Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

This was a busy summer for us! We did a lot of fun things, and made lots of memories.

Hank was here -- just camera shy first thing in the a.m.
Back in May, we finally made it to Disneyland with Everett! Some family members, already on summer break, asked if wanted to go (we had to ditch a day of school). We were able to get them by purchasing a deal that was available in spring for southern California residents, and we used one of our connections to get in for free :)

Was fun to get a pair of ears for Everett, and let him experience both Disneyland and California Adventure (the tickets we get through our Silver pass holder friends are one day park hoppers). We were bummed that two of our favorite rides -- It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean -- were both closed, but that just means we'll have to go back soon. Still can't get over how cool the Radiator Springs area of California Adventure is to experience.

The best souvenirs in the park -- $10 hand cut silhouette (you actually get two cut at the same time -- souvenir for Nana!) Hank's (to the right) was done at his first trip.

Unfortunately we forgot to get Everett a button indicating it was his first trip -- will grab one next time.

Next up was a beach camping trip on Memorial Day weekend. I remember posting on Facebook as we headed out for the trip that though I have gone on (at least) 100 camping trips in my life, I had not been beach camping before this trip. We went to Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County (~2 1/2 hour drive). I don't know what it is about this place, but it just seemed so perfect to me -- despite having horse corrals for camping spots

and unrelenting strong wind pretty much all day and night. The positives were having a snack shack and store that had a cool surfer vibe, finding tons of cool shells,

having dunes and estuaries to explore, feeling safe to leave your stuff on the beach for a period of time and walk to the store or back to your site for lunch, and there was even a choo choo for the train loving toddler, lol.

Definitely hope we can make this an annual tradition -- just hope we choose a less windy time weekend next time.

I think the next trip was BT's annual trip with the guys to Vegas. Then it was my turn. I typically haven't done overnight trips on my own post kids (other than for work), but this year I had two girls' weekends! The first was meeting up with my oldest friend that I still keep in touch with (outside of Facebook). We have known each other since middle school, but didn't become close until college. This is Natasha's mom, btw.

We mulled over going to Kansas City, but instead decided on Chicago. We had so much fun! I of course missed the family, but it was so nice to have a weekend free to try all the food places I mapped out without having to worry about kids making a mess or complaining about the food.

Rick Bayless's Xoco
The weekend was very food oriented, in fact. I also managed to convince Joy to go to a local tiki bar, and she was savvy enough to get us in without reservations.

Flipper says hi!
We stayed in a fab hotel if you are planning a trip to the Windy City. Chicago is a great place to visit!

Mid-August was Tiki Oasis. You know this is typically a family event for us. This year, based on the trip you'll read about next, we had decided not to go. As it turned out, though, my pal Barb was renting a room for the weekend. I sent her a note that I would like to crash for one night, if that was ok. We had so much fun! I brought Barb a little giftie -- some fixings for an in room drink, and a tiki fondue pot.

The sub-theme this year for Tiki Oasis was "Beat-tiki." As always, it is hard enough to explain to folks what tiki is, and then how that relates to beatniks -- not a chance. I racked my brain for clothing options, and was so proud of my outfits. For Saturday day, I wore a long tiki dress with a woven vest, felt hat, and pendant.

Barb was also wearing a crocheted vest, so we looked like we planned our outfits together!

That night I wore the standard beatnik black and white striped shirt (had to do major surgery to fix this shirt -- the bands would shift, and would make it an instant peep show!), black fitted jeans, and ballet flats. Barb had found some fun inflatable bongos. I have no idea why I look like Snooty McSnootersons here (three sheets and a dash to the wind, I suspect).

The next day I put together a "beachnik" outfit. Weeks prior to the event, people were posting pictures of record albums, novel covers, and vintage pictures showing examples of beatnik and beach/surf culture melded together. The problem was -- they were always pictures of guys! I used those photos as inspiration to imagine what the girl counterparts would have worn. I found the striped shorts on etsy (vintage -- but 1990s, lol), my felt hat again, another pendant, and a blue sleeveless mock turtleneck. Again -- had a great time, but know from now on that Tiki Oasis can only be experienced with my tiki dude.

The following week, Hank's school was closed. We had a special trip planned for the first two days of the week -- Legoland! Actually, the really special part was staying at the new Legoland Hotel. Everybody who knows we went wants to know if it was worth it, considering the cost for one night is more than twice the amount that I personally had ever paid for a hotel before this trip. I answer with a resounding yes. The hotel makes the Legoland experience complete. We had gone before when Hank was almost 3, and it was kind of a let down. I guess that element should be put out first for folks who have not been -- the theme park itself is geared towards an age range of 4-10. There is nothing here you would have interest to do if you did not have kids with you, except view the minilands and see this room with the Master Builders at work.

Otherwise -- every ride is for kids, and they are all basically the same rides with slight deviations. It is hard to see this as a successful business model, so I am sure Legoland is the first theme park to rub its greedy little yellow claw hands together when there is news of a baby boom.

This was cool, too -- actual set from The Lego Movie
The park is a little shabby. The Legos do not weather well, and some of the elements that weren't working during out last visit (i.e. some of the displays in a walk-through tour of a mock Lego factory) still were not working. But, focus on the fun was my motto, and I was not as bummed out by these elements this visit. Also -- the ticket prices have come down since our last visit, and we were able to get a park hopper ticket (covering the main park, water park, and a cute aquarium) for 2 days for the price we paid last time for one day just at Legoland.

I'm sure that price change is intentional so you decide to stay at the hotel.

The hotel is also totally geared towards little kids. There is a Lego pit in the lobby, a giant play castle, the restaurant has a kid line for the buffet, there is a giant step on whoopie cushion next to the elevator, and the elevator itself turns into a disco party when the door closes.

The rooms are on three floors -- each with a theme: castle, pirates, and adventure. We stayed in a pirate room. There is a separate nook for the kids with bunk beds and a trundle bed.

There are Lego figures throughout the room (and a sign indicating how much you will pay if you decide to nab one). Some of the extras accounted for in your room cost -- a treasure chest that the kids find clues for in the lobby and get to keep the contents (a set of Legos for each kid, chocolate coins, and a magazine),

a couple of complimentary bottles of water and juice,

and entertainment -- several shows in the lobby in the evening, and a movie by the pool.

What made it worth it was how excited Hank was. This is the kid who is pretty nonplussed about things most kids get excited about. I had to come up with a very complicated plan to get him to go on the Disneyland trip this post opened with, for example. He was giddy with excitement the whole visit to Legoland, but especially in relation to the hotel. I suppose we will save our pennies to make a trip with Everett when he is 4 or 5 and old enough to enjoy it more than this time (and Hank will still be within the magic age range!)

Our final trip was to Safari Park in San Diego. We did this trip with my parents. I grew up going to this park, then called the Wild Animal Park. It was a super hot day, but fun to see the animals and spend time with Nana and Grandpa.

Still 100 degrees here, so feels like summer is still in full force -- just not doing as much fun stuff...


mascanlon said...

Sounds like a perfect summer for a family with small kids!

April, Jennifer, Carol said...

Loved reading about your summer fun. And- I LOVE that pic of you as Snooty McSnooterson! I think it's super cool.