for any attention they could get (and I suspect they get a lot) so we spent some time scratching their backs and talking about the difference in how the smooth coat of the boxer felt compared to the soft coat of the springer spaniel. At the store I really wanted to find baking pans and muffin mix to whip up something with Hayden. Well, they had blueberry muffin mix, and the guy running the shop, who also lives there, loaned us a glass baking pan. I returned it to him later with a fresh hunk of blueberry bread. We also got bottles of Starbucks Frappucino….mmmm…
Back at camp Hayden and I made the blueberry bread, and I made eggs and sausage. He is so fun to bake with, earnestly mixing and taking turns “My turn! Ok Mommy, your turn!” Logan was a happy boy at breakfast, given the precious sausages. Cereal and fruit are fine, but sausage…now you’ve got breakfast! I got to take a shower, which for some reason wasn’t all that easy to do on this trip. Often our gray water needed to be emptied, or our mornings were just too hectic. Although it was nice to get clean, I missed seeing Tirsa and Nick who had come by briefly. Hayden and I walked down to the river where he had a great time throwing rocks into the river. It was really a tough path for me to navigate with my cast- steep and a little muddy and unstable, but worth it once we got there, since Hayden had so much fun. He is so cute yelling “My turn! Now….your turn!” See a theme here? Yea for school! Besides, how often is a little boy allowed to throw rocks? After awhile I convinced him to go back (convinced being “ok, Hayden I’m going back now. See you later” and heading up the path. Hayden- “No! I come too! I listen!”). When we got back Logan was happily playing in his pack n play and Fillip was packing up to go. We were off to Monterey!
Monterey is only a few miles from Carmel, but we decided to take the 17 Mile Drive on the way to let the boys nap. There is a fee to do that as it is a private road, but the views are stunning. Seeing those golf course holes right on the water was really neat. The surf is notorious for being very dangerous there, but it makes it that much prettier with the white capped waves over the rocks. There were some spectacular houses and amazing properties throughout the area. The tree canopy makes you feel like you are up in the mountains, yet you turn a bend with a stunning view of the Pacific.
From there we headed into Monterey, where we discovered that it isn’t easy to find parking for that large vehicle. We finally took two metered spots on the street, figuring that will have to do. The walk (or in my case, hobble) to the aquarium wasn’t bad. I was very excited about taking Hayden to the aquarium, but he has different interests than me. We saw Hans, Tirsa and Nick on their way out, then headed into the exhibits. Hayden was back in meltdown mode, causing us to take him outside for some downtime and a little chat. When we went back inside, he was strapped into the stroller, but only wanted to press the buttons on the exhibits. It was a much more enjoyable visit to let him press buttons until other kids came along and I could say “Hayden, it’s their turn now” and he would let us move on without a fuss.
The Monterey Aquarium has some stunning exhibits. There was an enormous tank of tuna, which I didn’t realize are such big fish. Some must have been the size of a queen bed! There were giant rays of all colors, seals, penguins, etc.. The jellyfish exhibit was my favorite. One enormous tank is all royal blue with large orange jellyfish. It was probably 10 feet square at least. Another area had black water with white jellyfish (the colors are probably all lighting, but the effect was great) along an entire wall, with mirrors all around. It looking like there was nothing but darkness with white jellyfish, floor to ceiling, along a long corridor, when in fact it was “only” about 40 feet. Stunning. They also had smaller jellyfish with irridescent strips, large blue jellyfish with white dots, upside down jellyfish (picture cauliflower in water) and jellyfish in different stages of development for comparison. Very cool. The aquarium also has a shark exhibit right now. It’s wild to get right up to these animals. Hayden liked the zebra shark which was white with black spots and about 4 feet long. (Why zebra as opposed to leopard? It’s maturity thing according to the sign.) He would put his little hand out to touch the glass as it came by, then pull back afraid, then do it again until he discovered the glass. I don’t know why, but he called this shark “taco!” Maybe he was hungry. There are areas where you can reach in and touch things like shells and starfish and he loved that. He is so tactile, which we need to keep in mind on excursions. Just looking or listening simply doesn’t engage him at all. Logan spent most of the time on Fillip in the Baby Bjorn, happy as a clam- quite appropriate for an aquarium. Each time we all caught up I would get his big grin and he would be squealing and pumping those little arms and legs.
After a couple hours we were very tired, hungry and the aquarium was about to close. I had hoped to find a cute aquarium related board book in the gift shop, but One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish just didn’t seem all that unique. We headed back to the motorhome for diaper changes, snacks and headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. Navigating the busy streets of Monterey in that rv was tricky, but Fillip did a great job. At one point we looked up a one way street to see three deer walking along. “That’s really weird right? I just saw deer right?!” Spoken like true city folk. We found parking, and Fillip scouted out a restaurant while I nursed Logan. We went to Sapporos, a steakhouse and sushi restaurant right on the marina. Our table was at the window and perfect- our first meal “out!” Despite the late hour and rocky afternoon, Hayden and Logan were both in giddy moods and we were a happy bunch. Dinner was delicious. We started with an order of fried calamari strips, which Hayden loved. Hayden ordered the child’s steak teriyaki which was the most tender and flavorful I’ve ever had. Fillip and I had sushi. There was some miscommunication at the sushi bar, so my last order was put to go and comped since it took nearly 40 mins to get. However, it didn’t matter. The food was all delicious and there were families with kids all around us so the staff was very accomodating. Logan had a jar of food for dinner and I gave him some sticky white rice. It is amazing how far a spoonful of rice can go. I looked over and his dark blue pants were nearly solid white! Because it was sticky rice, it wouldn’t brush off. He was a mess!! It was really funny to see him and we did our best to pick it all off, glad he was enjoying himself. People all around us were laughing at the amount of rice one little guy could have on his pants.
After our delicious dinner, we piled back into our motorhome and got the kids in jammies. They fell asleep quickly and we headed north to Half Moon Bay. I suspect the darkness was hiding a beautiful drive, but we had a relaxing time anyway. Because it was the beginning of the holiday weekend, we ran into our first challenge getting a campsite. Each campground we came to had closed gates and no vacancy. We finally pulled into the harbor, but almost left as the signs said we were required to have a boat. It was about 1:30am by this time and we were frustrated and tired. Fortunately, the harbormaster came by and said that since it was so late and not crowded, we would just have to pay the overnight fee and it would be fine. We were relieved and settled in for the night. Fillip needed time to come down from driving so went and got all the local scoop from the harbormaster while I went to bed. At some point in the night it rained, hard, and we had to shut the overhead vent, but that was the only “weather” we encountered all week, and given we didn’t have surf or frogsong to listen to, the pounding rain was welcome.
Saturday, May 27
Our morning began early as always, despite the kids being up later every night. Fillip scouted out a breakfast joint and we dragged ourselves over there, barely getting ourselves dressed. The kids were lucky they got clean diapers, but went in their jammies. Hayden even got to bring his blankie, a rare treat. We went to the breakfast café on the wharf, which was a great local hangout. Our server was a local girl who punctuated every sentence with “right?” and fell in love with our kids. She was friendly and chatty and we enjoyed sitting down to breakfast with the local fishermen. At one point the server asked if we would mind her holding Logan, and off he went for a tour of the kitchen. After a few minutes we heard a table ask if it was her baby and she said “oh no, it’s table 8’s baby!” Since Hayden was missing Tony and Lisa from our usual breakfast haunt, it was nice to be someplace relaxed and casual again. By the time we left, a more touristy crowd was coming in, so we were glad to have been there early.
We got some gas and Starbuck’s (whoo hoo!!!!!!) and hit the road, headed for the Bay Area. It was an easy drive on the road, but not in the rv. Fillip had asked me to charge his cell phone, but I didn’t secure it in the cabinet, so it fell in and soaked in pot of water. Oops. This made it very difficult to reach Ben about where to find him in Sausalito. Fillip fortunately remembered his number and we were able to use the little bit of juice left in my phone (as opposed to the juice actually floating across the screen of Fillip’s phone) to get in touch with and find Ben. We drove across part of the city, and then on to the Golden Gate bridge! I always find this thrilling, even though I’ve done it a few times. I loved seeing the red towers pass the boys in the window. Hayden was thrilled to be looking at the boats and water of the bay, and Logan was just not happy. Food was not forthcoming for a few minutes, and he wasn’t feeling patient. Sorry kid, that’s the breaks.
We found Ben’s house after a couple wrong turns, cuz you know how easy it to just flip a bitch in a motorhome! (Ben, go straight off the freeway, not right. How do you find your way home, man?) Ben lives on the waterfront in Sausalito with housemates. It’s an artist colony mostly and the houseboat neighborhoods are right there. We hung out most of the afternoon, feeding the kids and letting them roam free. Ben and Fillip took a walk into town while I put the kids down for a nap. It was lowkey and slow-paced, as expected when visiting Ben. That evening we headed into San Anselmo to the restaurant where Clementine works. It is a 50’s style diner, but with a more modern gourmet menu. Everything we had was delicious. Hayden was happy to have real, actual brown, chocolate milk, rather than the fake stuff we give him. Logan was just happy. As usual, he got carried around the restaurant for awhile, this time by Clementine, at least someone we know! That kid is bound to work in restaurants one day. We were there late, as it was good to give Clem a break by sitting in her station (actually since she is the only server, the whole place is her station) and took our time ordering and eating. Ben and I split a spinach chicken salad and a pulled pork sandwich with french fries. Big mistake..I wanted the whole sandwich it was so good! Hayden got a hotdog and french fries at his request:
“Hayden, what do you want for dinner?”
“Fesh fies, katup and dotdog.”
“Do you want a hamburger?”
“Do you want chicken?”
“Do you want…..a sandwich?”
“No! No sammich!! (now scowling, nodding, and getting louder with every word, hence our persistance in this game) I! Wan! Fesh fies! Katup! Dotdog!”
“Ok, no problem, geez.” Wink.
He didn’t touch the hotdog. Clementine ate it. The fries went down just fine as well as some of the fresh strawberries she brought by. Strangely, he didn’t even want his icecream. By 10:30pm it was just too late for him to want anything. Despite the very late hour, the kids were really great, and we had a good meal. We all got back to the motorhome, and got the kids in jammies for the ride. Clementine joined us for storytime, then we kidnapped Ben and headed for the hills.
Fillip had made us a reservation at Olimas State Park, which we found almost easily. Our name was not on the after hours list, but somehow Ben remembered our assigned spot number and all went fine. The park was my favorite as our campsite was very large and we weren’t on top of the other campers. The guys got a fire going, then out, then going, then out… Those two couldn’t just leave it alone and as soon as one would get a good blaze going, the other had to make it better, likely putting it out- giving each other a good-natured ration of shit the whole time. Good times. I sat through the testosterone show for awhile, admiring the stars, wishing I had brought out the s’mores fixin’s (which I never did use) and taking in the fresh air before retiring to bed with my book. They had a good time until the fire went out in the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday, May 28
We woke up in the woods grateful to sleep a tiny bit later. Well, Logan had done his usual early morning wake up and come into our bed. We had joked to Ben that Hayden was his responsibility. Well, the little stinker slept until 9:30am. No loyalty. We were up with Logan from about 8am, which is still really late for him. Breakfast was more burritos from the leftovers of previous days and Ben was duly impressed. Hayden and I took a walk around the campground, which was a morning tradition at that point. He is really fun to walk with, holding my hand and pointing out the sites. Every now and then he stops to be picked up “picky my up!” so I do. It’s really brief until he tells me “takey my down.” He says hi to all the dogs, points out bicycles, other motorhomes, and people who look familiar to him. It’s just amazing to me how much goes on in that tiny little person, and how in just two years he has become a thinking individual all on his own. We didn’t do that, just provided the environment in which it could happen. After our usual relaxed morning we packed up and headed down the hills. It was a beautiful drive, the kids were happy and we were to spend the day in Sausalito.
Fillip parked the motorhome in a business lot near Ben’s place. In trying to park he knocked over a post and did a bit of damage to the rv. So, he and Ben went to the hardware store while I stayed with the sleeping munchkins. It gave me about half an hour to relax and read. It would have been nice to be outside, but the downtime was nice anyway. When Fillip and Ben returned we finally headed to downtown Sausalito to walk around.
It is a beautiful area, right on the water. We went in a couple shops then got a snack at a gourmet deli. We sat near the park eating crusty french bread with provolone, italian salame and black forest ham. It was surprisingly delicious. My snack had the bonus of an icecream cone, which made the rounds despite everyone saying they didn’t want any when I offered to get them their own. Both boys loved our little picnic, eating heartily which was good as we were going for another late dinner. The waterfront and shopping district was crowded with people out for the holiday weekend, also taking in the beautiful weather and view. We walked along the waterfront, then headed back to Ben’s car and over to the fishing pier.
The pier is right near the Golden Gate Bridge, with the San Francisco skyline right in front of us. Spectacular!! I couldn’t help sending pics from my phone of such a fantastic sight. People were catching fish from the pier and Hayden was fascinated by the cooler full of live fish. One lady even pulled up some crabs. Eventually, Hayden lost interest and before we knew it, Ben (who was wearing Logan) and I realized Fillip and Hayden were back at the car. It was very breezy and chilly, so that might be what made Hayden want to go back. I could have stayed there all day, and will make it a point to hit that spot when we go back to the Bay Area.
Next we headed back to San Anselmo for dinner at Bubba’s, Clementine’s diner. I was smart enough to get another pulled pork sandwich, this one all to myself. Hayden at least took a couple bites of hotdog, and Logan was just happy to be. We lingered over dinner again, with our plan for me and Clementine to go out for a bit in the city. Fillip and I walked to the bookstore across the street, as Goodnight Moon really needed to be replaced. I also got a couple more books including one about San Francisco. I love getting books local to where we are traveling. We came back to the diner and I said goodnight to the kids. The boys all headed back to Ben’s and Clem and I went into the city.
Our plan was to briefly stop at her apartment for her to change, then go get a drink at a local restaurant bar, then she would drive me back to Ben’s place around midnight and Fillip, me and the boys would start our drive back to Los Angeles. The restaurant bar she likes is nice and she seems to be pretty friendly with the bartender. It was nice to be out as a grownup for a change, not just a mommy. It was a friendly crowd, maybe a bit friendlier than I like, since the singles scene is something I’ve never been particularly comfortable with. However, Clementine seems to be pretty familiar with the place, a regular on Sunday nights when she needs to let off steam after a tough week. She is off Mondays and Tuesdays, so it the beginning of her weekend. We got there late, and time went quickly. I spoke with Fillip around 12:45pm, convinced Clem and I would be leaving soon, but when I finally started really badgering her and it got to 1:30am, she said she was in no condition to drive, and Ben had to come get me. I told her to make that phone call, as I did not want to hear the irritation on the other side of the line. Ben got to me around 2:30am, we followed Clementine the few blocks home as she absolutely insisted on driving herself. Fillip had to move the motorhome by 2am so drove around waiting for me, and we hit the road after 3:00am. It was so frustrating!
Needless to say, Fillip was extremely tired, which wasn’t the safest situation. However, we didn’t have a place to keep the motorhome that night, so we had to hit the road. We drove for over two hours, and got the last spot at a rest area on the I-5. Phew! We laid our heads down to sleep at 5:30am.
Monday, May 29
At 5:40am Logan woke up. I fed him and got him settled by 6:15am, then dozed off. Hayden woke at 6:45am. I kept the kids quiet and occupied for the next several hours, so Fillip could sleep. After all, he was the one who would be driving and needed the rest. The boys had snacks, played, watched movies, and were very good. I got Fillip up before 11am. We had a quick breakfast, walked Hayden around the rest area a bit and went to see the passing herd of cattle. I don’t know that I actually have ever heard cows moo before, but it was fun to watch Hayden moo at them. We hit the road around 11am without any more rest or showers (eyww!) and had a long drive ahead of us. We had McDonalds for lunch then the kids fell asleep. I laid down for about 30 minutes before needing to be back up while Fillip used a rest stop. Hayden was up by then. Given that we drove for about 4 hours straight, the kids were incredible! They didn’t complain and were so content in their carseats. When we would stop now and then for Fillip to stretch, we would let them get out and stretch as well. Logan would crawl around the motorhome, and Hayden would go with one of us for a walk. We dragged into town with very little traffic and went straight to Tami’s house for a Memorial Day BBQ.
It was truly a fun trip. Traveling with little kids is still so busy, not much different than home. It is so fun to see their faces in new situations, and learn how flexible and open to new experiences they are. Hayden now talks about castles and we can tell him how he has been up and down our state. Logan began the trip crawling, eating only pureed food, and now stands on his own easily and wants almost all tablefood. We had seven days together to get to know each other so much better, while seeing how absolutely beautiful much of California is.