Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day-by-Day in California

While we are experiencing very anti-California weather right now, I thought I'd take this opportunity to reminisce about warmer days, and finish up blogging about California.  I took over 1000 pictures while we were in California, but rather than boring you all with a gazillion more blogposts about our trip, I'm combining most of the rest of the pictures into this one long post.   There will definitely be some more pics that pop up in future posts, but this will be the last big one that recaps our trip.  This post will also be the guide post to our trip and below you will find summaries of what we did day-by-day with  links to the applicable posts. 

In the meantime, we are now hunkering down for some real deal winter weather (for the DC area) over the next few days.  Today the high was 15ยบ,  it was very windy, and church was canceled.  Tomorrow we are expecting 4-8-inches of snow and it's beginning to feel a little like late-autumn weather where I grew up in Minnesota.    

Day 1:  Arrive to LV, drive to CA, sleep!
We were so exhausted from rushing to get out the door on our trip a day earlier than we'd planned, that all we wanted to do when we arrived to my sister's house was to sleep.   

Day 2:   Chill morning, Crescent Bay at Laguna Beach in the afternoon
My kids were so absolutely enraptured by the novelty of being at the beach in the middle of winter, that they did not stop smiling the entire time we were there.   My California native niece and nephew, on the other hand, were totally bored by it.  Beach trips all through the year are not new or novel for them, and  they would have much rather been there with their friends than their long-lost East coast cousins.   I felt bad that we stayed as long as we did, but my kids were soaking it all up to the hilt!   

Day 3:  DisneyLand
It was my kids' very first time visiting a Disney park and they LOVED it!   We had locals telling us to expect 1-2 hour waits on some of the popular rides, even in the off-season, but somehow we never had to wait more than about 10 minutes for any ride.  We attributed it to going in the middle of the week and the whole measles' bad publicity.   There were several rides closed (It's a Small World and the Matterhorn being the two most disappointing), but it was so fantastic being able to actually enjoy our time, instead of waiting in lines, that I think we should never go back, so as not to ever ruin that sense of perfection that we have in our minds!  

I had no idea what to expect with this "twin sister" park to DisneyLand, but it exceeded our expectations in every way.   The lines were slightly longer than they'd been at DisneyLand, but that meant we never waited longer than about 25 minutes for the most popular rides and still walked right up for most rides.   The rides are larger and more age appropriate for  my kids and it's a lot more themey than DL.  They had "lands" and rides based on Disney movies that were breathtakingly realistic.   Cars Land was AMAZING and probably our favorite!    The recreated Radiator Springs, complete with the bluffs in the background,  was so cool and contained some of our favorite rides of the day.  Some other favorites included the Frozen sing-a-long and the Aladdin musical.   Aladdin's actors were Broadway quality and the special effects were out-of-this-world!   That show alone almost made it worth the price of admission! 
Day 5:  Los Angeles (LaBrea Tar Pits (see below), Griffith Observatory)
 In my opinion, the museum at LaBrea Tar Pits is way over-priced, so we opted to stay outside and explore the grounds instead.   Too bad it started raining right when we got there.    It was blue sky and sunshiny when we left my sister's house, so we were woefully unprepared for the unusual California rainstorm.   We ran around looking at the tar pits, the excavation site, and some informational signage they had around the grounds, but truth be told, the rain shortened our stay dramatically.    Timing-wise, though, it ended up being perfect for heading to the Griffith Observatory.   It stopped raining on the way there and we arrived just in time to enjoy an absolutely spectacular sunset.   The observatory is completely free and, in my opinion, the absolutely best way to enjoy Los Angeles…from up high!  

Day 6:  Balboa Island, Newport Beach, shopping
Cami had visited Balboa Island last summer with Kristina, and couldn't wait to introduce us to it as well.  Its narrow streets, cute little shops, and cottages made for a very picturesque town.  We ate lunch here, got a famous "Balboa Bar" at one of the many shops touting theirs as the original, then headed across on the ferry to Newport Beach.  Once again, my kids were completely in love with the idea of swimming at a beach in January!  The waves weren't as good for boogie boarding, but we definitely enjoyed a lovely afternoon there!

Day 7:   Church
It was great to attend church for a week without a single shred of responsibility.   Ellie felt right at home being the only girl in a crazy primary class of all boys.   At home there's usually one other girl, but the craziness and the being outnumbered was not a new feeling at all.   Adam joined in a very large and boisterous Deacon's class that gave him a newfound appreciation for his own large and slightly less boisterous class at home.   Emma and Cami enjoyed  being introduced to a whole new group of Californian young men.   After church we headed home where Emma cooked up a gorgeous rendition of Chicken cordon blue!  
Day 8:  San Diego, La Jolla, trolley tour (see below), Coronado Beach, Mormon Battalion (see below), San Diego Temple
What can I say?  We loved San Diego so much, that every single one of us left there wondering how we could talk Glen into us moving there for good.   La Jolla Cove beach and Coronado beaches were our favorites yet.   La Jolla was rocky and definitely not as great for swimming, but was picturesque with its gorgeously blue water, was peaceful,  and had sea lions!   Coronado's sands were amazingly soft and somehow flecked with gold specks (which apparently are actually mica flecks).  It was a stunning sight to see and we fell in love with the wide, flat beach and shallow waters.  Our only disappointment was that we were not prepared to swim.   We took a trolley tour to see more of San Diego than we otherwise would have, and ended up grateful that we did.  It was the trolley guide that introduced us to Coronado and the stunning Balboa Gardens.  We ended up not having enough time to explore the Gardens, but even the view we got from the trolley was breathtaking and satisfying.   We ended our day in San Diego with a stop at the lovely San Diego Temple located in the town of La Jolla.   The grounds aren't as large as you'd expect, but it definitely ranked up there as a favorite for all of our family.    Next time we visit California we may plan to spend two days in San Diego instead of just one! 

Day 9:  Pack, Newport Beach temple, drive back to LV,  LV temple, fly home
We didn't try to accomplish anything this day except some last minute laundry and packing.   It took a lot of juggling to arrange everything to fit the strict requirements of the airline on which we were traveling, but eventually we got it all arranged and left my sister's house in early afternoon.   We gave ourselves plenty of time (9+ hours) to travel what should have been about a 4-hour trip back to Las Vegas.   It was good that we did, because traffic was frustratingly slow and we ended up not having a moment to spare after our two very short side trips to visit temples.   On the way out of town we stopped at the Newport Beach temple and once we got there we visited  the Las Vegas temple.  They're both very beautiful in very different ways, and we loved that we got a chance to see them. We had hoped to also have some time to walk down the Las Vegas strip to see some of the cool looking landmarks (Eiffel tower, Statue of Liberty, a huge pyramid, etc), but alas we had to enjoy from the car and rush to the airport for our red-eye back home.  We lucked out with one empty seat next to us, which meant that Ellie got to lie down and actually sleep.  The rest of us, however, got a very fitful couple of hours of sleep (if that).  


La Brea Tar Pits: 


San Diego Trolley Tour:  

Mormon Battalion in Old Town San Diego:


No comments:

google analytics