A couple weeks ago, we went on our first real family vacation. It was amazing, fantastic, marvelous and sensational. I might even say it was the cat’s meow! We visited Southern California, where temps were in the 50’s and it was rainy pretty much every day we were there. Doesn’t sound so wonderful, does it? But here’s the amazing part – we visited some awesome friends and had some incredibly good timing!
We flew out on a Wednesday. Most of the day was spent travelling and we arrived just in time for rush hour traffic in LA. Luckily, our friends quickly located an In-and-Out, where we enjoyed some tasty burgers and shakes. By the time we were done eating, it was smooth sailing to get to their house!
By the time our kids settled down enough to go to sleep, it was about 9PM, or 11PM Iowa time. They still woke up at their normal Iowa time of 6:45AM, which was 4:45AM in California. And they didn’t nap the day before. You’d think they’d be cranky, right? Uhhh, no. Thursday was DISNEYLAND DAY!!!! When we had 4 kids 4 and under, as well as 4 adults, ready to go by 7:30, I should have known it would be an amazing day! We drove through some surprisingly light traffic, with a bit of rain, to arrive with plenty of time to get parked and get to our breakfast reservation. And then the sun came out. We were in the park open to close and had a great day. (More to come on Disneyland later…) Our day ended with the kiddos all falling asleep on the way home – and the adults wishing they could.
Our kids slept in just a bit the next day – meaning they weren’t up until 5:30/6, but it was a planned lazy day, so they had time to catch up on some rest later in the day. We didn’t leave our friend’s place until after dinner, when we walked to a nearby Fro-Yo shop. It had rained most of the day, which meant we had a snail sighting on our walk. Exciting stuff!
Saturday was another rainy-ish day, but we decided to try for a tour of an orange grove and a picnic anyhow. We got lucky again with the weather and it stopped raining when we arrived at the California Citrus State Historic Park. We enjoyed a tour by a nice volunteer named Joe, where we got to taste at least a dozen varieties of oranges. And…Joe filled up a bag with all the different varieties of oranges for us to take home with us. Delicious! It started raining right after our tour. There was a shelter nearby, so we were going to try for a picnic still, but instead the kids splashed around, had loads of fun and got soaked, so we went back to our friend’s house for lunch. The kids napped, then we went “swimming” in the nearby hot tub. (The crazy dads may or may not have jumped into the regular, unheated pool as well. We may or may not have video of it…) This was followed by date night for the parents!
Sunday was our last full day of vacation. Being that we were close to an ocean for the first time in my children’s lives, I wanted to try to make it to the beach. It was cool and a little rainy, but we thought we’d give it a go. We went to the Santa Monica beach, with a trip to the Pier and Promenade as our back-up plan if it was miserable at the beach. The kids had other ideas, and regardless of how cold it was (mid-50’s) they were ready to play in the sand and surf. The sun came out while we were there and we had loads of fun playing! Then we crammed 8 of us into our near-the-airport-hotel so we could spend a bit more time together.
We flew home on Monday morning and came back to temps in the teens a few inches of new snow waiting for us at home. Our kids continued to be fantastic travelers on the way home and I think Aaron and I were more worn out than they were. Darn kids and their resiliency 🙂 I’ll admit that I underestimated my kids before this trip. They were more amazing than I was expecting.
The thing that really made our trip great though – our friends. They were seriously the best. They opened their home to us and sacrificed their own comfort for ours. They rearranged their home and their lives for 5 days, just for us. They had patience with our kids when we were running low. They cooked for us and cleaned up after us. They made our trip great! So if you’re looking for the key to a good family vacation, just make some wonderful friends, then hope that they get relocated to someplace great for work. Then go visit them!
Of course, now that we’re home, I’m just trying to convince them to leave warm, Southern California and come back to Iowa 🙂