We "just" got back from a week-long trip to visit family in California. Actually we got back on Friday. I ended up sleeping most of the day yesterday, apparently suffering from jetlag, extreme heat, or coming off of the vacation high. It was a long trip and didn't go exactly like we initially thought, but it was a good trip.
It had been a few years since we had visited Steve's family out there, and we knew that some of them were having some health issues. Joel was a baby the last time we went, so we wanted to go again so that he and Evan would hopefully be able to remember spending time with them.
I wasn't sure how Joel would do on this trip, but he was really good. He was a little shy around some of the family, but having his Grandma Sherry there helped him quite a bit, I think. He warmed up pretty quickly and had a lot of fun with everyone. Evan had been bashful on previous trips, but he wasn't at all this time. He even put aside his love for the Rangers to make a "Giants Rock!" sign for his great-grandma (which was all his own idea). He even cheered for the Giants (for her) when we watched the games with her on TV. He enjoyed getting to meet (again) the cousin who sends him baseball and football cards, and was overjoyed when he got more on this trip. Joel decided he liked them, too, and now has quite a nice collection going.
We really enjoyed the time we spent with all of the family, and exploring a different area. The land, the plants, the views, the weather, the architecture, the food, the cultures - we could find differences to explore in all of these areas. It would have been nice if we had more time to do that, but the boys probably had enough of it as it was. I did want to make a list of observations that we collected while on this trip of some of the differences between California and other areas we have visited:
1. The summer-time brown mountains are beautiful, but different from most other mountains we have seen.
2. There's a lot of fog/smog in this area which can sometimes make it hard to see the mountains! We weren't sure how much was fog and how much was smog.
3. There's a lot of locally grown produce in the stores.
4. Some of the groceries are the same price, and some are twice as much.
5. Locally grown, but free, oranges are abundant and taste really good.
6. It's hard to find plain sandwich bread - even whole wheat sandwich bread.
7. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in parking lots.
8. The speed limit may be 35, but the lights can be short in neighborhood streets, so you better be ready to go when the light turns green. (And expect to get honked at if you aren't that fast.)
9. While we were enjoying wearing shorts and short sleeves without sweating, others were wearing jackets.
10. Mountain hikes are great exercise, but be careful in your choice of shoes. Loose sneakers will hurt your toes going downhill. Tevas will give you blisters (if you don't wear them frequently) if you try to hike quickly for an hour or so.
11. I can exercise without getting dizzy there!
12. The waves of the Pacific are bigger than others we have seen, and they are COLD!
13. People come from all over the world to see San Francisco. I don't even know what all of the languages that we heard in Muir Woods were.
14. If you want to enjoy the peace and quiet in Muir Woods, it's probably better to not go during the summer.
15. If you are going to go off the main trail in Muir Woods, get a map. We used ours frequently. We also met a couple who had been wandering around for over 3 hours after getting lost on the aptly named "Lost Trail".
16. Don't expect to find tourist shops and seafood places all along the beach in Santa Cruz. I know there are some there, but they aren't super easy to find.
17. Surf shops are quite easy to find in Santa Cruz, but they are for real surfers and don't sell cheap souvenirs (or beach towels for people who forgot to bring them).
18. There were not as many shells on the beach at Santa Cruz as I expected. Most of the ones we found were in the loose, dry sand instead of the wet sand closer to the waves.
19. Be prepared to pay for parking in the Santa Cruz. One little town looked especially cute to walk around and had a nice beach, but all of the parking spots (along the beach, in front of stores, and in the big public lot) were metered - and took coins only.
20. Older people love little kids. Okay, I already knew this, but it was neat to see how Aunt Helen and Great-Grandma Vine both perked up around the boys. It was even neat to see the other residents and workers at the nursing home enjoying the boys.
Well, that's a lot more than I thought I would write, but once I got started, it just kept flowing. As you can tell, we had a great time. The boys didn't even ask about when we were coming home, even though we didn't take many toys with us. I think they would say that they would have rather played at Aunt Judy's house with all of the family around than go on the day trips we took, too. But I know that they had fun on the day trips. They did ask frequently about going to the beach, so that might be the exception. They were determined to get in the water at the beach, too. We told them they could if they wanted to, but tried to warn them it was cold. They didn't care. They both got soaked head to toe at least once, and they kept on playing. After about an hour and a half, they did decide that they were cold and it was time to leave.
Our other day trip was to Muir Woods and a (very hilly!) driving tour of San Francisco. That day I got tickled every time I said "Francisco". The way I said it one time reminded me of the movie Elf, and it was all over from there. I can still make myself laugh just saying it in my head. It's nice to be so easily entertained. ;-)
I was excited to be able to get in some workouts while we were there, too. I was able to eat pretty well, too, so my attempts to "get healthy" weren't too de-railed by our vacation. And while I do think that I am getting healthier, I still don't like the pictures of myself. So you won't see many of them from this trip.
Anyway, we had a great time, and I took lots of pictures. I uploaded a bunch to facebook, but it would be too many to try to post here. I will just post the link to those instead. (Some of them have descriptive captions, too.)
Our summer seems to coming to a close, but hopefully we will have a few more adventures before school starts up again. Until then!
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